February 27, 2009

Live Action Astroboy

If you dug the nostalgia and corniness of a recent post, you will dig this too. It's a live action Astroboy.

I choose this part of the episode because the consternated face of Testsuo when he get's arrested really amused me.

Here's the beginning of that episode, if you can stand the cheese.

If you want to see another Osamu Tezuka series that mixes his animation with live action, I suggest バンパイヤ (Vampire). Here's the OP:

Lucky Racoon Poop used by Japanese Students

Graduating students are leaving my little Japanese language school soon, so we had a bit of a party in the classroom after class. The Chinese/Taiwanese girls are leaving us, so they took lots of pictures. Always on the day my hair is not styled does this sort of thing happen. Oh well. I will miss these girls who thought I was both alluring and scary for my rare skin color.
I'm still sticking around until at least July. The family keeps wondering when I am going back to America, but I keep finding excuses to stay here, like mastering Japanese, or merely passing a test. If only I knew that poop was the answer to my problems, I could have passed the JLPT!

Sapporo--They are taking the poop of a couple lesser pandas at the local zoo and mixing it into the materials to make paper charms. But this isn't crappy protection in their opinion; it will help you pass your tests!
So, a few words may be good to get why they do this. First off, うんち means poop, and it sounds like 運, which means luck. It's also useful to know ふん (animal droppings), and 漉く (make pulp) in フンを漉き込む*, or to mix poop into paper to give it that special scattering--I mean smattering... splattering?--of patterning. Finally, the reason why lesser pandas are so lucky: They have tenacious claws so they don't drop (落ちる) from trees. Use a paper charm, and your grades may not drop as well, they say.

Do you think is a load of BS?
[Nihongo news source and bigger pic]
*As a combo, 漉き込む specifically refers to entering non-standard materials into pulp for patterning.

February 26, 2009

One of Japan's First Masked Superheroes

I'm going to blend the Pics from the News and Karaoke Posts a bit this time around. Also, the best video in this post is the last, for those of you that are busy. First off, seeing this classic pic reminded me that I've been wanting to post about 月光仮面 (Gekkou Kamen: Moonlight Mask) since I saw it playing outside of a yakitori place on the street. Surprisingly, one of the villains seemed to be be a Japanese-speaking American in the video I saw. Always intrigued by old-school foreigners, I am.

Here we see a little dude dressing up like him in 1958, during a shichi-go-san shrine visit. Much more stylish than the traditional kimono, especially with a furoshiki for a cape.

As for that karaoke action... I couldn't find a version of the theme with the lyrics attached, but here is the OP:
And here is a very easy, in terms of listening discernment,version.
This song is unofficial, but pretty funny.
I encountered another series by the same creator, 7 Color Mask. Here is the OP for that one.

But, what I really wanted to seguay into is Tiger Mask! A mysterious pro-wrestler with a mask, the shape of which I think you can guess. Lyrics are there for proper karaoke studiers!

words that I ran across:
ごっこ遊び, playing make believe, as in dressing up like a hero

February 25, 2009

Peta Naked in Japan

Tokyo--This is an interesting image from the archives. In 1992, Japan's first International Fur Market was set to open, and Peta members where there to protest. Their slogan was "Being naked is better than wearing fur!"

I'm betting most people on the street pretend to not notice the naked white people, as is the way over here. [article and full pic]

Biohazard 5 Japanese Commercial

Hey it's Chiaki Kuriyama (the girl that played Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill)! And she's playing with... whassisname from all those dramas... little help here? Anyways, as he gives a little assist, the CM says "ふたりでバイオ". Futari de Bio means "[Play] Bio together". Of course you may know Biohazard as Resident Evil if you are from an English-speaking background. But the Biohazard title sounds cooler with that creepy guy's voice (towards the end of the commercial--as far as I know, the say it in all the games at the title screen), which reminds me of a video I have to post soon...

Better Know a Phrase: Kappa Phrases

I recently gave a presentation on kappas, mischievous water sprites of Japan, in my language school. I learned a couple interesting phrases on the way:

  • 河童の川流れ: Kappa+possessive+river+flow= the washing away of a kappa. Which means, "even a kappa can drown" or the like. It's very similar to 猿も木から落ちる, or "even monkey's fall from trees." These phrases mean everybody fails, and they are a fun retort to people who notice your failings.

  • 陸へ上がった河童: land+towards+having come up+kappa= A kappa that has come ashore, meaning "someone out of their element". If you change a person's surroundings, even if they are talented, they will be at a loss. Note that 陸 is pronounced おか in this phrase.

