July 22, 2010

Jazzy Yokohama Bar

Here's some scenes from a live Jazz event I stumbled across in a small bar near the Yokohama city library.

This pic shows the artworks of Sogi that adorn the walls. He's back!

Mr. Grillman on giant sax:

And video. Less shaking than usual cause I actually used my gorilla pod! You may enjoy the HD if that kicks in...

The story of how this jazzy bar revealed my spoiled self is here.

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July 20, 2010

A Japanese Riddle: When is a Verb Not a Verb?

Answer: When it's not.

When I first came to Japan, I had forgotten most of what I'd learned in my two college Japanese courses, which had been separated from each other by about a year and separated from my arrival in J Land by another couple years. When I touched down, I could pretty much only say はい (affirmative!).

I didn't have much to do during that first summer as a JET, so I stayed in the Board of Education in the town hall and tried to study the language. One of the first mistakes I made was saying あらん (aran) or あらない (aranai). It was my simple attempt to state the verb of existence (aru) in the negative. But unlike every other verb in Japanese, there is no negative conjugation of aru. My giggling bosses told me that the proper word was ない (nai).

Well, college only taught me the polite conjugations of verbs, so I knew you could say arimasen as an opposite of the polite arimasu. I had no idea that the masu ending itself is a type of verb, thus rendering arimasu and aru as two different words with the same meaning. It thought the same rules would apply to both words. So yeah, I was also confused when I was told to say nai because nai is an adjective. If you want the technical terms, aru is a doushi (動詞) and nai is a keiyoushi (形容詞). Course, adjectives have verbal natures in Japanese, but that's a whole different post.

Over the years, I came to accept this odd substitute-an-adjective-for-this-verb-instead-of-conjugating-it rule, but I never really got why things are this way. But I think I have found some good theories by asking and googling over the years:
  1. Aru means "does exist" and nai means "does not exist", so they are perfectly opposed concepts
  2. If negative conjugations of aru once existed, they were replaced
  3. Furthermore, aranai may have been shortened to just nai
  4. In older Japanese we more often may have heard 有り(ari, noun meaning existence) and 無し(nashi, noun meaning without existence) that may have been merely replaced by their modern colloquial equivalents.
Does the real explanation exist in this list? Well, I'm not in a position to say.

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July 19, 2010

Japanese Slang: I Like a Little Meat on My Grass

This post's title had so much potential for naughty puns, but I'm avoiding that for grandma's sake, who still writes to ask when I'm getting back from Japan. Recently, Invisiblegaijin told me that if I make it to 7 years, I'm here for life. He would know, he's been here long enough to be my Japanese grandma.

So, right, some kind of intro that actually has something to do with the slang terms today. Okay, before I introduce today's actual slang term, I have to cover two older ones that you may know, so bear with me. Last year everyone was running around yelling about the invasion of the herbivorous men (草食系男子 soushoku-kei danshi) and annoyingly translating the term as grass-eating men on their so totally non-hack blogs (I luv you guyssss!). Here is a herbivorous man:

When I see the sun I think of the rising sun flag and by extension all the uncomfortable comfort women...

Herbivorous men reportedly just want to talk about episodes of Trading Spaces. On the other side of the manliness spectrum, we have the meat eaters (肉食系男子 nikushoku-kei danshi), who actively pursue women, but not in the way of the safe guy you will eventually settle for and I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY ABOUT THAT, STACIE, BECAUSE YOU BROKE THE HOPELESS ROMANTIC'S HEART AND HE WILL NEED TIME BEFORE HE CAN FORGIVE. I'm sorry... I didn't mean that. Please come back! Please?

Oh, so here is a meat eater guys pic:

Ve are so manly that ve will never regret these stupid sketches nor our insensitive comfort women jokes.

Right, you have the picture. Then this year we have our word of the day: omnivorous man (雑食系男子 zasshoku-kei danshi). What's his deal? Well, he's just kinda not either extreme. He may be kind enough to wash your car, but he will be making rude innuendos the whole time he's washing the headlights. Also, sans-the man bit, this term existed as a slang word before 2010, and meant person of various hobbies. This means it is a doubly safe word to describe yourself as on a date.

Okay, post over, girly internet boys. I am off to find a 肉食系熟女.

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July 18, 2010

Evangelion Rocks Fuji

You kids don't know how good you have it. In my day, we had just two of those funny Japanese cartoons in our Midwestern, supermarket-based video store. One was a Yuyu Hakusho movie, and the other was a random episode of Evangelion in which this whiny boy was hanging out in a robot's womb or something and then the robot woke up and ate another robot and creeped 16 year old me out.

So much to my chagrin as a Japanoblogger, I never have seen the entirety of Evangelion. These days, it's just too mainstream for me to bring myself to watch it. So I don't know if this Evangelion exhibition from the news has anything to do with the plot of the series in the sense that I don't quite get the location of said exhibition.

Yoshida City— At the foot of Mt. Fuji, starting on the 25th,there is a giant robot head waiting for you. At 9 meters by 16 meters, this thing would likely send me back on a bad VHS trip as I imagined the robot coming to life and eating my flesh. I really hate robots in Japan.

You can see horrifying robo-video by clicking the picture.

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July 11, 2010

Heidi Trance Music Brings Back Tokyo Club History

First off, if you don't know the Heidi (ハイジ) Nissan commercials, go here. And if you don't recognize the animation as being from the same studio that did Golden Eggs, well... we can't be friends.

Today's post is about a song from a discotheque established in Tokyo in the decadent 90s. Wikichan says,

Juliana's, also known as Juliana's Tokyo, was a Japanese discothèque that operated in Shibaura, Minato, Tokyo[1] in the early 1990s. It was famous for its dance platforms, on which office ladies dressed in "bodycon" (abbr. (wasei-eigo): "body conscious" (ボディコン bodikon?, "sexually flattering clothing")[2][3]) clubwear would congregate, as amateur go-go dancers (professionals were also employed).[4]

Apparently, Juliana's had a techno mix that was so overused it remains locked in the Japanese consciousness to this day. It's kinda the Japanese equivalent, in terms of moronic techno that we can easily recall, of the Mortal Combat song. Here 'tis (I recommend only about 30 seconds of this stuff):

And here is a Heidi commercial featuring it:

The word they use in the CMs is 低燃費 (low fuel consumption). If you aren't technoed out, DJ Ozma has a pretty funny take on the song too that you can see here.

Hat tip for this post goes at to Mayu.

EDIT: A Twitterer has the title figured out.

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July 6, 2010

Nth Video from a Washed Up J-Vahblogger

See that. 200 videos from the guy that runs The Hopeless Romantic. 200 testaments to how shoddy a vlog can be.

I wanted to wait until I had 4,000 subbers to do the vid, but the last 50 have been stubborn etc. etc. Oh yeah, still not a YouTube partner. My body of work, my choice!

So I'd appreciate it if youtube would stop bugging me to be one.

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July 4, 2010

Karaoke: Ayaka Hirahara Will Rock Your Worlds

Though she seems to have done it way back in 2003, Ayaka Hirahara's Jupiter is pretty popular right now. I don't know why, so edifiy me in the comments Dear Reader. Anyways it's brilliant! A take on Jupiter from Gustov Holst's The Planets suite. I am more familiar with Mars, but this one rings a bell. You can hear the original orchestra pieces here.

And here is Ayaka's version with Japanese lyrics and subs so you can practice at home:
[vid link]

She seems to do a lot of such adaptations of the classics. Here is her rendition of Ave Maria. This and Jupiter both appear on her 2009 collection my[sic] Classics! Maybe the momentum has carried over into the current Hirahara boom.

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