The Line of Calamity

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Life.


This part of the blog is for learning Japanese language. Everything related to Japan will be featured in the daily post - each with a new Japanese word.

In this blog I collect lots of useful and useless artifacts that help me to learn Japanese.  I love traveling, cooking and reading. I love manga and anime, you are warned! And I spend most of the free time studying kanji.

This blog helps me keep track of the process.  In case you find something helpful or interesting here - please, enjoy!  English is not my native language. Japanese is, alas, neither. Please, brace yourself for the weird grammar.

I post images solely for educational purpose of learning the Japanese language.  No copyrights infringement is intended.  If you found your copyrighted image and strongly against using it as a reference material, please contact me, and I will remove it right away.

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中央駅 — chuuoueki

中央駅 -- ちゅうおうえき -- Hauptbahnhof.

I came across this word from the German counterpart Hauptbahhof. And funny enough, Japanese wiki refers to Haupbahnhof as
中央駅(ちゅうおうえき)とはドイツ語のHauptbahnhofの訳語で [...] for instance,
ベルリン中央駅 - Berlin Hauptbahnhof,
ハンブルグ中央駅 - Hamburg Hauptbahnhof,
ミュンヘン中央駅 - München Hauptbahhof.

But from my understanding, it can also mean Central Station in the English speaking places, a noteworthy British station - グラスゴー中央駅 - Glasgow Central.

付き合い — tsukiaui

The quote from Karel Chapek's (カレル・チャペック) R.U.R. (1921) Japanese title 「ロボット」 - a science fiction play that introduced the word 'robot':

If dogs could talk perhaps we'd find it just as hard to get along with them as we do with people.

What I find to a very useful word here is:
付き合い --つきあい -- association; socializing; socialising; fellowship
which makes then
付き合いにくくなる -- becomes difficult to get along with

And one more word to remember
人間同士 --にんげんどうし-- mankind

通る — tooru

通る --とおる-- to pass (by); to go through; to walk along; to pass exams; to attend (e.g. school);
Several general examples:
1回で試験に通る --pass the test the first time
_個の段階を通る -- pass through __ stages
_歳で立派に通る --can easily pass for __

And more tricky:
そっと通る -- sneak through
のどを通る -- go down〈話〉(食べ物などが), slide down one's throat, to swallow

And very closely related word, using the same kanji:
通り --とおり-- avenue; street; way;

老人と海 — roujin to umi

A world famous book - 老人と海 --The Old Man and the Sea (1952) by アーネスト・ヘミングウェイ(Ernest Hemingway)

And couple of easy words that are made of 老人 to remember:
老人 -- ろうじん -- the aged; old person;
老人たち -- old folks
老人ホーム -- a senior residence

食べにくくなる — tabe ni kuku naru

Saw the sentence in the random google search for something else and it caught my attention.
昨日の夜から 食べもの飲み物が のどを通るときに痛みがはしり とても食べにくくなりました。
Yesterday evening swallowing food and drink became painful and eating became difficult.

The translation is not that fancy, but the Japanese structures are rather very handy and good to know:

のどを通る - go down〈話〉(食べ物などが), slide down one's throat
Basically, 食べもの飲み物が のどを通る - swallow food and drinks
通る --とおる-- to go through

痛みが走る - feel the pain
Where as , 痛み --いたみ-- pain
走る -- はしる -- to run; and lots of other 'movement' meanings.

And finally, the real gem: 食べにくくなる - make eating difficult, eating becomes difficult.
Verbにくくなる expressing the increase of difficulty in doing something. Additional examples will be
見えにくくなる -become difficult to see
動きにくくなる - become difficult to move

遊びに来る-asobi ni kiru

遊ぶ is usually marked in the dictionaries as "play". "enjoy oneself". But in the connection with 来る such as 遊びに来る it means "visit", "drop by".

遊びに来たらどう? -- Why don't you just stop by?
いつか遊びに来てください。 -- please, come and visit any time.
たまには遊びに来てよ。 -- Stop by every now and then.
来週私たちのビーチハウスに遊びに来ない? -- Why don't you come visit our beach house next weekend?
私のサイトに遊びに来てね! -- Please visit my website!
(人)のところへ遊びに来る -- come to see
(人)の新居に遊びに来る -- come see someone's new place
遊びに来てもいいですか。 -- just drop by, ok?

夕方 — yuugata

夕方 -- ゆうがた -- early evening; dusk

Here is something to remember the word: 夕がた屋テ!

wiki says:


Yuugata yate is an evening program on the Gifuchan (Gifu Broadcasting) since 2008.
番組 --ばんぐみ-- TV program
放送 --ほうそう -- broadcasting

And it is on the air
月~水曜日 ごご5時15分~6時30分
木/金曜日 ごご5時15分~6時10分

平日 — heijitsu, 週末 — shuumatsu

平日--へいじつ-- weekday
週末 --しゅうまつ-- weekend

A 'weekend' is pretty obvious: kanji for 'week' and 'end', while a 'weekday' is open for more interesting interpretations

平 --ひら; ヒラ-- 1. something broad and flat; 2. common; ordinary;
Thus, a 'weekday' becomes 'an ordinary day' or if you prefer 'a flat day'.

日本語でどうぞ — Nihongo de douzo

いらっしゃいませ! 日本円での買い物を 日本語でどうぞ

This is Bergen (Norway) in June 2010.  A wonderful place.  At the fisher market they have special locations for Japanese tourists where they can buy fish with Japanese yens and where the personnel speaks Japanese!  Tons of Japanese tourists are roaming the place and the prices are all in NorKr, Eur, USD and Yen!

