July 30, 2009

Japanese in Print: Dragon Quest

It's time for another exploration of the Japanese to be found in adds; I'll try to keep it at an intermediate learner's level. A new Dragon Quest video game recently came out, and people seem to be really interested in it. It's been a popular game series since the 80s, and the characters in the games have always been designed by Akira Toriyama (the Dragonball dude). Akira really outdid himself on one character this time around: The agejō-looking faerie (hit that link for my explanation of agejō). Let's look at her before we take a look at the bigger ad:

She is dripping with the latest Japanese trends. The shorts, the ribbon shoes, the pose... it's all so now. Gotta love it. Another shot:
She does the J girl pigeon-toe even when flying.

And now the ad (click to zoom):

Ad Breakdown:

The Top few lines:
冒険をする時 When on an adventure
大切なことは the important thing
いろいろな人と with various people
話をすることです。is to have conversations
会話 conversation
を通じてby means of
世界で起っていることが the things happening in the world
明らかになれば、 if become clear,
あなたが you
そこで there
何をすればよいかが what should do
次第に gradually
分かってくる become clear
はずです。ought to be

Note that I could translate two things as should, but 何をすればよいかが is literally "what+obj.+ if do+ good+ the question of+sub." or "what would be good to do?" and はずです is "ought to+ be", expressing expectation, but could be should. Another word I often translate as should is べき. It is mostly for stating what one should do in a way that can come off as hoity-toity if not used correctly. You should think about what should means, shouldn't you.

The red circle:
村や町 villages or towns
に入ると when enter
さまざまな人と with various people

two とs in this one, but the first is a conditional と (when x is done, y is the result) and the other is the simpler "and/with" と. A third type of と is the quoting one, as in " x と言った". There is a と in the first breakdown, so take a look at that one too.

The bottom line:
困っている人を people in trouble
助けたり helping etc.
事件を cases
解決することで、by solving
物語は story
どんどん rapidly
広がっています spreading out

the たり conjugation of a verb means "doing things like" and is often followed by する even if the verb in the たりform is already する. Example: ゴルフをしたりする=doing things like golfing

I'll leave the dialog shots from the game alone.

Can You Catch the Mistakes in this Japanese?

Here's some good listening practice for you:

I will give the student's misreadings below (highlight them with your mouse to see them):

He read
小学生生活 as しょうがくせいせいせいかつ problem: one extra sei
満月 as 臨月 the word he needed was 満足 anyways
小遣い as 小便
鳥のいんこ 鳥のうんこ
エサ as クソ
期待 as 変態
完成 as 浣腸
認識 as 妊娠
奮起 as 勃起
He demands to be allowed to read until the end before being corrected, then continues with 終わり

If you have any problems with understanding the jokes, you can copy and past the entirety of the contents into here.

July 29, 2009

Karaoke: Ore ha Kaubōi (I'm a Cowboy)

Ha, I felt I had to apply English title capitalization rules to the Romaji above.

When Japanese people hear I am from the West and that my family has a couple of horses, they sometimes reminice about an old show called Laramie (ララミー牧場: raramī bokujyō [ranch] in Japananese). It's a show from way before my time, so I just have to shrug my shoulders. But last night, upon meeting a new student, I pulled the old iphone out and found the following vid and showed it to him. Karaoke is the eikaiwa lubricant of choice for me; I have to do it regularly to maintain good relations with my students.

Anyways, all this bokujyō talk reminds me that OK Bokujyō (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) was pretty famous here too, to the point where saying its name became a joke. Play us out, Japanese Boss Bush!

July 28, 2009

Japanese Slang: Like, for Now, Whatevs.

Quick, what do you say if you have just arrived in an izakaya and you are Japanese? Answer: とりえず生!(toriaezu nama, meaning "for now, give me a beer on tap!"). Toriaezu is a word that indicates that something may be for just now. For now, that beer is all you need, but in a little while, you will probably want a little more. Or a lot. Beer is the official starter among Japanese drinkers; they seem a little put off when I don't follow their toriaezu pattern.

But when you have to say, shucks, I guess the foreigner's foreigny foreign ways can't be helped, what do you say? Answer: まぁ、しようがないな (maa, shiyouganai naa, meaning "Well , this can't be helped [silly foreign foreigner]"). The drawn out maa in this phrase signals resignation. Today's slang uses toriaezu and maa blended together, as とりま

Breakdown of とりま
Meaning: For now, meh/ it'll have to do I guess/this is crap, but... etc.

