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.
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.
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;
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?
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!
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 ))))
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 )))
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.
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
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.
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. ))))
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!
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.
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**
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 ))))
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 --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:
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.
I finally had a chance to listen to the 俎上の鯉は二度跳ねる Drama CD part 1 based on the 俎上の鯉は二度跳ねる - A Carp on the Chopping Block Jumps Twice manga by 水城 せとな (Mizushiro Setona). Absolutely delighted drama. So much emotions!
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
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".
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! )))
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?
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-- 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)
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 )))))
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
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.
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
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)
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:
I want to climb Mt. Fuji.
富士山(P) --ふじさん-- Mt. Fuji
While listening to the music, I drove a car.
When we started lunch, the electricity suddenly failed.
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?
旨い --うまい-- delicious; appetizing;
美味しい --おいしい-- (uk) delicious; tasty;
Both are i-adjectives, both express that it tastes good. They seem to be interchangeable, if only oishii more of men's vocabulary, or so I gathered from the lesson.
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;
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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 - 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
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".
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Funny enough Japanese word is made of the name Hotchkiss. There was Benjamin B. Hotchkiss who was an gunmaker in 19th century. But the origin of the Japanese word comes rather from the name E. H. Hotchkiss- an owner of the company that imported staplers as The Strange Tale of the Hotchkiss investigates. Amusing, to say the least.
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 :)