鯉 -koi

One of the things that everyone leaning Japanese knows almost before anything else is that "koi" means "love" and "carp" depending on the kanji

  • 鯉 --こい-- common carp; koi carp
  • 恋 --こい-- (n) love; tender passion

I bet there are tons of the jokes in misinterpreting and interchanging the meanings.  Not that I have any particular examples.   Anyway, these particular "koi" are from the München Zoo - a very nice place to spend a weekend ))))


猫 【ねこ】 (n) (1) cat;

I saw this cutest thing in a little shop Ulm and just could not help myself.  It says "Cats are stupid."   I really want to make one like this for my little garden )))))  With my little knowledge of Japanese it comes up with: 猫がバカですよ。 but I'm not totally sure if it makes sense to anyone exept me.  Good thing my neightbours do not know Japanese and I have little chance of embarassing myself.  And the cats - they will not see the difference between German, English or Japanese )))


白鳥 --はくちょう-- (n) (1) swan

A random photo of the swans, because they are just so beautiful.   And in the connection I cannot miss the all-time classical shoujo manga スワン-白鳥 by 有吉京子 (Ariyoshi Kyouko).  I believe SWAN 白鳥 vol.12 was the final volume of the re-print of this epic ballet manga.

レッサーパンダ — ressa pandu

I love München Zoo!

  • 動物園 --どうぶつえん-- (n) zoo; zoological gardens;

The cutest thing that lives there is red panda. There are actually two of them and most of the time they either sleep or eat.  The Japanese name of the red panda is romaji of "lesser panda"  ))) cute and easy to remember.

  • レッサーパンダ (n) red panda (Ailurus fulgens); lesser panda

身勝手, 我儘 — migatta, wagamama

I'm not sure about the difference in use of the words みがって and わがまま. The both could be used as nouns and na-adjectives and both describe selfishness and egoism.  I already knew the word わがまま, so みがって is the new one here.  To make it easier to remember - a manga title to go with each word.

  • 身勝手 --みがって-- (adj-na,n) selfishness; egoism; egotism

身勝手なあなた by まさお三月 (Masao Sangatsu)

  • 我儘--わがまま-- (adj-na,n) (1) selfishness; egoism; self-indulgence; wilfulness; willfulness; (2) disobedience; (3) whim;

わがままロメオ by あじみね朔生 (Ajimine Sakufu)

聖おにいさん — sei onii san

As we are still in the holiday season, the manga by 中村光 (Nakamura Hikaru) that amused me greatly and that fits the season's spirit oh so well.

聖☆おにいさん vol1
聖☆おにいさん vol2
聖☆おにいさん vol3
聖☆おにいさん vol4
Sei Oniisan - Saint Brothers.

聖 --せい-- (n,n-pref) (1) Saint; St.; S.; (n,adj-na) (2) sacred; holy; pure

This manga follows Jesus and Buddha living in an apartment in the modern Japan. Riiiight! That just so fun on so many levels.  Buddha makes a third of the t-shirts the both wear with the tale-telling slogans.  I have so much fun trying to figure out the references on Jesus's t-shirts (I totally fail to understand what's on Buddha's ))))))

in ch.1 Jesus had "アーメン" -- amen-- t-shirt
in ch.2 Jesus had " ミレニアム" -- millennium -- t-shirt
in ch.3 Jesus had an English t-shirt "Like is not ambitious".
in ch.4 Jesus had t-shirt "13" - is it about what I think it is about?
in ch.5 Jesus had "父と私と精霊" - Father, Me and Holy Spirit ))) t-shirt. ))))

メリークリスマス — merii kurisumasu

メリークリスマス -- Merry Christmas.
I was thinking if I know any manga with the word クリスマス and here is lo and behold:
流星と真夏のクリスマス by 藤 たまき (Fuji Tamaki)  --Ryuusei to Manatsu no Christmas --

and there was in 2008 bunko reprint.

It's a very lovely collection of Fuji-sensei's early works that already have everything that makes sensei's mangas so special - very warm feeling, edgy art and translucent emotions.  Very delightful read!

別れ — wakare

I was still reading 窮鼠はチーズの夢を見る (The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese) by 水城 せとな (Mizushiro Setona) and on the page 29 I stumbled across a word which I keep forgetting and keep looking up in the dictionaries.

恭ちゃん...あのね ... 別れてほしいの。  -- Kyou-chan... well... I want to separate.

Seeing that she is married to that Kyou-chan I guess we could assume that she wants a divorce.

  • 別れ --わかれ-- (n) parting; separation; farewell; (lateral) branch; fork; offshoot; division; section;
  • 夫婦別れ --ふうふわかれ-- (n,vs) divorce; separation.

This is a compound of 夫婦(spouses) + 別れ(separation) .
夫婦 --ふうふ(P); めおと; みょうと-- (n) married couple; spouses; husband and wife; couple; pair

  • And then at wiki the divorce is listed as 離婚 --りこん-- (n,vs) divorce.  I guess, this is a legal term, then.


I was reading 窮鼠はチーズの夢を見る (The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese) by 水城 せとな (Mizushiro Setona) and right on page 4 I had to stop and contemplate the difficult nature of the Japanese language.

僕は今強請られている。-- Right now I'm being blackmailed.

