Thursday, April 06, 2006

Advice about learning Japanese

Today's post is more for the beginners who may (or may not) be reading my blog.

I always advise people who ask me to learn Hiragana before anything else and study Japanese in no less than Hiragana (meaning no kanji if you aren't ready for it).

A really good example was provided for me earlier today by my good friend who is studying Japanese.

My friend tells me that he is having a hard time reading "と" and "た" so I asked him why? The response was that he only studies using romaji in his Japanese class.

This is horrible. I'll give you a perfect example why.

Romaji trips us up. It isn't their way of writing Japanese in English, it's our way of making Japanese easier for us. You could not learn Chinese in a romanized alphabet because they don't have the luxury of a standard character set like hiragana. Chinese is completely rendered in kanji - if you don't know it, you could be the smartest guy in the world and not have a clue what is going on in China.

His problem was the words "yatto" and "yatta." Now I admit, in romaji, they look decidely similar, and I can understand how a person unfamiliar with Japanese could find themselves confused as to which words means what.

However - in hiragana, the written characters you should be using, these words look different enough to make them easily distinguishable when reading: やっと やった。

The end kana characters look nothing alike! Now it isn't a small matter of the slight difference between the letters 'o' and 'a,' it's a larger difference between two very distinct kana.

So always study Japanese in Hiragana or better (kanji is best!).

For your information, やっと means "at last/finally" and "やった" typically means "hooray!" or some such synonym.

Friday, March 31, 2006


I just moved back to Colorado from Japan. Needed a better job; need a better salary.

However - that doesn't mean that I won't still be bringing the Japanese blog - I'm just in the whole settling-in period right now, and it's been hectic.

In fact, the computer that I'm using atm doesn't even support Japanese text input! My computer was damaged while shipping, so I'm waiting to get some new stuff going on in there before I start blogging again.

Monday, March 20, 2006


I find myself running into a lot of these abbreviations or word-shortenings lately. Today I get to teach another not-quite-proper word that is very useful if you find yourself behind the wheel in Japan.

ヒャクパー would be properly written in Japanese as 百パー and if you can read the kanji there you might be able to guess what the word means...

But I'll wait for you...

Come on it ain't that hard...

Right on the tip of your tongue...

Give up?

百円パーキング or 100 yen parking.

These places are typically machine-driven with a small contraption under the car that pops up a metal gate that won't let the car roll out until the parking meter has been paid. I'm sure they have lots of these in other countries, but I don't live in other countries, so it's kind of hard to say. Anyway, the cheapest of these charge 100 yen per hour parked during the day, and sometimes they have standard all-night fees or night rates less than the day rate. Some, like the one we used today, is 100 yen per hour anytime, and there are only two of them right next to a vending machine on this poorly lit alley next to my apartment. Two of them, and they are the compact-size. It's kind of odd.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


EDIT: I hate mixing up the little things. I've changed the post. If you didn't read it before today - you don't know if I messed up or not!

I guess I don't feel so inspired to write something long-winded about this word, so another short blog will have to do.

退く in context is usually used to mean "get out of the way" and with certain vocal connotation, it has the feeling of "get the hell out of the way."

If you look it up in a dictionary, it's going to give you the definition of "retreat, recede, or withdraw" depending on the dictionary. All those meanings are just fine and dandy, but you wouldn't use them in everyday conversation in your native language with someone close. It's better to envision the word springing up as siblings are arguing as the following example:

退いて!!! (that's easy eh?). Or you could say どっか行って!!!

I guess I might need to explain the どっか part as well. どっか is a contracted form of どこか (somewhere, some place, anyplace), and I can only really say that it's use kinda depends on you being in a bad mood. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's guttural, but it's certainly not a word that your parents would be proud of you using because it isn't "proper." The only way that I know how to get the message across is to say that it's a slur along the lines of "hafta" where a "proper" grammarian parent would chastize with "have to" upon hearing which eyes are immediatly rolled and the word may be repeated as button-pushing necessitates.

