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Tweet of the Week #56: How to Make Japanese Junk Food Healthy

Learn how to use Japanese demonstratives with this week's derrricious viral tweet.

By 4 min read

With colorful, light and balanced seasonal dishes, washoku (和食わしょく), Japan’s traditional cuisine, is considered one of the healthiest in the world. In fact, washoku even made Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List back in 2013. Fancy!

But does that mean Japanese people resist the siren call of highly processed food? Hell naw.

Japan’s ongoing love affair with junk food

Once upon a time, meat wasn’t on the menu for Japanese folks mainly for religious reasons. With the introduction of Buddhism from China, Japanese rulers banned killing mammals and the consumption of meat by the common folks. With a diet consisting of rice, seafood, veggies, and pickles—and little fat and animal products—people certainly kept themselves lean.

When in 1868 Japan entered the revolutionary Meiji Era, a revolution occurred in its kitchens, too. Japanese people slowly started changing their eating habits, (re)discovered meat and went from Buddhism’s stoic vegetarianism to all-you-can-eat 焼肉やきにく (grilled beef). The introduction of Western-style food called yoshoku (洋食ようしょく) brought potatoes, corn, dairy products, and candy to the Japanese diet as well.

Now, some 161 years later, fast food chains fill the country with the holy trinity of fat sugar and salt on their menus, while convenience stores provide 24/7 access to a mind-blowing array of processed food to sustain its overworked population.

A new type of diet

If you live in Japan, you’ll know that Japanese people are obsessed with keeping their weight down. But they absolutely love limited-edition, or gentei, food and drink products as well. So on one hand, you’ve got this strong sense of culinary heritage that advocates balance and fresh ingredients but on the other, constant access to junk food that is aggressively marketed through seasonal, holiday and special-edition campaigns.

Luckily, a Japanese tea producer has found the perfect solution: “Anti-fat strong tea.”

It’s a clever marketing gimmick that caught @CHIZUKO610’s attention.

おーいおちゃいやつのシール、これをいろんなものにればどんなもの美味おいしくヘルシーに食べれちゃいます。

= Hey, if you stick this green tea label on various things, whichever type of food you eat will become deliciously healthy.

The label reads じつ体脂肪たいしぼうらす= The truth is, it reduces body fat.

While we can’t pull out solid scientific data to back up this claim this seems like a totally foolproof way to eat unhealthy food and get away with it. Right?

Hmmm, although green tea is scientifically proven to boost metabolism, it’s probably not going to cancel out that bucket of fried chicken you just ate in front of Netflix’s The Naked Director.

Whichever type of food, it’ll be healthy AF

The Japanese language is not short of demonstrative words. これ, それ, あれ are only the *tip* of the iceberg lettuce (wahey!). Knowing all of them and their nuance kind of matters a lot to know where you stand when you talk or read in Japanese. 

Here’s a table to help you review your basics. 

   Group こ– (near you) そ– (near the speaker) あ– (far from both) ど (question marker)
Pronouns れ-

thing

これ

this one

それ

that one

あれ

that one over there

どれ

which one

こ-

location

ここ

here

そこ

there

あそこ*

over there

どこ

where

っち-

direction (casual) 

こっち

this way

そっち

that way

あっち

that way over there

どっち

where

ちら-

direction (polite)

 

こちら

this way

 

そちら

that way

 

あちら

that way over there

 

どちら

which (polite), where, who (polite)

 

いつ-

people (casual)

こいつ

this guy

そいつ

that guy

あいつ

that guy over there

どいつ

who

Determiners の- この

this…

その

that…

あの

that… over there

どの

which

Attributes んな-

kind

こんな

this kind of…

そんな

that kind of…

あんな

that other kind of…

どんな

what kind

Pro adverbs う-

kind

こう

like this

そう

like that

ああ*

like that over there

どう

how

The んな group is super useful to express “this type of” or “that kind of”. こんな, そんな and so on are always placed before nouns. The question marker どんな helps you to ask what category something belongs to.

Vocabulary

和食わしょく washoku Japanese cuisine
洋食ようしょく youshoku Western cuisine
焼肉やきにく yakiniku grilled beef (meat)
おーい ooi hello! ahoy!
ちゃ o cha tea
koi strong
シール shiiru seal, sticker, label
もの mono stuff, thing
れる hareru stick, put (on)
もの tabemono food
美味おいしい oiishii delicious
ヘルシー herushii healthy
食べる taberu eat
じつ jitsu wa to tell the truth, the truth is
体脂肪たいしぼう taishibou body fat
らす herasu reduce

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