March 26, 2009

Spring Break

Hey, spring break starts tomorrow, so I probably won't post much for a little bit. I am toying with the idea of trying to read a Japanese novel each day (one of those train-carry sized paperback ones that are popular over here). Or maybe I will try hitchhiking. Either way, I'm sure I would learn tons of Japanese.
May you all have a productive time as well!

March 25, 2009

Dragon Ball Eyedrops

Turns out that the recent live action movie is not the first time that the creator of Goku has sold out*. Apparently, the Z Fighters' only weakness is chlorine!

And there are two more that I found here and here. EDIT: Found a couple more in this collection.
Swimming is part of the curriculum in Japan and almost every school has a pool.
* Akira Toriyama recently exclaimed that the new movie was very different and surprising, like it was from a "different dimension". This faint praise was good enough that they put it on the movie poster over here. Look, it's like that thing you like, but from a different dimension so you can't get mad at us for doing a hack job on your memories!

March 24, 2009

Japanese Slang: This Hat is Made of Fail

Today's word is ポシャる. It means for someone's plans to get messed up when they are still half-realized. So lets do a breakdown already!

The Breakdown:
ポシャ: Comes from シャッポ(chapeau), which is the French word for hat. Also, it is reversed.
~る: A verbalizer (動詞化する接尾語 if you wanna get technical).
synonyms: おじゃんになる

The reason why hat was taken from French and then reversed and finally verbalized to come to mean spoiled plans is kind of unclear, but some think it has a relationship to the phrase シャッポを脱ぐ, which is to take of your hat off out of respect.
But anyways, the reversing, or partial reversing of words into slang is pretty common. I remember I did a post way back when I was still green to Japan about まいう (that one was featured on Japundit back then too, because I always had the makings of a Japan blogstar. Oh dear, all this bragging has ポシャらせた my post!) . There are also words like グラサン (reversed from sunglasses) and ワイハー(reversed from Hawaii)
You can find another example or two of a verbalized foreign originating ru-word by visiting a previous slang post I did.
As for usage, it seems to show up most often in past tense, which is not surprising. For example, "運動会は雨でポシャりましたが..."= "The school sports day was ruined by rain".

How to Transport an Asura

Links are to Japanese articles with big pictures and make for good language study.

Nara-- Asura seem to be a cranky bunch, so transporting them should be done with maximum care. This one is being sent the the Tokyo National Museum this month. Buddhist statues are usually transported on their side, but this one will be standing the whole way. [article]

Other interesting art-related articles I noticed recently:
  • Fuchi-- People unveiled a different kind of 像 (a character that usually means statue), with this cloth image of Kannon* draping a mountainside. [article]
  • Shibata--Other large cloth 像s can be seen being made here. These are 鯉のぼり, a type of windsock shaped like a carp that is hung out in May to garner fortune for male children.[article]
    *: Are Kannon and Aryavalokitesvara the same? The article seems to switch to the latter name at one point. Well, Wikipedia seems to confirm it. Also, Kannon may be The Virgin Mary to some as well. Sheesh, (s)he's got a lot of names.
  • March 19, 2009

    Using iPhone to Save your Karaoke Performance

    I bet you weren't expecting me to show up in the foreigners and karaoke posts that I've had going recently, but actually this vid is just me in an introduction to a tool that will be super useful at karaoke: the Midomi iphone app.

    Imagine this scenario: you can't remember the title of that enka that you need to impress the old boss of your company. With this iPhone app, the problem is quickly solved. What's more, you can go out into the hallway, get your boss a drink for brown-nosing purposes, and use the youtube links in the application to practice the song so you will nail it perfect when you get back to the booth.

    March 18, 2009

    Japan Blogroll

    EDIT: Problem solved, carry on with the linkage below.
    I finally got pulled into twitter. I had to resort to claytoniantomb, as someone took "claytonian" already. That happens more than you would think. So visit already.

    March 17, 2009

    Yama Udo and Bulgur

    I have never knowingly seen 山うど before, but I caught sight of some in the store last night and tried them out. It was pretty good. I cooked them like onions and mixed them with something a hippy friend gave me, called bulgur, which I never really knew before either, and made a really unique and tasty dish. Then I took a pic, so, bam:
    Unfortunately, I am now out of bulgur, which is a shame considering I can actually cook it correctly.
    I may have a job blogging somewhere soon. And like get payed for it. But speaking of my websploits, here is my coverage of CGM night the third at the Probe.
    Also, someone was concerned that I don't write about myself here enough anymore. I found it kind of amusing...

    March 16, 2009

    Karaoke Practice: White is the Color of Lovers

    I promised to follow up a previous karaoke post with another one about foreigners singing Japanese songs, so this is a followup to that promise. There isn't much info on the duo of Chris and Betty, but I believe they are a couple Hawaiian girls that picked up a bit of language from immigrants. Actually, I am trying to get an interview with one of them, but so far haven't heard back. But I am sure their experience must have been fascinating. So here they are, singing a song that is great, recognizable by natives (impression factor!), and easy to sing. Also good for duets!