So for today, a fighting-twofer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I have been struck down with the flu, so today's post is really short.

If you ever hear anyone say "スタバ行こう?” what they are really saying is "dear me, would you fancy a jaunt to the nearest Starbucks?"

That is how lazy Japanese speakers can be at times. Starbucks is shortened to スタバ.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Nintendo Wins the Popularity Contest

9 hours on the cold, dark concrete sidewalk next to the city's largest electronics store buys you a DS Lite, the envy of the greater portion of the line that didn't make the cut, and a big fight with your exhausted gf. I'm not sure that I would actually recommend the experience I went through last night to anyone - even someone as hard-core about gaming as myself. It does leave you drained, feeling more tired than any trans-Pacific trips that I have ever taken.

The good news is you become one of less than perhaps 300,000 people on the whole planet to own one of the sexiest handhelds ever created. I'm not a die-hard Nintendo fan per-se. I love Sony and have attended both PS launches with an eye to continue the tradition in the near future. I have never purchased a Nintendo console beyond the SNES because I didn't feel Nintendo had the game catalogue to warrant such an investment. I still consider the original DS ugly in form but divine in function. There are tons of reviews online about the handheld, and my personal summary of it is that developers seem to caught on late just how many ways those dual-screens can be used. The brain training game in the photo is a good example of that. I actually saw two people in two different lines (more on that later) using this software while waiting for a DS Lite.

So I'd like to recap the experience in such a way as to fill a void of information online about the DS Lite. I spent the entire past week going through site after site reading the same garbage news story that ran something like this: Nintendo DS Lite sells out in Japan! Only 450,000 units to be available during the month of March. Lots of people waited a long time to buy one. Lots of people were turned away due to lack of supply. More news later!

Bollocks. Let me tell you how it is from an insider's point-of-view. Anyone who has camped a product launch, or a concert ticket sales date, or something where basically demand is going to outweigh supply so heavily that sleepless nights are welcomed like bosom friend taken in and greeted with intimate familiarity - will know (grammar teachers in my past are turning in their graves for the sentence I'm constructing here) - any of those people will know the feeling of strange looks from those passing by who may or may not be aware that such an important event is being heralded by the faithful few. You know the cold, uncomfortable night trying to do anything you can to make the time go by quicker. And yet the DS Lite launch may afford an experience like no other.

I had my final day at work yesterday (March 10th) and the weather seemed to be congratulating me - it was stunning outside during the day. So I looked forward to the evening thinking it might not be so bad to stand outside all night long. The night had other things in mind. When my gf came home from work, we immediately laid down and tried to take a 90 min nap to prepare our bodies. She fell asleep promptly, but I only managed a very trance-like state where I could still open my eyes and look around but could feel my body have that tingling heavy sensation of being shut down. I "woke" 90 mins later but decided to let her sleep for another hour.

9 pm rolls around. I wake her up, take a shower, get some layered clothing going on and pack some sweaters in a bag in case it gets colder. We're out the door by 9:30 pm and take a bus south into town where Yodobashi Camera sits behind the city's JR Shinkansen station - Hakata Eki. I'm 6'2" tall with a very long stride, and she's scurrying along beside me trying to keep up as we cruise through the train station at a breath-taking pace. Coming out the other side of the station, I prepare myself mentally for seeing a long line already hoping the whole time we're the first ones there. The first door to the building had no one in front of it, and my heart leapt a little as excitement rushed to my head - until I saw the far door. There were 40 people in line already. They had chairs, blankets, small lamps, huge bags of stuff I would see throughout the night, and looked as though they had been living in front of that door since the March 2nd launch. These were the hardest of the hard-core who very likely found themselves within 10 people of the March 2nd DS Lite launch, but walked away empty-handed. I ran to the end of the line.