    Now my favorite:
  • 屁の河童 or 河童の屁: fart+possessive+kappa= a kappa's fart, meaning "a piece of cake to do". I guess farting in the water is an extremely easy thing for a kappa to do. Incidentally as I was giving my presentation, I was searching my mind for the kun'yomi of 屁 (onara) and said "onani", which, well... I won't translate that word, but we must appreciate the patience of the teachers with me.

    What can I say, when I speak Japanese, I am a kappa on dry land, and even kappas drown sometimes, though swimming should be a fart in the water for them.
    Bonus: Jeff gave a good answer when I asked for a translation of 10年で 嫁は寝肥り オレ河童. Why did his translation include Jack Sprat? Check out his comment and see why!
  • February 23, 2009

    Super Fast Mario

    The Japanese narration is what sells this.

    [via The Snow]
    If you like this sort of thing, you may enjoy the series on the "green devil" at Nico Nico Douga even more; it had me laughing out loud, or LOLing, as the youngsters are reported to express. You have to be a member of the Nico Nico Douga to watch, but isn't about time you joined the age and LOLed as well?
    Jeshii (of Yamato Damacy fame) has collected them all here.

    February 20, 2009

    Japanes Slang: Big Hair and Blinging Accessories

    I'm going to give you two related slang words today. First: アゲ嬢.
    age: comes from 小悪魔ageha, a fashion magazine (not a typo, that's the official name's appearance in print)
    jyou: an honorific, basically the equivalent of "miss" or "young woman"
    So an agejyou is a girl that follows the fashions in the magazine, which displays a lot of キャバクラ嬢, or hostess fashion. Agejyou girls look kind of trampy, overly made-up, pale (trying to look white), sport alien-looking eyes, and have freaky-long art-nails. Also, I have been in Japan too long, because I am starting to like it. Ageha needs support groups for the girls that follow it, as well as boys like me, apparently (we can call it Ageha Anonymous!). Segwayishly, I wonder if on the guy side of things there is a word for host fashion followers. That will be my homework for the next slang post, but Dear Reader is free to tell us in the comments.

    On to the related word: Agejyou girls love their デコる. Or if I was going to say that in a grammatically correct way, I might have said デコり[*]

    instead, for デコる is a verb that means to decorate something with bling.
    deco: from デコレーション, decoration, though the native word is 飾る.
    ru: This is something that gets slapped onto words sometimes to make them into conjugatable verbs. Another example is ググる (guguru, to google).
    I have to admit that I am coming to like decoru as well! I mean, I have seen my fair share of tacky plastic diamonds glued to things in America, but they have elevated it to a true art form over here!
    Here is a video tutorial that teaches you how to decoru your own cell phone:

    bonus links on this subject:
  • An agejyou blog (scroll down for デコった calculators)
  • A big hair supporter, modeled by a classy white lady
  • Link to buy the dekoru mask. I should be payed for this... oh wait, you won't be buying one?
  • --
    [*]To further complicate things, the word started out as デコり and became デコる later, as you can see in the mask ad, dekori is still well present.

    Cute Dog Teaches Japanese Recipies

    This series, besides having the obvious humorous backdrop of a French poodle teaching how to cook Japanese food, really is pretty good at teaching these recipes. I think I will try one of these tonight!

    Kakiage Soba:

    Temaki-zushi (watch the dog's reaction at the end!):

    Bukkake Udon (just for the Google-hits "bukkake" brings ;):

    There are many more vids, so I subbed to this dog. BTW, I think Ken Tanaka did the voice...

    February 19, 2009

    Professional Karuta Players

    From the classic series 8時だヨ!全員集合 (It's 8'oclock! Gather 'round)
    The world of professional karuta is very competitive.

    February 18, 2009

    Giri-choco Taste Test

    Okay, so it's not exactly the most exotic food I've tried out, but giri-choco is distinctively Japanese...