    Once again, if you know of other foreign singers that made it big in a karaoke-able way, let me know! I guess I have to do Jero soon...
    bonus track: a nice Western version in English by Hayley Westenra

    March 13, 2009

    Way of the Samurai

    This is a pretty cool show from a wider BBC series on martial arts from the 80s. Divided into a four-part youtube playlist, I give you the story of a man following the way of the warrior (武士道). In part three, we get to see the sword master casting "spells" by writing mantras. Fascinating stuff.
    So I got the iPhone. The deed is done, and I am locked in for a three year contract because of my student discount* (I can always buy my way out, but...). I'm pretty happy, but am weary of hidden costs popping up. We will see. And I will see if a playlist can be viewed like a normal video on an iPhone shortly, when I get on the train to head to another Danny Choo blogger mingle party thing tonight.
    *If you too go to a language school you can get a 学割 just like me!

    March 10, 2009

    Followup: Fire

  • So I found a video that explains, a little better than I did, albeit in Japanese, the story I described about fire and KKK-lookin' white robes with pointy hats. We get to see a sword too.
  • I have been playing on a recently and cheaply acquired PS2. It is a crappy yet addictive game because of the pokemon-esque gotta collect'em all nature of sword collecting.
  • I am still unclear on the rules surrounding owning katanas or guns in this country...
  • I've had boar meat a couple times in Japan. The first time, the old man feeding it to me said he shot the boar in the mountains.
  • I ran into a boar herd in the mountains once. T'was awful frightnin.
  • Also, the news story reminded me of when I did the coal walk.
  • March 9, 2009

    iPhones are Cheap in Japan Now (Kinda)

    I was trying to decide if I should buy an iPhone. Softbank has brought the price down to about 5,000 yen a month (they advertise 4,000, but there are always hidden costs). Right now I think I can afford the two year contract. But who knows where I will be tomorrow? And the economy is bad. Maybe English-monkey is still a safe job. But I am a free-lancer. That is the opposite of secure. But the cool apps! Think of the apps!
    And so it went...
    My friend called me "優柔不断" (yujyufudan) when he heard me moaning thus. Why? Let's have a yoji breakdown to explain:
    The breakdown for 優柔不断
    優: gentle
    柔: soft
    不: lacking
    断: decision
    優柔: indecisiveness (only seems to be found as part of this yoji)
    不断: indecisive
    collective gloss: wishy-washy, flip-flopper, indecisiveness
    Rarity: Not too uncommon (Google hits: about 900 thousand)
    Part of speech: 形容動詞 (na adjective)
    So I'm pretty sure that I have decided to get the iPhone. Ostensibly for the improvement to lifestyle. Oh, I feel little resolve though...
    As I was searching around for uses of this yoji, I saw this video which reminds me of another 優柔不断な私にとって (for the indecisive me) hard decision. Whether to get a bunny. I've waffled about it on the blog before, in a post about bunny-related Japanese slang.

    March 6, 2009

    Behind the Scenes with the Aflac Duck

    I just thought this video was kind of a cute look at how they make commercials with that talking duck. I never did find out how the Aflac company became so popular over here. I can't be the adds. I mean, you need the annoying Gilbert Gottfried duck voice for a proper duck commercial, no?
    [link to video (Japanese)]

    Come to think of it, I need to use a good annoying Gottfried voice the next time I DM a monster.

    March 3, 2009

    Check Your Kanji Mastery

    When I didn't include kanji I know the meaning of but can read aloud, I scored 1400-500 kanji. When I go back and add those kanji, plus others I didn't know until a second glance/missed due to being inattentive, it goes up by a hundred.

    What's your score?

    I've blogged this before, but it is fun to gage growth.

    Cute Puppy Practices Zen!

    Merciful Eye Temple--This little champ is named Conan, and he is praying for good grades for students. Apparently, the crowd made him frisky at first, but he calmed down and properly did his 合掌 (prayer hands). Of course, there was some memorabilia, a few charms, or omamori, and other stuff with his image on sale too. All for the grade. No mention of whether or not poop played a part in this grade-praying event.
    [original Japanese+big pic]

    Here are a couple more religious stories I found interesting:

    Shiga-ken--One thing about festivals in Japan is that usually a portable shrine gets pulled out. I myself have helped pull one or two down the street--next goal is battling shrines!-- but this is pretty awesome a feat: getting together about 200 guys to carry a shrine 1km into the mountains. And that final bit of stone stairs is a 45% slope!
    [original article]

    From Fuki to Obama city--Have you ever heard the sound of a ほら貝? Here is a video of what a conch-horn of the Japanese variety sounds like (it's pretty difficult to do). Now, keep that in mind when you look at this picture. Sure the group may resemble a certain group of ill-repute in America, but these folks are doing nothing sinister; just the opposite in fact: that horn signals spring coming. Where better to announce spring than at a spring*, in an event called "the sending of the water"? They place their flaming cedar sticks in the water (2,500 people doing this, mind you) and purify it.
    * Actually this one was pretty hard to read and then decide proper English terms for, so if you notice anything off, do comment.

    Followup: Rockabilly in Japan [classic Japan video]

    If you found the first video I found on Rockabilly interesting, you may find this one even more so. The news takes place at the beginning of the craze. Even if you cannot understand the language, keep with it and see how crazy those ladies get for musicians! I chose the wrong path in life...

    From around 1958, yet those Yoyogi guys are still at it to this day. [via the soc]