Thursday, July 22, 2004


Saw just now on the evening news that the Japanese government has added some new characters to the jimme kanji list, the characters that can be used in naming children.  The fact that there was such a list blew me away back when we named our firstborn Kasumi (mist) and found out that the character was not allowed!! We were required either to give her another name or use the kana phonetic form.  We wanted that name, so we chose the latter.

Then some years later the character kasumi was added to the list and we went to court to change the name to what we had wanted it to be before there were bureaucrats in our faces.  The fact that in Japan even in this day and age (globalization! I fall off my chair laughing) you are not free to name your child as you wish shows how feudal still are the very roots of this society. 

But signs of the irrational are creeping in; someone in the bureaucratic maze must be going mad from the meaningless weight of it all.  Mere decades ago we couldn't use Kasumi; now they've added to the characters that can  be used, among others, the characters for "curse," "shit," "cancer" "hemorrhoid" and "corpse."   Demand must be heavy, varied and twisted.  Nevertheless I do not look forward to one day shaking hands with a Corpse.

[Update: Due to a tsunami of negative public response, many of these additions are being reconsidered, so don't get your hopes up if you're planning to call your child Hemorrhoid.]  


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