Caturday felid: biznss kitteh

I believe it was Miranda Hale who first called my attention to the totally awesome Biznss Kitteh video from Japan.  It’s a television ad that’s only 14 seconds long.  There is a lot of stuff going on here related to Japan and its culture. First watch it without reading further, trying to figure out what the ad is promoting and what everything means.  Then watch it again after reading the explanation I’ve put below.

A detailed explanation was kindly provided by Yokohamamama, an American who lives in Japan and produces the wonderful eponymous website; be sure to see her latest post on how to make o-bento rabbit apples, which includes a scientific experiment.

The video you sent (cho kawaii! super cute!) is for Jaran, a travel/ hotel reservation company.  I looked at their website, and most of the info was geared towards tourism, family and couples travel.  The commercial was promoting that they also do reservations for business travel.

The voice in the background is saying/singing “shucho, shucho”=”business trip, business trip”.  The beginning says “Hotel reservations for business trips, too!”  The cat is “Nyaran”, a play on “nyao”, which is Japanese for meow, “nyanko”, a cute way of saying “cat”, like calling a cat a “meow-meow”, and “Jaran”, which is the name of the company.  They’ve combined “Jaran” and “Nyanko”.

Kitteh says:  “My name is Nyaran!  Today is a business trip!”  He’s on the Shinkansen (bullet train), with a pet bottle of green tea and an Ekiben (a Station Bento lunch), and you can see Fuji out the window, which means he’s on his way to Osaka/Kyoto.  You can tell it’s winter, because it’s clear and Fuji is snow-capped.  His fish-shaped Meishi (name card/business card—*very* important to the Japanese) says “Nyaran” in Hiragana.

The Power Point presentation is for “Nikkyu Manju”= “Paw-shaped Sweet Buns”.  Wiki has a nice short article on Manju, if you’ve never eaten them.  They’re sweet and good, and taste nice with green tea.  Hiroshima has a unique Momiji-Manju (maple-leaf sweet bun), and Nyaran seems to be marketing a new Kitteh Paw Sweet Bun.  He says “These will really sell!”

Then the female narrator’s voiceover says again “Business trip hotel reservations, too!” (just in case you got so wrapped up watching that cat that you forgot what the commercial is about, I expect).  “Ra, Ra, Jaran!” (the company name).

I think the cat is used for three reasons:

1)  It’s a word play involving the name of the company and a cute word for cat (more memorable)
2)  He’s cho kawaiiiiii (super cute)—this is the Land of Cute, after all.  Most things are marketed that way.
3)  It’s a commercial for hotel reservations, and what better image of restful sleep is there than that of a boneless, sacked out cat?

There are three other biznss kitteh video ads for Jalan: “Visiting a spa,” “Dreaming of a hot date while wearing a cat robe,” and “Getting a massage,” but we’ll take up these another time.

Usagi ringo (rabbit apple)

20 Comments

  1. yesmyliege
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    ““Visiting a spa,” “Dreaming of a hot date while wearing a cat robe,” and “Getting a massage,”

    Kittie porn is the best porn.

  2. bobo
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, your contact is clearly a Kanto-ite. People from the good part of Japan—that is to say, Kansai—say “meccha” instead of “cho”. “Cho” drives me nuts.

    • bobo
      Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Also, the correct reading for “肉球” is “nikukyu”, not “nikkyu”.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Hey, can we be nice to Yokohamamama? She’s an American who has learned Japanese by living there, and was nice enough to explain the video at length. Bobo’s first comment is simply nasty; the second nitpicky.

        • Tim Martin
          Posted January 8, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          Bobo’s first comment is simply nasty

          And not technically accurate. People from Kansai use plenty of “non-Kansai” language in their speech. It’s not that rare to hear “cho” used instead of meccha or some other word.

          • Posted January 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

            I sometimes say “meccha”, too:-)) My husband is a Kanto-ite…and he can’t stand Kansai. It’s a long-standing East-West thing that I stay out of–and which I think is mainly just funny. I know Bobo’ saying that with a wink;-))
            I looked up 肉球 to doublecheck that I had the meaning right (I am, as Jerry notes, completely self-taught), and I notice, upon looking it up again, that I did, indeed, write the transliteration down wrong. I could blame my kids, who were standing around me at the time, clamoring for more Bznss Kitteh (of whom they are now utterly enamored)….