Components: From 取り敢えず (toriaezu, meaning for now or first of all) and まぁ/まあ (maa, well...)

Origin: The two terms were first mixed by girls in conversations, and from their it worked it's way into the internet to the point where any youngish person may use it.

Popularity: Pretty popular online. You may see it on blogs or on mixi in phrases like とりま日記 (torima nikki, meaning a little journal full of saccharine pics of my cat, but not me, because I, as a Japanese person, can't put my face online) or とりまプロフ (torima purofu, meaning the crappy profile I just threw together... I like movies! That's cool, right? Please somebody love me). Those are the literal translations.

Anyways, toriaezu, nama! Play us out, boys.

Trying to Recapture Aymericah with Pizza

This should now be in glorious HD if you wanna watch it that way.

July 27, 2009

Japanese Slang: Gabbing Whore

You know how some people gather around the water cooler at work and gab away, maybe relating the Jay Leno monologue from the night before? Some of these water cooler people think they are regular comedians or something. This word feels of like an antiquated way to describe a similar situation. Working girls, standing around the tea-grinder, chatting about whatever prostitutes chatted about back then. おちゃっぴい (ochappi), today's slang, comes to you from a bygone age: the edo era.

おちゃっぴい Breakdown:
Meaning: A funny chatterbox (not a bad thing, despite the word's origins)

Components: From お茶 (ocha, tea) and 挽き (hiki is the noun form of hiku, to mill); both parts became hirigana, and hiki had its sound voiced and altered

Origin: Ladies in the red district used to grind tea leaves and gab while business was slow

Alternative forms: おちゃっぴー or おちゃっぴぃ (they seem appropriately feminine-sounding to me)

Popularity: Seems to be a dead word
碾 is another kanji with the meaning of grinding, and the same kun-reading (hi・ku), but 挽 seems to be used often for tools (like saws) more often. In any case, I don't think many people use these kanji often, so you will always see grind tea as お茶をひく. Here's a pic of a traditional tea grinder, or 石臼 (ishiusu):

[further reading in Japanese]

July 25, 2009

From Video Game to Campus Site to Reality

A little while ago, I shared, via Reader, the site for Tokyo's Zokei University, which is set up like an old school RPG. Great music and interactivity. Go and click on the kissing couple!

Lately I've also been following their blog. The cool thing is they have little flags that match the game site posted around the campus. See more at the blog.

Maybe I should be thinking about graduate schools...

July 24, 2009

Floating Classroom Actor Still Acting

You may remember when I made a video where I experienced the insane fun that was the goobery 80s live action adaptation of The Drifting Classroom? Here let me refresh your memory. Good?

I was lucky enough to interview one of the actors from the film sometime later, but recently someone sent me evidence that another one is still active. Remember Sho? He's still around, and his real name is Yasufumi Hayashi. You can see a little bio on him with some work shots here.
[Hat tip to Jill]

Eastwood Awarded with Order of the Rising Sun

Los Angeles-- How spiffy is this? Old Blondie (that's Mr. (氏) Blondie in Japan, mind you) has gotten the second highest award that Japan can offer for his work on the Iwo Jima films and bridging cultures. He was awarded the 3rd class of the Order of the Rising Sun, which is adorned with gold rays and a neck ribbon, on the 22nd of this month.

July 23, 2009

Japanese CMs: Celebs 1

Another collection of odd J commercials today. This time, we'll focus on mostly Japanese celebs.
smapper Katori Shingo has bananas on the chin. That sounds wrong.

And freaky banana fingers:

In this one, Ayumi Hamasaki is pointing to 海胆 (uni, urchin), but thinking of 栗 (kuri, chestnuts).

Takeshi Kaneshiro, trilingual pretty-boy actor extraordinaire, in 4 lifecard CMs:

Last Bat Baby Footage

The baby bat died about a day after filming. I was quite sad.

