Honyaku Konnyaku and English Education

When I write blogs in Japanese, the content becomes redundant, so I tried writing it in English. I'm not sure if my vocabulary and grammar are correct, but I think I've managed to write what I want to say. I can type out sentences relatively smoothly.

By the way, the other night when I was drunk, I took out a snack from the refrigerator and ate it.

The snack was just konnyaku, but I remembered the Honyaku konnyaku (translation jelly made from devil's-tongue starch).

Non-Japanese people would have no idea what I was talking about.

Honyaku or Translation konnyaku is one of the tools used by Doraemon, a Japanese anime character, who takes it out of his four-dimensional pocket.

At present, a konnyaku that can change languages just by eating them has not been developed in the real world.

Doraemon has been a popular figure in comic books and television since I was a child.

He is a cat-shaped robot, but he has no cat ears, and his whole body is blue.

And even though he is a cat-like robot, he walks on two legs to get around. There must be something wrong with the setting.

As a child, I found his appearance to be an avant-garde design, and as an adult, I still find it avant-garde.

Recently, I had an episode that made me realize just how much of an impact Doraemon has had on our life.

Between 2019 and 2020, the democracy movement in Hong Kong intensified.

In that demonstration, people held up various signs to try to get their point across.

However, when a crowd of people with serious faces turned out, and a very bleak atmosphere was created, one savior appeared at the demonstration.

He wore a Doraemon costume, probably made by himself, and paraded around in that demonstration.

Countless people of Hong Kong gathered in crowds, but only one Doraemon could be seen even from a distance.

I was amazed to see how a single Doraemon could make a bleak group of protesters look a little more peaceful.

If people not only in Hong Kong but also in other Asian countries look at Doraemon; they may have an image of a peaceful and free life combined with cutting-edge science and technology.

Also, the fact that his manga and anime were born in Japan may have something to do with the image that Asian people develop.

Now, I don't know if it's due to the translation konnyaku or not, but when I write my blog in English, it's much cleaner and less bitter and prickly, instead of the usual blogs in Japanese.

To begin with, my English writing defaults to an analytical style.

I can write in many different Japanese ways, but this is the only way I can write in English.

When I was a student, I used to think, "How wonderful it would be if I had a translation konnyaku" before mock or real examinations.

However, my English teacher told me, "There's no such thing as convenient konnyaku, stuff English into the tofu in your head!"

The tofu in my head meant my brain.

In the past, English education in Japan consisted of memorizing English vocabulary and grammar and learning to read and write.

I can read and write English to a certain degree, but I am not very good at English conversation.

When I am spoken to by a foreigner on the street, I answer in Japanese.

It's not that I believe in "When in Rome do as the Romans do", but I wonder how foreigners feel when they speak to me in English.

If they speak only a few words of Japanese, I will try my best to speak English.

However, most foreigners speak to me in English without hesitation.

If so, I would answer in Japanese with pride.

This country is Japan. I am Japanese. So I speak the Japanese language. It's natural.

However, I can understand some of the questions that foreigners ask me in English.

Therefore, I sometimes find myself in a strange situation where the foreigner speaks in English, and I answer in Japanese.

When I go abroad, I have no choice but to speak English, but Westerners have no mercy on Japanese people who are obviously not good at English.

The only people who care about me are Germans.

Now let's work together in a peaceful situation.

I don't think Japan's policy of providing better English education to the children of the future is wrong.

This movement is partly because the business world is demanding the development of human resources who can work alongside foreign workers as the workforce shrinks due to the declining birthrate and aging population in Japan.

Japanese children and adults who do not directly work with people from overseas may have the image that English-speaking people are cheerful and friendly.

However, when I actually worked with them on an equal footing, I realized that the image of cheerfulness and open-mindedness was an illusion.

Although it is not a perfect communication because I use crumbly translation tofu instead of translation konnyaku, the sharpness and cunning of the points made by Westerners cannot be compared to that of Japanese.

Moreover, in their case, their words and actions differ significantly between the intellectual class and the general population, and sometimes they even bring up racial discrimination.

In business, Westerners are very strong on offense. They are also not afraid to argue with other people, even if it would lead to a fight.

They even smile and shake hands with each other after the discussion is over. There's something strange about the Japanese way of thinking.

What does their style of thinking have to do with it?

In Japanese schools, children are taught that it is wrong to criticize others. Japanese people think that to criticize others is to disturb harmony.

In Western schools, there are classes where students deliberately criticize their classmates and the issues of society.

In some cases, children are taught to openly assert logical inconsistencies and differences in direction in response to other people's ideas.

I guess the idea is that if someone asks you to point out an idea or a flaw and you can't answer anything, you're incompetent.

Imagine a day in the future when English education in Japan is expanded, or AI is developed to assist language, and Japanese people can communicate with more English-speaking people.

In other words, the day translation konnyaku becomes a reality; we may be disappointed to find out the real character of Westerners.

It is my understanding that in Japanese schools, only the tool of "English conversation" is being given to children, even though there is not enough training in critical thinking and design thinking.

Also, It's just an empirical theory, but I think Westerners tend to properly recognize people who have outstanding abilities and achievements in the same field, even if they can't speak English well.

It's very hard to get to that level, though.

In such a case, there is no need to be ashamed and shrink from the fact that we cannot speak English well, and we will not be laughed at if we talk to Broken English without hesitation.

Even if the language of the country is Japanese or English, they all share the same way of creating something or thinking about something.

I think that language is just a tool, and what is essential is the quality of the content.

In other words, translation konnyaku is a useful tool, but a tool is only a tool.

In my case, I am not very good at communicating with people, whether they are Japanese or foreigners, so it is easier for me to keep quiet and pretend that I cannot speak English at all.

If the person I'm talking to is Japanese, I feel like I have to say something, which is sometimes troublesome.