    Anime Characters Walking Around in Our 3D World

    Spain--You may have heard of Takashi Murakami. His name struck a bell with me so I did a quick Google image search. Oh, that guy. The one that sold the really indecent statue for disgusting amounts of money and reminded us that art was dead*. Anyways, here he is with a creature that looks like it sprang from his mind. The headline: そっくり ( looks just like him).[article]

    Tottori prefecture--Also ran across this monstrous guy. Gegege no Kitaro! Remember when I made that video where I started to translate the theme song and then subconsciously switched back to Japanese? The train wreck? Eh? All of my videos are train wrecks? Too true. Anyways, here our protagonist is displaying the winners of a 妖怪 (Japanese monster) 川柳 (joke haiku, or as I like to say, joke-ku) contest . I believe the haiku here are the winners, in case you don't have access to our friend, but I warn you, they are kinda cheesy.[article]
    I have been wondering since I saw the live-action movie: why did they cast a half-Japanese guy as Kitaro? I mean, does that mean that he is so Japanese looking that it doesn't matter? Or that yokai look slightly like foreigners? Or that foreigners look slightly like yokai? Or maybe they just choose him for good looks and Japan is at a happy state where such things don't matter...

    A contest of my own for Dear Reader: Can you translate this joke-ku (ha ha, get it, see... jyokku is the katakana word... I'm sorry...) into English?: 10年で 嫁は寝肥り オレ河童
    Bonus etymology:
    The term for joke-kus came from a haiku critic's name. I wish I could get such an easy job. Anyways, the guy was 柄井川柳(からいせんりゅう).

    *Hey, I was an art major, so I can say these controversial statements with confidence ;) Also, you should take the hint and not do a Google image search if you are easily offended by... seminal works.

    February 17, 2009

    Followup: The World of Rouraa [classic Japan video]

    I recently posted at Japan Probe about a new video by Peter Bjorn and John featuring those dancing Elvis guys that everyone sees in Yoyogi park in Tokyo. But I wanted to know a little more about them[1], including what the heck you call them in Japanese. A reader delivered the term ローラー in due time, and I was able to find out a bit more thanks to that.
    Also found this interesting video. I wonder if this will send a ping to backtrack on JP so the Probers[2] can know; I suspect a lot of them lurk here anyways.

    This was during the 80s, when the people doing this were still young. The announcer seems to be talking a little funny; rolling his r's and such.

    [1]I never bother to hide my ignorance; I ain't proud, and you find out more that way ;-)

    [2] Probers is my special name for the readers there. It will never catch on. Anyways, backtracking has never been written into the html here before now, but I added it to the code to see if anything will change...

    Purportedly Drunken Japanese Minister Resigns, Aristocracy has a Toast

    This is one of those posts where I link to Japanese articles with bigger pictures, that I summed up for language practice (mine and yours).

    Shoichi Nakagawa is the sensational story of the past few days, having appeared to be a little drunk at a press conference at G7. He claims it is his meds, but will resign anyways. I think if he would have waited one week, everyone would have forgot, but maybe I underestimate the power of Niconico Douga.
    [sad face][Fending off the press][English article]

    Meanwhile, the new aristocracy (a manzai duo by the name of Hige Danshyaku, or Bearded Baron) became the spokesmen for a tax return company. Tax forms seem to be blue [*], so that's the reason for their blue drinks. Their catch phrase is "Renaissance!"[article]

    So here's a vid of them in their natural setting:

    bonus vocab:
    ろれつが回らない is slurring (like a drunk), and ironically hard to say especially if conjugated.
    発 seems to be a counter for jokes.
    [*] Oh crap, not only have I never seen a blue form, but I have a feeling I may have to file one this year! I hate being an expat sometimes!

    February 16, 2009

    Japanes Slang: I like when you call me big papa

    パパ came from English long ago, and is used by young kids to mean papa or daddy, as you would expect. But in modern society, it has taken on a slightly darker twist. Perhaps we would say "sugar-daddy" in English? *checks the internets* Well Wikipedia seems to agree and even references what I was about to mention: 援助交際 (enjokousai, compensated dating). Yeah, if the dirty old guy has money, the young girl has the time; a variation on the oldest profession. I find it interesting that the pic I found, displayed above, seems to indicate that the old man is jolly and the girl is the one with an evil expression. I think in really life it's more like, old man: lecherous look, girl: distressed/disgusted at what she is doing for the money to buy a designer bag.

    One restriction: If the guy is not middle-aged or if he is near the girl's age, then papa won't be used in this sense.

    February 13, 2009

    Super Cute Kitsune Babies

    All links go to Japanese articles and bigger pictures.

    Inokashira Culture Garden--They are claiming these are the smallest kitsune in the world. With their round eyes, big ears and soft fur, they certainly are lovable. But it's only a matter of time until they go all supernatural on us. Think of the children, people. [Article]

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, a guy drew a giant version of the character 夢 (dream). [Article and pic].

