I always enjoy Kaori Shoji’s writing, and her Jan. 16 article, “Men can be sexy when talking about themselves,” was hilarious.
It also hit home, because I have a problem. It’s been 12 years since I came to Japan, and I am now a professional rakugo storyteller who entertains in the Japanese language for a living. Yet, I have never been able to refer to myself as anything but “watashi.” This undoubtedly is the result of the first Japanese-language textbook I studied from, which permanently fused in my mind the mistaken idea that the proper word for “I” in Japanese is “watashi.”
This is all fine, but I don’t think I have ever heard any other Japanese male use this personal pronoun except when making fun of me. When my foreign friends toss off first-person pronouns like “boku” and “ore,” I get green with pronoun envy.
Why can’t I be like them? More importantly, how do Japanese people perceive me when I refer to myself this way? I am sure it’s not sexy, but what exactly is it? Can Ms. Shoji suggest a remedy?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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