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Thread: JAPANESE Culture & Language Help

  1. #1
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    JAPANESE Culture & Language Help

    I'm working on a Tri-Wizard story where a Japanese school is invited to participate. This tounament is a very big deal because it is the first time wizarding schools outside of Europe have been allowed to participate. The other school will be no problem, because it will be somewhere in North America. But when I decided to include a Japanese school, I got to thinking about how Eastern Magic differs from Western.

    *Do Japanese student have different subject than students in Europe? What would those subjects be?
    *Do the students use wands, or just ones made in different style? Or would they be more likely to staffs, or some other to?
    *I'm pretty sure that East Asian students don't use Latin spells for their magic. Do they use Chinese for their spells?
    *Do think think there are some Japanese wizards have integrated into large cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto? Or would they live in smaller, more remote villages? Remember, Japan is mostly urban and has one of the highest poplation dencities in the world.
    *Do you think the students consentrate on more subjects than others, subjects that might be considered more western.
    *What could some classes be at a Japanese school that wouldn't be at a school like Hogwarts?
    *How do you think they would behave socially towards the western students?
    *What would the teacher be like? Students in Japan are very respectful of their teachers. Do think they would have more teachers than just the headmaster.
    *I heard one custom where the younger students serve the older ones in the idea that they will learn. Do think they would bring some first years along for this purpose?

    And any other cultural and language help you guys think would be relevent.

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  2. #2
    lunaselenia
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    *Do Japanese student have different subject than students in Europe? What would those subjects be?

    Well I don`t think that all of the subjects are different, but I think that some new subjects will be appropriate, like The dueling class or something like that, or maybe katana lessons.

    *Do the students use wands, or just ones made in different style? Or would they be more likely to staffs, or some other to?

    It would be more simple that they use wands. But, maybe they have a unique stile of wearing them. Like a samurai is wear his katana.

    *I'm pretty sure that East Asian students don't use Latin spells for their magic. Do they use Chinese for their spells?

    Well if they are Japanese they will use Japanese language. I will suggest that that you use simple words for example Wind-kaze so i will give you one useful link to translate from English to Japanese http://www.dicts.info/ Just be sure to use romanji Japanese other wise you will come up with kanji.

    *Do think think there are some Japanese wizards have integrated into large cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto? Or would they live in smaller, more remote villages? Remember, Japan is mostly urban and has one of the highest poplation dencities in the world.

    Well the wizards can`t run away from the muggles. So, they probably live in the cites, or in the mountains if they don`t like muggles much.

    *Do you think the students consentrate on more subjects than others, subjects that might be considered more western.

    I don`t think that I understand that question.

    *What could some classes be at a Japanese school that wouldn't be at a school like Hogwarts?

    Well maybe the classes will be pretty much the same, but i think that the the students will be a lot different from Hogwarts students. For example they will rise and bound every time a teacher enters the class, or whenever they see an elder in the corridors or in the street.

    *How do you think they would behave socially towards the western students?

    With respect. They will be polite and silent most of the time, mostly because they are not familiar with English language.

    *What would the teacher be like? Students in Japan are very respectful of their teachers. Do think they would have more teachers than just the headmaster.

    O definitely they will have more strict teachers than the Hogwarts ones. They will be much more demanding and they will punish the students much more severely. And they definitely will have a headmaster. A school without a headmaster is no school. Somebody need to take care of all the administration, and that is a Headmaster or Deputy Headmaster.

    *I heard one custom where the younger students serve the older ones in the idea that they will learn. Do think they would bring some first years along for this purpose?

    Well they might. But, only the first year students that are much more willing to teach new things, not all of them.

    And now something that came across my mind when i think about Japanese students. They will have to do all the things by them self. Example they do the beds at the morning, cleaning they desks after class, laundry on the weekend and stuff.

    Hope I was helpful, and sorry for my English i still need a translator when it comes for some words.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the help! It's actually kinda fun trying to imagine how cultures outside Europe percieve magic. I'm working on the school from North America, either the United States or Mexico, I know both cultures pretty well, but Japan is taking a lot more effort to work out.

