Yup, you read that right. It’s a double feature for this installment of Lost in Translation, where we look at all things New Year. I’m pretty sure many of these themes have been beaten to death in one-a-many slice-of-life anime, but hey — where else will we ever learn about Japanese culture and things to do come the new year? So sit back and relax as we explore more Japanese culture for Japanese in anime! These entries come from episodes 9 and 11 of Gabriel DropOut and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, respectively.
For our first look at Japanese new year customs, we’re introduced to a strange drink that seemingly makes Gabriel intoxicated enough to want to whip out the horn of the apocalypse:
The drink in question is a staple of Hatsumoude (初詣) — a shrine visit on the first day of the new year — and is basically fermented rice wine (sake) that is boiled down to reduce the amount of alcohol present in the beverage. It’s quite similar to mulled wine or cider, except the base is made from scratch instead of a full, alcoholic beverage. Most of the time, there is hardly any alcohol left in amazake, but this can depend on the recipe. But in general, most publicly served amazake at shrines are of the non-alcoholic variant, with those having small amounts of alcohol being reserved for personal consumption. It’s for this reason that it is not uncommon to see teenagers, and sometimes even young children, having some amazake.
Satania basically describes what it feels like trying amazake. It has a slightly acrid smell to it, but ends with a very sweet note (due to sugar that’s added to the drink). The trace amounts of alcohol lend to its warmth, and the drink actually does a very good job at warming you up during an evening visit to the shrine. Do try one if you ever find yourself in Japan during the New Year’s — they often offer it for free. Just look for a stand with the characters 甘酒. Surprisingly, some shrines offer this drink even if it isn’t new year’s eve, so if you’re lucky, you might just spot some in a random shrine.
So yeah, Gabriel’s apparently one of those “adorable drunks”. But then again, I don’t think she’s that adorable when it’s the friggin’ apocalypse on the line. Oh well.
Moving on, episode 11 Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid goes a little overboard by dishing out an entire Japanese New Year’s cultural experience. If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with the many customs mentioned in this episode, you’ll be sure to find them in all sorts of random slice-of-life anime out there. But suffice it to know this is perhaps one of the more complete collections of “Things to do on New Year’s if you’re a Japanese person”.
But perhaps one of the more prominent “superstitions” of the Japanese during the New Year’s is the so-called “Hatsu yume” (初夢, lit. “first dream”), which we can see here with Shouta:
If you’ve ever watched the first episode of the spoof mini-series The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan, then you might already be aware of this; but the Japanese believe that certain visions in dreams can equate to auspicious signs in the future. In particular, dreaming about Mount Fuji, a Hawk, or an Eggplant (or Aubergine) — in that order — is said to be a sign of good luck. The Japanese memorize this using a phrase that goes Ichi-Fuji, Ni-Taka, San-nasubi (一富士二鷹三茄子), which in this case, Lucoa says with her name attached at the end of each utterance.
Well, them Shotacons be what they are.
And there you have it! A simple little break from the more complex Lost in Translation in favor of some tidbits on Japanese culture. Anything in particular you think you might have seen being Lost in Translation? Do let me know in the comments below. Until next time, Ciao!