Tsundoku Digest: Twitter Edition

Content note: text-based mentions of gender-based violence / sexual assault in one tweet later down in the post.

I first learned the word tsundoku (積ん読) a few years back while I was still feeling giddy about learning Japanese. It illustrates the beauty and creativity of the language in a compact package, because:

  1. Tsumu (積む) means to pile up.
  2. Doku (読) is the kanji that means ‘reading’. For example, dokusho (読書) means the act of reading books.
  3. Putting the [-te] conjugated verb form with the verb oku (おく) generally means to do something in advance. So applying this to tsumu would be tsundeoku (積んでおく).
  4. Contractions are the norm for Japanese causal speech. So [-te] verb form + oku would become [-te] form + toku. So applying this to tsundeoku would be tsundoku (積んどく).
  5. But doku also means the kanji word for reading (see 3 above).
  6. Hence, tsundoku (積ん読) describes the act of piling up books in your room that you never plan to read, but think you might in the future.

Not only do I have huge piles of books in my room that I never plan to read, I also regularly amass a huge pile of tabs on my computer and on my phone that I also never really have the time to read. This is the logic behind Tsundoku Digest: I need some place to get rid of all these tabs I have open on my electronic devices.

Unfortunately, news from Hong Kong has dominated my screen time, so there aren’t really my tabs from Japan for me to keep track of. So I share some favorite tweets from Japanese Twitter in the past month.

This jacket says: “I might not have enough money on my Suica!! Get away from me!!” Wear this to get sympathetic rather than glaring eyes if you unknowingly walk up to a train ticket gate without enough money from your Suica.

This person’s late father was a tsundoku.

Where should you wash your hands? Should you try the hot water tap at the conveyor belt sushi restaurant?

(Note: please DON’T actually try this IRL, otherwise you’ll be putting boiling water on your palms and get second-degree burns.)

Don’t blame Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, for pursuing a new youth policy of locking young people up in jail rather than educating them for the future. These chart comparing a juvenile correctional facility and graduate school shows why spending your best years in life in jail is such a good idea. Free room and board, employment support, and human rights protections. Meanwhile, graduate students are just there because they don’t know what to do with their lives.

(The paragraph above is obviously written ironically.)

A friend sent me this the other day. Perfect for people with Big Dick Energy.

What do the following drinks say about you? I made a handy table below (also a handy guide to what’s available at the convenience store):

Drink What this is* Who you are
Coke Zero Coke without sugar. 意識高いダサいデブ
Fat and lame but conscious about their weight.
Mitsuya Cider A clear-colored sugary drink. Some say it’s a cross between Sprite and ginger ale? 見た目は爽やかだけどヤリチン
Looks chill but secretly a fuckboy.
Calpis Water Diluted yoghurt water. Also known as Calpico Water in the USA because who wants to drink cow piss? 濃いほど変態
A really, really intense hentai.
Monster Energy The stench of masculine regret. Ping100の陰キャゲーマー
An emo gamer who lags a lot.
Red Bull Known as an alcohol mixer in certain contexts. 忙しい気取ってる勘違い大学生
A college student who keeps acting like they’re busy.
Mountain Dew Radioactive juice. 海外かぶれ
Crazy and obsessed with everything ‘foreign’
Dr. Pepper An elixir for white people. キマっちゃってる。杏仁豆腐好きそう
Inflexible. Seems like someone who likes almond tofu.
Strawberry milk Tastes nothing like strawberries. イカ焼きメンヘラ
A nutjob about squid skewers.
Ayakata green tea The only non-offensive option for office meetings. 常識人、地味。
Plain and boring.
Grape Fanta Your childhood. THE陽キャラ
A ray of sunshine.
Pocari Sweat Japanese Gatorade. Not made with sweat. 風邪ひいてそう
Someone who gets sick easily.
Nacchan Orange Juice So artificial it should be a crime to market this as containing fruit. 関わってはいけない
Someone who no one should associate themselves with.
Kirin Afternoon Tea Unnecessarily sweetened with unnecessary milk. オタク(瞬足)(コーナーで差をつけろ)
Sokenbicha A tea that burns body fat. 無職
Oronamin C A candy-flavored, carbonated vitamin supplement. 騙されやすい人
Someone who gets scammed easily.
Bubble tea On every Harajuku-based Instagram account. ミーハーJK
Normie high school girl.

*My own annotations just in case folks aren’t familiar with the drink selections

**This is not translatable into English. I had to look up what (瞬足)(コーナーで差をつけろ)means. It appears to refer to an advertisement for a certain type of elementary school kids’ running shoes that allow you to race ahead on the corners of a racing track. Apparently, self-professed otaku place this phrase after they ramble about something they know a lot about online. (???)

Japanese-speaking Hong Kong social activist Agnes Chow translates a viral clip of a college student asking her school to do something about an out of control police force whose members are accused of sexually assaulting people in custody.

Key to the survival of modern civilizations in the upcoming second decade of the second millennium is this: how to we cultivate hope in our future generations? So long as Carrie Lam remains a psychopath, I don’t think she is neither willing nor able to confront this question.

We don’t need expensive management consultants to give us the answer, because it’s simple: we respect their hopes and aspirations. Like this Shinkansen driver here.