The line grew steadily all-night long, it's important that I say that now so that you can imagine a trickling of DS owner-hopefuls much like a leaky faucet never completely comes to rest in the off position. We were haphazardly arranged in something of a straight line, and we settled in nicely as strangers passed on their way home from work. This is the busiest train station in the city, there are a ton of people commuting every hour the trains are running. The first interesting thing I noticed was the addition of no less than 15 gentlemen who were very obviously homeless. For the life of me I couldn't understand why they would be standing in the line, and the realization only hit me hours into our night-long wait. More on that later.

The gentlemen in the photo leaning against the wall on the right (after the lady in a white jacket) are all homeless. You can see a cream-colored blanket behind the standing guy in the center of a homeless man who has already hit the hay. This is the line from our position back to the end. You can see that the girl is playing on an original DS and the guy standing up and talking to her busted out a PSP shortly after this photo was shot. I had my own PSP along with Lumines that my gf loves playing. 1 round of Lumines for her can span multiple hours. She's pretty darn good at it.

This photo was taken after one of the peculiar things about the night had taken place. Two security guards had walked from the head to the tail of the line putting people in three straight lines single-file. I was a little tickled that an event like this had it's own security detachment, and I thought surely they were going to knock-off for the night at some point. They stayed up all bloody night doing head counts about every half-hour. At one point I felt very much like I was in a detention camp. Guards with those tiny little counting devices that make the annoying clicking sound walked up and down and up and down all night long issuing strict instructions to memorize the faces of those around you and notify security immediately if some daft @#%! tried to break the line. I should probably note that I was the only foreigner in this line as far as the eye could see, and being from a neighborhood in America where violence is not unheard of, I was well-prepared mentally to deal with someone cutting in line ahead of us in an unpleasant way. I should be ashamed of that - but we're talking about 9 hours in the cold for a gadget. There are limits to a person's patience.

At the front of the line you can see the smart ones that brought the chairs, and a guy in a white shirt who is playing on a Pink DS original. The Japanese of the sign goes something like this: "Yodobashi Camera - Multi-media Hakata. Southern Entrance, 'head of the line' or 'front'."

You can check out a few people walking and the interesting cone barricade that became our little world for that one night we all shared. There was a kind of air of caste-system when it came to that line. The further towards the front you were, the more you reeked of confidence, pride, and disdain for those who weren't as dedicated as you. I admit I felt a pang of this myself. But the guys at the very front in the chairs didn't even bother looking behind them once in over 9 hours. Like the monarchs of old, they knew absolutely they had bettered all opponents for a spot in the list of DS Lite owners. On a side-note, these two pictures were taken with my 2-year-old Japanese cell phone. Not bad quality considering how old the phone is. And I didn't even use the built-in flash.

There were various trips to the convenience stores all throughout the night. We would take turns holding down the spot, and at one point my gf manages to pick up the wrong plastic bottle of tea (because they only sell like two kinds it seems) and drinks some other poor couples' tea as they are sitting behind us watching her do it. She expired the battery in the PSP after beating her high score yet again, and I enjoyed some peaceful DMB on my iPod as I tried to lay down and rest my body if not exactly sleep.

And it hit me. I knew what the homeless guys were about. Scalpers. Those guys were standing in line to get one of the tickets they hand out before they even let you in the door, and then sell them to people at the back of the line for a premium. Clever bastards! Truly, that exemplifies the human survival instinct. Scalping DS Lite tickets falls under the "gatherer" part of the ancient job description. And if I can fast-forward to the morning quickly, it actually worked. I didn't get a picture of the deal going down, but I can testify to you that before my eyes I watched three younger Japanese guys come from the back of the line and negotiate with this homeless syndicate of ticket scalpers for ALL their tickets. At one point one of the young Japanese guys pulled out no less than 200,000 yen from his wallet and collected more from his two friends. I wanted to wait around in order to see just how many they could get, but it was not to be. Score one for the homeless for being clever. And push the legendary popularity of Nintendo's DS Lite that much higher. I'm sure it ain't the first time tickets have been scalped in that way - but man the Japanese guy must have had a second-hand shop to sell to because he dropped a huge amount of money on them.