    I should research the possiblity of strictly Asian magic class. Oh, how we suffer for our art!

    That's a cool idea of how to carry the wands. The would probably be made in a very different style though. In my stories, American wands are long, thin, wrapped in silk, and they also incorperate stones. I should start thinking about how Japanese wands would be made.

    I wonder if the student say their spells in Chinese because in the western world, LAtin is considered a cradle language. I know that the kanji system originated in China, and now most east Asian languages use it. That's why I wonder if the Chinese language is the root of Asian spells.

    I think you misunderstood me before about the headmaster. What I meant to say was, since the students have such respect for their teachers, would they bring more teachers to Hogwarts with them than just the headmaster like they did in GoF.

    Thiese are all useful things to know about Japanese students. Since they do all these chores themselves, their school probably doean't use house elves, right.

    Wow, my writing prof was right! When you create characters, you have to know them right down to what their favorite flavor of ice cream is! It's a lot to think about. Thanks for the help. Anyone else want to add imput or opinions.

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  4. #4
    lunaselenia
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    Any time... As for the wands I have one idea that just came up to me... Make them normal, but add to them some kanji emblem that describes your character. For example if your character is called Orihime (female name) you can add kanji that represent her like Hime (meaning-princess). Just some random thought.


    And as for the professors, it is my fault, I didn`t understand the question. But , you can send another professor with them, like some sort of helper for they Headmaster.

    And one more thing, will you write the spells in Latin or in Kanji (hope that you know what I mean).... For example will you wright wind like kaze (Romanji) or like 風 (Kanji).

  5. #5
    Fly to Dawn
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    Do Japanese student have different subject than students in Europe? What would those subjects be?

    Well, subjects Muggle!Japanese students have that European/American students don't have is Chinese Classics, but as that's pretty much like Europeans learning Latin, I don't think they would have that in the Wizarding World. Katanas could be considered Muggle things (I mean, they are muggle weapons), though - although Godric Gryffindor did have a sword, we know that in the Wizarding World wands and spells are used to kill, rather than swords and other Muggle weapons. So, perhaps Katanas weren't used in the Japanese Wizarding Society.

    J.K. Rowling bases the HP series on lots of myths, legends, and general stereotypes and ideas Europeans have - wizards wearing robes, having wands, using cauldrons...her method of creating the Wizarding World in England/Europe can't be directly applied to a Japanese Wizarding Society. Witches and wizards themselves are a concept not found in traditional Japanese cultures - the nearest Japanese myth/legend I can think of which concerns a super-human-ish character is Shotoku Taishi, but then, he is a historical figure as well, although recently historians have begun to doubt his existence. They are the Onmyoji, of course, who use their magic/powers to banish curses and Oni (Demons) and other supernatural creatures, and they use Fuda (pieces of paper) with Okyou written on them. Okyous are somewhat Buddhist in nature, but they could definitely work - the Japanese Wizarding Society would become awfully primitive, however. If there was a Japanese Wizarding World, I suspect it would be pretty different from the one in Europe.

    *Do the students use wands, or just ones made in different style? Or would they be more likely to staffs, or some other to?

    See above.

    *I'm pretty sure that East Asian students don't use Latin spells for their magic. Do they use Chinese for their spells?

    As Chinese is the basis of the Japanese language, maybe yes, or maybe Japanese people would use old Japanese (used around the Heian era, maybe?) instead. I'm thinking about the Okyous here. But yes, Chinese is a very good option.

    *Do think think there are some Japanese wizards have integrated into large cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto? Or would they live in smaller, more remote villages? Remember, Japan is mostly urban and has one of the highest poplation dencities in the world.

    Well, Japan is mostly covered in trees and mountains - as lunaselenia said, mountains would be a good option.

    *Do you think the students consentrate on more subjects than others, subjects that might be considered more western.