    Karaoke Training: Foreigners Singing Japanese Part 1

    Previously, I discovered that The Nolans had some connections to the J music scene.
    We'll get to that at the bottom of the post. For now, apologies, but I can't find the lyrics to the version of the song in this video, which despite being sung by The Nolans, is in Japanese. Anyways, it's as catchy as the original, so enjoy, imitate, and impress your J friends (if you can find it in a karaoke machine).
    It seems The Nolans were really popular in Japan, thus going to the trouble of making Japanese versions of their song(s?) and vice versa. Here they are on a Japanese awards show, winning grand prize.
    Request to Dear Reader: If you know of other performers who sang their English songs in Japanese too, or vise-versa drop me a line.
    Next time, I will feature a couple Canadians... as long as I can find their video again.
    So some Nolan covers of Japanese songs:
    なんてったってアイドル became Rockin 'Rollin' Idol
    DESIRE became Desire
    フォギー・レイン/恋のハッピー・デート became Gotta Pull Myself Together
    淋しい熱帯魚* became uh... 淋しい熱帯魚
    And so on... They did a lot of Japanese stuff.
    *That vid link on the bottom left has particularly choice 80s fashion.

    Japanese Slang: walkin' the rabbit

    Walkin' the rabbit. It sounds like a cheesy dance, but うさんぽ really does mean to take a rabbit on a walk, leash and all. It comes from two words, as most of the slang I cover does: 兎 (usagi=rabbit) and 散歩 (sanpo=walk).
    Now if there is a word for it, that means it must be at least a little bit of a popular phenomenon. In fact, I joined a mixi group, half out of amusement, that had the name うさんぽ and 440 members. Most of those people have a rabbit for their profile pic it seems.
    I say half out of amusement because I am actually considering buying a bunny. I was exploring my town one day and came across a rather ghetto shop full of chickens and rabbits, and it struck me that not only is a rabbit a cute animal that won't claw my furniture, but I can feed it all those scraps and extra vegetables I end up with. Half of my carrots alone always go bad because I never get to them in time. I asked one of my privates about it, and she warned that they have lots of stinky poo, so I am not convinced I want to go through with it...
    Speaking of cute pets, I had a J girlfriend who had a chiwawa. Her family pampered that thing and put it in a different outfit everyday. Much to their chagrin and mine, it loved me more than anyone in the family. Anyways, here is a pampered bunny usanpo video:


    Big Japanerwebs Party Rundown

    I dids make a video and elect to post it at Japan Probe. So go there already.
    People are already complaining that the beard that they used to complain about is gone.

    February 12, 2009

    Japanese Slang: Arakan

    アラ還 means "around sixty" as in age. The breakdown: アラ=katakan shortening of English's "around". 還 comes from 還暦, "60th birthday".
    This word was set up in 2006, when アラサン (around 30) became a buzzword, followed by アラフォー (around forty). I think these words may be used slightly derisively, to make fun of girls that can't admit to their real age, but don't quote me on that (this is where Dear Reader is free to jump in).
    Come to think of it I am アラサン myself, but I also get the sense that these around words only are used for women...

    The Sneakiest of Birthday Collabs

    Would I sneak a happy birthday message to my mom into someone else's birthday video? Yes. Mom, I totally like, looked at amazon and was like, I dunno what she needs. Make a wishlist and send it to me.

    February 10, 2009

    Pics from the Japanese News: Do not want!

    Sometimes the theme for these news roundups bursts out my closet and threatens to eat me if I don't give it cookies. In today's news, things that we just DO NOT WANT.

    Oga city-- Parents took their children to get frightened by >Namahage (a type of demon), ostensibly for the purpose of building better parent-child bonds. I don't get it either. Namahage are like the opposite of Santa, who show up once a year and scare kids. Who was that demon that used to hang around Santa again? I forget. See older news pic posts for the demons of Setsubun. [article click the pic when you get there to enlarge]

    Uwashima-- This frightening character is King Yama/Ema, judge of the afterlife. He gets his own festival around this time, where he and many pictures of hell (50 in all) are put on display. Some people seem to call him "Ema-sama", perhaps wanting to brown-nose. [article]

    Shimokita Peninsula, Aomori Prefecture-- Due to a population that has grown too large, monkey capturing has commenced. The plan is to capture 48 monkeys, 20 of which will go to Ueno Zoo. The remainder will unfortunately be put down :-( [article]

    Bonus photo that reminded me of the net speaks (ORLY?):

    Amagasaki-- An owl is passing the winter in this tree, and yelling at the damn kids to stay off his lawn. [article]. YARLY.
    Bonus vocab notes:
  • 匹 is usually used to count animals, but it seems to be used for counting demons in one of the articles today.
  • おどろおどろしい (hair-raising) is used to describe the hell paintings.
  • February 9, 2009

    Pics From the News: Fire and Ice

    Well I was a bit busy for the last few days and didn't have time to collect these until now, but enjoy these news links, set in the extremes of temperature (I'm going to try out small pics this time to be a little less of of a copy write violator and more of a link giver):

    First, Cold!

