June 30, 2009

Prisoners do Thriller

The vid is old, but it seems to have been recently reperformed, because I saw it on the J News. The "girl" is my fav. Fabulous!

I found the prisoners do the Algorythm Switch of Japanese children's show fame and posted it a long time ago.

June 25, 2009

Dental Robot Freaks Clay Out

Look human, but slightly off! That robot! Robot scary! Robot bad! Robot with teeth badder! Don't hurt Clay! Clay be good slave to robot! Don't bite Clay!

Oh! Robot bited Clay! Is Clay become robot now? Clay feel crazy robot strength surge through Clay! Clay is robot now! Clay needs dental check! Dentist Scary!

June 18, 2009

About the Thing on My Butt

Provocative title gets.

So a couple years back I discovered a cool little shop in Sasebo, Nagasaki that was geared towards foreigners and run my an Indian immigrant. He gave me bargains and pants that fit (in retrospect I should have bought some shoes while there orz). It's also where I got my awesome phoenix-embroidered pants, pictured above.
The girl I was dating at the time warned me that I was wearing yanki style, but I could care less. These are awesome pants. I didn't see their like again until recently at a store called Method.
Last week I made a post at JibTV (please visit!) about this odd genre of clothes, and figured that if anybody was interested in getting their own Japanesy clothes, they might like to know that I've found one of the brands, 豊天商店, online at Rakuten. Click the image below to shop or just ogle, because, lets face it, most of these pants are too expensive to justify the risk of clothes that will either make you look cool or like a tool. And who buys clothes without trying them on anyways?

Finally, if you are still here, I don't believe I've shown the following video on the blog before. In it, I show off some of my shirts that have this theme.

Scanner Pen Translates Japanese as you Read

Here a guy-- that talks much like one of my entertaining students :-D-- shows off a pen that you can scan English or Japanese words with and get a quick definition. I believe the 2 in the name of the pen refers to it's two-second scanslation speed. I guess it's been out for a while, but it's new to me.

I have some reservations about this, starting with the price (about $300). I was also worried about being able to read the Japanese font, but it seems you can enlarge it, and it looks better in the Japanese language version of the above video anyways so I am satisfied. Hirigana seems like it works too. Actually these days it's the hirigana words that trip me up the most, so I am really curious as to how well they are covered.

You can download the manual and get other information at this site. I wonder if it could read E ink, or, in a pinch, a computer screen.

The ability to save my books from ugly underlined words (my current method is to underline and look up words after I have finished the current two pages opened before me) and get an instant definition is very appealing.

Any testimonials from people out there using this?
EDIT: Saw a vid for a Quiktionary 3, but it seems to be a non-Japanese learner-centered product

June 16, 2009

Japanese Slang: More Uniqlo Slang

You may recall when we explored yunibare, the word for when it slips out that you have been buying your clothes at the dasaiest of dasai clothing outlets. Here's another few words in that are related: ユニクローゼ (yunikurōze), ユニクラー(yunikurā) and ユニ隠し (yunikakushi).

Yunikurōze is a word for ladies that like shopping at Uniqlo (in Japanese unikuro). It's derived from the words Uniqlo (duh) and シロガネーゼ (shiroganēze, ladies that shop a lot in Tokyo), a slang word in its own right made from 白銀 (shirogane, silver and an area's name in Tokyo where these ladies live) and the Japanese pronunciation of Milanese: ミラネーゼ, (milanēze). Okay, so it's more like unikurōze isn't made from shiroganēze so much as imitating shiroganēze's imitation of an Italian word.

Yunikurā refers to the same thing as yunikurōze, but men can be in this category too. They took the yuniku from Uniqlo and added ラー, with is imitation of the English "er" that we put on words to make them into people (like work+er=worker etc). I'm lot aware if it is intentional or noticed by Japanese people, but it does sound like "yuni-cooler" to me.

Finally, yunikakushi means to try to cover up that you are wearing clothes from Uniqlo (read on a budget, read uncool). It is made from uniqlo and 隠し (kakushi, hide). If you don't ユニ隠し well enough, you will be ユニバレed. Or something. But Uniqlo is making efforts to seem really cool. "Like, I got this sweet music, guys. Watch me dance in my green hoody. Only 25 bucks! That's so cheap it's awesome. Hey, would you like a calendar? It's pretty cool..."

This is the weather for my town, but the pictures are from somewhere else. Actually, I kinda dig the music. Try clicking it on.
[J source]

June 11, 2009

Combos That Didn't Make the Cut

Click to zoom to a surprising degree.