  • 強請 --きょうせい; ごうせい-- (n,vs) blackmail; extortion; persistent demand
  • 強請る --ねだる(P); ゆする-- (v5r,vt) (1) (ねだる only) to tease; to coax; (v5r,vt) (2) to solicit; to demand; to extort;

I'm pretty sure of the translation, but what puzzled me is the reading for 強請 --ゆす. From what I gathered the primary reading for 強請る is ねだる, not even every dictionary lists ゆする reading... And then the noun 強請 has a yet another reading... Really, such a mess.....**sigh**

ネクタイ -nekutai

I saw it on a friend's blog - her collection of ties and though mine is very meager in comparison, I could not help, but wanted to show it ))

ネクタイ - tie; necktie;


Then I started reading wiki page and got lost in the types of ties and techniques to make a knot. I just traditionally go for Half-Windsor knot (ハーフウィンザーノット or  セミウインザーノット), and the idea that there are 85 ways to knot your tie, honestly, scares me ))))

愛と青春の宝塚: 〜恋よりも生命よりも-Ai to Seishun no Takarazuka. Koi Yori mo Inochi Yori mo

愛と青春の宝塚: 〜恋よりも生命よりも

I was recommended to watch Ai to Seishun no Takarazuka. Koi Yori mo Inochi Yori mo -  that's a TV mini-drama about Takarazuka's life. It's highly amusing, but at the same time it is Kansai-ben (関西弁) which means - I struggle to understand ))) But still lots of fun.

And I found the official website of the drama  and the picture just deserves to be worshiped )))))

Ai to Seishun no Takarazuka. Koi Yori mo Inochi Yori mo

薔薇- bara

薔薇 --ばら-- (n) rose.
That's an easy word, but such a difficult kanji combination...
黒薔薇アリス 3 by 水城 せとな (Mizushiro Setona)

This is the vol.3 of sensei's manga about vampires (!) and roses (!) - very pretty.  And as we all know it, vampires is the new!hot!thing.  Kuro Bara Alice (Black Rose Alice) - there is Alice somewhere, but the vol.3 cover rendered me speechless:

Vampires are just so in! )))))

マフラー — mafura

I love knitting and I LOVE knitting using Japanese craftsbooks.  Here is my collection of the things I've made using Japanese patterns.

Crochet from Ondori 2004.

This was the pattern:

マフラー (n) muffler (garment, vehicle); scarf;

And this was my result:

ハプスブルクの宝剣 — Hapusuburuku no houken

While I was playing with an idea of going to Japan next year, I was checking out what's Takarazuka has on offer here and of course could not pass on this one:

The Sword of the Habsburgs / BOLERO (Star 2010)

宝剣 --ほうけん-- (n) treasured sword

I mean, I'm a rabbid Habsburg's fangirl (Spanish and Austrian ... Sisi and Margaret Theresa...), so this Habsburg's unapologetic fangirling is something I definitely would love to see...  A girl can dream, right?

There is no DVD yet released with this prettiness, but definitely something to look forward.

花見 — hanami

Kirschblüten - Hanami (2008) directed by Doris Dörrie (movie's website) .  This is one of the best German movies I've seen in years.  Featuring Tokyo, Fuji-san, Butoh (舞踏,).

花見 --はなみ-- (n,vs) cherry blossom viewing; flower viewing;

森ガール- mori gari

森ガール fashion & style BOOK

This is the fashion book for the Mori Girl type of style. The type of a girl who loves nature and being close to the nature, who wears comfortable clothes made of natural textures and who choose to be away from the civilization's beat in order to enjoy quite peace of little towns and forests.

What does this fashion book include:

  • 森ガールのこと - what does "Mori Girl" stand for?

森 -- もり-- forest

  • 季節のワードローブ - Wardrobe by season

ワードローブ--(n) wardrobe
季節 【きせつ】 (n,adj-no) season

  • ときどき, ちくちくお裁縫 - Sometimes hand-made

ちくちく (n,vs) (on-mim) type of prickling pain; prick; prickle
裁縫 --さいほう-- (n,vs) sewing;
Google seems to provide the meaning for  ちくちくお裁縫 as "hand-made".

エロイカより愛をこめて- eroika yori ai wo komete

The manga which keeps going and going and I still enjoy it - From Eroica with love. It's a sheer awesomeness.  And now we have - エロイカより愛をこめて vol. 35 by 青池保子 ( Aoike Yasuko).  But what I found totally amusing is this article from German military magazine - Y - Das Magazin der Bundeswehr.  In the issue March 2003  they had an article dedicated to Major Eberbach, deutscher Offizier und Gentleman ^__^

Particularly cute was the give-away of 5 Japanese mangas + Japanese-German dictionaries.  Just too cute for the words! )))

花道 — hanamichi

Today I was looking for the meaning of 花道.  What poke my interest was the manga オトコの花道 by 笠井あゆみ(Kasai Ayumi).

The translation was not very clear:

花道 --はなみち-- (n) passage through audience to stage

The wiki provide more information that it is a feature of the kabuki theater: It is a long, raised platform that runs, left of center, from the back of the theater, through the audience, to connect with the main stage. Generally it is used for characters' entrances and exits, though it can also be used for asides or scenes taking place apart from the main action.  Somewhat similar to the runway.

So I've been pondering what the author meant with the title Otoko no hanamichi?  -- Boy's runway -- Does it refer to the passage in the boys' lives?  Or is it more about the boys being in the spotlights of the life?

天使のうた — tenshi no uta

When I saw today the cover of 天使のうた vol.1 by 西田東 (Nishida Higashi) my immediate thought was about the movie My Own Private Idaho (1991, directed by Gus Van Sant)

I have not read this manga but the cover makes me so curious as to how much of the reference to Idaho it will contain.   I mean, after Gus Van Sant's piece sleeping has a totally new dimension....

天使 --てんし-- (n) angel;
うた - song

いい加減にしろ-iikagen ni shiru

いい加減にしろ --いいかげんにしろ-- (exp) that's enough!; cut it out!; get a life!;
いい加減にしろよ。 -- Cut it out
and then on the hand-writing:
殺すぞ! -- I'll kill you!
殺す--ころす-- (v5s,vt) to kill; (P)
ぞ as an indication of emphasis.

