Today’s 日本語

Person in monkey costume hanging from tree

猿も木から落ちる (さる も き から おちる)

You can have done something a thousand times. Easily mastering it with your eyes closed, hands behind back, spinning plates.

Go to impress someone with it and mess it up so royally you have to move town, change your name, burn your finger prints off with battery acid.

Don’t Worry, as the old saying goes “even monkeys fall from trees”

Today’s 日本語

わびさび wabi sabi

Wabi sabi represents the transient nature of beauty; a beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.

The aesthetic comes from the Buhddist Three Marks of Existence (三法印 sanbōin), impermanence, suffering and emptiness.

Many Japanese arts are in the wabi-sabi style. Pottery that is not quite symmetrical, The stark lines of ikebana flower arrangement and the rough rustic edges of a Japanese garden. Jack Dorsey the founder of Twitter is known to promote the philosophy of wabi-sabi design.

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Today’s 日本語

上げ劣り- ageotori

chinese-toddler

We’ve all been there. Hair is lacklustre, limply hanging from your head, a constant reminder of the rut you’ve been stuck in. The style once perfect has now grown ratty, no amount of styling or primping could restore it to its once former glory of a month ago.

Confidence in tatters and your very self questioned, you make your way to the salon. Hopes of follicular glory dance sparklingly behind your eyes, you sit before the mirror, taking a last look at the person you once were, this will be the style that changes who you are. The stylist starts, tentative at first, as the locks fall to the floor you say a short prayer to the gods of allure. More and more come away, your head feels light, airy.

Then you notice. More is coming off one side. Then you feel what must have been a mistake at the back, the stylist who once held all your trust in her hands seems tired, angry, distant. Visions of your perfect hair fall away like so many unfulfilled dreams.

“Thanks its perfect…..yeah just right” you offer with a smile that doesn’t reach your eyes.

At home you wallow,  resigned to a few days of hats. Maybe next time.

This is clearly a regular occurrence in Japan as the language has Ageotori, a word to describe the state of looking worse after a haircut.

Today’s 日本語 JPN ABBR.

Japanese has many contracted words. Anything that can be said shorter and easier is stripped down to its bare bones.

for example;

Odawara Express Electric Railway, 小田原急行電鉄 Odawarakyuukoudentetsu becomes 小田急 Odakyu

The immigration office, 入国管理局 Nyuukokukanrikyoku  becomes 入管 Nyukan

Toshiba is a contraction of “Tokyo Shibaura”, and Nissan is a contraction of “Nippon Sangyo”.

Most borrowed words are shortened to create;

anime アニメ animēshon アニメーション animation
dejikame デジカメ dejitaru kamera デジタルカメラ digital camera
depāto デパート depātomento sutoa デパートメント・ストア department store
eakon エアコン ea kondishonaa エアコンディショナー air conditioner
famikon ファミコン famirī konpyūtā ファミリーコンピューター family computer (Nintendo)
famiresu ファミレス famirī resutoran ファミリーレストラン family restaurant
konbini コンビニ konbiniensu sutoa コンビニエンス・ストア convenience store
puroresu プロレス purofesshonaru resuringu プロフェッショナル・レスリング professional wrestling
rabuho ラブホ rabu hoteru ラブホテル love hotel
rimokon リモコン rimōto kontorōrā リモートコントローラー remote control
terebi テレビ terebijon テレビジョン TV (television)
toire トイレ toiretto トイレット toilet

Today’s 日本語

ABC! easy as 123! NOPE!

Japanese has a very specific way of counting and everything from paper to people to trees have their own way of being counted.

