mbarker: (Burp)
春風駘蕩 -- しゅんぷうたいとう -- shunpuutaitou

The dictionary explains that this means spring breeze (春風) peaceful calm (駘蕩). Warm and genial spring weather, balmy. I got it from one of those calendars of useful sayings that someone gave me. It seemed like a nice, possibly useful phrase as we started into spring. However, when I tried to use it, my wife and other Japanese friends just looked puzzled. Even when I showed them the kanji, this just got shaking heads. No. Not familiar at all. So... I guess we don't have to learn this one! Oh, well.
mbarker: (Burp)
貧乏暇なし
びんぼひまなし
Literally: poverty free time lacks
Better: poverty has no free time, poor people have no free time

generally used as a self-deprecating gesture
I'm poor, so I have no free time

(and my friend points out that there is a certain element of pride there, too. I'm so busy -- and undervalued -- that I have no free time)

So... 貧乏暇なし gotta go!
mbarker: (Default)

That was amusing. Someone on TV started singing a childhood favorite about bubbles, in Japanese. I started laughing, and joined in with Jesus loves me, this I know... Mitsuko looked at me in amazement and asked how I knew this Japanese song. I said it is an old time American song for children at church. Then she said, "Oh, someone stole it." But... I mean, it is probably public domain, and old as the hills. If you take the melody from an old song and put new words to it, I don't consider that stealing. But what is it?

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

mbarker: (Default)

One of the evening tv specials had a Japanese title, and an English title for that extra special touch.

The show was mostly about a 19 year old policewoman, who is working in an area with bars and whatnot, so she's seeing some of the best drunks around. Also a mother and daughter team working in a grocery store, picking up shoplifters. And a woman on the Guardian Angels Safety Patrol, working in a popular area at midnight on New Years to help keep things cool.

So the English title was "Ladies in Pandemonium." Which seemed odd to me. So I looked at the Japanese title. Shuraba no onna. Onna is the word for women. But shuraba? I had to look that one up. It's old kanji, with the meaning of fight scene, or scene of carnage? So maybe "Women in Crises" would be a better translation.

Ladies in pandemonium. That's an interesting title. But at least for me, it doesn't really summon images of a policewoman or plain clothes security folks. Or even the Guardian Angels.

Maybe I just don't understand English.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
This was being advertised Monday, March 8, as we left Japan. I think it's the next morning drama (asadora). It looks intriguing, although it's sort of an unusual premise. First, you have to know that Ge-ge-ge no kitaro is a very popular manga and anime that was popular when we came to Japan 20 some years ago. I watched the TV show regularly when I was learning Japanese.

That story was about a one-eyed boy who helps protect people from monsters, and sometimes, vice versa. His father is an eyeball, with a tiny body. He has various friends who are monsters of different kinds, and the show is just a lot of fun.

Apparently the drama that is coming is about a young woman who marries the artist who draws Ge-ge-ge. He's a starving artist, absent-minded but devoted to his art. The marriage is arranged by the families. So the ads include bits about her first impression of her new home -- with holes in the windows, little or no furniture, but an artist's workroom stuffed with stacks of books and papers. And the visit of the bill collectors. They also showed him sneaking his glasses on to see the house that he is visiting while they are arranging a wedding.

So we have the absent-minded poor artist, and the shy but practical young wife. I predict a plot with the woman taking charge and building the business, while he draws and draws and draws. It will be very interesting to see how they use the Ge-ge-ge story or background. I couldn't tell from the little bits whether they are going to have stories from that background woven into the romance of getting to know each other -- after the wedding. But it could be fun.
mbarker: (Burp)
Here's an oddity. When talking about being upset or angry, Japanese speakers commonly use the phrase "hara tatsu." This literally means "my stomach stands up." Which is actually a good comparison for the physical tightening of the abdomen, I suppose.

However, having learned Japanese as an adult, I often suggest to people that they sit down. And they look at me, and say, "What?" When I explain that their stomach should sit down, it usually results in gales of laughter.

It just seems reasonable to me that if getting upset or angry means your stomach stands up, relaxing should mean that your stomach sits down. And everyone agrees that the opposite of standing up is sitting down.

So, don't get angry, tell your stomach to sit down.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
On one of the Japanese quiz shows recently, one of the questions concerned packaging for medicine. At one time, the blister packs that most medicine comes in were pre-scored so that you could easily tear it into single pill chunks. However, nowadays, the blister packs are scored so that you can only tear off chunks containing two or three pills. Why did the manufacturers change the packaging?
The answer )
mbarker: (Fireworks Delight)
That rakugo show that I really liked? There was a little teaser on at lunchtime.  7/25, 8 pm, there's going to be a new show. Looked like they are taking the three men -- Sogen, Shiso, and Kosojyaku -- and putting them into a spinoff. Not sure if this is a one night stand or continuing show, but I'm looking forward to it.
mbarker: (Smile)
Amusing. My wife, Mitsuko, taped a show about Hawaii the other day, and was watching it at lunchtime. I happened to ask, "Would you like a ukulele?" (pronouncing it the way I had learned - you-kih-lay-lee). She looked very puzzled, then said, "Oh, you mean a ukurere?" (oo-koo-ray-ray, with that wonderful soft r). The English dictionaries indicate that "you-kah-lay-lee" (I was close -- bet that was Dad's Ohio accent that turned the kah into ki) is the right pronounciation, but now we both wonder what the original Hawaiian was?