To recap the rest of the night because I'm still exhausted after only 4 hours sleep and my hands aren't hitting the keys quite right, we gave in to the cold and called my gf's dad who works a graveyard shift to bring us blankets. He made three deliveries within 30 mins bringing us two coats, a bag full of blankets, and fried chicked from a convenience store. That guy is so funny ^_^

At around 5:50 am she takes a trip to the restroom and immediately after the security guard makes us all stand up and push forward. I'm crapping a brick thinking they're going to open an hour early and we waited all night for nothing as she won't be there to get a ticket! Thankfully some nice people around us said if she wasn't back in time they would totally vouch for her. She did make it back after 20 mins - 20 mins in the bathroom! - and everything was fine. They only let us in the store 9 at a time, and we were in the third wave to get our DS Lites. I dropped over 36,000 yen on two units and the game, and we were out in a rush, almost before I even knew the waiting had ended.

Easily more than half the people in line were turned away. Starting at the point where the tickets ran out, I would estimate that some of those people probably waited from about 2 am. That's a long night in the cold to walk away empty-handed. I had planned to make a trip to other stores and get as many units as possible - so we went to another store where 4 people were ahead of us. Waited 3 more hours only to find that the store had only received 2 bloody units. The first couple was gracious enough to only buy one and give the other to the second couple. I was the 5th person in line. So I had both a taste of victory and defeat in the same night.

I'll be on the lookout this coming week as smaller shipments should roll in more frequently, and I'm glad I had the chance to record the experience as a real item of news. All the major news reporting agencies really let me down over the past week with weak stories of "hundreds of people being turned away." I just wanted to let you guys know absolutely that those of us who go DS Lites put in the time to deserve them imho.

Congratulations to all the other owners. Sorry if this post doesn't have any pizzaz to it, I'm falling asleep sitting here typing.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


When I was posting my long explanation of ちゃけど the other day I was beside myself with grief for forgetting the Japanese word for "custy prim proper girl who puts effort into being cute."

It finally hit me today!

This word needs a back story.

Meet Satou Tamao.

This actress is probably Japan's most famous ブリッコ.

She is also a famous グラビアアイドル and has appeared in porn videos in the past. You can find a full write-up on wikipedia. Of course, it's all in Japanese, but that's why you're here in the first place.

A ブリッコ is a girl who has no genuine qualities up for public consumption. She is usually large in the chest region, short, has perfected her own version of a "mouth at rest" which always looks such that people say "oh! doesn't she have a cute mouth?!" (I always don't think so and thus, fights begin), and she puts every last ounce of her being into being as sickeningly cute as possible.

These girls aren't cute in ways nature intended. These girls are the product of managers' and producers' years of guidance and correction about what "saleable cuteness" means. These girls usually appeal to very, very lonely boys who wouldn't stand a chance with financially accessible partners. There are probably a good many videos of this girl on the net, but in the interests of saving my wits before they end - I choose not to go looking on your behalf.

As you might be able to tell - I'm not a fan of ブリッコ girls. They try to be cuter and cuter with each new talk show their lecherous managers force them to appear on. They have universally recognized hand-gestures that only they can perform on television. They like to widen their eyes on purpose to give an "always surprised" expression, and you can easily pick them out of a crowd by the deliberately slow, purposefully youthful Japanese they employ when speaking about simple things like cookies.

So the next time you see a girl going out of her way to try and act cutsy - stop right in front of her, look her dead in the eye, and say in an extra loud voice, "ブリッコーちゃん、お前はかわいくない!”

And if that doesn't make her cry, just jab her in the eyeball.

ちゃけど Update III

I have to totally eat my words. My gf informs me that ちゃけど is very much Hakata-ben...


