I’m interested in the way that the feedback we receive in life plays an important part in moving us in one direction or another, and everything from when babies start talking to what career we end up in is influenced by what feedback we happen to receive from those around us.  When I started a big health kick a little more than a year ago, I was careful to “pre-load” my diet plan to make sure I’d lose a lot of weight at the beginning, positive feedback I knew would help me continue with my plan. Feedback can help you learn languages, too. In addition to the standard approaches to language learning — the Grammar-Translation Method, the Army Method (developed during WWII), and the Natural Approach (trying to teach languages in a way similar to how children acquire them), there’s another one: the “Do What Makes You Popular with the People Around You Method,” which we’ll call Positive Social Feedback Method since it sounds better. This was taught to me by a friend of mine who spent a decade teaching ESL in several countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Using this approach, you learn whatever bits of language give you the most positive experiences in other countries, whether it’s talking with cute Japanese girls in an izakaya in Japan or making a good impression on the neighborhood ajummas (middle-aged women) in South Korea.

There are certain skills the Japanese people possess which we poor gaijin usually lack. Like the ability to sit for hours on their knees in proper 正座 seiza (lit. “correct sitting”) style without their legs falling asleep, or to talk to someone for five minutes without getting to the point, and also how to sleep while standing up on a crowded train. Another mysterious skill the Japanese possess is the ability so squat comfortably with their feet flat on the ground, which is known as yankii-zuwari or “sitting yankee style.” This odd name came about when delinquent young men started hanging out in the “America-mura” (America Village) area of Osaka back in the 1970s, and since they liked to squat in this way in groups, the nickname “yankee” became associated with this style of sitting. I’ve lived in Japan for nearly 25 years, but I can’t manage to squat like that without falling over like a daruma doll (remember, to do it correctly the feet are supposed to be flat on the ground). The reason the Japanese are able to squat in this way for hours is that Japanese-style toilets are seatless squat toilets, so everyone here grows up doing the gesture from an early age.

May just happens to be National Dolphin Polisher Month, it’s a great excuse to get to know yourself a little better with some great personal products from J-List. And it’s also a great excuse for us to have a sale! The the entire month of May, get an extra 5% off all “ecchi” toys for guys or girls, plus personal lotion and fun sexy cosplay products. Happy polishing!