            • J.J.E.
              Posted January 9, 2011 at 2:33 am | Permalink

              肉球 is literally “meatball” in Chinese. Is that the same in the way it is interpreted in Japanese?

              As for “cho kawaii”, that reads an awful lot like “chao ke ai” or 超可愛, meaning “super cute” in Chinese. Are they really that close?

              • Posted January 9, 2011 at 2:54 am | Permalink

                No–but that’s what I thought 肉球 meant at first, and then I thought “No–meatball is nikudango. Maybe it’s another word for that, or maybe it means paw.” It means paw (the sole) or pad, so my guess based on context was right.

                As for cho kawaii–I don’t speak Chinese (I would if I could, though), but those look awfully close to me, too. Accidental? Word borrowing, and if so, which direction, I wonder?

                *And* I realized at dinner, that I’ve never heard my husband say “cho” like that–he says “mechakucha (umai/samui/etc)” like Mr. Bobo above. And my husband would probably blacken the eye of anyone accusing him of being from Kansai–he grew up in Yokohama, and his grandparents are all in Kyuushu. I realize–I’ve picked up saying “cho” from mom friends around here and from tv. So now I’m intrigued–I wonder if you could make a usage map of “cho” and “meccha” and see where they overlap…

              • Tim Martin
                Posted January 9, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

                @JJE: Cho’s meaning of “to exceed” apparently came from Chinese (and presumably a bastardized version of the pronunciation as well), however it’s only recently that cho has been used as an adverb (and it is still considered slang, at that).

                As for the pronunciation of the Chinese and Japanese words for “cute” being similar, that is apparently just coincidence. “kawaii” was originally pronounced “kahohayushi,” and the word underwent several phonological changes to reach the current pronunciation.

                [Source: a couple of Japanese wiki pages]

                @yokohamamama: Considering that your husband is male and, presumably, not a “young person,” he would be less likely to use cho than younger or female speakers. There’s more to who uses cho than just where you’re from (linguistic realities are often more complicated than you think).

                Mechakucha, though it sounds similar to meccha, isn’t limited to any particular dialect. It’s standard Japanese, it came from “mecha” (the “kucha” was added to make the rhythm nicer), and mecha itself came from “mucha.”

              • Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

                In Japanese, cho kawaii can indeed be written as 超可愛い – but kawaii is usually written out phonetically as かわいい.

                My etymology dictionary has a huge entry on it. It originally meant something like a feeling of pity. To expand on Tim Martin’s original pronunciation of “kahohayushi”, the “kaho” would be modern-day “kao” (顔, face), and “hayushi” or “bayushi” was an old word ending indicating that a body part would get messed up upon exposure. (Apparently this is where mabushii “dazzling” originated from – “me” 目 (“eye”) + bayushi). The idea is that the thing that is “kahohayushi” is so pitiful it’ll mess up your face if you look at it, I guess.

                The meaning of the word changed sometime in the latter half of the middle ages, but the word still lives on in “kawaisou” 可哀想, (pitiful) which you can see has totally unrelated Chinese characters.

                So… possibly complete coincidence, or maybe someone saw the Chinese word of the same (modern) meaning that would produce a similar Japanese pronunciation?

              • Posted January 15, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

                ghostofcolemanyoung, your explanation of everything was beautiful! Would you care to share the name of your etymology dictionary with us if you don’t mind?

  3. Posted January 8, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I will never stop loving Bizness Trip Kitteh. Omg.

    And everything is hilarious, but, for some reason, I find the fact that he is a salesman for a “Paw-shaped Sweet Buns” company to be the lolziest thing of all.

    (And much thanks to Yokohamamama for the fantastic translation/explanation 🙂 )

    • Posted January 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      You’re very welcome! (Late to the party here–just woke up. Time difference of 12 or 13 hours…)

      At first glance, I assumed (from the color of the product) that he was selling kamaboko (those semi-circular pressed fish-cakes that are pink and white and put on top of kake soba or udon). When I paused it, I, too, was charmed to find that it was Manjuu he was selling–I want me some Kitteh Manjuu!