Monday, March 06, 2006

ちゃけど follow-up

A friend pointed out that some comments had been left regarding this word. I must hang my head in shame and admit I usually don't read the comments because I never thought anyone read my blog... :(


I'm perfectly happy to answer any questions. In the future, it would be quickest to email me directly using the link that blogger provides because I check my email like a crack addict.

ちゃけど is very much a female kind of word I think. That doesn't mean that men don't use it - but if you do use it, you probably pick up a kind of feminine twist to your speech. In Japan today, I find that males and females are both equally interested in femininity which is not to say that Japanese men are gay, but their fashion sense tends towards things that I don't perceive as masculine. There are a number of articles about fashion at online news sites like daily yomiuri and asahi news where you can check up on my opinion if you want. It is only my opinion - I have no way to factually certify such a statement.

ちゃけど may or may not be a local dialect. I have travelled to nearly every major city in Japan at least once, lived in Kyushu and the Kansai area for extended periods of time, and I cannot tell you for sure if I've only heard this word in Fukuoka or not. It seems to me that there were definitely some friends up in the Kansai area who spoke like this, but I didn't record it at the time to prove it unfortunately :(

More than a local dialect, I would say that ちゃけど likely has a style associated with it. For example, any who has been to Japan has seen 3 major categories of girls as far as I divide them. The oneeke/gyeru girls which wear nothing that isn't brand name, pastel in the spring or earthy in the fall, and have a handbag for each day of the year. The closet explosion girls who seem to walk into a closet each morning and walk out with whatever is clinging to them including mismatched shoes. The professionals who range from young women just entering the work force to those nearing retirement. There are degress of each as I see it, and smaller categories like grunge, punk, goth, otaku, and the like, but this is how I separate all Japanese style in my head after long experience with students and just walking around the city.

So this word ちゃけど belongs more to the cutsy prim and proper girls that really put effort into being cute. You can see these girls on TV shows all the time, and a lot of people that I have met really buy-in to this fake cuteness, but it makes me gag.

Anyway - I can feel a longer rant coming on, and I would like to avoid that.

Rather than dialect, just think of it as demographic-specific slang. Another example word that I've heard which is definitely not dialect is "おやちゅうみ” where the person in question was trying to be as cute as they could be my merging the word kiss (チュウ/チュ) with おやすみ as they said goodnight.

That's the kind of makes-me-want-to-gag Japanese that ちゃけど comes from, only ちゃけど isn't nearly as gagtastic.

I hope that clears up any questions.

Feel free to email me in the future so you get more on-time answers. Heck there's only like 3 of us who come here anyway!


A lesson of my own follows: (names have been changed to protect my friend's identity)

友達 says:
(I am still ne-boketeru)
帝羅 says:
(I don't know that word)
友達 says:
(sleep punch drunk?)
友達 says:
(sleep drunk?)
友達 says:
(I don't know the english)
友達 says:
if we have english
友達 says:
half-asleep, I guess
帝羅 says:
word of the day!
帝羅 says:
what's the kanji?
友達 says:
友達 says:
lets see
帝羅 says:
友達 says:
友達 says:
if you use the bokeru kanji
友達 says:
but it appears not to be used normally
帝羅 says:
友達 says:
bokeru means to be a dumb-ass
帝羅 says:
友達 says:
maybe you have heard just BOKE
友達 says:
which means idiot
友達 says:
友達 says:
帝羅 says:
that's good stuff
帝羅 says:
use it in a sentence
友達 says:
nani shitteru omae no boke??!!
帝羅 says:
"what in the @#^! are you doing moron?!"
友達 says:
I guess it works just like "baka"
帝羅 says:
I'm going to blog this conversation as-is

And I did! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 05, 2006


ぽい is simply another term for みたい when you are speaking of a resemblance.

My that sounds awfully professor-ish don't it. Ahh, much better.

If you haven't yet learned ~みたい, then I suppose I should be the lucky one to teach you!

