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When Reality Attacks

When Reality Attacks

I have always found idol culture in Japan interesting, but partly because I sought to understand it.  I found this video which helped a little. These are several members of AKB48 who were in a contest with a bunch of Korean idols, and found themselves so lacking in comparison it seemed to completely wreck them. I’ve often wondered how well the Japanese idol culture (in general) prepares the girls for a life in media.  They’re not great at dancing (better than me, for sure, but not great objectively), they’re not… Read More »When Reality Attacks

Why Japanese is Hard

I was thinking this morning, on my day off for Independence Day here in the US (while waving a flag and shooting off fireworks while drinking beer and saying “hold mah beer and watch this”) about why Japanese is so hard.  I was rather lamenting in my head about something I’ve been harping about in previous posts – how there seems to be no one resource that actually tells you what you need to know about Japanese and you kind of have to piece it together from a bunch of… Read More »Why Japanese is Hard

Still plugging along…

I feel as if, if I even come close to mastering Japanese, I’ll be able to learn any other language I want.  Japanese is hard. Crazy hard. But I keep encountering ways to look at it that make it easier, and sometimes it feels like you just kind of have to luck your way into learning these things, as there seems to be nowhere that has everything you need in one place.  Every site or book seems to have parts of it, but you have to spend months just piecing… Read More »Still plugging along…

Ohori Meshibe

In my seeking to understand Japanese culture, I found a YouTube video, and found it very interesting. Ohori Meshibe (also known as Ohori Megumi, but that was her name for this recording) was a 25 year old AKB48 member who was given an opportunity, but with a catch:  we’ll give you a solo debut, but you have to sell 10,000 CDs within a month or you’ll have to graduate. So for a month, she went all over, selling one CD at a time, giving little performances all over the place,… Read More »Ohori Meshibe

大丈夫

Learning Japanese has been frought with challenges – I mean it’s been really, really difficult.  I think one of the reasons is the scattershot nature of the resources I’ve been using to learn.  They all seem to emphasize something different, and each advertises itself as the only resource I’ll ever need. That is, of course, bull-pucky. But the word that is the title of this post is an example of why I feel this way.  大丈夫.  Pronounced “daijoubu”, this word seems to be one of the most commonly used words… Read More »大丈夫

Women in Japan

A friend asked me today how women are treated in the Japanese culture.  And it brought me up short, because I’d never even considered that question seriously.  It’s funny, because most of my exposure to Japanese culture has been J-pop, and a through that, a couple of hundred young women and girls.  So you’d think the question would be on my mind, but it actually wasn’t. The problem with that question, though, is that anyone from America who tries to answer that question, though, including me, is going to do so… Read More »Women in Japan

The Genius of Kanji

I think I understand now why kanji have lasted as long as it has. Today, I saw a kanji pair.  気楽.  It means “relaxed” or some such.  The kanji by themselves mean “mood” and “comfort” (in this context).  I thought they were pronounced “kigaku”, but I looked it up and realized it was “kiraku”. But here’s the thing – I haven’t forgotten how to pronounce the word!  I forgot several times, but then I just think of the two kanji, and then I know how to pronounce it. So the… Read More »The Genius of Kanji

Post in Japanese #1

Hi all.  I am going to try to write a weekly post in Japanese, mostly to address the issue in “Crisis of Confidence“, which I wrote about earlier.  It will have a lot of mistakes and I will need to look a lot of things up.  Feel free to correct.  The point is just to do it no matter what.  Honestly, it will probably take me a long time to write this, as I refuse to use Google Translate except to check that my work is halfways intelligible… 🙂 こんいちわ。私は日本語学生です。私がとても恥ずかしいい日本語をかいてます。… Read More »Post in Japanese #1

Sunday Song #3: 女子かしまし物語 (モーニング娘)

Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari (“The story of Noisy Girls”) by Morning Musume is one of the first songs that made me think that J-Pop is a little bit more than just stupidity, even if, paradoxically, it’s one of the least intelligent songs of the whole batch. The reason is both structural and not.  Structurally, it’s extremely high energy.  I find myself rather envious of the energy those girls exhibit when performing this song, but then I have to remember they’re young and, well, as they say, youth is wasted on the young. … Read More »Sunday Song #3: 女子かしまし物語 (モーニング娘)

What Exactly are Kanji?

I think one of the most difficult things for a westerner to wrap their minds around is kanji. I don’t mean memorizing the kanji or their readings, but exactly what they are in the first place. We think of them as words, but I don’t really think that’s what they are, not really.  I think they are, instead, concepts, and those concepts are represented as logographs.  But I think you don’t really directly translate a kanji.  I think you take the concept that the kanji represents, crystallize a contextual meaning… Read More »What Exactly are Kanji?