If I were about to eat a tasty banana and some little guy inside the peel started singing to me, I think I would be quite taken aback.
Only 9 votes, but a clear winner emerged: seems 僕 is favored by a 2:1 margin here. If anyone has any further comments about 僕 and/or 俺, please feel free to comment or send me an email. I am still intrigued and not 100% clear on the complete nuance of each.
H/t to Japan Probe.
Don't know why, but I just can't get enough of these Japanese banana commercials.
This past Sunday I had a (not-so-secret?) rendezvous with my girlfriend in Hiroshima. It was my third time to visit the city, and each trip has been a very different experience. Hiroshima is one of my favorite places in Japan, and one that I actually requested when I applied to the JET Programme. It's the home of two world heritage sites - Hiroshima Peace Park and Itsukushima Shrine.
As an American, visiting Hiroshima, especially the Peace Park, stirs up complicated emotions. It's a very moving and peaceful place. It's strange how places where so many people died are often so peaceful. Be it rational or not, I always feel both guilty and ashamed when I visit Peace Park and the Genbaku Dome. It's not the kind of American self-loathing that some radicals back in the States display, but it's more a sadness that it was my that country killed this many civilians and was the first (and hopefully only) nation to unleash such devastating power. I have to consciously remind myself that it was a different generation, and that none of the Japanese I've encountered in Hiroshima have blamed America. Rather they view it as a mutual failing and as a great tragedy. Visiting Peace Park can be a rather heavy experience, so it's probably good that we didn't spend much time there.
Pizza-La is a big fast food pizza chain over here in Japan. One of these days I'll write a little bit about Japanese pizza, but for now...well, here's a little preview! Have a look at some of the toppings dancing around in the background.
Story from The American Papist:
Apparently a student at John Paul the Great University and an artist in Singapore have collaborated on a Catholic manga featuring St. Paul. The first volume is available now on Amazon.
(Image source: Amazon.com)
As a Catholic I'm intrigued, and I wish I could find something like this is Japanese. I think it's a good idea for making religion a little more...appealing(?) to youngsters. On the other hand, though it isn't really substantively important, I have to wonder whether something created by an American and a guy from Singapore is really manga. Sure, it's drawn in the traditional manga style, but does it have to be Japanese to be manga? Food for thought.
Our 10th riddle! This one must be approached a little differently than the previous ones.
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and he pointed out something I had never realized before. Apparently there is a very well-known English expression of Japanese origin floating around out there, and I bet most people, like myself, never even suspected it was Japanese.
Joshua over at the Wide Island View asked me if I wouldn't mind plugging their currently-running Spring Photo Contest. I took a peek at the winners from their winter contest and I must warn you that the competition looks pretty steep - some high quality cameras and photographers in the mix. But entry is free and there are some prizes to be won, so check it out if you like to take photos.
Sometimes people ask me if I've gotten used to living in Japan or if there are still things that bother me. The answer to both questions is "yes." Life has gotten a lot smoother for me, but there are still things that really frustrate me.
Whoops - let this one get by me. Sorry about that, if anyone was waiting for the answer.
This week (or somewhere there abouts), spring vacation will end and schools will begin the new term. For many expats living here, spring means sakura and ichinensei. Tomorrow I'll begin teaching classes again. As usual, I'm excited and a little apprehensive. Excited because there are new minds to be molded, and because I'm going to be team teaching a new kind of course this year called 総合英語, which is basically an integrated studies course. We'll be teaching the students other subjects in English. I'm apprehensive because as this is only my second year (although my third rotation of ichinensei), I haven't yet run full circle of the English department.
There are a lot of Pocky commercials out there, but here are a few from a series that I like. Most of them involve some bad mojo going down, followed by someone singing 「あなたもわたしもポッキ」, which I guess is literally "My and your Pocky." You know, sometimes there's nothing you can do but have a Pocky. And, uh, we're all connected together through the Pocky? I dunno, but the commercials are pretty amusing.