      On to Onsen Kitteh… :-))

      • Posted January 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Ooops–forgot to say above: *love* your post titled “You Keep On Saying That Word…”! And it reminded me that *that* is the movie quote that was left off of the 100 top movie quotes. I use that line all the time, too :-)) I noticed, in fact, that there were no quotes from Princess Bride *or* Spinal Tap (“These go to eleven!”–where was that quote?!), and thus a suspect list… ;-))

  4. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Clearly, with sashimi and all, Nippon is kitteh heaven!

  5. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Ouch! I just watched the bunneh apple video to make sure I got the geometry right (hey, they _are_ the cut-e!), and the consistent cutting _towards_ different parts of the body got me the heebie-jeebies. Unless I can figure out how to cut those properly, no funneh bunneh for me!

    Next up in the science kitchen series: “Statistics of cut wounds depending on knife vs body dynamics.”

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      And, seeing the unwarranted beating our japanese resident got above, I mean no disrespect of cultural differences. Just my personal reaction.

      • Posted January 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        My cutting skillz are *so* not up to par–as I said above, for most things, I am completely self-taught. Some things I’ve learned from my mother-in-law (though she herself says she doesn’t like cooking, and doesn’t make anything cute–had to learn that from my neighbors, and books). I grew up mostly using a small paring knife to cut fruit and vegetables because my mom did. In Japan–it’s the huge Houchou (kitchen knife) or nothing, so my hands have had to dope it out on their own. In between nursing, toilet training, sibling fights (three kids born in four years–I don’t recommend it;-)). I would think, though, after you put the cuts in for the ears, that you could turn the apple around and cut towards the V, but away from yourself if that gives you the Heebie-Jeebies:-)) You oughta see me cutting toufu…(right on the hand). There is, of course, a “right” way to cut everything in Japan, and foreigners *never* do it the “right” way (example: the v-cut to cut out the core. I grew up cutting the core out of a quarter slice in one smooth cut from one end to the other. My husband watched me do that and freaked out. “No! No! Chigau, yo! That wastes some of the apple!” Hence, the two-sided, small v-cut to take out the core. *sigh* :-))

        Mr. Torbjorn, I would make you a Rabbit Apple and send, but I fear even salt water wouldn’t keep it from browning on the way to Sweden… ;-))

  6. Marella
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting that Japanese culture really started to become popular after their economic dominance waned. French culture ruled the world in many areas for a long time without them ever being economically dominant. I wonder if American culture will go the same way, if the waning of American dominance and the rise of China will make us all go nostalgic for Americana? While we struggle to learn Chinese …

    • Posted January 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      I’ve noticed that very thing, too! Jr. Hi/High School/College was the entire decade of the 1980’s for me–so my image of Japan before I came was “The Japanese will buy up everything in America!”. I distinctly remember, in fact, when I felt that American products were being elbowed out by Japanese products–upon seeing a Hitachi backhoe at a construction site, instead of a Catepillar. (My husband, incidentally, works for Hitachi :-)) It was really weird, a few years later after my oldest was born, seeing maki-zushi (sushi rolls?) in the Meijer’s in the middle of Indiana.


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kira house and Best of Science News. Best of Science News said: Caturday felid: biznss kitteh: I believe it was Miranda Hale who first called my attention to the totally … http://tinyurl.com/2dlapz6 […]

  2. […] Last week we had a cultural analysis (thanks to reader and blogger Yokohamamama) of the “bzness kitteh” video used as an ad by the Japanese travel agency Jalan.  There are four of these ads, all featuring the Japanese bobtail cat Nyaran engaged in business or pleasure travel.  This week we have the second video, called “Having a Spa Day,” along with an analysis by Y. and her disquisition on onsen (Japanese hot springs). […]

  3. […] tie-clad bizness cat Nyaran.  (We’ve had two pervious videos and Y’s analysis of them: here and here.)  If you don’t speak Japanese, you’ll probably be a bit puzzled by […]

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