    Do you mean that the students would concentrate more on subjects that were western, or concentrate less? Japan was in a state of seclusion in the Edo period (17th-19th Century), and their only contact with the rest of the world was through two tiny ports - and they only traded with Holland and China. After Japan opened it's gates, they did turn towards Europe and tended to copy and adopt European values, traditions, and culture, but up until then, they mostly looked to China for inspiration. (Although Christianity came in through Portuguese and Spanish ships earlier than that.)

    Of course, this is all the Muggle side of history - as I said before, if you do want to create an original Japanese Wizarding World you do need to think about what is Muggle and what's not. Magic and sorcery aren't things that are found in Japanese stories and legends, and for that reason it would be hard to create a Wizarding society in Japan.

    *What could some classes be at a Japanese school that wouldn't be at a school like Hogwarts?

    See above.

    *How do you think they would behave socially towards the western students?

    If we're going with Edo values, then they would be scared :-P
    The Japanese are generally shy, tend to keep themselves to themselves and go around in groups. I am Japanese myself, and this is the aspect of Japanese people I dislike most. I don't think they would try and make friends with the western students - if the teachers told them to, for the sake of their learnings, they would perhaps try and (awkwardly) bond. It depends on the period you're basing your Japanese society on here, but whatever the period, they would be awed.

    *What would the teacher be like? Students in Japan are very respectful of their teachers. Do think they would have more teachers than just the headmaster.

    They would be stricter for sure, perhaps more polite, and with a zero sense of humour and sarcasm. (No, seriously.)

    *I heard one custom where the younger students serve the older ones in the idea that they will learn. Do think they would bring some first years along for this purpose?

    Well, it's not actually 'serve' - in modern days the younger students are generally respectful towards the senior students, a custom that's been in the Japanese society for a long time. The concept of junior students 'serving' their senior students is very Japanese, but they don't, for example, make tea for them or wash their clothes or anything, like a personal servant - one thing it's far from is personal. I don't know how it's relevant to teachers bringing younger students in, though.

    Erm, did I cover everything?

  6. #6
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    Well, Japan is mostly covered in trees and mountains - as lunaselenia said, mountains would be a good option.
    So the students who are from large cities would probably me in the minority. Oh, well, that just makes it more interesting. A few wizard families scattered in these small remote villeges. Oh, now my head is swimming with possiblity.

    They are the Onmyoji, of course, who use their magic/powers to banish curses and Oni (Demons) and other supernatural creatures, and they use Fuda (pieces of paper) with Okyou written on them. Okyous are somewhat Buddhist in nature, but they could definitely work - the Japanese Wizarding Society would become awfully primitive, however. If there was a Japanese Wizarding World, I suspect it would be pretty different from the one in Europe.
    Yes, it is quite a challange coming up with a Japanese wizarding world. There is almost nothing on the internet, and so far, a lot of my ideas are coming anime show at three in the morning. That's why I wanted to start this thread now. I wanted to get a good basis for the knowlage before I start to write. But if you guys ARE Japanese, I'd also love some of you opinions on what YOU believe the Japanese wizarding world is like.

    Also, witch and wizard seem like fairly European words to me. Do think they would call themselves sorcerers and sorceresses. I know a few of the American students call themselves shamen.

    we're going with Edo values, then they would be scared :-P
    They would probably be a bit tradtional, but I wouldn't go as far as to say they're Edo. Remember, Japan probably has Muggleborns too. I would say the pureblood students would be bordering on Edo, but everyone else would be fairly modern.

    P.S. I probably should have mentioned this earlier. This is going to be a next generation fic with Albus, Rose, and Scorpius in their fifth year. But then, the wizarding world is fairly primative. This might all be a good basis.

    I don't think they would try and make friends with the western students - if the teachers told them to, for the sake of their learnings, they would perhaps try and (awkwardly) bond.
    Oh, yes. This WILL be fun. The Japanese students won't want to talk to anyone and the Americans won't shut up! Beautiful. It will already be akward since the Tri-Wizard Champions have to spend so much time together. But I'm guessing they won't be inviting each other to the Yule Ball.