I got a surprise illustration in place of the above photo when my latest article for JibTV showed up. A pleasant surprise though. They have to be cautious about showing packaging, but I don't! So here are some tasty things to titillate those of you that didn't get a belly-full of the Jib article.

Here we have the elusive double-weiner egg roll. That's a combo within a combo.

Here we have a pizza-egg-dog. Let's not even get into what you can put on pizzas in this country.

Next up is a melty-cheese-curry-doughnut. It tasted pretty much the same as any karepan (curry-filled fried bread popular in Japan) though.

So if you haven't done so yet, please visit the original article to support our JibTV blogging team! Subscribe to the RSS while you are there ;-)

Testing Green Tea Cola Taste

Take note, there is a link to my old Pepsi Cucumber video in this vid too!

Video of Robots Cooking Japanese Food

Haaaawesome. And very scary when severed-arm-sushi-bot comes out.
Robots demonstrate excellent “cooking skills” in the “FOOMA JAPAN 2009” exhibition of food processing machinery that opened on Tuesday, June 9 at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo’s Koto Ward.

June 10, 2009

ねえ知ってる?Do you know about Mameshiba?

This is a playlist; it should keep playing all the CMs if you let it.

Perhaps no breed of dog is more common in Japan than the shiba-inu. It's very name can connotate the word dog for Japanese people. Enter the mame-shiba. Mame-shiba are cute little dog-bean crossbreeds that appear in very odd commercials, that stop you in your tracks with their jarring cuteness. The commercials usually have somebody about to each when suddenly out pops one of the mameshiba, who says "ねえ知ってる?" (Hey, did ya know...) and proceeds to relate a kind of gross fact that makes the poor listening character loose their apetite. Mame means bean, and shiba refers to a intrinsically Japanese breed of dog.

Bearing this phenomenon in mind, it was only natural that when I saw a gashapon machine with a Mame-shiba theme, I had to try it. I had no idea what would pop out, I had never bought a gashapon toy in Japan before, and as far as I knew, figurines usually pop out. To my surprise, a small, rather flat pouch was what I got. Inside were a few cute products.

First, this is pistachio-dog in paper-doll form:

And these are a couple trading cards that popped out. The one on the left has pop-out stickers. The one on the right says "Hey, did you know? If you shave a polar bear it turns black I heard."

Here's the back of the card, explaining the trivial knowledge our bean-dog has bestowed upon us. The card also explains that pistachio-dog is a very shy breed of bean dog.

If you live in Japan, keep an eye out for this collectible! I recently ran into them in toy form too; you can see one of the famous commercials playing in the middle of the display.

Let's Yoji: The road ahead

前途 (zento) is a word that expresses one's prospects, or the path in life that lays ahead. It shows up in a few interesting yoji, so let's take a look at some breakdowns. I'll separate them into first the statements of a tough road, and then the statements of a more optimistic future.

前 zen: front
途 to: road
遼 ryou: distant
遠 en: distant
遼遠: remote, far off
gloss: one's goal is far off; the dream has a long way to go
part of speech: keiyoudoushi (na-adj)
多 ta: many/multi
難 nan:hardship
多難: many hardships
gloss: grim prospects; the road ahead will be tough
PoS: keiyoudoushi

I'm sure people follow these two yoji up with, "...でも頑張りましょう" (but hey, let's do our best!).

Here's some positive ones. They are all about the same, so I combined the gloss. Also note all the shared kanji and definitions within these words (多 appeared above).
望 bou: ambition, hope, aspirations, etc.
多望: promising
PoS: keiyoudoushi
有 yuu: exist, possess
有望: promising
為 i: advantage, benifit (and many more)
有為: promising
PoS: keiyoudoushi OR no-adj
洋 you: ocean
々: ditto mark
洋々: vast (doubling up words is a kind of plural in Japanese)
gloss of them all: to have a bright future

If we want to look outside of the 前途, we can also make a bonus yoji that shares kanji with the above, 有為多望, which is a synonym for our optimistic words.

One last one that is very close to these but lacks a 途 is:

程 tei: extent, degree
万 ban: myriad, everything
里 ri: the Japanese mile
万里: a great distance
gloss: bright future, limitless possibilities.

June 5, 2009

Entertainers Burn their Unmentionables with Medicine

As the Japanese TV often warns, 家ではこれをまねしないでください (don't try this at home, kids).

Followup: Why is 仙台 Named so Strangely?

