The silly coincidence also teaches us the importance of kanji!
For most learners of Japanese, kanji – characters adopted from the Chinese writing system – is the bane of their existence. While the phonetic writing systems, hiragana and katakana, can be memorized rather quickly, there are over 2,000 “daily use” kanji characters each with multiple readings that can vary depending on the compound and use, and memorizing them can take years of dedicated study.
While some would be happy to do away with kanji, if you’ve ever tried to get through a page of text written entirely in hiragana, you can probably appreciate the purpose those complicated characters serve. Japanese is a language with many homophones, which when spoken can generally be differentiated by tone or context, but in text, kanji can really help in distinguishing the meaning of words. A photo shared recently on Twitter by @yuri00005 is a great example of how a word or phrase written entirely in hiragana can take on different meanings:
百合姫 (@yuri00005) June 24, 2017
In the photo, we can see a screen above a door inside a subway car in Tokyo announcing its next stop. Specifically, it’s a subway car on the Yurakucho subway line, ready to make a stop at Sakuradamon Station. When Sakuradamon is written in kanji – 桜田門 – we can see the characters for “cherry blossom tree”, “field”, and “gate”, but the moment the photo was taken the screen showed only the hiragana characters – さくらだもん. Right next to the screen is a small advertisement featuring the beloved character Sakura from anime and manga series Cardcaptor Sakura, and since “damon” is a casual (and slightly childish/feminine) way of expressing explanation, it’s almost as if the screen is announcing, “I’m Sakura!”
While it seems the original photo was posted a few months back by user @mitsumintw, it gained attention when it was shared again by @yuri00005, being retweeted over 36,000 times and liked more than 48,000 times. People were impressed by the (perhaps?) coincidental ad placement and the all-too-appropriate station name:
“A winning idea.”
“I use this line but didn’t know about this.”
“I bet they planned to put the ad here on the Yurakucho Line. They’re really going for it.”
And because we love Sakura, we can’t wait to see more of her soon as the series is ready to pick up where it left off!