    As for the wands I have one idea that just came up to me... Make them normal, but add to them some kanji emblem that describes your character. For example if your character is called Orihime (female name) you can add kanji that represent her like Hime (meaning-princess). Just some random thought.
    I LOVE this idea. Especially since I'm already having so much fun thinking of names for the students. Even if I'm going to write a few of their names into the story, I'm going to think of names for all of them. Remember, know your characters down to their ice cream!

    So far, I only have two names I know I'm going to stick with. One 7th year, Yuki Onna (yes like Snow Woman, I got insperation for JK's Fleur Delacour), and she is at majors odd with the Tri-Wizard Champ from (Still no name. Any ideas?), Chiharu Sakuraba. I like the idea of combinding the winter and spring element.

    Thanks for everyones help. It fragmented still, but it's definantly starting to come together.

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  7. #7
    Fly to Dawn
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    So far, I only have two names I know I'm going to stick with. One 7th year, Yuki Onna (yes like Snow Woman, I got insperation for JK's Fleur Delacour), and she is at majors odd with the Tri-Wizard Champ from (Still no name. Any ideas?), Chiharu Sakuraba. I like the idea of combinding the winter and spring element.

    Yuki Onna is a great concept, but as a name itself it's very awkward - Japanese people introduce themselves surname-first, so she would say 'Onna Yuki' as opposed to 'Yuki Onna' as well. It would perhaps work if the kanji of 'Onna' was changed, so the kanji doesn't mean 'Woman' but still reads 'Onna' - of course this would be rather irrelevant since you're writing in English

    But if you guys ARE Japanese, I'd also love some of you opinions on what YOU believe the Japanese wizarding world is like.


    Yes, I am Japanese

    I'll add more to this post later.

  8. #8
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Yuki Onna is a great concept, but as a name itself it's very awkward - Japanese people introduce themselves surname-first, so she would say 'Onna Yuki' as opposed to 'Yuki Onna' as well.
    Yeah, I know the concept with names. But, as you said yourself, this story is written for English readers, so at least it will make a good analogy for the. I highly doubt my stories are going to be translated into 50 languages, like JK's!

    But since we're talking about names, what to do think of the name Chiharu Sakuraba? Does it sound to strange from the prospective of a native speaker? And what other kanji's can say onna but not mean woman. You're gonna have to help me out on this one. I'll give you some clues. Yuki Onna is *feminine Japanese profanity* and she hates Chiharu just as much as real snow hates spring.

    Do you have any ideas for a good name for the school itself? Everything I come up with sounds like the brand name of a new car.

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  9. #9
    Gonz
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    I'm not Japanese, but I spent a week in Kyoto, Japan so I can give you what a Westerner noticed.

    -Everything's smaller: roads, houses, tradional clothing is made for smaller steps. Alot of things involve not taking up more space than nessicary so Hogwarts is going to look larger than life.

    -Purity. The local religions Shinto and Buddhaism place an emphias on purity, cleaniness. Everything was spottless, no trash cigrette butts on the roads for example. That's also why they don't shake hands, you bow.

    -Speaking of bowing, respect is a big deal. Showing respect to your elders, neighbors. You'd pass someone in the street and give a little bow, just incline your head, and I really liked that. I found myself bowing when I came back. So I can see the Gryffindors pulling pranks completely shocking the students who've been taught to respect their elders.

    -All the people I meet were very polite, nice, and patient. Alot knew some English, but were hestitant to speak it. Alot of the communication was me using the ten words of Japanese, pointing, and bowing and no know seemed to get impatience waiting for comphresion.

    -When we think of Japan we think of the cities, but the have hills, trees, mountians, nature. Considering the connection between nature and the Shinto religion I wouldnt be surpised if alot of the magic was nature based.

    Manga- oh my goodness it was everywhere. And I'm sure the Japanese students would have a magical version along with them. It is a big part of modern culture that I noticed.

