Cool Compound – 以上


以上 (いじょう) is a very useful phrase. It’s a short phrase you can use to signal that you’ve finished placing your order at a restaurant or that you’ve finished giving a speech or your portion of a presentation. (以上です。) I guess in that case it literally means, “(Everything I want to say or eat) is above.” Something like that. I guess there’s no satisfying 直訳 really. You could say something like, “That’s all.” or “And that concludes what I have to say.” Those are probably closer to the way it feels.

It’s also used to express “greater than or equal to.” So you can say things like 二人以上 (Two or more people), 10分以上 (Ten minutes or more), and other useful numerical expressions.

Recently it’s been used in a new statistic during weather reports that shows just how sick the Tokyo summer is – 30°以上の時間. Normal statistics like temperature and humidity can’t express exactly how miserable it is in this city during the summer, and since they don’t use heat index, they chart exactly how many hours during the day it is 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) or hotter. Today it was 30 degrees by 9am and it didn’t come down until after 5pm. Gross.

The two-shower-a-day policy is in full effect.

What a Cool We Are!

I completely forgot to mention the meaning of めちゃx2イケテいる. イケテいる is a verb that means "cool." If something is in the state of being cool, it is イケテいる. めちゃめちゃ makes it stronger. Young people use it often either as めちゃ or めちゃめちゃ, for example めちゃ寒い – damn cold or maybe even fucking cold. The show translates this as "What a Cool We Are!" although "We are Damn Cool!" is much less Engrishy.

Mecha-ike YouTube Dregs

I have sifted through the YouTube offerings for you and found a decent selection of old Mecha-ike clips.

This guy, this guy, and this guy have a ton of videos. 

爆走数取団 – Counting Biker Gang

One game they don’t play anymore is called  爆走数取団 (ばくそうかずとりだん). This was my favorite game for a long, long time. The male members of the cast dress up like biker thugs and play a counting game. The first person says an object, for example "books," and the next person has to use the appropriate counter to count that object, so 一冊. He would then say a different object, say "CDs," and the following person would count that, 二枚. This continues until someone makes a mistake, at which point they have to fight a sumo wrestler. Sweet game. I remember seeing part of this episode where Akiko Wada cried: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

And here is the always unpredictable Ega-chan versus the sumo: 1, 2

色取り忍者 – Irotori Ninja

They have replaced 数取り with 色取り. Here are three clips I made introducing the  色取り忍者 (Irotori Ninja) Game and showing how it can be played at elementary school: 1, 2, 3. Also, a funny clip introducing the guest ninjas for that episode.

オッファー – Offers 

Once a year Okamura and Yabe both get "offers" where they do other jobs. Yabe has worked at an onsen, in a pastry shop, and as a manager for a fashion model among other things. Okamura has performed with SMAP and EXILE. In the fourth offer, he performed with a Chinese juggling troupe: 1, 2, 3 … this goes on to 13, so you can find the rest yourselves. And here’s are clips from Okamura’s offer with EXILE, which was hugely popular: 1, 2.

抜き打ちテスト – Pop Quiz

One of the other famous bits they do is the 抜き打ちテスト(ぬきうちテスト, pop quiz), where they surprise all the participants by giving them a test. Then they make fun of the stupid answers and crown the バカ of the group. They have played this game with numerous different groups, most recently with イケメン guys. Here is the first one they did: 1, 2, 3, 4.

もっとも受ける芸人は誰! – Who is the Funniest Comedian!? 

I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of episode live, but it’s called もっとも受ける芸人は誰!(もっともうけるげいにんはだれ!). All the members get a chance to make a target audience laugh. There are four different episodes, each divided into several videos:

1: 1, 2, 3, 4

2: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

3: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 

4: 1, 2, 3, 4


This game is making fun of a game played by the manzai group とんねるず on one of their shows. They invite two celebrities and have them eat several dishes, one of which they hate. The other celebrity then has to guess which one the other didn’t like. This is similar, but they have to guess which comedian they didn’t like: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

油谷さん – Mr. Oil-Valley 

Here is Yamamoto’s famous 油谷さん (Aburatani-san, Mr. Oil-Valley). He would grease himself up and surprise a male staff member on their birthday or near the birth of a child: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8(*), 9 (These clips are a little frightening knowing that he was kicked off the show in 2007 after being accused of statutory rape. The charges were dropped after reaching a settlement, but not before he lost all his regular appearances and contract with Yoshimoto Kogyo. I haven’t researched it at all, but I think they stopped playing the motorcycle counting game once he left. Ah, a quick check on wikipedia shows that I’m right.)