Example: その赤ちゃんの顔がりんごみたい。 Sono akachan no kao ga ringo mitai. That baby's face looks like an apple.

You may never have any reason to use my example sentence, and I'm sorry that I can't be useful all the time =(

Now to sound a little more native, you would simple substitute ぽい for みたい。

その赤ちゃんの顔がりんごぽい。 Like that!

And you're a step closer to using the Japanese that Japanese people use!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Massive Shortage of DS Lites

That's right - there are no DS Lites to be had anywhere in Japan. I showed up at the store at 10:03 like the lady said "come at 10 and you'll have one) and they had already sold out. Not because there was a huge line - oh no - they only got THREE of them in at all and someone had been lined up since 9:30!

What in the bloody #$^@ is that all about? How do you stay in business as an electronics store when you service your customers by saying "if you come at 10 you will ABSOLUTELY have one" and then not have any in stock!!! She said that - she used the absolute form of the words when speaking to me.

You heard it here first. Massive shortage of DS Lites in Japan. And stupid employees that shouldn't have jobs in the first place.

Now I have to go home empty-handed and explain to my gf why I don't have her DS...

The word for today is むかつく (son of a @#%^& in this instance).


Here's something they never teach you in Japanese class (unless your teacher is either very cool, or has questionable ethics), yet no reason I can't bring it to you here!

A グラビアアイドル can best be explained by submitting a link and me saying "that's what it means" and you (hopefully) going "ohhhhhh."

So here's the link (no nudity - but probably not good for younger audiences).

If I need to explain further, and I suppose I should since this is a blog for explanations of things that aren't explained simply in other places, then a グラビアアイドル is basically a girl that poses in suggestive ways and comes very near that line of being pornographic. Many of these idols DO pose naked at some point (no, I do not spend time searching for them and downloading their pictures) but their primary claim to fame is typically certain voluptuous features perhaps not typical of Asian DNA. Then they do everything they can to put these wares on display short of revealing the areola.

This isn't a cultural blog specifically, yet if you've never been to Japan you should know that pornography is rampant in this country. In areas where there are lots of bars, there are typically also hostess bars where pictures on the front tempt salarymen inside. These pictures leave nothing out. There ARE laws in Japan against photographing pubic areas without a blur, but everything else is right out there on the street.

This is also true of pornographic magazines in convenience stores. No covers, no plastic bags - children can walk in and start leafing through whichever weekly catches their eye. I do not feel that is socially appropriate, but I don't make the laws here.

If you are planning to travel to Japan with young children, watch them closely in convenience stores and be careful walking on the streets because you never know when one of these life-size グラビアアイドル posters are going to leap out from around the next corner in front of some porn video shop.


I'm not sure there's a whole lot to say about this word. It's really easy to use if you know another word taught in most beginning-level Japanese classes.

ちゃけど takes the place of だけど, but I wouldn't say that it means "but" or "though" like you might have learned in class. ちゃけど is more often used at the end of a sentence in much the same way that です is used to end a sentence. And it gets a little weird now because you might be saying "well, why didn't you just say that it should be used to replace です?" to which I have to reply "because です and だけど aren't used in exactly the same way..."

And if you're not clear on that part, then you won't take those accusing eyes off my beautiful Golden Pavilion, and I'll feel the mirthless heat of your gaze by proxy.

Basically, when Japanese people want to end a sentence openly, they will use the "but" expression on the end. But "but" doesn't mean but! It's just a way of saying things so as to avoid finality (and finality is bad because it's direct - directness is considered rude... and we're all on the same page again).

If you want to sound really fluent when speaking with your friends in Japanese, you'll need to master the open-ended sentence. Saying something like:

まじかわいいちゃけど~ (wow that's really cute!) borders on native fluency.

Try it out! (I used italics far too many times this post)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Marimba Ponies

Here is an extremely awesome link showcasing the talents of the Marimba Ponies

You can clearly hear the guy saying "ありがとうございました" and "紹介します!" if you want some listening practice at normal speed.