This is from ゴールデン・デイズ (1) by 高尾滋 (Takao Shigeru), p.20.  I just love how easy it is to rememeber the new words once you could put the emotions behind them )))

黒船 — kurofune

黒船-- くろふね-- Black Ship
A generalizing term for Western ships arriving in Japan in the 15-19th centuries.

I remember this term because of the quite new manga magazine クロフネZERO (website), latest issue - クロフネZERO (ゼロ) Autumn 2009年 10月号. I remember that the publisher had specifically announced the reference to the Black Ship, though I cannot really recollect why it is important. This magazine is rather pretty, but has only 2 issues per annual.


There is an excellent manga about kappa - Japanese mythological water spirits that are popular in Japanese folklore.   Though one might think that the manga's version is way too pretty for the traditional interpretation of the creatures.  I don't mind, and the manga was a pure delight to read.
月と水の夜 vol.1
月と水の夜 vol.2 by 梶原 にき -(Kajiwara Niki)

河童 --かっぱ-- (n) (1) kappa (mythical water-dwelling creatures)

長州五傑 — choushuu goketsu

were members of the Choushuu clan who studied in England from 1863 at University College London.  noteworthy is that at that time leaving Japan was still illegal under the policy of Japan's isolation.

I came across of this bit of historical information in the manga.  5 very dashing young Japanese men traveling to England.  They've got to wear European clothes and they look very smart in it )))))

長州ファイブ vol.1
長州ファイブ vol.2 by ユキムラ (Yukimura) - artist, 五十嵐 匠 (IGARASHI Takumi ) - author.

弁当 — bento

Pretty bento boxes are pretty.  Especially neko bento. Not that I'm into making sophisticated lunches, but I still can appreciate an idea of pretty lunch box )))  The Japanese shops in Düsseldorf have definitely broarden my horizons of pretty things

弁当 --べんとう--  bento (Japanese box lunch)

便座 — bengi

I guess everyone heard of fancy Japanese toilets with multiple technological features.  But this is the first time I've seen one.  Of course in Japanese store in Düsseldorf.  All the descriptions are only in Japanese as Japanese people are the target group for such a purchase.  I cannot think of a single German who would waste 799 EUR for this high-tech gadget.


東芝--【とうしば-- (n) Toshiba (company)
温水 --おんすい-- (n,adj-no) warm water
洗浄 --せんじょう-- (n,vs,adj-no) washing; cleaning; laundering
便座 --べんざ-- (n) toilet seat

水洗便所 --すいせんべんじょ-- (n) flush toilet


I love this situation in ゴールデン・デイズ vol. 2 by 高尾滋 (Takao Shigeru), page 5.  A boy from 21 century finds himself in Taishou Japan.  Not knowing how to use a fundoshi, he finds himself on the receiving end of a friend's joke who assures him that this is actually a napkin.  Hence, they wear fundoshi as napkins at the table.  The butler is not amused, though ))))
前掛け --まえかけ -- (n) apron
下着--したぎ-- (n) underwear

下着 has a katakana reading of  ふどし which I believe refers to
--ふんどし-- (n) (1) loincloth; breechcloth; breechclout; traditional Japanese male underwear; (2) sumo wrestler's ornamental apron

わかめ ラーメン — wakame ramen

Wakame ramen - a delicious noodle soup with the seeweeds.  I had this portion in the ramen shop in Düsseldorf.  It was really tasty, though to my dismal I did not really know how to eat it and not to make a spectacle of myself for horrid table manners.  Good thing that it were a business lunch time and next to us there were Japanese salary men who dealed with the ramen with such a specatcular skills.  I picked up their techniques of using spoon and chop-sticks )))).

若布(P); 和布(P); 稚海藻; 裙蔕菜 -- わかめ(P); ワカメ-- (n) (uk) wakame (species of edible brown seaweed, Undaria pinnatifida)

別々, 緒で — betsubetsu de, issho de

In Düsseldorf we had a lunch at a very lovely place.  This is the banner of the little ramen-shop.

The service was very nice and I had a chance to use the words 別々で and 緒で.

From Newbie Lesson S4 #44 - Check, Please!

別々でお願いします  -- べつべつでおねがいします --  We’d like separate checks please.

一緒で、お願いします  -- いっしょで、おねがいします -- Please, make it one check.

I like the German versions better:  別々で -- Getrennt and 一緒で -- Zusammen.

In our case it was 一緒で -- it is always nice to treat someone for a lunch )))).

したUSBメモリ — Sushi USB memori

More pretty Japanese things that I've seen in Düssledorf shops in Japanese quarter.

Sushi USB memory - したUSBメモリ

it looks so pretty and certainly will be lots of fun to use.  I think I'll buy my next USB memory as a sushi )))

美容, 按摩, 足底 — biyou, anma, sokutai

In Düsseldorf's Japanese quarter there are lots of little Japanese salons that offer different wellness treatments.  That's a great way to learn couple of new words:

Here is one of the posters for one of such wellness place.  I cropped the picture so that the address and telephone are not included, but the most important words are here:

  • 美容 -- びよう-- beauty
  • 美容院 --びよういん-- beauty parlour; beauty parlor; hairdressing salon
    美容室 --びようしつ-- beauty parlour

  • あん摩, 按摩 --あんま-- (n,vs) (1) massage, esp. the Anma Japanese type of massage; (n) (2) (sens) masseur; masseuse
  • 按摩さん--あんまさん-- masseuse; masseur

  • 足底筋 --そくていきん--Plantaris muscle
  • of what I gathered in google 足底 is often used for "foot"

すしキャンドル- sushi kyandoru

I was in Düsseldorf for JLPT and greatly enjoyed the Japanese quarter in the city.  Lots of shops, restaurants and sushi-bars.

Pretty things like these sushi candle (すしキャンドル) - totally useless, but oh! so pretty!

