Cool Phrase – いいぞ (Update)

I’ve got another article on the Japan Times Bilingual Page. Longtime readers will recognize the topic, as well as the little girl who hates bugs, from the contest I ran back in April 2008.

So, yes, いい is often used to say “no, thank you” and imply that something is not fine and not good, but it does also get used in the standard definition of good, fine, great. One way to differentiate between the meanings is applying a particle to the end. よ will grant permission to someone else, ね will express your pleasure with something and/or seek confirmation, よね seeks to confirm okay-ness, and ぞ is a useful way to cheer someone on.

When I was on JET, we coached the speech contest kids, and I have vivid memories of one of the Japanese English teachers saying いいぞ、いいぞ in a slightly gruff voice when the kids did a particularly good job. It was kind of like “attaboy, attaboy” or “now you’re cookin’ with gas” – that type of thing. Definitely a nice little phrase to keep in your wallet for the right situation.

Quick TOP SECRET breakdown of possible English tone equivalents (as usual, getting used to it is far superior to translation):

いいよ – “Sure, go ahead”
いいね – “That’s nice!” “That sounds good!”
いいよね – “Not a problem, right?”
いいぞ – “That’s the stuff!”


Dammit, I missed a bunch of particles, as noted in the comments by Leonardo. They are:

いいな – “Lucky! (a la Napoleon Dynamite)” “That’s nice!”
いいわ – “Sure thing.”
いいわよ – “Sure thing, hot stuff.”
いいけど – “I guess…”
いいけどね – “T’were it only true…”

Emergency Rinks – 1Q84 Book 3 Review, Tachiyomi Apps, Beer Gardens

Qwick! Emergency Rink Time!

Unresolved mystery from the mind of Murakami

This is my review of 1Q84 Book 3. It was tough to review this volume without providing some semblance of plot summary for the first two books, so avoid it if you are waiting for a spoiler-free English translation. Although, to be honest, one thing I’ve realized from reading 1Q84 is that Murakami’s fiction is process-based and not plot-based. You’re not reading to figure out what happens; you’re reading to experience the action of the novel along with the protagonist. So spoilers shouldn’t matter all that much. This is also why I think Murakami is weak when writing in third-person: he depends so heavily on tying a reader’s feelings to a single character (easy to do in first person) to make the process feel more immediate that he can’t write complex third-person fiction. The flip flopping of chapters is kind of a weak way to mix up the point of view. At least in other novels where he used the technique he was telling different stories. Ugg. Depressing. SHORT STORIES. WRITE SOME SHORT STORIES.

Big (only) in Japan? Rooftop beer gardens

A little extension on the linguistic aspect of this article. Japanese commenters on various websites note that “beer gardens” are ビアガーデン rather than ビールガーデン because it’s closer to the English pronunciation of the word “beer,” but that begs the question why beer isn’t always pronounced like that. One possible answer is that ビア is one syllable shorter, making the longer compound “beer garden” one syllable more efficient and easier to say. It also prevents there from being two awkward long vowels that result with ビールガーデン.

Tachiyomi: Do it on your device

I can’t believe that this app hasn’t existed until now. I think the only excuse is probably the rights for the magazines themselves. Although, the real secret is that most people tachiyomi comic monthlies – not magazines – so it’s easier to read the “whole” issue. I bet they target the current episode of the stories they follow and then just skim the rest of the issue.

College Japanese Notes – 2001/06/25

Since I’ve been home, I’ve spent a significant amount of time going through all my worldly possessions and – sometimes at the insistence of my mother, sometimes at my own insistence – throwing out what I don’t need or want anymore. I weeded out all the unnecessary books. Most of the stuffed animals can go. All my toy figures can go. I’ll try to sell some of the comic books. One thing I will keep is my college notes. Not all of them, but the ones that matter, and my Japanese notes definitely fall into that category.