Plus the link is just good fun. I think I'm going to watch it one more time...

Saturday, February 25, 2006


満腹(まんぷく) means "stuffed" and you should say it right after a large meal, fall out of your chair, and pass out on the spot.

I learned this word during my first year of studying Japanese at University because I had a tendancy (like all poor college kids) to gorge myself at events with free food. A Japanese exchange student whom I had befriended was kind enough to laugh at my drooping face and exclaim "満腹!" very loudly which caused a number of people to look over in our general direction though they had no idea what he was saying.

It's also polite to say this word because it conveys a sense of "damn that food was good so I ate too much" with it. I recommend using this whenever you're sat down at a homestay and the dad or mom makes you a large meal. They will chuckle because this is kind of a slang term (yet not dirty in any way). Just one more way to make those in-roads towards lost of Japanese friends and cross-cultural communications!

Friday, February 24, 2006


In the dictionary ぼけ may come out as 呆け or 惚け meaning "sinility" or "forgetful" or something along those lines. I've even heard that it can be used to describe a person with alzheimers. Today I'm bringing you a much more useful definition of the word.

ぼけ means "moron." I know this because my girlfriend said it to me this afternoon in jest (I think). I suppose other useful terms would be along the lines of "idiot," or "stupid," or "airhead" (well maybe not airhead - that's a relic from my middle school years).

As always, in English or in Japanese, using a word with the proper intonation is important in order to convey the correct meaning. You could, quite literally, scream this word in someone's face and find yourself in a very unpleasant situation as a result of all their friends taking exception to such name-calling, or you could say it to a friend and mean it only in a teasing way.

Sarcasm rules no matter where you hail from.

So why are you still reading ぼけ~!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

From the East and From the West

Today is a small deviation from normal posts in an attempt to serve a point to anyone willing to listen.

I found this passage on the internet recently:

A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: "Have you ever read the Christian Bible?"

"No, read it to me," said Gasan.

The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: "And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these... Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."

Gasan said: "Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man."

The student continued reading: "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened."

Gasan remarked: "That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood."

This passage is particularly relevant for anyone from the West who seeks to visit the East. I make no religious endorsement whatsoever about the passage; I wish only to explain that the man Gasan is from a different culture than that which produced the Christian Bible - yet he appreciates what he hears. A wise man is able to see value in things that are beyond his own sphere of influence or sphere of thought. It is very important to keep in mind when you are visiting another country that there is value in opinions which are not your own. Perhaps you may experience a heightened sense of value precisely because they are not your own.

I have experienced the clashing of cultures during my time here in Japan. I have not met each clash with dignity and openness I am ashamed to admit. I like to think, however, that as my time here winds on, I open more and more to ideas that are not my own.

Just a bit of advice about life in another country.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


結局 (けっきょく、kekkyoku) means "after all, eventually."

I like this word and am blogging it today because it gets used with a very exasperated intonation at times. I was listening to my girlfriend tell me a story about her workday, all in English, and she gets near the end of the story, doesn't know the word she wants to use in English, and sighs in a very "I'm so fed up at this point" kind of way - 結局 (haha I can italicize it).

Anyway - that's how it came out.

I think the best way to think of this word is to imagine a very unhappy girlfriend or a rather irritated boyfriend using it as a one-word exclamation - Finally! - with hands thrown up in the air where appropriate in your personal situation.

Grammatically you can use it to introduce a new sentence as in:

ハンバーグかパスタで迷って、結局、パスタを食べた(ハンバーグかパスタでまよって、けっきょく、パスタをたべた) - I was stuck between pasta and hamburger (for dinner), but finally (at last), I had pasta.

And that's the word of the day!

Monday, February 20, 2006


Today's word is most similar to めちゃくちゃ which is kind of like "really really" and can be used when you're really excited OR down about something. An example sentence would be:

ぼっこしお腹が痛い(ぼっこしおなかがいたい、bokkoshi onaka ga itai) - My stomach really hurts (and I think I'm going to die).


