Happy International Left-handers’ Day!
Did you know I’m left-handed? My father, my grandfather, my aunt, and my husband are also left-handed. Imagine all the smear stains we’ve gotten on our cuffs, how many artful turns of a paper we did to avoid ruined sleeves, how many decisions we’d have to make–throw left or right?–in our entire lives. No matter how many left-handers there are in my family, there aren’t many in the world (only 10 percent!). Left-handers are just as rare in Japan as in the States, but unlike their American counterparts, they don’t have as much trouble dealing with a right-side world.
In Japan, left-handedness isn’t seen as a conspiracy to make do with the Devil as it is in Western and Catholic countries. Sure, there was a time when Japanese viewed southpaws as impractical because of traditional calligraphy writing. Even though Japanese people still write from left to right when they make banners, the taboo of being left-handed, or giccho, is considered old news.
In recent times, Japanese students use regular notebooks or genkou youshi (原稿用紙), a Japanese manuscript paper for writing essays. This kind of paper has little boxes, each box for one character, and they’re read from right to left. Because traditional Japanese is read from the top downwards, essays are written the same way, top to down. It makes it easier for us lefties to write an essay in Japan, even if they’re apology or detention essays (you’ll see it in manga, anime, or in the discipline office in Japanese schools).
Of course, left-handers in Japan still face problems in the right-hander world. In contrast to manuscript paper, writing calligraphy on horizontal banners is oriented for right-handers. I wonder if famous calligraphers like Michiko Imai, Shinjo Ito, or Shingai Tanaka ever had trouble writing Japanese characters.
Looking for your real Leftorium? Here are some shops that can help you with your left-handed needs on this fine International Left-handers Day:
1. Lefty’s – https://www.leftyslefthanded.com/ (Special discounts on International Left-handers’ Day)
2. Anything Left-Handed – http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/
3. RU-Lefthanded – http://ru-lefthanded.co.uk/ocart/
4. Left-hand N.Z. – http://www.lefthandnz.com/