Setsubun Protest

January 31st, 2010

Check out this image from the UK’s Daily Mail. It’s from a pretty big protest rally against the American military base situation in Okinawa, but with a distinctly Japanese twist. I’m not interested in the pre-printed cards that were distributed. I am interested in the hand drawn cardboard one on the right side of the frame. It reads as follows.



Fuku wa uchi! Heiwa wa uchi! Kichi wa soto!
Guamu ni Okinawa ni Nihon ni beigun kichi wa isuwaru na! Meiwaku da! Kaette kure!!


Luck in! Peace in! Military bases out!
American military bases in Guam, Okinawa, and Japan, do not remain! It is troublesome! Go home!!

This is obviously modeled on the customary Setsubun holiday ritual of 豆撒き or mamemaki – throwing soy beans and chasing ogres out of one’s home by yelling 「鬼は外!福は内!」(Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!) or “Demons out! Luck in!”. People have been pretty heated up over the base situation for a long time now. I’m curious about whether it really implies a few things or not, though: that the American military is a bunch of friendly demon ogres (big step up from foreign barbarians if you ask me), that Okinawa is not part of Japan, and that Guam is upset about the military base there? Perhaps the delineation of Okinawa and Japan was kind of like “Okinawa and mainland Japan”? I dunno. But I found this interesting, and thought you might too!

Customary Drivel, Politics, Unsolicited Commentary, 日本語

Long Time, No Post

January 31st, 2010

Betcha thought I was dead. I mean, it’s been ages since I’ve posted regularly. Sad, really. And I’d apologize profusely, except that it was kinda unavoidable. I got crazy busy last summer, and the momentum took me all the way through to…where are we now, 2010? Sheesh. It had been so long that I blanked when I attempted to sign into my WordPress Dashboard in the Hong Kong airport to make that last slapdash post. Not a good sign.

Tons of people have been asking me where I’ve been, why I fell off the face of the planet, etc. The most recent was my hair stylist, Shin, whose face you might remember from a goofy video I did a while back. He asked how come I wasn’t posting. Well, things are beginning to slow down a bit, so hopefully I’ll be back up and running soon. But no promises! There comes a point at which blogging for fun becomes a serious hobby…and then it begins to feel like an obligation…or, dare I say it? …it can even feel like a job. (Full body shudder!) So, to do a minimalist catch-up message, here’s what has been going on since last summer.

- I became a prefectural advisor for ALTs in Ehime, which instantly killed tons of free time and gave me a good share of new responsibilities as well. I think this is a great thing, because I feel cut out for this job, and confident in doing it. So don’t take my comments as a complaint. It’s just that I am no longer the guy who lives on a tiny fishing island with nothing to do. (Now I’m the guy who lives on a tiny fishing island with loads to do.)

- Went to Tokyo twice for PA training, and once for giggles.

- Gained a technical high school to visit, which turned into one of my favorite visitation schools.

- Organized and ran two large conferences here; the Prefectural Orientation for new 2009-2010 JETs in Ehime, and the 2009-2010 Midyear Seminar (which happened in January). Also showed up at the new supervisors’ meeting last June to talk. And had a few meetings in the capital for business-y stuff.

- Visited my girlfriend a whole bunch. I miss her lots, so I think that’s a great use of my time.

- Took a trip to Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, which I briefly mentioned earlier.

- Turned 26. Holy freaking cow.

- (Today!!!) Dumped and re-imported my entire WordPress database into a MySQL 5 setup. Then upgraded WordPress to the most recent version. I first had to learn how to do all of this. It was a little freaky. But I did it! No wonder I was starting to get spam, huh?

And if you’re wondering where this crazy thing is headed, I’m right there with you! I was originally on board for a 3 year stint here. 4 was not in the cards until I was scouted for the PA position and other things fell into place to make it appealing. And now, the same thing is happening, and it’s possible I’ll be in Japan for one year longer now. I’m sure my family will be thrilled. Ha ha. Anyhoo – I’ve not given up on this blog or anything, it’s just sat on the back burner for a long time. It’s been good for me, to be honest – reclaiming some of my life from the reaches of the internet. Still, I look forward to popping back on here and seeing the community come back (if you’re still out there). Thanks for sticking with me! Please be patient as I fix the site up. (I have links to non-existent stuff and broken plug-ins galore. I’m working on it, though.) Alrighty – now that that’s off my chest, I can get back to catching up. New posts coming soon. (No, seriously! At least, sooner than 4 months from now…ha ha ha.)

