I watched an interesting dokyumentorī on the NHK English channel. It’s a bit slow, but I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in Japan. Some of it felt so incredibly natsukashii to me. The colors of the Showa Era in the 1970s were very distinctive and it reminded me once again of the ubiquitous karā bokkusu.
Color boxes were the best friend of any student trying to live cheaply. You could put them upright or on their side. They worked for books, as a pantry, clothes etc. They were yasui and came in a variety of sizes. Of course I had a green one. And an orange one. The colors were almost neon in their intensity.
The current asadora had a shot of a Showa room this morning that could have been my room. I could swear I had this very table.
Being a curious type, I tried to find out more about the color box. It first appeared on the scene in 1970 and came from a company called Kuroshio. Apparently it was one of the first pieces that required at-home construction with a screw driver. The chairman of the company saw colorful plastic goods in a depāto and thought it would be a nice change if furniture (mostly wood up until that time) could have those bright Showa colors as well. They had instant appeal among young women who thought they were kawaii.
Timing was everything here! They were a huge hit and eventually were sold around the world. With the current “Showa Boom” maybe the original iro are in again! Sorry, but those colors are still kind of hideous to me.
- dokyumentorī – ドキュメンタリー documentary (the kind you see on tv)
- natsukashii – 懐かしい nostalgic. This word gets a LOT of use in Japan.
- karā bokkusu – カラーボックス color box (used for storage and favored by students)
- yasui – 安い cheap (adjective)
- asadora – 朝ドラ literally morning drama and refers to dramas that are broadcast in the morning (duh)
- depāto – デパート department store
- kawaii – 可愛い If you use one word to translate it, it is “cute.” But it is simply so much more and has unique parameters which is probably why it has been exported from Japan in reference to manga, Hello Kitty goods, etc.
- iro – 色 color