Fun - a word that both languages have borrowed, but not quite the same way.
mbarker: (Fireworks Delight)
Hum -- someone is having trouble with a computer that someone else used before, and didn't clean up. In talking about the problem, they fell back on this saying:
Japanese behind the curtains . . .  )
Cover up the tracks of a standing chicken? Hide the tracks of the chicken?

Apparently a kotowaza about cleaning up after yourself, but I'm not sure how they got from the words to the implied meaning. Sounds a bit like someone caught a chicken thief sometime by following the tracks, but that's a long stretch.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Interesting. This was in the collection of phrases on my calendar that I've occasionally been translating for Japanese practice. It's a short phrase describing the enlightenment of the masses.
The Gory Details of Japanese )
Now where will I get a chance to use that phrase? I suppose when I meet the Buddha in the street . . .
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
This week I had a talk with a young post-doc working at Osaka University. One of the questions that he wanted to talk about was the secret of learning Japanese. Unfortunately, all I had to suggest was a lot of hard work and study.
behind the curtain )
Why do we think there must be an easier way? And does this desire make it easier for the snake oil salesperson to convince us that this time, we are really going to get the magic elixir? And why do we feel disappointed when we find out that we're going to have to do some hard work again, or guilty when we don't have a fail-safe, quick-and-easy method to tell people?

Interesting. Do you believe in magic?
mbarker: (Fireworks Delight)
NHK BS 3 (the high-vision channel here in Kansai) is holding a rakugo special today. From high noon until 6, then from 7 to 11 - 10 hours of rakugo.
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
Someone asked in mail about the rakugo piece I'm writing. Just in case anyone else is confused, I'm not writing an original rakugo piece. The blog entries are all based on the NHK show being presented right now on NHK called Chiritotechin. There are quite a few blog entries around in Japanese about the show, but I guess I'm one of the few writing in English about it.
More Details for the Curiouser and Curiouser Crowd . . . )
Sorry if I misled anyone - the tales of Rakugo that I am blogging about are on TV. So I'm writing blog postings about a TV show that tells the story of a woman and other students learning to perform rakugo, which of course includes them doing performances - and not infrequently, they dramatize the rakugo stories to make it even more confusing. And when you peel the layers away, down at the middle there's some good stuff about life in Japan . . . or maybe anywhere.
mbarker: (Fireworks Delight)
Just a short sketch from life here in Japan. Hope you enjoy it.

Our little neighborhood supermarket tends to be busy, housewives bustling, kids in their carts, a veritable center of daily commerce gleaming under the ruthless fluorescent lights. So I suppose it was somewhat out of place the other day when I started laughing.
hiding the details . . .  )
When we write, we learn about ourselves.
mbarker: (Default)
There's an ad for an upcoming biography. Apparently an artist who got his start hiding in a storage box so he could knit. I guess someone didn't think a young boy should be doing this, so he did it in secret.

Now, the box had a pinhole and one day as he sat there wielding his needles, he noticed a beautiful view of grass and flowers on the wall.  So later he constructed a large box, put a copper sheet with a hole in it on ore side, and happily painted away at the projected image.

I think this is called a camera obscura in the west. But what fascinated me was the original knitting in a box. I'm a little surprised that a kid would be that fascinated by knitting.
mbarker: (Me typing?)
Mitsuko asked me to watch this ad - and it took us a few times to figure it out. Our first impression was that it was a joke of some kind, and I guess maybe it is.
An Advertiser's Daydream? )
Would you buy a body treatment that promised to blow up a balloon on your sleeping body? It seems like an odd promise to extend to your customers, but then, I suspect it is aimed at somewhat younger men. Perhaps they like the thought of such a surprise awakening?

Say What?

Feb. 25th, 2008 01:48 pm
mbarker: (MantisYes)
Okay, this is odd. One of my students has a notebook, and asked me what the English said. After careful consideration, I don't have the slightest idea.

On the cover, under the title La Dolce Vita (Natural Living) it has a picture of a pig looking into a refrigerator full of food. Pink, hairy butt sitting there, ears perked up, snout almost inside.

The lines under that picture read:
Quality time nurtures grace and beauty. I depart with my full bag of time. Experiencing deliciousness made me a slave to taste. We provide a first-class taste brought directly from the earth.
What? I'm not sure if I have a full bag of time left . . .

(edited to make clear what I had added.)
mbarker: (Me typing?)
This year, the NTT calendar has Japanese four character sayings, along with an explanation, and English translations. There's one every two months, so for January and February, we have the Japanese

意気揚揚:よし、頑張ってみるか待ってましたその言葉
musing . . . )
I've been waiting to hear you declare you are going to fight? Or maybe just "We're going to do it!"

Tricky little phrase, there. And an interesting choice for a Japanese calendar quote.
mbarker: (Me typing?)
Almost forgot. The other day the news people did a short piece on sumi ink - the black ink stick used for brush painting here in Japan? It's kind of incredible, the process for making it.
The Process . . . )
Egads, but that's a labor-intensive process. Of course, he says that only hand-made ink really has the right feel, but . . . they never did tell us how much a stick of ink costs. I certainly appreciate it more after seeing that, though. I wonder if there are young people looking to take up the work?

And just think, it all starts with a burning stick of pine.

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