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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kinki University No More, I Kindai Miss It

Talk about not liking the name that was given to you.

Now… we're not talking about the name Seven for a boy or a girl a la George Costanza on the old classic Seinfeld television show… we're talking about a full-grown university in Japan that has been around since 1925.

I am talking about the Kinki University in Osaka, Japan that is named after the region it is located in: the Kinki Region (aka the Kansai region) that lies in the south central part of the main Japanese island Honshu.

According to the university, the name Kinki actually means: "the surrounding area of the capital city, Kyoto… which was the old capital city of Japan.

And yet… Kinki University, perhaps only just now - some 90 years after the fact - gets the fact that its name can be construed - in ENGLISH - to mean 'perverted'.

Having no knowledge of Japan before arriving there in 1990, I had no idea about that name, until the beautiful Kristine South - an American woman with a Japanese dad told me so. Kristine - probably the one woman I should have dated, but didn't prowled had me hold a Kinki t-shirt she had made while she snapped a picture o me holding it.

I have a wry grin on my face, perhaps due to dehydration after getting lost with her and her troop of fellow Kinki JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme newbie AETs (assistant English teachers) that first day we arrived in Nihon (Japan)… but I knew it was a funny, naughty connotation… and yet, trying to be mature, I never brought it up again… except when Kristine and I would grill each other with some adult long-distance phone talk.

Reach out, reach out and touch yourself… that's the long-distance feeling.

That's a pun which apparently tells you I'm old… Man I miss being younger.

Anyhow… Kinki University… in an effort to seem less perky and comical, has decided to change up its grand old tradition and bowing to gaijin snickering, has decided to change its name to Kindai University.

Kindai is a contraction of "Kin-ki" and "Dai-gaku", which means 'big school", a term used for any Japanese university.

Although perhaps a very kinky race, for the Japanese, the word 'kinki' just means what it means and no one there gives a crap about what the word could mean in English.

And yet… the university does.

According to Kinki (whoops, Kindai) dean Shiozaki Hitoshi (surname first), he felt that the old name caused some foreign would-be visitors to have doubts as to just what they were walking in to.

"The word kinky also means perverted," says Shiozaki to reporters during the announcement of the name change. "We have no other choice than to change the English name because we are serious about pursuing a more international school culture."

The university says it has long had issues with visiting foreign dignitaries and speakers having to muffle a snort with the old name, and hopes that now with a Kindai gentler name visitors and would-be international exchange students wouldn't be put off by the name…

Really? I would so go to a university named Kinki University because who wouldn't want to wear the school clothing around town to proudly declare one's intentions?

But fret not, fellow pervs and people with a deadly wicked sense of humor (I humbly submit that I quality both times with that description)… you can still get your sweaty hands all over some Kinki University swag for a while longer, as the university is not changing over to the new name until 2016.

So… Kinki University has changed its name because the dean and fellow board members are concerned about what the English-speaking foreigners think about it? Really?

That's pretty sad.

Geez… maybe we should change the name of Shitake mushrooms or Fukuoka.

Hell… it's university…



  1. They've yet to change their banner on their website:

    1. The name will officially change in 2016.