* I vividly remember learning the meaning of オギャー from this clip. オギャー is the sound a baby makes when it is born.


Cool Compound – 発散

Television is a fantastic way to learn Japanese. My first year on JET, I spent two to three hours watching TV almost every evening and felt palpable improvement in my listening comprehension, which eventually spread to my speaking ability. I found a number of shows (mostly comedy) that I enjoyed and forced myself to watch the news twice a day.

The important thing is to channel surf and find something you enjoy watching.

My favorite show is Mecha-Mecha Iketeru! (めちゃ×2イケてるッ!). It’s a variety show led by the manzai combo of Takashi Okamura and Hiroyuki Yabe.

Here’s a clip where I learned a really cool compound. Listen for why Prime Minister Yabe likes to go out drinking (Excuse the poor subtitling. I did it a year ago for the Comedy portion of a Japanese pop culture presentation at JET Fukushima Orientation, and at the time I had little experience with iMovie.):

The phrase in question is 「ご発散(はっさん)みたいな感じ(かんじ)」, which is literally “A feeling like 発散.” 発散 means release, exude, vent, diffuse, exhale, et cetera. So a better translation is “Feels like blowing off some steam” or maybe “Feels nice to blow off some steam.” I took liberties to get it closer to something spoken and ended up with, “Blow off a little steam, ya know.”

I think a good usage of this term would be 発散として. So you could 発散として〜する。Do X to blow off a little steam. (The variable X, not the drug X, although I imagine that would exude all the steam you would ever want to exude.)

I also want to write a little about the bit itself, which is called 「矢部浩之の私が総理大臣になったら...秘書岡村」(Hiroyuki Yabe’s – If I Became Prime Minister… and Okamura Was My Secretary). Prime Minister Abe didn’t last very long, which is unfortunate because I really enjoyed this sketch. It was mainly a play on the similarity between names Yabe and Abe (Yabe even looks a little like Abe), but it is notable as one of the few political satires on Japanese TV.

It mocks:

– The way they put out a special edition of the newspaper (号外, “outside” the issue count) when a new Prime Minister is chosen.

そのまんま東 (Sonomanma Higashi), the comedian who was elected governor of Miyazaki Prefecture. The newspaper reads そのまんまバカ, referring to Yabe, of course.

– The way the newly inaugurated Prime Minister stands with his cabinet on the steps of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in matching suits and is assaulted by thirty minutes of camera flashes.

– The way Japanese Prime Ministers give press conferences.

– A variety of political hot topics. (Which in this case is 事務所費問題, じむしょひもんだい, the misuse of business administration fees.)

It also makes fun of Abe himself. He was infamous for using 外来語 (がいらいご, words of foreign origin) and, I think, long, complex Japanese phrases. The skit suggests that he might have been throwing out these words to impress without understanding their meaning. In this episode, he hears 事務所費問題 and thinks only of 事務所, administrative office. He starts talking about his own (Yabe’s own) offices at Yoshimoto Kogyo (吉本興業 is a Japanese media conglomerate that hires and manages a lot of Japanese comedians), gets sidetracked, and just rambles about a time when he went drinking.

Mecha-ike performed this skit eight times total over five different shows. Each ends with Yabe improvising (judging by Kato and Mitsuura’s laughter, which seems genuine) a way of saying “I have no idea.” In this episode he says 「アイドンノーやね」.

(In other episodes they have him answer the question but stupidly, the way a parody of Bush would. The topic in one of the episodes was 美しい国創り, one of PM Abe’s catch phrases, and when asked what that meant, Yabe replied, “Hakone is beautiful, right? Let’s make it all like Hakone.”)

Mecha-ike has one other sketch that is somewhat satirical. They dress up as police officers and pretend to arrest celebrities for stupid reasons, making fun of the ineptitude of the Japanese police.

ONTV JAPAN is a great website to find out what’s on TV.