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Japanese society can be hard to navigate for somebody who feels different from the norm but from one generation to the next, things seems to be taking a turn for the better.

The nail that sticks out gets hammered down

In Japan, you can take the train cosplaying your favorite character, opt for rainbow colors in your hair or wear a ton of Lolita accessories and barely raise an eyebrow. But when it really comes to showing who you are —your personality, your beliefs, your individuality — differing from social norms can be tough in a country where conformity is still the rule.

A sign of change

Picking up her kid from school, Twitter user @ncc170116 was pleasantly surprised when she read the school’s “November’s Health News” bulletin pinned on the information board.

我が子が通う学校に行ったら、これが貼ってあった。自分が小学生の頃には絶対あり得なかった内容。あえてLGBTに限定していないところが素晴らしい。現実には今でも色々あるけれど、これを読むだけで救われる生徒はきっといるんだろうな。

= I came across this poster at my child’s school. I would never have seen anything like this when I was growing up. I think it’s great that this poster is not exclusive to the LGBT community. Certainly, we still live in times when there are so many issues, but just reading something like this may save someone.

A life-saving reminder

The bulletin was created by the Juniors’ Visual Journal, a company in charge of publishing educational papers and teaching materials for school bulletin boards across the country. They typically publish information about health issues and news from the government.

The topic of the month is “A world where everyone can be themselves and invites children, but also parents, to be kind and open-minded.

“As appearance and personality differ from one person to the next, each person’s sexuality is also different,” reads the text. The illustrations on the left and top right teach that children should feel okay to be themselves and that they should not think “boys must like sport” or “girls must act in a certain way.”

A last illustration, on the bottom right, invites pupils not to speak ill of other children.

How to express that something is “impossible” in Japanese

あり得なかった the past tense of the adjective ありえない, is a good expression to have in your toolkit to talk about an impossible or unthinkable action or situation.

The word comes from ある (there is) and る (can) which gives ありえる or ありうる.

It’s a verb rarely used which indicates that it is possible for something to happen. Its negative form ありえない is often employed to strongly express that something is inconceivable.

A common example used in the dictionary is:

紛争のない人間社会はありえない = There can be no human society without conflict

The notice resonated with a lot of users, who wanted to have similar information bulletins in their kids schools as well. For many people, it was a positive sign that Japanese society is moving forward to becoming more inclusive. At the very least, it’s welcome news in an age where conservatism and discrimination are dominating the narrative.

You can read more on LGBT-related topics and teaching and education in Japan across the blog. For study-related info, check below!

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
wagako one’s (own) child
かよ kayou go to, attend
学校 がっこう gakkou school
haru to put, to stick
自分 じぶん jibun self, oneself
小学生 しょうがくせい shougakusei elementary school student
ころ koro time
の頃 no koro at the time, when
絶対 ぜったい zettai ni absolutely
内容 ないよう naiyou content
限定 げんていして gentei shite limited to
素晴 すばらしい subarashii wonderful
現実 げんじつ genjitsu reality
いまでも ima demo even now
色々 いろいろ iro iro various, diverse
yomu to read
だけで dakede only
すくわれる sukuwareru to be rescued
生徒 せいと seito student, pupil
きっと kitto surely
だろうな darou na express the speaker’s degree of certainty

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