I don't know if you've noticed, but this blog now reeks of legitimacy and authority. (Can you smell what The Tensor is cooking?) At 1:30:07 AM PDT on July 31st 2006, I received my first visitor to this site via a link in the English Wikipedia. The link, which is in the entry for Toy Story 2, points to this post that explains why it's funny when one of the characters in the movie says "Don't touch my moustache!" at the end of a phone call to Japan. The link was apparently added on June 11th (thanks, Che fox), but I guess nobody clicked on it until today.
I'm grateful for the link, though I'm far from the most knowledgeable Japanese expert on the 'net. But what the hell—Wikipedia may be a house built on sand, but now I'm a part of that sand. Woo-hoo!
[Update: Hmm. It occurred to me to try searching for more Wikipedia links here, but that turns out to be hard to do. Wikipedia's internal search doesn't search URLs in links. Google won't let you specify link: and site: on the same search, which is annoying. However (eureka!) Windows Live Search will. Unfortunately, it seems not to have indexed the links on Wikipedia recently. Still: advantage, Microsoft, on this one.]
[Now playing: "Volcano" by The Presidents of the United States of America]
No-Sword is a blog about Japan and Japanese culture which you should definitely be reading if those things are your cup of tea. More than a month ago, I made a note to myself to write about two posts there, and I'm finally getting around to them today. Better late than never!
The Wife and I recently finished watching the anime series Planetes, which is about the crew of a space ship that cleans up debris in Earth orbit in the late 21st century. At the end of the final episode, the romantic leads, Hachimaki and Ai, are spending one last EVA together for old time's sake before he (Hachimaki) goes off to complete his training for the first mission to Jupiter, a journey that will take seven years round-trip. As they float together in their space suits, they exchange a peculiar dialog, each in turn saying a different, seemingly unrelated word to the other. At first, I thought they might be playing a low Earth orbit version of "I Spy" because several of the words are space-related, but then I figured it out: they're playing shiritori.
Check out this informative post over at No-sword describing the rules and the language of chou-han, (a.k.a. chou-han bakuchi) a Japanese dice game you may recognize from various movies and TV shows. It's the one where the "dealer", traditionally shirtless and tattooed, rolls dice hidden in a cup, then the players bet on either even (chou) or odd (han) numbers. Right about then, somebody usually tries to steal Zatoichi's money so he flips out and kills the guy. Good times.
At the end of the video, it suggests (jokingly?) that there are other videos available, but I can't find any of them online. Does anyone know where the sushi video comes from? Google Video, for some reason, seems to hide the sources of videos returned by their search engine. For this video, it just has a link to xanga.com, a big weblog site—that doesn't narrow it down much. The page also mentions "Choi Style Productions", but there's only a few ghits for that phrase.
When I got on the bus this morning—too early for my taste, although at least it's not before dawn since we Fell Back—I sat down in the only open seat and saw the following on the back of the seat in front of me. (Forgive the poor picture quality, my cell phone doesn't do well in low light.)
I know the feeling.
In a conversation with my advisor a few days ago, I mentioned that we were planning to go to this year's World Expo during our trip to Japan. When I mentioned the Japanese word 万博 /banpaku/ 'World's Fair; World Expo', she asked me if the second kanji was the same as the first kanji in another compound, 発表 /happyou/ 'announcement'. The same thought had occurred to me and I didn't know the answer, so I looked it up.
This quarter I'm taking a Japanese reading class, which means wading through a piece of contemporary Japanese prose, page by page, armed only with a dictionary and my vast ignorance of kanji. We're reading Haruki Murakami's new novel Afterdark, and one passage was particularly tricky to translate, and I thought I'd share it here.
As described in a story on All Things Considered earlier today, Daisuke Inoue won this years Ignobel Peace Prize for the invention of karaoke. If you listen to his acceptance speech by following the link above, clicking on the little audio icon, then fast-forwarding until 1:13, you can hear Mr. Inoue do an interesting thing: he pronounces karaoke [kaɾioki]—closer to the English pronunciation than to the Japanese.