A pleasant surprise - I had ordered this new (and expensive) keyboard a couple weeks ago. The vendor send me this email afterwards that they were out of stock and probably wouldn't send it to me until the end of April. Well, it came early. I just finished setting it up and playing around with it a little bit. It's a Korg SP-250, and man is it nice - weighted keys, beautiful sound quality, a damper pedal...makes me wish I had played more over the past few years. I took lessons for 7 years when I was a kid, then quit around high school and just kind of played every now and then with no real regularity (although I had a pretty nice keyboard in college that is waiting for me back home). Anyway, time to make up for lost time. If I get any good I'll try to post a recording or two!
From the folks who brought you the commercial with the ninjas...
Japan has a shoe culture. I think most of us are at least vaguely aware that in Japan one's shoes are removed before entering someone's home. What many people may not know is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The practice of owning and wearing several different pairs of shoes for different occasions isn't uniquely Japanese - just ask any American women how many pairs she has in her closet. In Japan, however, there are cultural forces driving this practice. Specifically, the Japanese concern for cleanliness. While there are many instances where this concern is overlooked or ignored, it has become deeply rooted in many Japanese customs and daily practices - such as treatment of shoes.
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the US Department of State did a study of 63 different languages to discover which are the most difficult to learn for a native English speaker. Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean were the top five with Japanese being #1. I don't agree, but they forgot to ask me before they published their results. Because of that oversight, the world is stuck with this: a misleading and disheartening bit of paper and ink. Their claim is almost solely based on how it takes almost three times as long to learn Japanese than some other languages, such as Spanish. That sounds pretty damning, but it's all an illusion. I'll explain it to you in a way you'll understand, figure skating and your filthy apartment.
What is the most difficult figure skating jump? Quad Salchow, right? As if I had to tell you. That is truly difficult. That's defending gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko level difficult. In the FSI way of thinking, it's not that much different from cleaning your disgusting hovel. They both take time to accomplish, right? The difference is cleaning your sticky two-room pad takes time because you're cleaning a bunch of small things which all add up. First the grimy kitchen sink, then your strangely sooty bathroom, then you have to find your bed and hose it down. No one part is difficult though. That means the whole can't be difficult. Same as Japanese. It takes a long time because in addition to all the vocab and grammar you get with any language, you're also spending time memorizing kanji and Japanese's 3+ spoken languages (normal, polite, and super polite). It adds up to a lot of time, but no one part is difficult. Unlike the Quad Salchow, where you just practice the Salchow for like 9 years, and then you only get a silver because the judges are biased jerks.
The feeling you should have after reading this is motivation. Yes, you can learn Japanese! All you have to do is dedicate 4 years of your life to it. And, you'll probably want to move to Japan. Maybe take some classes as well. It'd be a good idea to get a private tutor too... And that's it! I regret nothing!
Via Japan Soc, a small article about the release of a new handbook by Tokyo authorities. Its aim is to give teachers tips on how to deal with "monster parents."
More than 60,000 teachers and workers in Tokyo's public schools will receive a copy of the new handbook by the end of the month as part of a £74,000 (10 million yen) project to curb the influence of pushy parents.
Examples of bad behaviour by those dubbed "monster parents" in the Japanese media include demands that teachers prepare lunch boxes for excursions, reprint school yearbooks with more photographs of their offspring and drop children off at home after class.
Happy Easter, to those who celebrate it. Today's Japanese will be short and sweet. Sometimes, like when writing a reflective blog entry about being grateful to someone, you may be searching for just the right kanji to express your thankfulness. Well, look no further.
I don't normally write much about my personal life. I figure there's a niche for that kind of thing, and it's not what I'm aiming for right now. But from time to time I do like to share little insights into what's going on in my life, for those who may be interested.
In recent years the role of AET, or Assistant English Teacher, has become a highly coveted job. While there are many programs geared towards teaching English in non-English-speaking countries, probably none are so famous as JIT - the Japan Interchange Teaching Programmme. And it's no wonder. It's a pretty romantic thought - flying over to the land of the rising sun, spending your mornings staring blissfully at Mr. Fuji (visible from anywhere in Japan), trading manga with students while dodging kancho attacks. As a current resident of Japan and AET, I felt it my duty to share my experience with you, and hopefully provide some useful advice to those considering applying to JIT.