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Tweet of the Week #74: Kagawa Prefecture Celebrates Animal Crossing Release With Video Game Ban

Ban video games when people are practicing social distancing at home...? Come on Kagawa Prefecture!

By 3 min read

The same week Animal Crossing, Japan’s biggest Nintendo Switch release ever, is taking over the world, a local assembly in Kagawa Prefecture adopted a controversial ordinance aimed at limiting video game time for children.

Will parents be brave enough to take their children’s Switch away?

Playing video games shall be limited to one hour per day

The ordinance, which has no enforcement mechanism whatsoever, states that parents should limit computer and video playing to 60 minutes per day on school days and 90 minutes a day on weekends and holidays for kids under 18.

Moreover, they suggested parents require junior high school students to turn their smartphones off by 9 p.m. while high school students can chat with their friends on the messaging app LINE until 10 p.m.

The timing couldn’t be worse

Kagawa’s deemed “irrational” ban on video games for kids will go into effect on April 1st. But the country, bracing for a possible coronavirus outbreak, may very well keep schools closed until mid-April at the very least.

Parents will have to keep their children entertained indoors and video games offer a welcome escape so both kids and adults can enjoy themselves during this difficult time.

OK, boomer…

For many, the edict is nonsensical and overly prescriptive for parents. To sum it up, this ordinance is just an old-fashioned move. Naturally, Japanese folks took it upon themselves to let the prefecture know how they really felt.


= On Google Maps, the Prefectural Assembly of Kagawa is now shown as a retirement home, lol

This has got to be the most clever way to say, “OK, boomer,” we’ve ever seen. The joke quickly spread and in one day, Google Maps received a range of entertaining suggestions for the prefectural office should really be called.


= Grave…yard…


= When I went to check, it had changed.

(On Google Maps, the assembly was then indicated as a mental hospital: 精神病院せいしんびょういん)

Using the passive voice in Japanese

Let’s review the passive voice in Japanese. Typically, when the action (what was done) or its consequences for the speaker (what was done to me) are more important than the subject (who did it), Japanese speakers prefer to employ the passive voice.

Here’s a quick reminder on how to construct passive verbs:

  •  ending verbs: う → 買われる
  •  ending verbs: てる → 建てられる
  • する → される
  • くる → こられる

香川県議会が老人ホームにされてる = The prefectural assembly was “made” a retirement home.

Nihongo Jouzu

Ironically, Kagawa’s video game/smartphone ban was adopted right when Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released. The game is on track to become one of the best-selling video games of all time in Japan with 1.88 million physical copies in only three days and we bet those Kagawa kids are gonna play!

The hype spread outside Japan as well, but foreign gamers playing the game in Japanese (kudos to you!) were not so happy about getting “nihongo jouz’ed” out of the blue.

The expression comes from 日本語にほんご上手じょうず (your Japanese is good), a typical compliment Japanese people give out when foreigners say so much as arigatou. Despite Japanese peoples’ good intentions, this flattery doesn’t actually mean your Japanese is good and has become a meme of sorts amongst non-native Japanese speakers.


Japanese Romaji English
マップ mappu Maps
香川県かがわけん議会ぎかい kagawaken gikai Kagawa Prefecture Assembly
老人ろうじんホーム roujin hoomu Retirement home
にされる ni sareru is made (to…)
くさ kusa lol
はか hakaba graveyard
mi ni iku go see, go check
わる kawaru change
精神病院せいしんびょういん. seishin byouin  mental hospital
kau  buy
てる tateru  build
日本語にほんご nihongo  Japanese
上手じょうず jouzu  good, talented

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