Thursday, January 19, 2006

entrance exam season

It's entrance exam season in Japan (I think the tests are held in February & March)
In Japan, to enter a college is much harder than graduate from it. It used be that graduating from a prestigious university would set you up for the "good life"--with a job at a good company for life...But recently, this is turning out not to be so true, with "ristora"(down-sizing), it seems that where you graduated from has no precedence when the comany down-sizes.

During exam season, snack companies in Japan have come up with a way to cheer on these students and since Japan is such a superstitious country, to cash in on the profits...Here are a couple of snacks with puns in them to promote and cheer on the passing of entrance exams.

Calbee's Curl: a kind of chip similar to Cheetos in katakana it is written "ka-ru"...on this version though, it is in the form of an "omamori" (good luck charm) and wishes for the student to "u-ka-ru"(pass the test).

Tohato's Caramel Corn: this is like caramel flavored cheese puffs sans the cheese with katakana it is written "kyarameru ko-n" but on this version, it is in the form of a "daruma" (tumbling doll) and is called "kanaeru ko-n"--"kanaeru" means for something "to be granted". The daruma is considered to be a good luck charm. You color in one side of his eye and make a wish. When your wish comes true, you color in the other side.

Nestle's KitKat: like the KitKat in America, only it is flavored with "sakura"(cherry blossoms).
In katakana, KitKat is written "kitto katto", but on this version it is pronounced "kitto katsu" (certainty to win/pass). The cherry blossom design is symbolic of the entrance ceremonies held during April (the cherry blossom season). Also, cherry blossoms in full bloom is symbolic of passing the exam. They say "sakura saku" (the cherry blossom blooms = passing the test).

During this time, many students and their parents are on edge, so be careful with what you is bad luck to talk about or to say things like "ochiru" (to fall), "suberu" (to slip), "korobu" (to fall down), all of these are considered to jinx the test takers chances at passing.

Good luck to all you test takers out there!!


Anonymous said...

hey umm can japanse college exams be taken in english?-

K and S said...

Sorry Anon, I went to college in the U.S. I don't know how the exams are here.

Take care.