ます形-masu kei — 2

Continuing with the masu-form for JLPT3 based on the list from the book 完全マスター3級 日本語能力試験文法問題対策 - The Japanese Language Proficiency Test: Grammar Exercises. And some examples from old dear Minna no Nihongo.

ます形 - ます forms- grammar points for JLPT 3:

  • たい

I want to climb Mt. Fuji.
富士山(P) --ふじさん-- Mt. Fuji

  • ながら


    While listening to the music, I drove a car.

  • はじめる

When we started lunch, the electricity suddenly failed.

ます形-masu kei — 1

Like everyone else in November I'm drilling for the JLPT. I've never taken JLPT and thught that level 3 will be a good starting point.

I'm using the book 完全マスター3級 日本語能力試験文法問題対策 - The Japanese Language Proficiency Test: Grammar Exercises.

ます形 - ます forms- grammar points for JLPT 3

  • ~かた

- 行きかたがわかりますか。
- ええ、一度行ったことがありますから、大丈夫です。
-Do you know how to get there?
- Yes. As I've came there already once, I'll be fine.

  • ~やすい

最近の私は、本当に物事を忘れやすい。 Lately, I really easily forget things.

最近 --さいきん-- (adj-no,n-adv,n-t) latest; most recent; nowadays;

物事 --ものごと-- (n) things; everything

  • ~にくい


It's rather difficult to understand, methinks.

同じ, 同級生- onaji, doukyusei

I was learning the kanji list for JLPT and had 同 came up. As usually a handy way to remember the on'yomi and kun'yomi is by connecting them with the words already well know.

  • kun'yomi

同じ --おなじ(P)--(adj-f,n) (1) same; identical; equal; uniform; equivalent; similar; common (origin); changeless; alike;

  • on'yomi

同級生 --どうきゅうせい-- (n) classmate; classmates;

I remember it well because of the manga 同級生 by 中村 明日美子 (Nakamura Asumiko) - a very talanted mangaka.  And the drama cd based on the manga to enjoy the conversations .

羊- Hitsuji

羊 --ひつじ-- (n) sheep;

The word "sheep" is not that useful in the daily vocabulary, I could only remember it, because of the 2 titles.

夢 --ゆめ-- (n) dream

Official English translation - Blue Sheep Reverie.


めぐる-- (1) to go around; (2) to return; (3) to surround;
冒険 --ぼうけん-- (n,vs) risk; venture; adventure

The official English translation A Wild Sheep Chase.

大事な用 — Daijina you

Lower Intermediate Lesson S4 #2 - Giving and Receiving in Japanese-Kureru

大事 --だいじ-- (adj-na,n) important; valuable; serious matter;
用 --よう-- (1) task; business; (2) use; duty; service;
"Something important"

I just came around this 用  again  it in a little DN doujinshi and thought it was a nice way to illustrate the word.

"Death on the round table" Death Note doujinshi by Emu -- えむ - (circle - Zangyou Teate 残業手当).


龍の子太郎 — Tatsu no Ko Tarou

Here is anime I really want to see again.  My husband told me that once in his childhood (in early 1980s) he had seen in the cinema and it was so different and such a Weltschmetz. I just have to find it and watch it.

龍の子太郎 -- たつのこたろう -- directed by 大野 和士 --おおの かずし-- Oono Kazushi released in 1979.
English release title - "Taro the Dragon Boy".
龍 -- たつ-- dragon (esp. a Chinese dragon);
How the dragon 龍 is different to the dragon 竜?

指揮者 — Shikisha

大野和士 --おおの かずし-- Oono Kazushi is is a Japanese orchestra conductor.
He used to be a Musical Director of La Monnaie, Bruxelles and that's where I've seen his performances. This man made me finally realize how indeed awesome Mozart it. Mozart is such a must-do for anyone studying music, that after a while one can easily miss the fascinating genius of his music. Until you hear it performed by someone very talented. Oono Kazushi is rumored to be an avid fan of Mozart and it really shows. I've seen several of his Mozart performances and it blew my mind away.

指揮者 --しきしゃ-- (musical) conductor;
指揮者はオーケストラの指揮をする。 A conductor directs an orchestra.
指揮 --しき-- command; direction;

教えてくれた, 買ってくれた — oshietekureta, kattekureta

ゴールデン・デイズ (1) by 高尾滋 (Takao Shigeru).

This is my favourite manga about Taishou period. I'm reading it currently, trying to translate every phrase instead of skipping through and it definitely proves very useful as suddenly I see all the grammar points I've just learned.

Lower Intermediate Lesson S4 #2 - Giving and Receiving in Japanese-Kureru


教えてくれた --おしえてくれた--
買ってくれた -- かってくれた--

The problem with translation is that I always want to make it passive voice, though it's not passive in Japanese, but overall meaning is "But my grandpa had brought me this violin and taught me how to play it".

vol.1 ch.1 p.7

お邪魔します — ojamashimasu

Lower Intermediate Lesson S4 #2 - Giving and Receiving in Japanese-Kureru

お邪魔します--おじゃまします-- (exp) (1) excuse me for disturbing (interrupting) you; (2) greeting used on going to someone's home

This is a polite and formal expression when entering someone's home.  As for the "entering" there are 2 verbs to describe the procedure:

上がる --あがる--to go in, to come in
入る -- はいる -- to enter

The difference is in the threshold. If there is a threshold, then one needs to raise his/her foot to enter the location, hence, 上がる. If there is no threshold, then simple 入る will do.

部屋に入る - enter a room. The floor between a room and a corridor is usually even, one does not need to raise his/her foot.
家に上がる - enter a house. Here most likely there is a threshold or some sort of stairs.
And in each and every textbook there is :
風呂に入る - to take a bath.

