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December 2019

New Years

New Years is tomorrow, and for nearly all cultures (even though it may happen on different days) it is seen as a time of renewal and regeneration.  I don’t see why this blog should be any different. Starting tomorrow, this blog will take a slightly different direction.  It will still be about Japanese – in fact, moreso than it is now.  I will still occasionally write about things that interest me.  I will keep it on this domain and blog for right now.  But starting tomorrow, I will be starting… Read More »New Years

A New Direction

I started three different blog posts, and abandoned them right in the middle.  That’s a sign that I need to do something different.  I’m starting to bore myself, and if I’m boring myself, I can’t imagine what I’m doing to everyone else.  I’ve run out of interesting things to say – even to myself. I have a few ideas on how to escape from this, but it requires a complete shift and thinking and some new ideas, neither of which I truly have right now.  I have several ideas, but… Read More »A New Direction


Today is Christmas in Japan, and tomorrow is Christmas for me. Christmas and Japan really seem to have a strange relationship with each other.  It does seem that Japanese do celebrate Christmas – in their own way.  It’s been stripped of any religious or spiritual significance, and has been converted into a time where people eat fried chicken. It will, perhaps, surprise Japanese people that that is not a tradition here.  It turns out that someone lied a long time ago and said that KFC is a tradition in America.  Trust… Read More »Christmas


It is that time of year again – nay, that time of the decade.  The time where we hit an arbitrary marker that causes us to look back on a particular, arbitrary period of time, and think about how it measures up against a series of arbitrary criteria that matter not to anyone.  But we have, indeed, hit upon one of those markers, so this is a good time for reflection. I consider this blog to be aimless and disorganized.  Usually my posting schedule is “oh, I have something to… Read More »Reflections

Leggo my eigo

Many years ago, when I was a teenager in the late 80s and early 90s, the cult that I was raised in had a propaganda magazine called “Youth <insert year here>” where leaders of the cult would attempt to be relevant to the youth of the day, and most of the time, they just came off as condescending. I remember very little about that magazine, to be honest.  I remember the very first magazine that came out had a large photo of the cult leader’s face adorning the front, inside… Read More »Leggo my eigo


Japanese jyukugo fascinate me, because each one tells a story.  Sometimes the story is boring, but sometimes they offer an unwitting insight into the mind of a culture. I was reminded of this when I learned the jyukugo 電池.  The two kanji together mean “electricity” and “pond”.  But if you put them together, it means “battery”.  It’s a very poetic word, and not really intentionally, I think.  The Japanese people needed to think of a word for electrical storage, and well, why not? I’ve often been curious as to how these… Read More »Jyukugo

Speaking Out

Today’s post isn’t going to be about Japanese at all, though I might find a way to fit it in.  I do have a Japanese post waiting in the wings, but I think I want to discuss something else.  If you would like a Japanese post, please skip this one, and the next one will be about Japanese.  If you just want to unfollow me, well, go for it, I guess. I have been on this planet for somewhere around forty-five years, and I have seen some crazy stuff.  I… Read More »Speaking Out


One of the more frustrating things about Japanese to a beginner is the multiple levels of politeness.  At first glance they seem completely foreign, but I really don’t think they are.  It’s baked into English as well, it’s just not so much a grammatical construct as a manner of speaking. Contrast, for example, Greetings, I would like to inquire as to the report dated 11/15/2019, and await your reply forthwith. with Yo, dawg, you got that report or no? The first example is intentionally pretentious, but you get the idea. … Read More »Politeness


Over the past year or so, I’ve become something of a fan of Babymetal.  This may seem odd to people who know me, because I’m a classically trained musician, and I find most metal to be just people making noise, loudly.  But Babymetal has proven to be an exception. There is a particular characteristic of classical music, in my view:  it’s all perfect.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m a huge fan of romantic era piano concertos (Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, etc.) and I’ve come to believe that every one of them is perfect,… Read More »Babymetal

Cultural Neuroses

I think every country has something I call “cultural neuroses” – or at least I started to about twenty seconds ago.  Something in the culture that lives deep inside the cultural zeitgeist and underlies invisible assumptions that a culture makes.  In my opinion, this is one of the primary reasons to learn a foreign language – but for two reasons, not one.  One reason is to try to see the cultural neuroses in other cultures that are invisible to them.  And another is to try to see the cultural neuroses in… Read More »Cultural Neuroses