July 22, 2009

Using JEDict and Heisig Together

JEDict is a powerful tool. I'm an especially big fan of the kanji features. in the top right of the kanji search, you can see an animated stroke order diagram. Above that is the constituent parts of the kanji. The beauty of this is that not only does it help you to make mnemonics, but you can click and drag these components to either the search bar (near the top) or the building bar (near the middle.
For instance, while looking at 浸, a very wet kanji, I decide that I want to drag some elements and see what other kanji have a similar makeup. Below is an example where I've done that:

Then you'll notice that at the bottom there is a customizable list of indexes and info, above the common English glosses of the kanji's meanings. Heisig is available, so I sometimes copy and paste that number into a PDF version of the book Remembering the Kanji, like so:

Here's another example where we take the kanji for chair...

And see all the other kanji where it's main radical, 奇, shows up. This is great for creating your own meanings for primitives/radicals when Heisig just ain't doing it for you.

The PDF in this case is Remembering the Kanji 3.
JEDict is Mac OS X only though. My question for you, Dear Reader, is: do you know a Windows or Linux equivalent to this kanji tool with similar drag-and-drop ease of use?

July 17, 2009

Kaiketsu Zubat

First off, I had a new video to show you with some bat action (bat's name is Komori-chan BTW), but YouTube isn't letting me upload it, so let this post see you to the weekend instead.
Since we have had a few things about bats and masked heroes going on around these parts recently, I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to Kaiketsu Zubat via a YouTube play list.
Zubat is an odd hero that goes around in cowboy attire, impressing ladies with his songs and skills, which always happen to defeat whatever guy is calling himself #1 that week. Then he has a red spandex suit with a mask and a proper jet car. This garb is also the what the Viewtiful Joe games parody.

If you want more masked hero action, may I suggest this post, which covers Gekko Kamen and Tiger Mask?

July 14, 2009

Japanese Slang: Shaddup You Face

Today's word is うざい (uzai), which I first encountered in the Trick Series. At first, I folk entymologized my way into thinking it was from the word 煩い (urusai: loud), but it actually comes from うざったい (uzatai: noisy, annoying, strict) , which comes from うざうざ (uzauza: repetitively saying/swarming--think bugging).
So if someone is bugging you with repetitious words, you can say that they are uzai. Other forms include uza and uze('e). It's a rather rude word (some people have even reportedly been killed over it), so be careful about using it. Urusai is safer, and used to the same effect: trying to get somebody to shut up.

Here's an example of usage from the latest Super Sentai* series:

[further reading]
*Super Sentai are the Power Rangers in the English speaking world. This series has rangers with powers based on kanji of all things. Humanity comes up with some strange and uzai stuff to entertain its kids.

July 13, 2009

July 9, 2009

Advertisement Japanese: Awesome School Poster

Alright, here is the first of a series of posts I hope to do where we will tackle the Japanese in advertisements I spot about town. But I have a feeling we won't see one like this first one again, a poster for a girl's school in my town. Click to zoom in--this is an iphone-taken picture, and the resolution was surprisingly large.

Ad Breakdown:
Top left verical line, 第三十三回 :
"33rd time". 第 is the "rd" (or "th" or "nd") suffixes to numbers, called ordinals. 回 refers to repetitions of an event.

Top left big characters 鈴懸祭:
The name of a cultural festival held by the school. I don't know how it's pronounced, but I'm guessing suzuka-sai, from 鈴懸の木 (Plane Tree or Tree of Hippocrates, which interestingly enough has festival associated with it in Greece), one of which stands in the courtyard of the school.

The flag, 熊谷女子高校:
"Kumagaya [my town] girls high school", called 熊女 (bear girl) for short. Hey, now the character rampaging about and holding the flag makes sense!

The right vertical text埼玉県立+aforementioned 熊谷女子高校:
the second part you can see translated above, but the first part means "Saitama prefectural" (立 is the postfix that adds "al" (established by) to words like 市立 (municipal) and 町立 (townal, only that ain't a word in English so we say "established by the town").

Area below the bear with an umbrella, 熊姫:
"Bear-princess". A play on the school's nickname.

Area right below that, 乙女の道は一本道:
"The path of the maiden doth not deviate". I took some liberty with 一本道 (straight path). It seems like this is a famous saying (or a variation of one, that one being 女の道は一本道), so I poetrified it. I won't even get into the implications of how 女の道 can mean red-light district too, because our bear princesses are pure! If you don't believe it, they'll claw your eyes out.

The leftovers are just dates, so no need to go into them. All kinds of interesting things in this poster eh? Not to mention the art. I hope you enjoy this series, because I must admit I'm happy with all I learned this time around.