Customary Drivel

Japan Times Article

December 24th, 2009

Hey everybody! The Japan Times published a little article I wrote for them yesterday. I was in transit at the time, so I couldn’t post about it at the time. If you’re curious about how you can abbreviate Japanese to sound more natural, give it a read! (It apparently caused quite a stir among the editors there. Especially “azzasu” and “~zzaimasu” – the legitimacy of which is…kind of the point of the article. Enjoy!)

Trip note: I’m currently writing this from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I’ll be here in Vietnam for a bit before making a sweep through Singapore (2nd time), Malaysia (2nd time), and Thailand. I’ll see everybody on the other side of the winter break. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Customary Drivel, Trips, 日本語

When Life Hands You Lemons

September 28th, 2009

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Or so the saying goes. I wish I had photos of this chance encounter today, but alas, I don’t. I was on the way home from work today when I stopped in at a Lawson’s convenience store. I just wanted to buy a jug of water and some snacks. As I was paying, I noticed another fellow walk into the shop – I’d seen him on the road earlier riding his bike. I decided to wait for him outside. He came back out of the convenience store and I struck up a conversation with him. My starting point? The 「日本一周中」sign on the back of his decked out bicycle. That roughly translates as “currently making a lap around the entirety of Japan.” Awesome. I asked him if it was true, and he told me that it was. He said he departed from Kyoto on the 24th of June this year. He’s coming across the Shimanami Kaido bridges (which link Onomichi / Honshu to Imabari / Shikoku) and will make a full loop through all four prefectures here before heading back down south. He said he’s already done Hokkaido, and he fully intends not only to take a ferry to Okinawa and cycle the main island, but to go to the furthest possible island that still counts as “Japan” and back. I told him how cool I thought it was and asked why he was up to it. Some folks do these things as sponsored charity awareness things or whatever. He told me that since the economy just crapped out globally he’d been fired from his job, and thought “hey – why not do it now?” With no excuses and plenty of free time ahead of him, he ventured forth on his bike. I asked if he was blogging the experience or anything, but he said no. He said his phone dies too often to enable him to connect for blogging purposes. I suggested that he do a photo essay afterward if possible. Anyhoo – it was a great moment today that I thought I’d share with you. Cool dude. Cool thing to do if you’re fired and have the ability to take a large chunk of time off.

Customary Drivel

Bridal Show Job

September 18th, 2009

The video basically explains itself. But here’s the company that I did this for – Ikeda & Co. You can even see me in the background of a few gallery photos now. I’ll see if I can get my hands on some sharper shots. Great time! I’ll see everyone after Silver Week. :-D

Customary Drivel, Media, Video

Japanese on Human Target

September 17th, 2009

Let me first start out by saying that this preview for Fox’s Human Target came to my attention back in May, but I figured I should wait a bit since the actual show won’t start until fall. Upcoming disappointment? I’m not sure. I know it’s based on a comic book, but I’ve no idea how good the comic is, or if this show will even come close to replicating it anyway. If Mark Valley’s supposed to be fluent in any number of other languages, we could feel the giddy excitement that comes from watching him maul them too. If it’s just Japanese, I’ve got to say that the actors in Heroes have totally whooped his behonkus. You can watch the actual full trailer from Fox Broadcasting below.

The show looks kind of fun, sure. I’m going to watch it, if for no other reason than to listen for any other horrendous Japanese lines. Gotta love the possible connotation of the elderly Japanese dude’s words to him, though, right? 「あなたの日本語はどこで習いましたか?」and「日本語上手ですね。」OUCH. The classic response. I’m kind of thrilled a bit that it was included in a realistic way. Ha ha.

Was I justified in using katakana in the banner image?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

If anyone out there is a better listener than I am, please feel free to take a crack at the word that he said that I’ve got down as 《ふしょうねん?》in the captions. I have no clue what that was supposed to be. Admittedly, my vocabulary needs work, so if you can parse what he’s saying please leave a comment and I’ll correct the captions. I’d appreciate it. It’s gnawing away at me…and I’ve watched that clip more times than necessary…

Customary Drivel, Humor, Media, Unsolicited Commentary, Video, 日本語