大奥 — oooku

The Oooku (or often alternative romaji - Ōoku) is the location of the Edo Castle (江戸城,) reserved as living quarters for the women of the Shogun (将軍).
大奥 --おおおく-- (n) shogun's harem; palace's ladies chambers
大奥様 --おおおくさま-- (n) lady of the house
奥 --おく-- (n) interior; inner part; inside

Oooku was functioning as female quarters since 1607, established by Tokugawa Hidetada (徳川秀忠), and lasted for about 200 years.

What I find much more interesting is Alternative Universe (AU) manga featuring Japan under matriarchy with the males as the residents of the Oooku and a female shogun. A very smart setting and very interesting switch of gender roles. 大奥 (1) manga by よしながふみ (Yoshinaga Fumi).
My favourite ever double-page spread from this manga:

上様 --うえさま; うえざま; かみさま-- (n) (1) emperor; shogun; (2) honored person (honoured);
Just so amazingly fabulous! And in 2009 this manga got Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.

歩き遍路 — arukihenro

Arukihenro --'walking pilgrims'- is how people doing Shikoku Pilgrimage are called. The island of Shikoku (四国) is famous for its 88 temples and hence Shikoku Pilgrimage is the task of visiting all the temples. The pilgrimage is approximately 1,200km long and I guess that's something I'd love to do one day.

歩き --あるき-- (n) (1) (arch) walk; walking
遍路 --へんろ-- (n) (1) pilgrimage;
四国八十八箇所 --しこくはちじゅうはっかしょ-- (n) 88 temples of Shikoku (holy spots related to Kobo Daishi)

There is documentary Arukihenro with English subtitles about the pilgrimage. I've seen it in my Japanese classes and it reinforced my conviction that I'd love to do it.

ドグラマグラ — Dogura magura

There is one Japanese book I REALLY want to read. It has been translated in only in French. Though my French is sufficient enough for small-talk and reading fashion magazines, I doubt I could handle a book influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis... So, either my Japanese has to improve tremendously, or I'll need to deal with French...

ドグラ・マグラ (上) + ドグラ・マグラ (下)

Novel by 夢野 久作 (Yumeno Kyūsaku), written in 1935.
All the critic loves to point that this novel is a perfect example of the modern Japanese avant-garde gothic literature. Whatever it means. And all the psychological, Freudian aspect of the plot-line. I guess, I really need to read it at least French (Dogra Magra) to have my own opinion.

There is a movie , 1988.

And there is a manga DOGLA+MAGLA by 寿たらこ (Kotobuki Tarako) supposedly loosely linked with the novel. I read the manga - it's pure kafka, and if one wishes to see it Freudian - one has enough of the innuendos.

連続 — renzoku

Lower Intermediate Lesson S4 #1 - Giving and Receiving in Japanese-Introduction

連続 --れんぞく --(n,vs) serial; consecutive; continuity; occurring in succession; continuing;
ことができる can (do); to be able to (do)



For 30 years in a row I haven't received Valentine chocolates.
Ok, that's a lie. I do get my Valinetine chocolate regularly, but it's such a nice phrase. Could not pass on it.

As for the word れんぞく, I had another one listed in my notebook:
連休 --れんきゅう -- (n) consecutive holidays;
Could I make a wild guess that it is made up of 連続 and 休み?

アウト — auto

桐野夏生 (Kirino Natsuo) wrote her crime novel Out in 1997, later on it was published in English.  I read it in English and that's really a breathtaking suspense story.  As well it's been recommended as a poignant study of modern Japanese society.
OUT 上 + OUT 下

OUT is a very convenient for Western translations, just keep it - and everyone understands.  Except not.  German translation was titled Die Umarmung des Todes (The Embrace of the Death). I honestly had not a single clue that it's supposed to be OUT, until a salesperson has shown me in their database that it's so. A really strange German book-market...

Additionally there is a movie directed by 平山秀幸, Hirayama Hideyuki (2002) and it seems there will be a Hollywood remake.

Searching amazon, I've noticed that there is a brand new book (2009) IN. I cannot help, but wonder if this new book connect to the best-seller OUT.

インターネットでしらべる — intanetto de shiraberu

インターネット - internet
調べる --しらべる-- (v1,vt) to examine; to investigate; to check up; to sense; to study; to inquire; to search
Actually, I'm not really sure about this expression. I had it written down in my notebook during the class and marked as "researching on Internet", but is it the same as "surfing the Internet"?
google gave me another option - しらべるネット, so I'm making a wild guess that しらべる is the verb to use for spending endless hours in Internet.
しらべる is worthy of some more attention:

調べ物 --しらべもの-- (n) matter to be checked or investigated
調べ --しらべ-- (n) (1) investigation; inspection; examination
調べて置く --しらべておく-- to examine beforehand
調べ直す; 調べなおす --しらべなおす-- to re-examine; to review; to recheck

昔話と日本人の心 — Mukashbanashi to nihojin no kokoro

河合隼雄 - Kawai Hayao (1928 – 2007) was a Japanese psychologist.

I only read his one book and it has impressed me greatly  - 昔話と日本人の心 (1982)

昔話 --むかしばなし-- (n) folklore; legend; reminiscence; (P); EP
心 --こころ; しん -- (n) mind; heart; spirit; (しん) (n) core; heart; wick; marrow;

Of course, I did not read it in Japanese, but in English -The Japanese psyche: major motifs in the fairy tales of Japan .  And that's the book I'd really recommend anyone interested in Japan.

蜂蜜 — hachimitsu

Honey is a very nice word.
蜂蜜 【はちみつ】 (n) honey
蜂蜜酒; はちみつ酒 --はちみつしゅ-- (n) mead; honey wine; ambrosia; nectar of the gods
蜂蜜入り --はちみついり-- (adj-no- 蜂蜜入りの) containing honey

And there is a very-very nice manga ハチミツとクローバー by 羽海野チカ (Umino Chika) - Honey and Clover.