ぼっこしウケタ!!(ぼっこしウケタ、bokkoshi uketa) - OMFGLMAO (for the chat addicts) -or- HOLY @#^@ THAT WAS FUNNY!! (for the rest of us).

I really wish that Japanese had some kind of upper case system so that I could go ぼっこしウケタ!! in a chat room or something and everyone would be like "pipe down" and "quit shouting."

That would be nice...


Ahh we're back to some very very useful expressions. My significant other used this one on me just this morning to my great chagrin.

If you know the only kanji present in the expression in the title line, then you've got some idea what the word might mean.

For those that don't know, 知 (し、shi) is the kanji for "know" or "understand" as in you know when Columbus landed on the Eastern shores of the US. A fact or some piece of information considered knowledge (not how to make 300 different kinds of shots - that is another skill set entirely).

知るか literally means "how in the @#%^ should I know?!" and should be said/yelled as such in moments of extreme stress. My partner was taking the piss this morning, but she nailed me with one of my own words from the past. She doesn't really like "colorful" language. It seems like no matter where you go - you can't find girls that allow you to curse like a sailor - even in their native tongue.

Bust this one out to your Japanese friends. Brilliant reactions await.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


The blog has refused to save anything above the next line twice in a row - and I tried manually saving it as well.

That really makes me upset.

This word is something that you'll encounter at least once if you work in Japan for a period of 12 months or longer. It literally translates as Health Check, and it's something every working man or woman in Japan has to go through. My company finds the lowest bidder health service, brings them in, lets them listen to our heartbeat and has us cough a couple times, then sends us on our way. They have about as much chance of finding something wrong with us as dogs have of seeing the world in color.

The short version: 健 means "health," 康 means "health," so you have "health health" or some word that very likely has something to do with health. Imagine that.

診 means "investigate, analyze" and 断 means "end, finish, terminate," so you can assume that they are trying to infer the doctor analyzes your fully and completely.

And this pair might seem a bit more difficult than "health health," but the first kanji holds power over the whole word (true in many cases - that's why it comes first, to set the tone as it were). So "analyze or investigate" from the second line coupled with "end, stop, finish" can be interpreted as "checking thorougly" or "leaving no stone left unturned." So without being able to read these kanji (and I admit the first time I saw them I had absolutely no idea beyond "ken" how to pronounce them) you can understand what it means in context.

Especially when there are a ton of nurses and doctors standing around and people waiting in line with small cups...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

An Off Topic Post

I'd like anyone that follows my blog to check out my best buddy's band at

Swamphouse and Swamphouse Home

Thanks for your support!

(free music)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


My little sister passed away on January 20, 2006. The sadness and depression overwhelms all. My blog is on hold until such a time I feel I can continue to write.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


やだき(yadaki) is a more extreme form of きつい(kitsui). I've been warned that not everyone uses it, and even if people have heard it, this doesn't necessarily mean that they will remember the extact meaning or reference.

You might consider this like cult-slang. There are some expressions in British English that American people might not understand (there are plenty - let me assure you), but hearing the term, an American would react with "yeah that seems familiar but..."

That's kind of やだき for the masses. Use it when you are frustrated with some task, some person, a news item, or anything that generally causes tension. But it's a word that won't win you any friends in the upper-class. This would be like some really grumpy, crass old-man word that mostly younger boys use around high school and college.

Not a staple of the Japanese language - but that's the kind of thing I created this blog to document!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


投資する(とうしする) means "to invest" as in investing your money in the stock market.

That's what has kept me busy the past week, the main reason I haven't been online, and probably the most important topic to date covered on this blog.

I'm not an economics blogger, but I urge anyone reading to think long and hard about their life 30 years later. That was one of my New Year's resolutions, and I thought I would share my thoughts.