Yesterday I neglected to include 仙台 (Sendai, a city in Japan) in the magical hermit post*, because I thought it didn't match at all. But when Alex brought it up in the comments, I decided to look in Wikipedia. It says,
At this time, Sendai was written as 千代 (which literally means "a thousand generations"), because a temple with a thousand Buddha statues (千体 sentai) used to be located in Aobayama. Masamune changed the kanji to 仙臺, which later became 仙台 (which literally means "hermit on a platform"). The kanji was taken from a Chinese poem that praised a palace created by the Emperor Wen of Han China, comparing it to a mythical palace in the Kunlun Mountains. It is said that Masamune chose this kanji so that the castle would prosper as long as a mountain inhabited by an immortal hermit.

Turns out that the city's name has a pretty cool back story after all. Learning gets.

BTW on the kanji above, 体 is a counter for humanoid forms, such as statues. 臺 is just the old form of 台.
* Magical hermit post is so the next blogging craze.

June 4, 2009

Japanese they don't teach: Hermits

I've been studying a lot lately, and during my breaks I often spend a few minutes (and I do try to keep it to just a few) exercising lightly or playing old Japanese SNES games to let my brain rest a bit. A recent game I've been into is a fung shui room builder/RPG called Chaos Seed which is kind of... unique. Anyways, I noticed the kanji 仙 (sen) gets thrown around a lot, so I thought I would tell you about some of it's uses that I found.

First off, its basic meaning is hermit, which in Asian culture seems to also mean wizard or immortal. I recall finding when I read about a mosaic at a Bangkok palace that within the omnipresent monkey king-related traditions of Asia, hermits seem to crop up a lot and they often have magical powers. I think it's the influence of ancient Taoism with its immortals. Immortals, like hermits, often dwell in the mountains, so I think this is why they are equivocated. This is all my armchair-summation of Asian mysticism, but I think I got the gist of it.

So here are some of the interesting words I found after 仙 started to intrigue me:

◆ 仙人 [sen'nin] (n) (1) immortal mountain wizard (in Taoism), mountain man (esp. a hermit), (2) one not bound by earthly desires or the thoughts of normal men.
◆ 仙窟 [senkutsu] (n) enchanted cave
◆ 仙女 [senjyo] [sen'nyu] [sen'nyo](n) fairy, nymph, elf
◆ 仙丹 [sentan] (n) the elixir (of life) [there's that immortality I'm talking about]
◆ 仙薬 [senyaku] (n) panacea, elixir (of life)
◆ 仙境 [senkyou] or 仙郷 [senkyou] (n) fairyland, enchanted land
◆ 仙術 [senjyutsu] (n) wizardry, secret of immortality
◆ 仙界 [senkai] (n) dwelling place of hermits, pure land away from the world
◆ 登仙 [tousen] (n,vs) becoming a saint, death of a high-ranking person
◆ 羽化登仙 [ukatousen] (n) a sense of release (as if one had wings and were riding on air)
◆ 神仙 [shisen] (n) (1) mountain wizard, god

A couple that don't have much to do with the running theme:

◆ 歌仙 [kasen] or 詩仙 [shisen] (n) great poet
◆ 酒仙 [shusen] (n) heavy drinker [drunken master? Nah, that would be 酔拳 (すいけん, drunken fist)]

I also found talk of the 八仙 (hassen, the eight immortals) on Wikipedia. They remind me of the 七福神 (shichifukujin, seven gods of good luck) of Japan. Oh and speaking of them, once I made a mistake asked an old lady shopkeep how much her 七面鳥 (shichimenchou, meaning turkey, which quite far from a god of luck) figurines cost. We had a good laugh at that.

If you are in term overload, maybe this movie about immortals will recharge your brain. It's like a Chinese lord of the rings.

And yes, there are more parts to this movie on YouTube. I recently found the whole thing here.

EDIT: Hope you didn't miss the follow-up post.

Green Tea Cola

Seems a new flavor of Coke will soon be with us. Like a soon to debut Pepsi product, it too has the flavor of a green leaf, but of a different species. It has no calories (which means it will taste even weirder), and has catechin. Catechin is a thing in green tea that helps people be skinny in Japan. It comes out on the 8th. I'll try one out.

I was recently offered 100 bucks to send six bottles of the aforementioned new flavor of Pepsi, which is the flavor of shiso, to an associate in the states. We often get shiso leaves with traditional Japanese dishes, such as sashimi. I've only ever seen one person eat them, and she was a foreigner. In any case, I think the tea cola will beat the shiso cola.

More info, in Japanese, about the new coke is here.

June 1, 2009


This is a 狛犬 (koma-inu, or lion-dog) they often guard Shinto Shrines, but this one is on house duty. He had really bad breath, even for a dog.