The Urban Dictionary defines a weaboo as anyone who is obsessed with Japanese culture to the point of being annoying. While my son’s friends may mistake me for a weaboo, and I’m absolutely sure I drive my friends crazy with my constant chatter about Japanese language, food and culture, I don’t really fit the rest of the description. A weaboo longs to be Japanese, is often poorly informed about most Japanese culture, except anime and manga, and can generally mutter a few Japanese words, usually out of context.
I love Japanese culture, and do intend to live in Japan, at some stage in the not to distant future. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that I have some spiritual connection with the country, that I can’t quite put into words. I do not want to completely ditch my own culture and adopt a different one. I have been taking Japanese lessons for 14 months, and although far from being fluent, I can stutter out more that KAWAII and arigatou gozaimasu 😉 I love to read about history, about samurai and the origins of food. Wabi Sabi, bushido and everything to do with pop culture and Japanese fashion.
So……Would I call myself otaku? Otaku by Japanese definition translates to somewhere between “geek” and enthusiast. Many people into anime and manga identify with otaku. I call myself densha otaku. Train geek. Japanese trains, of course, preferably Shinkansen (bullet trains) or Yamanote Line (inner suburban Tokyo). I collect die cast trains and train stationery, and love the recordings of the Tokyo train platform jingles.
I do read manga, and I have always loved anime. Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion were favourites when I was young. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli movies are definitely up there on my best films ever list…. I also like Black Butler and Sword Art Online and some other anime, but am not obsessed. Just interested…. So otaku only for trains, really.
I think the correct way to describe my interest in Japan would be to say I am a Japanophile. And, although I find this term clunky, to say the least, not nearly as romantic as Francophile…it is befitting.
One who has such an interest or love is a Japanophile, In Japanese, the term for Japanophile is “shinnichi” (親日?), with “親” “shin” (しん?) equivalent to the English prefix ‘pro-‘, and “日” “nichi” (にち?), meaning “Japanese” (as in the word for Japan “nihon” (日本?).
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