Japan is famous for its myriad of characters. Characters like Anpanman, Doraemon and Pikachu generate billions of dollars yearly and believe it or not dwarf popular franchises like Marvel, Disney and others. Now that I live in Japan there is literally a character for everything, businesses, the police, the post office, cities, events, products etc. Usually, these characters bounce off me but for some reason, I have been really fangirling over the Sumikko Gurashi characters lately. Who are the Sumikko Gurashi characters though? Let me quickly introduce them:
White Bear is a polar bear that doesn’t like the cold so he ran away from the north. He is also very shy
Penguin might not be a penguin, as many people think he is a Kappa or an amphibious demon
Tonkatsu is literally a pork cutlet that is more fat than meat so he was left behind after a meal
Neko is an overweight calico cat that is socially anxious and quite timid
Tokage is an aquatic dinosaur posing as a lizard to avoid being recognized
I have a thing for Calico Cats
Its really hard for me to choose a favourite character but if I had to choose the one closest to being me it would have to be Neko ( I still miss my own Calico Cat). Tonkatsu is also quite unique. There are many more characters in the every expanding Sumikko world all with their own stories but I’ll leave you to discover them.
Japanese Learning Tool
Why am I talking about Sumikko Gurashi? I recently bought a game for the Nintendo Switch that I first played the demo for and thought it was perfect for helping me to study Japanese. すみっコぐらし 学校生活はじめるんです (Sumikko Gurashi Gakkou Seikatsu Hajimarun) or Sumikko Gurashi School Life Begins follows the five main characters and their friends as they start school. There are different classes, buildings and mini-games as the different characters take turns being teachers. You unlock more characters, rooms, items and mini-games over time and its very chill and relaxing to play while practising Japanese in a school setting. It is extra relatable for me, being a teacher in Japan
It uses simple vocabulary with furigana that is perfect for my Japanese level. Are you studying Japanese too? Join me as I fumble through the game mispronouncing stuff but having a good time. If short videos of me playing this game is something you’d be interested in please leave a comment below or tweet me @jamaipanese.
Kirk is a proud Jamaican who started Jamaipanese.com in February 2006 and now lives in rural Japan. He enjoys sharing his experiences learning about Japan, personal milestones in life as well as interests such as photography, gaming and travelling.