I hadn’t studied Japanese before college, so I can pinpoint the day I began to study the language – June 25, 2001. For some reason I chose to study Italian my freshman year. Halfway through the first year, I knew that I’d made a mistake and that I really wanted to be studying Japanese. Initially I looked for study abroad programs, even going as far as asking my Italian professor to write me a letter of recommendation (!). In the end I signed up for the intensive summer course, because it was the only way I could get credit for the work.

I had class from 9AM to 1PM five days a week. Additionally, we were supposed to do six hours of study and preparation outside of class each day – 10 hours a day! I remember calculating the workload at some point, and each day amounted to a week of study during the normal school year: it was a challenge, but I really enjoyed it, and it enabled me to catch up with my classmates.

It’s been 超懐かしい to look through my old notes. The image above is the first page of my first legal pad. As you can tell, nothing got by me:

I also found the very first hiragana I ever wrote:

And my very first kanji:

I’ll be digging through my notes over the next few months to see if I can glean any nuggets of wisdom that I’ve forgotten over the past nine years.

Ret’s Rink – KFC, Pervs, Boring People, Cheap Hotels

Yes, it’s that time again – Japan Pulse rinkage time.

KFC goes for finger-lickin’ health-conscious goodness

I did KFC for Christmas in Japan once, and it was thoroughly disappointing. The most disappointing part was that it wasn’t sold out. I heard from friends in Aizu that you had reserve it weeks in advance, and a guy on my exchange program at Waseda said the same thing (and he wasn’t out in the middle of nowhere). So I was super surprised when I strolled up at 1:30PM and there was chicken to be had for anyone and everyone – I wanted special, reservation-only Christmas chicken! Oh well. All in all, probably the most disappointing Christmas meal ever. This is instructive, however. Ritual is an important part of Japanese culture; not just performing the ritual, but also drumming up the spirit to perform the ritual at an appropriate level of excitement and ensuring that others have this same level of excitement – this is something that I am good at. Damn I was excited for Christmas chicken, and damn did I eat it up. To be honest, though, I prefer to create my own rituals (which involve spending lots of money on oysters).

I love Subway’s 野菜のSUBWAY slogan. I think it’s brilliant. I’ve previously written about Subway’s “hot peppers” as well as their “veggie” dog.

Oh, and does anyone know how the new KFC turned out? Or how the new McDonalds is going? Am I the only one who thinks they’ll probably end up just as dirty as the normal Shibuya/Shinjuku places?

Passion for ‘garage kit’ models mounts at Wonder Festival

I knew almost nothing about garage kits before writing this post and was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered. The garage kit community, although perhaps a little pervy, is impressively homegrown and self-promoting. It’s even more impressive that the companies have made as many copyright concessions as they have; imagine J.K. Rowling attending a fan fiction convention and judging the best Harry Potter knock-off – that’s the literary equivalent.

iPhones become ice-breakers at gokon dating parties

I think I broke a gokon rule once. I organized one with a girl not too long ago as a favor for another girl, and I was actually interested in the girl I organized it with. Anyone know if that’s a big no no? I can tell you one thing – it was unsuccessful. I spent too much time paying attention to my friend instead of the friend she brought, who while very attractive was pretty uninteresting. Oh well.

I can say one thing about these iPhone apps – if you are drinking alcohol and need ANOTHER crutch to catalyze conversation at your group date, you are probably very boring.

Pulse Rate:

This website struck me as a Rakuten Travel for very expensive hotels. Most of the accommodations on are super high-end, even with the 60% discount that some of their deals get. Rakuten, on the other hand, is more affordable and incredibly useful. They have cheap rooms all over the country, and for most of the hotels you don’t have to pay in advance. You also earn points that you can save up and spend at any Rakuten shop. When my mom brought a couple of friends to visit Japan, I used Rakuten to book nearly all of our hotels and accumulated something ridiculous like 20,000 yen worth of points, which I blew on beer.