It could've as easily been invented in the U.S. The conversation might've gone something like this. Two backyard chefs, spatulas in hand and spare tires around the waist, stand in front of the BBQ on a hot Texas afternoon:
What the hell good is charcoal after ya done used it?
I'm gonna tell ya what good it is Hank, cause you ain't got
the smarts ta' figger it out yourself!
Alright then, why don't ya flip them patties 'stead 'a wastin' a man's time?
Don't matter if I flip them patties Hank. Cause we gonna be rich. We gonna
buy the whole cow.
Uh-huh. Howz that?
Shampoo you dunderhead. We gonna turn this charcoal into
salon grade shampoo.
Why don't you flip them burgers, Mitch.
Not 'less you get me another cold'un. And this time use a koozie fo' Gossake.
If Hank would've listened to Mitch the United States, not Japan, would control the charcoal shampoo market. But life is full of missed opportunities, and as it happened, the vision of turning charred wood into hair care products belongs exclusively to Japan.
I bought some. It's cool washing your hair with black stuff. Never mind the carcinogens. In fact I've heard it's actually quite good for your hair. I remember when I was a kid there was a beer shampoo craze. Not sure why this tie in with barbeques and hair care, but following this line of reasoning my guess for the next movement will be Lawry's seasoning cream rinse. Lighter fluid mousse would be a hit at parties too.
Maybe it's a bit late to post about Coming of Age Day (成人の日)
. It was already two and a half months ago and all the 2013 twenty-year-olds have long recovered from their hangovers, packed up their rented furisodes in boxes and returned them to the rental shops. If you went out on January 14th you probably saw a furisode or two, although you may not have known it.
Furisode are those colorful, chic, draping long-sleeved kimonos worn by the the auburn and dishwater-blonde haired twenty-year-old girls with multicolored finger polish and too much eye make-up. If you want to be cool, you should get one too, although it will set you back about as much as a two bedroom condo in Los Angeles, with a pool, jacuzzi and parking for two cars.
There's a blooming flower on the J-pop scene named Kyari Pamyu Pamyu. I hear she's big in England. As if that name weren't difficult enough to remember, her full stage name is "Caroline Charonplop Kyari Pamyu Pamyu." She sings about the important things in a young woman's life. Fake eyelashes, candy, birthdays and fashion monsters. She's twenty this year, so naturally she sang about it. I guess I would too, if I were completely short of topics to sing about. The song she released is called Hatachi which is Japanese for "twenty-year-old". It has been a big moneymaker for her these past couple months. You can find the video here. It's worth checking out:
Anyway, in the song she coins the word: Furisodation, or as spelled on the album Furisodashon. I don't know what it means exactly, but judging from the implications of the song and video it's intended to have some kind of a double meaning. I'll leave that to you.
What I love about the word furisodashon, is the perfect bastardization of it. here's a Japanese noun with an English (French derived) nominalizing suffix - implying the noun Furisode is a verb. Then in nominalizing it the word sounds like the completed act of furisode-ing--or the act of hanging around in a furisode. OK? stay with me... Then because the suffix "-tion" does not sound like it is spelled, she changes the spelling to "-shon." Which is actually irrelevent because Japanese doesn't use the English alphabet anyway. In other words, the word "furisodashon" cannot possibly exist. It defies the rules of the universe. Yet there it is, like the 11th planet of the solar system, discovered by Caroline Charonplop Kyari Pamyu Pamyu. Another great wonder of the universe.
My cell phone is called a garakei. Not by the provider, that wouldn't be a selling point. It's called garakei by the cool kids. The fact that I have a garakei is probably what makes me not cool. At least that's my story.
So what is a garakei? The word is derived from two words: The first part, "Gara" comes from"Garapagosu Shotou" the Japanese rendition of Galapagos Islands. "Kei," the second part comes from "keitai," Japanese for "cell phone."So "gara-kei" - Galapagos cell phone.
Still with me? If so, you might be asking what do the Galapagos Islands have to do with cell phones? Well, I thought you'd never ask. The answer is, of course. nothing. It's all about Darwinism. You see, in Japan, for decades, the cell phone was developing in its own direction. Remember when people were saying "Have you seen those cool phone they have in Japan?" Well, they were cool in those days. In fact the Japanese could do anything with a cell phone.
But then the smart phone came along. You can do anything on a smart phone too, and sleek, large screen smartphones are way different from the weird mutant phone that developed only of the islands of Japan. Japanese phones are thick, like lego bricks. They are rectangular, plastic, and they fold like old Motorolas. When they ring, they light up like Christmas trees. Once the pinnacle of cool, these Japanese cell phones were suddenly old news.
The first nail was the iphone. Steve Jobs changed cool. Then Samsung made it affordable. Garakeis gradually became loser phones. Now I'm not sure if I'm a loser because I have a garakei or if I have a garakei because I am a loser. Either way, my phone lets everyone know who I am.
But there is hope for me. In fashion what goes around comes around. And the garakei is making it's way back to the college campuses of Japan. Pretty soon I'll be cool again... as long as I can hold onto this phone. And I have enough duct tape to make sure this one will be around for a long time!