Kanji of the Day: 十 (じゅう / と) jū / to (ten)
十人十色 (jūnin toiro) is one of my favorite Japanese proverbs.
As you may guess from the kanji, the literal translation of 十人十色 is “ten persons, ten colors” and it means “to each his own”. I used to think that it’s kind of funny that a country like Japan which has such homogenous culture and population came up with such proverb, but now I feel like people have become accepting of the idea more than ever.
When I entered an elementary school, my parents bought me a special satchel called ランドセル (randoseru). ランドセル is particularly designed for elementary school children, and parents (or sometimes grandparents) buy one for their children as a gift when they enter an elementally school at the age of 6. Back then, boys always got black ランドセル, and girls had red ones. I guess it was the norm: manly black for the boys and pretty red for the girls.
But today, no one really chooses red or black randoseru anymore, because apparently there are more than 30 different colors available, to each his own. It’s literally 三十人三十色, or thirty kids, thirty colors randoseru! Last time I went back to Tokyo, I actually saw little elementary school kids with rainbow colored randoseru walking with a bright smile on their faces. It was such a fun sight.
I really hope that these kinds will grow up truly appreciating the value of diversity, which can be a little bit difficult to find sometimes in Japan, just like they love their colorful randoseru 🙂
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