    Kokuryou River--More manly frigid water karate action, making me happy I quit my own training before winter came once again. [article]

    Tokaichi--Poruko (from the Portuguese for pig (porko?) is a border collie that has been brought in to help keep the hogs in line as perhaps Japans only pig-dog. It takes about three years to train a dog, so it will be a while until the farmers can uttter, "That'll do, dog. That'll do." [article]

    Other cold pics:
  • Another Hokkaido snow sculpture fest.
  • 74 year old woman climbs a frozen waterfall.
  • More freezing/drying foods with these potatoes. Does it really taste better? I found other such food processing in this post, and still wonder if Dear Reader* has tasted the difference.
  • Fishing Ebisu out of the frigid water spells good luck.
    Moving on to fires! Some fires are started on purpose, this one, for instance, was started to call in spring. Ah, I can smell those field fires now from my memory train, which is a pastiche of country trains in my head. Anyways. Then there was this fire:

    Wakayama-- A festival that has been continuing for about 1,400 years was held again recently. It's name may translate as the lamp festival, or the brightness one. Something like that. Good ol' Japanese. [article] In any case, this may be one of the more dangerous festivals I have seen. It could even lead to something like this. At first I was thinking I had another Japan story on my hands, but 豪州 is the kanji for Australia! Yeah, 130 people dead according to this article; that number may increase.
    Linguistic curiosities: 珍しく is a way to write rarely, but I rarely seem to see the kanji used written out...
    漬かる was used in the karate article, which pickled, er tickled me, as frigid training (getting soaked) and pickling can be covered by the same word.
    *Dear Reader is a wonderful man who single-handedly led the interenets to a new age.
  • February 6, 2009

    Now that's shmoozin'!

    Folks, I just want to let you know that I may see Jackie Chan tonight at the Japan bloggers party. I may even finaly be able to get that Sober Master movie idea (#41 on the list) off the ground ;-)

    February 4, 2009

    Kabuki Impression

    Don't mind me, I'm just being weird

    Japanese Slang: SPY

    "I know what spy means", you may be saying to yourself, but there is a new use for those three letters that reveals a bit about Japanese culture. Many ninjas died to bring us this post.

    SPY is an acronym (pronounced スパイ). Much like the famous KY, that comes from the letters in a word, Suppin Yabakune. The first word, すっぴん means face without makeup. I believe ヤバくね means "~ is a little risky, in'it" or "best check your (face)" from the adjective やばい. Anyways, together I think they mean "the feeling that comes when one realizes that they don't have their makeup on." I am still a little unclear if it is the girl herself that says this, or her friend who warns her, but I would guess it is the friend from the ね, and it's like saying "XYZ" in English. Do you know for sure how to use it, dear readers? [source]

    So what does this have to do with culture? Well I don't think it necessary related to the shallowness of ユニバレ, but there is this interesting rule in polite Japanese society (which is just about all Japanese society) : If you are a woman you always wear makeup outside of the house*. To not do so is not an option, because it is considered rude. The American in me really doesn't like this rule, but to each society their own I guess.

    One more thing on makeup in Japan: Applying it in public is something that pisses the older generations off. I remember a teacher here at the school asking "Have you ever seen a girl putting on makeup on her bike? Why is that bad? Because one should put on their makeup in the privacy of her own room, where no one can see."
    To which I replied, "So the problem isn't that she is being dangerous by riding and putting on makeup, but that people see her?"
    To which the teacher replied, "That's a rather しつこい (obstinate) question."
    Bonus vocab:
    アルファベット略語: Alphabet abbreviation. Words that start out as Japanese and get abbreviated using roman letters.
    KY語: KY word. A word that, following the pattern of KY, becomes an alphabet abbreviated word.
    *And a bra. I had a German friend that got in trouble with her boyfriend for not observing that rule.

    A Chubby Cat Eats Gyoza

    It seems that this happened in the middle of a photoshoot; the uploader writes "PS. It looks fat, but it's 4.5 kilos. Half of the body is fur LOL"

    February 3, 2009

    Pics from the Japanese News: Who Let the Deer out of the Bag?

