As you learn another language you start to realise that words which are commonly said in one language simply don’t exist in another. Either that or the usage of one word in a certain language is changed.
Walking about Tokyo, getting on with my life, I’d noticed that people tend to say natsukashi a lot. After looking up this word in my trusty pocket dictionary I discovered the definition for this word is nostalgic. That was good enough for me and I went on my merry way.
That definition suited me just fine for the longest time until one school lunchtime the kids were getting exceedingly happy about having jelly served up for the first time in ages. Almost in one voice they all exclaimed “Natsukashiiiiii“. This almost made my brain explode. I could not comprehend quite how any 8-year-old could justify calling anything nostalgic. “They’re eight”, my thought processes were reasoning, “They haven’t had the time to get nostalgic, everything is still new”.
It was that time I realised that natsukashi and nostalgic didn’t so much have a one to one correlation but natsukashi meants something more like, “This reminds me of something I enjoyed once, sometime ago”. I guess it could be something from your childhood anywhere up to 6 months ago.
This month, meanwhile, has been natsukashi overload for me. Recently I watched the live action remake of Ranma ½, which brought back so many memories. I first saw the original cartoon version way back when I was 14 in Colombia, in Spanish. It was the first cartoon I watched that I realised was from Japan and it set me off on the slippery slope that eventually led me to come here. I remember buying a new VCR that could play American videos just so I could import some from the US and watch it in English. I remember buying the comics and being shocked that I spent so much money on something I could read through in an hour.
Watching the live action show, it reminded me about all the silly gender bending humour, the original kung fu panda, love struck doctors, lost piglets and perverted old men. So much so I just had to procure all of the cartoon series and finally watch it through in Japanese and I’m having so much fun seeing it all again. I’m especially enjoying the early episodes I watched in English, way back when, and comparing how they originally sounded to the memories of the English version in my head. The American pronunciation of “Shikoku” still haunts my soul.
After writing this I realise that I have just described something that could be classed as nostalgic as well as natsukashi, oh well. On Friday I ate a saffron cake for the first time in ages, that was natsukashi, I guess.