クローバー (n) clover

With 10 volumes completed and in addition there is a live-movie (DVD box) and anime (there are many DVDs, but for instance -here).

能 — noh

Theater Noh.
能 --のう -- (n) (1) talent; gift; function; (2) noh (theatre
Noh is traditional Japanese theater originating from the 14th century. It is based on the very Japanese concept of procedure typical for many Japanese arts - 序破急 --じょはきゅう-- roughly "beginning, middle, rapid".

  • 序 --じょ -- (n) (1) order; ordering; (2) beginning; start;
  • 破 --は-- (n) (in gagaku or noh) middle section of a song
  • 急 --きゅう-- (adj-na) (1) urgent; sudden; abrupt; (2) sharp; steep; precipitous; (3) rapid; swift; fast; (n) (4) emergency; crisis; (5) hurrying; haste;

The Noh performers are mostly:

  • The main character - 仕手--して--(n) (1) doer; performer; (2) protagonist (in noh or kyogen); hero; leading part; main character; (3) (仕手 only) speculator (in trading);
  • The support character - 脇 --わき-- (n) (1) (usu. 脇) side; aside;
  • The actor(s) performing interludes- 狂言 --きょうげん-- (n) (1) kyogen (farce played during a Noh cycle); play; drama;
  • The musicians who play 4 instruments used in Noh  - 囃子--はやし-- (n) Japanese orchestra; band; accompaniment

I would not dare to suggest that I know anything about Noh, but there is plenty of literature describing and analyzing Noh theater.  I just wish to remember the main terms in case I happen to see Noh performance.

らんぶる- ranburu

This word derives from French L'ambre as in Café de l'Ambre.

Ranbaru is how coffee-shops are called.  This is a place where they brew some fabulous coffee and labeled as "Coffee only". A must visit.

My favourite picture of Japanese ranburu -THIS.  This old deserted coffee-shop is at Takada-no-baba ( 高田馬場), Tokyo.

Though some kanji and hiragana had fallen down, it is still possible to recognize on the façade- 名曲らんぶる

名曲 --めいきょく --(n) famous music;

Another term for the stylish cafes - 名曲喫茶 (info at wiki)
名曲 --めいきょく --(n) famous music;
喫茶 --きっさ -- (n) tea drinking; tea house

Those used to be the cafes where one could enjoy classical music and coffee.

石けん, アルバイト, メルヘン — sekken, arubaito, meruhen

Connecting the new words to the similar in another language is always fun.  Many Japanese words were originated from English, but not only. Here are few Japanese words that have been derived from German language:

  • 石鹸(P); 石けん -- せっけん-- (n) soap;

German - die Seife

  • アルバイト part-time job, side job;

German: die Arbeit. Funny enough, this precarious type of work in German is called "der Job" and there is a verb - jobben, jobbte, gejobbt

  • メルヘン fairy-tale

German: das Märchen

  • メルヘンチック; メルヘンティック    (adj-na) - having a fairy-tale atmosphere

Here is a combination of German - das Märchen and shortening from romantic --tic.

大正時代 — Taishou jidai

It has been the practice in many Asian empires to give a special name to time eras. In contrast to China and Korea where the era calendars ceased to exist, in Japan this chronological scheme is still in use. Since 1867 (the ascension of the Meiji Emperor) naming of eras are standardize in such a way that with each new Emperor a new era launches.

My favourite era in Japanese history is Taishou 大正時代 --たいしょうじだい --1912-1926.

From my little knowledge about Japanese history [really minuscule knowledge to my shame] Taishou era seems to be the period full of new liberal thoughts, ideas of modernisation and progressive perspectives. It overlaps with Weimar Republic (1919-1933) in Germany; Great Prosperity of the US economy (after WWI till the Black Tuesday, 1929); Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement in India (1918-1924); 2 Russian revolutions of 1917; Lost Generation in literature and ragtime in the night clubs. Must have been very interesting time: still innocent before the massacre of WWII, but already poignant with opium of knowledge and freedom.

I really like the atmospheres of mangas that are set in the Taishou era; the mixture of kimonos and old-fashion cars; beautiful suits with bowlers and canes; boys in breeches with suspenders on iron bicycles; and Vienna-alike cafés with chocolate cakes. I adore the feeling of streets pulsation of those stories set in Taishou.

竜 — ryuo

Dragons, dragons! That's an important character for so many Japanese storoes

I collect beautiful title of the Japanese mangas.  There is so much feeling and meaning in the way they title their books - just so extravagant for my non-Japanese mind and so helpful for learning new words and structures.  So two of my favourites with dragons:

  • やさしい竜の殺し方 - story by 津守時生 (Tsumori Tokio), art by 加藤絵理子  (Katou Eriko).  This is the manga serialization of the novels with the same title and there is Drama CDs based on the novel.

優しい --やさしい -- (adj-i) tender; kind; gentle; graceful; affectionate; amiable; suave

竜 -- りゅう -- (n) dragon (esp. a Chinese dragon)

殺し -- ころし -- (n) a murder

方 -- かた --  direction; way

The Killing Methods of a Kind Dragon.

黒い --くろい -- (adj-i) (1) black; (2) dark

二度 -- にど -- (n)  two times; twice;

誓う -- ちかう -- to swear; to vow; to take an oath; to pledge;

The Black Dragon Swears in Twice.


Western dragon is different from the Eastern dragon, hence - a different word:

ドラゴン -  dragon (as depicted in Western myths)

And related expression:

ドラゴンボート  - dragon boat

宝塚歌劇団 — Takarazuka Kagekidan

宝塚歌劇団 Takarazuka Kagekidan is a all-female theatrical troupe in the city Takarazuka (宝塚市 ) in Hyougo Prefecture (兵庫県 - ひょうごけん) that makes fabulous performances in the most glamorous style.