    All these articles are from Japanese new sites, for the purpose of helping us learn Japanese. Today, I think I will put all the links in the pictures to see how it feels. So click pics to read/see more. Feedback welcome.

    Nagasaki--A deer fell and got into a pinch! Poor thing! Video at the original article.

    This is an おたふく, or moon-faced woman. She is associated with luck, and showed up a couple days ago on this blog, so you may have already guessed that this is another Setsubun story. In Kure city, people are passing through her mouth to take some luck with them. The shrine has been doing this for eight years running, and there is still time to drop in for a visit with the lucky tonsils.
    Also in holiday news:

    Kyoto--Setsubun activities happened here as well, were maikos (apprentice geishas) threw beans at the crowd. If you want to learn more about maikos and their business, may I recommend Maiko Haaaan!!! (amazon, subtitled), a very odd Japanese comedy.

    There was a volcano eruption recently; ash fell on Tokyo and other parts of Kantou I hear. However, it wasn't too bad. There are of course articles with pictures, but I thought the kids wearing masks to keep from inhaling ash was interesting too; usually masks are for allergies or working when you should be staying at home.

    Bonus vocab: I saw an article use マグマ for magma, but it seems you can use 岩漿 too.

    Bonus eruption: Scientist were predicting a mountain in Kagoshima prefecture would be seeing some action too.

    Etymology: The Mystery of Pickpockets

    In class we were talking about 掏り (pickpocket(ing) when the teacher drew 掏摸 on the board. Why would something that is based on a verb (掏る) be written like that as a noun? I resisted the urge to interrupt and ask, because I do that about 100 times a day already with my silly questions, but I resolved to find out the answer myself.
    WWWJDIC claims it is gikun, but my understanding is gikun is when the reading doesn't match what you expect from the on or kun'yomi, like in the case of 今朝. So is it ateji? Wikipedia seems to agree with that theory, but I discoved WWWJIC is also claiming something from that article is gikun! Maybe some talking with Jim Breen is in order, or I may not understand gikun yet...
    Anyway, why are we sometimes seeing those kanji? Well 掏 meant pickpocket to begin with, and 摸 kind of meant to grope around, which is what you do when you lift a wallet. To complicate the whole thing, the sound came from 擦る, which is to rub, also for the bump and pump that a pickpocket does. All of this entymology is courtesy of the fine folks at Gogen.
    It's no wonder that most people just resort to katakana (スリ) for this one.

    Karaoke Practice: Writing a letter to yourself

    You may start watching the video and say, "Hey, where are the subs? It's not karaoke without subs!" Well, this time they are on a different site, but with good reason; clicking um... here will take you to an iKnow! words list, where you can not only watch the video while reading the words at the bottom, but you can study them too if you are an iKnow! member (free).

    Or if you just want to watch the pretty lady (Angela Aki) sing, you don't have to leave this blog (^_^)V
    Bonus Song: Deas did this for another video.

    February 2, 2009

    Pics from the Japanese News: It's cold!

    Talk about your extravagant affairs! Fireworks above, snowboarder and skiing teams doing tricks, and about 2000 candles made this one event I would love to go to.I guess I need to find out where this "Zaou onsen" is first... Yamagata city somewhere...[article]

    This is a wedding procession, or kind of a historical reenactment/ we plan to get married procession. The lucky couple plan to tie the knot in September. The slay was accompanied by about 20 people through 12 kilometers of snow, after which they got out, prayed for a happy marriage, and partied down. [article]

    This ice mushroom appeared over a lake due to ice first freezing above a tree trunk in a lake, which gradually lowered to reveal the "stem". [article]
    I would love to live in a place like this some day.

    An indispensable lesson

    Funnier the further it goes...

    Karaoke Practice: ii hi tabidachi

    When I moved from Saga to Saitama, a reader told me about this song. It's perfect for people that are about to go off on a big trip. The song is pretty easy to memorize and impress your elders with.
    Bonus versions:
    Kinda Scary Girl version (her website is here).
    English, slightly disco version by The Nolans.
    It seems like there have been quite a few foreigners to break into the enka world over the years (the most recent and famous being Jero of course); I may make a post about foreign singers next time we have Karaoke Practice.

    Youtube Playlist: Ayaka's Surprise English Lessons

    At 206 videos this is one of the biggest playlists I've ever found. All the episodes feature Ayaka ambushing Japanese celebrities and trying to get some English out of them. I'd be pretty surprised if someone watches them all, but it's pretty cute and entertaining.