Why are the Japanese so into “kawaii” (cute)?
As long as it is socially acceptable, there is no reason why having a picture of a kitten should not make you feel warm inside. Being around cute stuff makes you feel good. And anything that makes you feel good can be addictive. It should also be noted that “kawaii” is also used by some people with such a wide range of meanings it could even be translated just as ‘good’ rather than ‘cute’.
Why do the Japanese sometimes answer yes/no questions in English with the answer ‘maybe’?
One reason could be being asked a question that is not standard in Japanese. For example, “genki desu ka” is often given as the translation of “how are you” but is in fact very rarely asked, perhaps because it could be seen as intrusive. Another is that there are many ways of being vague in Japanese but they are not taught ways to be vague in English. For example, “so desu ne” (That’s so) and “so desu ka” (Is that so) can be given many fine shades of meaning including doubt by changes in intonation etc. These are probably the phrases in their head when they say ‘maybe’.
Why do Japanese streets have no names?
All Japanese communities, including parts of cities, have always been like little villages where everyone knows everyone else and so there is no need to have street names or even house numbers in order. This was even more so in Tokugawa times, when blocks of Tokyo streets would be surrounded by walls and watch towers dividing them from other parts of the city.
Thanks to Laurent for the top two questions. Keep them comng, everyone.
This series of posts also sprouted their own blog- Japan Explained. Give it a click and give it a go!