歌劇団 --かげきだん -- (n) opera company; opera troup
劇団 --げきだん -- troupe; theatrical company

It's a pure lush!

湖月わたる Kozuki Watar - a former member of Takarazuke playing male characters (Otokoyaku)

男役 -- おとこやく  -- (n) male part or role

兄弟 — kyoudai

I really like this generalizing term for brothers and sisters.

兄弟 --きょうだい; けいてい --  siblings; brothers and sisters;

ご兄弟; 御兄弟 -- ごきょうだい --  (hon) siblings; brothers and sisters

Not every languages has such term.  In English it is "siblings', in German - 'Geschwister'.

And 2 manga series with the term 'kyoudai':

兄弟限定! by 如月弘鷹 (Kisaragi Hirotaka)

限定 --げんてい -- limit; restriction

帝国兄弟 by 舵英里 (Kaji Eiri)

帝国 --ていこく-- empire; imperial;

ゴドーを待ちながら — Godo o machinagara

Manga 彩おとこ vol.1 by 鳥人ヒロミ (Toribito Hiromi) is set in Taishou era 大正時代 - (1912 -1926).  Overall very a  lovely manga with fantastic historical setting and clothes,  but what I found very amusing - a misplaced reference in ch.1 page 8.

The character Suo (すおう) makes a witty remark in relation to the name of another character Godou (ごどう) -   ゴドーを待ちながら  which is a Japanese translation of the French play En attendant Godot by Samuel Beckett (the première in 1953).  If the manga is set in Taishou, Sou makes one hell of a future-teller by quoting the name of the play that will not be seen for the next 25 years ^__^

The Drama CD makes the interraction even more exciting.

お腹が空く — onaka ga suku

Magazine モーニング (Morning) issue 08-2009 the cover featured crossover of two mangas -  チーズスイートホーム by  こなみ かなた (Konami Kanata)  and  きのう何食べた? by  よしなが ふみ (Yoshinaga Fumi)

The first is about the adventure of a sweet kitty Chi and the second - a cooking manga about a lawyer who loves to cook and his boyfriend, a hairdresser.

Kenji is jealous over Kakei being sweet to Chi <<<3

Chi is saying おなかすきまちた

Jim Breen offers a dictionary entry:

お腹が空く; お腹がすく --おなかがすく  -- to become hungry; to get an empty stomach

窮鼠, 俎上の鯉 — kyuuso, sojou no koi

The manga by 水城 せとな - Mizushiro Setona consisting of 2 tankoubons with the most beautiful titles I've ever seen.

窮鼠はチーズの夢を見るThe Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese

Kyuuso wa chiizu no yume o miru

窮鼠 --きゅうそ--  cornered rat or mouse

俎上の鯉は二度跳ねる - A Carp on the Chopping Block Jumps Twice

Sojou no koi wa ni do haneru

俎上 --そじょう-- (n) on the chopping board

鯉 --こい -- (n) common carp; koi carp

The Mouse Drama CD is already out and it is a must-hear.  

The Carp Drama CD is upcoming in the 25.11.2009

I absolutely love the concept of comparing the emotional/physical condition to animals, and I want to start collecting the saying related to the animals/fishes/birds alike.

Jim Breen offers more about cornerned mouses and carps:

  • 窮鼠噛猫 -- きゅうそごうびょう-- (exp) A cornered rat will bite the cat; One who is cornered will fight like a devil.
  • 窮鼠猫を噛む --きゅうそねこをかむ -- (exp) a cornered rat will bite a cat; despair turns cowards courageous.
  • 俎板の鯉; 俎の鯉 -- まないたのこい-- (exp) confronted with a hopeless situation; about to be cut off (e.g. in a battle) and unable to do anything

More to come when I find new expressions that feature animals.

まさか — masaka

Intermediate Lesson #2 - Meet Hideo and Mel!

まさか --- unbelievable

The first time I noticed this expression was in manga: セブンデイズ―MONDAY→THURSDAY story by 橘紅緒 (Tachibana Vineo) and art by 宝井理人 (Takarai Rihito)

page 45:

Drama CD: Seven Days Monday - Thursday
track 1 MONDAY   ---  16'17''-16'20''

how awesomely 中村悠一 (Nakamura Yuuichi)  says this   まさか 、  .... ね ....  [!!!!!!]

manga vol.2 セブンデイズFRIDAY→SUNDAY .

オリンポス — olimpus

according to THIS manga オリンポス by あき will have a Drama CD. Release date 16/7/2009.

オリンポス seems to be ongoing manga with only vol.1 released so far

あき 's another manga   歌姫 --- うたひめ ----already has a Drama CD. A very lovely thing!

and あき is a very unfortunate pen-name for a mangaka ... very difficult to track down...  (((

計画 — keikaku

I think it is  ハヤテのごとく! Hayate no Gotoku!
he-he, it's so lovely,  now I'll remember the word for good! ^^

計画 --- けいかく --- plan, project, scheme

問題 — Mondai

Sometime during the class the word 問題 came up and I immediately thought of the manga I knew:

問題  --- もんだい --- problem

大人の問題 by 今 市子(Ima Ichiko)

大人 --- おとな --- adult

化け物 — Bakemono

Lower Intermediate Lesson #1 - Scary Fairy Tale

化け物 --- ばけもの--- monster

I already knew the word, but still being stupid and forgetful I had to look it up while reading the manga: 銀の風 遠い刻  by 小田切ほたる (Odagiri Hotaru)
**facepalm**  though now I guess I remembered it for life :)
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