Friday, December 29, 2006

Prefectural Characters

I notice that topics on national characters come up in our daily conversations a lot at least here in Japan like Japanese people are very serious and all that, but what about characters within the country?

I was watching this end-of-the-year special show on TV and it was on what's called in Japanese "kenminsei" (prefectural characters) and it was very interesting and extremely funny.
When I switched the channel nearly half of the show was already over but it happened to be talking about people's general character in Miyazaki Prefecture, a place that I have never been to nor have any friends that are from. It's located in southern Japan and is a very sunny and easy-going prefecture... is what I learned from the show.

The prefecture ranks first place among all 47 prefectures in Japan in the total amount of money spent on pachinko and also shochu (a kind of Japanese liquor) as well. It depends on how you interpret this - on one hand it's a relaxed and easy-going character which isn't over-serious about work and knows how to take things easy, but on the other hand it could be described unserious and lazy. I decided to take it in the former stance though. Results of a survey the show conducted how challenging (not in a hostile sense) Miyazaki People are or positive about sink or swim situations. Whereas people from some other prefectures are very conservative or reluctant to do anything risky, these Miyazaki-born Miyazaki-grown people looked very positive about taking a chance.

Hokkaido Prefecture was given the title of the most sound and conservative prefecture in Japan. Apparantly most people born, grown up and live in Hokkaido all their lives don't consider themselves to have such rock-solid minds, but it was funny because what they were telling the interviewers were definitely rock-solid. Residents of Hokkaido who're originally from other prefectures describe Hokkaido people to be very serious and conservative e.g., they don't smile more than necessary whilst there are prefectures which its residents are always smiling.
Analysts claim that the seriousness of Hokkaido people comes from the pioneer spirit. Being descendants of the pioneers who broke ground and built their lives on the north island of rich but harsh nature conditions, they aren't so easy-going and are earnest. The admirable point of their character is that they love their prefecture. The prefecture ranks last in the chart of residents who want to move out from the prefecture.

The other prefecture that left a huge impression was Aichi. It was the biggest eater prefecture of the country. Here "big eater" doesn't mean big in amount (actually it does) but the custom of eating is quite different. Breakfast is like dinner in Tokyo in respect of amount, and mixing is a conspicuous characteristic that too many of the residents show to call it individual character. I was writing about oyster and ice cream the other day, but the mixing here goes way above. Very challenging.

It's becoming too long so I'll stop soon, but the idea of prefectural characters even apart from this show is pretty wide spread among Japanese people. By the way, I've grown up most of my life in Tokyo so I guess I can claim to be from Tokyo, but because Tokyo has more people from other prefectures than those purely from Tokyo there isn't really a symbolic prefectural character as conspicuous as others. My parents from Shizuoka - the tea and tangerine pref - agreed with the show that they're somewhat relaxed (prolly due to the warm sunny climate) but are generally serious and conservative about work.

I bet there're are state/district/county/etc. characters in other countries too, just like people having nationalism for countries. I'd be curious to know what they're like.

Today's updates on Japan Mode - and this is the last update for year 2006: webmanga CharmyNurseM Chapter 7 preview.

Okay my readers, hope you all had a wonderful year 2006 and wish you a happy year 2007!!

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