Here are a few,

People take the suffix ~ nin (人)

一人 hitori  二人 futari  三人 san nin  四人 yo-nin  五人 go-nin

animals and insects are ~hiki (匹)

一匹 ippiki  二匹 nihiki 三匹 sanbiki  四匹 yonhiki  五匹 gohiki

Birds and rabbits* use ~wa (一羽)

一羽 ichiwa 二羽 niwa 三羽 sanwa  四羽 yonwa 五羽 go wa

bound objects like books, magazines and gimps take ~ satsu (冊)

一冊 issastu 二冊 nisatsu 三冊 sansatsu 四冊 yonsatsu 五冊 gosatsu

flat objects such as paper, tickets, bills and empty plates use ~mai (枚)

一枚 ichimai 二枚  nimai  三枚 sanmai 四枚 yonmai 五枚 gomai

Plates of food take ~sara (皿)

一皿 hitosara  二皿 futasara 三皿 sansara 四皿 yonsara 五皿 gosara

electronic devices like phones, rice cookers and vehicles take ~dai (台)

一台  ichidai  二台  nidai 三台  sandai 四台  yondai 五台  godai

long things are hon (本) (the kanji means origin………….rude)

一本 ippon  二本  nihon 三本 sanbon  四本 yohon 五本 gohon

 

* the reason that rabbits take the bird counter instead of the animal one is that back back in time religious laws banned eating meat from land animals, but fish and birds were OK. Rabbits, with their long ears could be “mistaken for birds”

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Japanese has 3 alphabets.
Hiragana which are the rounded style symbols あいうえお. Kanji which are the chinese symbols 亜井卯絵男. Katakana which are the sharper symbols used for spelling borrowed words アイウエオ

I have alway found it strange however that the word tobacco is spelt with the hiragana alphabet.

Today’s 日本語

As a foreigner in Japan it’s pretty easy to get away with things others don’t.

Drinks can be received for little more than just a friendly harro and telling someone where you are from “Of course I’m friends with David Beckham and EVERYONE meets the Queen” can set you up for a whole night.

BUT with great power comes great responsibility and sometimes its best not to push your luck or in Japanese “ride your condition”  or 調子乗らないで; choushi noranaide.

So if you find yourself the centre of a gaggle of Japanese salarymen regaling them tales of how in the Midwest burgers are bigger than most Tokyo apartments, listen out for Choushi noranaide and get out before you are sold off Showgirls style.

 

 

 

Scrub-a-dub

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Japan is currently being washed by a typhoon.

The word typhoon comes from the Japanese 台風 台 (tai) meaning pedestal or stand, and 風 (fu) wind.

The typhoon season is from May until October with most hitting the islands in the southern regions of Okinawa. The typhoons are most powerful in August and September.

Typhoons are cause by large areas of low pressure they move at a slow speed (20km/h) which means their paths can be predicted quite easily. The Japanese system numbers the typhoons instead of naming them like the American hurricanes. This is the fourth typhoon of the season earning it the title 台風4号 (taifuu yon gou).

As Japan is long and thin when a typhoon does travel all the way up to the north it usually affects the whole country. Fatalities occur usually due to landslides and falling debris. Over 4000 people were killed, 32,000 injured and over 1.5million displaced when the worst ever typhoon hit Japan in 1959.

Today’s 日本語

肉食系女 nikushokukeijyo, carnivorous women.
草食系男子 soushokukeidanshi, herbivore men.
These words describe the new breed of young Japanese people and their attitudes towards sex.

In a 2006 article, Maki Fukusawa first described the recent type of men, softer, who are more interested in their hobbies, their looks and their own life to worry about finding a partner and settling down, as soushokukeidanshi (grass-eating-men or herbivore men). Most men in their 20s are not looking to settle down but the strange thing is Japanese men are not just wanting to be single but not wanting to have sex at all. a Japanese dating agency, found in a survey that 61 percent of unmarried men in their 30s identified themselves as herbivores.

Japan’s birthrate has been in steady decline since 2005. More and more couples are choosing their careers over having children. Herbivore men are not helping. Japan’s one hope is their female nemesis;

Tired with girly boys women have decided to take matters into their own hands. They are the Nikushokukeijyo. In the last 20 years Japanese women have had more freedom in employment and society. They are the ones going out in search of them men and are aggressive in terms of what they want. Womens’ magazines are filled with articles on ‘hunting techniques’ getting a man to notice you and, how to declare your love without scaring him off.

Come on boys, Lie back and think of Nippon!