    *Do the students use wands, or just ones made in different style? Or would they be more likely to staffs, or some other to?
    I think going with the smaller thing I noticed, I would say no. Also if one of your students was from Kyoto using the wood from the Cherry Blosom Tree would be appriorate.

    *I'm pretty sure that East Asian students don't use Latin spells for their magic. Do they use Chinese for their spells?
    Maybe the do, but the history major in me is having problems seeing it. Again this is from an outsider. We had to read this book called "War Without Mercy" and it was about Race and the Pacific front in WWII and it covered how ugly the racism was on both sides. Why I'm bringing this in is it also talked about how the Japanese, or Japanese leadership, viewed themselves as a race. The Yamoto race was considered the pure race, and vastly superior to the other Asians, especially the dark Asian raes. Consider the Japanese as the Asian equal of Imperialist Britain. Also the Chinese and Japanese how gone through periods where they didn't get along to say the least. So my point is Japanese magic very well my have been based on Chinese, but I could see the leadership purging that from Japanese magic if it was possible. But the modern culture could have gone back or stayed, I don't the current political situation well enough.

    But Chinese culture has influenced Japan in an least one very obivious aspect to this foriegn vistor. There Shinto Shrines and the Imperial Palace were decorated in orange. Orange is the Chinese color for royalty so the influence is there if you want to do it.

  10. #10
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    This has all been incredibly helpful. The actual structure of the Japanese magic community is really coming together. I honestly think we may be the first people on this website to even think about this kind of think. Be proud and lets keep those creative jucies flowing! I by know means, want slam or make fun of Japanese culture no more than I want to slam my own culture to. Some characteristics may be describes in the Rowling-esk bluntness. But don't worry, the American students are going to have pleanty of faults too.

    Now, let's focus on the students themselves. In GoF, the schools brough about a dozen or more students along with them. So far, I have named Yuki Onna, Chiharu Sakuraba, (unnamed friend of Chiharu), leaving us with three more girls and six more boys, plus two little boy and girl first years that came to learn. They are at the top of their class, so it is considered an honor.

    But let's start with a day at (still looking for school names, any ideas), before the Triwizard tournament starts. How would these students start the day? Would they have morning chores they needed to get done in the morning.

    How would the classroom structure opperate? Would the students have to come up to the front and demonstrait the spell in front og everyone? How cruel do you think the teachers would be if the spell went completely wrong? Would the students laugh, or remain silent.

    What would the students do for fun after the piles of homework are done? Do you think they play Quidditch in Japan, or are they in fovor of another sport, like Americans prefer quodpod. What are some school club they could have. I should start doing more research on this.

    And also, I know from experience, when you try to pick a foreign name out of a book or on a website, you can need up with something that makes the native speaker say "What was this chick smorking?" I have some ideas and possible character. And I'm also open to suggestions. Just on quick note; I'm trying to keep the whole season names thing a theme.
    But, here we are:


    Yuki Onna:(This Names a keeper) 7th year, very pretty, hates Chiharu for being selected as TriWizard Chamption, doesn't believe she is worthy.

    Chiharu Sakuraba: I'm not married to Sakuraba, so suggestions would be great. Chiharu is a powerful witch, but her face is horrible disfigured, the other students say it's from the pureblood mania that will eventually destroy all purblood wizards.

    Chiharu's friend: nameless for the momentSome of my possibles are Aimi, Akira, Hiromi, Hitomi, Miho, Miyako, Natsumi, Tomomi, Suzume

    And then, we have six more boys to name as well as the three other girls. Go nuts!

    And then there are our little first year helpers. For the girl, I'd love to use a ko name, even if they are a little out of date know. Just to further enphisis who she in amoung this school: Hanako, Kameko, Kimiko, Kiyoko, Maiko(also the name for a quisha in training), Natsuko, Sakiko

    And for the little boy: maybe Yoshihiro, but my sleeping pills are kicking and I'm call it a night.

    More tomorrow. We may create an entire universe within the month!

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