The Emperor's English Teacher

From the vaults:

学習院中等科 (Gakushuuin-chuutouka, the middles school division of a prestigious school) in Tokyo-- This old photo shows the current Japanese emperor, Akihito (emperors don't have last names in Japan), on the far left, beaming a smile, and his English/Western Thought tutor, Elizabeth Vining, who is conduction some sort of spelling competition.
I looked up Mrs. Vining and found out that she taught the then prince for four years, and was the only foreign guest at his wedding. She was probably one of only a handful of native English speaking teachers in Japan at the time.
It is said that Mrs. Vining had a strong effect on the young Akihito, who she called Jimmy instead of the more formal "crown prince" title he at first wanted, instilling in him a sense of independence and courage to break with tradition. Long before she died in 1999, she wrote a book about her time with the prince, entitled Windows for the Crown Prince, and another, Return To Japan. Looks like they've been out of print for a while, but I hope to pick up a used copy.
Bonus info about emperor names:
  • While they don't seem to have a family name, the imperial family can be referred to as 皇族 (kōzoku, from the kanji emperor+family).
  • While it's okay for us to refer Akihito by his name in English, in Japanese they always have to call him 陛下 (his majesty) or 天皇 (emperor) or the like. In the linked article, they referred to his then princely-self as 皇太子明仁さま (crown prince lord Akihitio). I think calling him Jimmy is reserved for Mrs. Vining ;-)
  • Emperors get new names when they die that supersede the old ones. Lately, the convention is to rename emperors after the era that they lived in, which happens to start and end with their lives. Just remember that Akihito will become Emperor Heisei after his death.
  • 天皇 translates to emperor in English, but within the Japanese language is only used to refer to Japanese royalty, not other kings or emperors. Incidentally, Japan is the only country in the world with a living emperor.
  • July 8, 2009

    A Few Pics from Japan

    Finally, I am free to inflict my crappy videos upon Japan again! Talking very briefly about the JLPT and other things, which I've taken shots of.

    Promised pics from the video (click to zoom):

    Gay sailor curry

    High grammar on a urinal.

    EDIT: I've made a new post dedicated to translating this one

    Awesome school festival poster.

    A Tanabata tree. Kind of like a mid-July Christmas tree. But totally not.

    July 7, 2009

    Man Somehow Caught Pretending to be His Wife

    I renewed my license earlier this year. I don't really know why I did it when I don't own a car anymore, but who knows what use it come to be of. Anyways, the interesting thing is, a guy that happened to be at the same place I had to go to renew my license was trying to put a license to a very different use and got arrested for it the other day. Que the "Pics from the Japanese News" music...

    Saitama--A man was trying to renew and alter his wife's license so that he could have a license in his name that wasn't creditors' blacklist. Then he was probably going to acquire even more debt in a manner that landed him on the list in the first place. So he dressed as his wife and went down to the car center. Criminals are rarely smart (The disguise included the crafty use of water-balloons), and this boneheaded disguise was immediately caught out. He has confessed to his crime already, saying he thought the disguise wouldn't be found for what it was due to his expertise from working in a gay bar. I wonder if this guy lives in my town; we have a cross-dressing hostess club close to the station.

    Japanese Slang: Hey We're Like Twins!

    カブる (kaburu) comes from the game of mahjong. Its a term for when tiles of the same type pile up (from the verb 被る I think) on each other, that has since come to be used for people who act or seem similar. In the commercial below, I believe that kaburu is the term that Boss George Bush is using. "被ってる!"

    Drink some tea to wash that feeling away.

    [credit to James for finding the vids, see more of these commercials at the Probe]

    J-Standup with a Korean Accent

    It's hard to follow, but ya gotta love this guy for some reason. The look on his face when he answers the phone...

    July 1, 2009

    Kamen Rider Doubles Up for W

    The latest in the long running Kamen (masked) Rider series will be called Kamen Rider W. In Japanese, the way W is pronounced "double-u" has made it take on the meaning of doubling. Cheesy, huh. Well Kamen Rider is a superhero of awesome cheesyness, so it's a good fit. The newest Kamen Belt (will carry two or three Kamen identities) to be combined in ways that will make the viewing children's heads asplode with rapture. But this example just seems to be the same costume on both sides slightly repainted. I mean, there is a lot of Kamen variety out there. For instance:

    And that's in just one guy.