Cool Compound – 完了

kanryo

I’m in The Japan Times this week with a look at the Japanese you can find on your iPhone: “A pocketful of Japanese immersion is just a few key taps away.”

I keep my phone set into Japanese 99% of the time. It can be really annoying sometimes, especially when large blocks of text come up and you’re trying to navigate something quickly. As it did today when I opened up the ヘルスケア app. Turns out that the new iOS turns the iPhone into a Fitbit, basically. Learned the word 歩数 (ほすう)!

That reaction of annoyance is pretty normal, I think. That’s the pain of language learning, and if you’re not feeling it often, then you aren’t doing the study thing right.

Two incredibly useful things I failed to mention in the article:

– 完了 (かんりょう) is one of the more important vocabulary words to use. It generally means “done” or “complete,” but on a phone, this is the button that closes windows. Look for it whenever you’re trying to get back to where you once were.

– Google Maps will dictate directions in Japanese. This will help you remember cool phrases like しばらく道なり, 右方向, 左方向, etc. Warning: If your parents hear these directions, they may then make painfully un-PC imitations of Japanese.

Karaoke Kotoba – 別れ

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My column is in the Japan Times Bilingual page this week: “Submitting yourself to the 50 shades of arigatō gozaimasu.”

I take a look at ways to diversify your phrases of appreciation: ありがとう is great, but there are other ways you can thank people. Why not add a few to your repertoire?

There’s nothing really wrong with ありがとう, of course, and I mention a couple karaoke songs there at the end that use ありがとう, notably 夜霧よ今夜も有り難う, one of Yūjiro Ishihara’s legendary songs:

I love this song for several reasons: 1) There are few songs that fit within my vocal range (deep), but this is one of them, 2) Yūjiro is boss — as my college graduate advisor put it, he’s basically the Japanese Elvis — and 3) in the video above (if the link isn’t broken) he doesn’t bat much of an eye even though some jackass comes on stage in the middle of the song to pelt him with confetti:

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I was going to write something snarky about how the real つらさ is having to share the stage with the confetti pelters, but apparently they are celebrating Ishihara’s first television performance after recovering from an aortic aneurysm:

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The real pain, though, is 別れのつらさ – the pain of parting/breaking up. Because of the nature of music (especially pop music), 別れ (わかれ) is a word you can expect to encounter frequently in the karaoke box. It’s just a noun from the verb 別れる.

I went hunting for other examples of 別れ and I found a great example: 別れても好きな人.

It’s a duet, one that was originally released in 1969 but got covered in 1979 and became a million-seller for “Los Indios and Sylvia” (ロス・インディオス&シルヴィア). The song gives you a great tour of famous parts of Tokyo, and duets are fun as hell. It’s always good to have a well-known duet up your karaoke sleeve, in your karaoke quiver, etc.

The grammar pattern the song highlights is one of the most basic: Gerund X + も = Despite X/even though X. In this case, “people you love/like/crush on even though you broke up.”

On a side note, the video I found above has a solid example of 壁ドン, a word which drew attention in 2014 when it was a runner up for word of the year. As you can see from this video, it has a pretty long history as a visual trope (although I have no idea what year the karaoke video was produced, could be later than 1979 I assume, but judging from the way the Scramble Crossing looks, it’s a while back):

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Seventeen

Welcome to the Seventh Annual How to Japanese Murakami Fest!

With the goal of stirring up even more interest in Murakami between now and October, when the Nobel Prizes are announced, I will post a small piece of Murakami translation/analysis/revelation once a week from now until the announcement. You can see past entries in the series here:

Year One: BoobsThe WindBaseballLederhosenEels, Monkeys, and Doves
Year Two: Hotel Lobby OystersCondomsSpinning Around and Around街・町The Town and Its Uncertain WallA Short Piece on the Elephant that Crushes Heineken Cans
Year Three: “The Town and Its Uncertain Wall” – Words and WeirsThe LibraryOld DreamsSaying GoodbyeLastly
Year Four: More DrawersPhone CallsMetaphorsEight-year-olds, dudeUshikawaLast Line
Year Five: Jurassic SapporoGerry MulliganAll Growns UpDanceMountain Climbing
Year Six: Sex With Fat WomenCoffee With the ColonelThe LibrarianOld ManWatermelons
Year Seven: WarmthRebirthWasteland, Hard-ons

seventeen

Chapter 21 “Bracelets, Ben Johnson, Devil” continues. Watashi and the Girl in Pink make it through the waterfall and to the laboratory, but it’s been ransacked like everything else. Watashi is convinced that they took the old man as well until the girl goes into the closet to show him the secret exit. Birnbaum’s translation:

The girl went to the closet in the far room and threw the hangers onto the floor. As she rotated the clothes rod, there was the sound of gears turning, and a square panel in the lower right closet wall creaked open. In blew cold, moldy air.

“Your grandfather must be some kind of cabinet fetishist,” I remarked.

“No way,” she defended. “A fetishist’s someone who’s got a fixation on one thing only. Of course, Grandfather’s good at cabinetry. He’s good at everything. Genius doesn’t specialize; genius is reason in itself.”

“Forget genius. It doesn’t do much for innocent bystanders. Especially if everyone’s going to want a piece of the action. That’s why this whole mess happened in the first place. Genius or fool, you don’t live in the world alone. You can hide underground or you can build a wall around yourself, but somebody’s going to come along and screw up the works. Your grandfather is no exception. Thanks to him, I got my gut slashed, and now the world’s going to end.”

“Once we find Grandfather, it’ll be all right,” she said, drawing near to plant a little peck by my ear. “You can’t go back now.”

The girl kept her eye on the INKlink-repel device while it recharged. (210)

It’s been a while since I last read this book, so I was a little surprised at this point to see that she actually kisses him. I remember her being a horndog, but I didn’t remember any physicality. Here is the Complete Works version and my translation:

娘は奥の部屋に行ってクローゼットの中にかかっていたハンガーを床に放り出し、ハンガーをかけるステンレス・スティールのバーを両手でつかんでくるくるとまわした。しばらくそれをまわしているうちに、歯車のかみあうかちんという音が聞こえた。それからもなお同じ方向にまわしつづけていると、クローゼットの壁の右下の部分が縦横七○センチほどの大きさにぽっかりと開いた。のぞきこんでみるとその穴の向うには手にすくいとれそうなほどの濃い暗闇がつづいているのが見える。冷ややかなかび臭い風が部屋の中に吹きこんでくるのが感じられた。

「なかなかうまく作ってあるでしょ」と娘がステンレス・スティールのバーを両手でつかんだまま、私の方を向いて言った。

「たしかによくできてる」と私は言った。「こんなところに脱出口があるなんて普通の人間じゃ考えつかないものな」

彼女は私のそばに寄って背のびし、私の耳の下に小さくキスをした。彼女にキスされると私の体はいくらかあたたまり、傷の痛みもいくぶん引いたように感じられた。私の耳の下にはそういう特殊なポイントがあるのかもしれない。あるいはただ単に、十七歳の女の子に口づけされたのが久しぶりだったせかもしれない。この前十七歳の女の子に口づけされたのは十八年も前の話である。

娘はじっと発信機の目盛りをにらんでいたが、やがて「行きましょう」と私に行った。充電が完了したのだ。(289-290)

The girl went to the closet in the far room, threw out all the hangers, and began to rotate the stainless steel bar with both hands. As she turned it, there was the clink of gears engaging. She continued turning the bar in the same direction, and a square of about 70cm or so popped open in the lower right section of the closet wall. I peeked in and beyond the opening I could make out a darkness so thick I could’ve scooped it up into my hands. A musty chill blew into the room.

The girl turned to me with the bar still in her hand. “Pretty impressive, huh?” she said.

“It certainly is,” I said. “Normal people would never expect an escape hatch in somewhere like here.”

She came over to me, stood on her toes, and gave me a peck just beneath my ear. When she kissed me, my body grew warmer, and it felt like the pain in my wound also faded slightly. Maybe there was some kind of special point just below my ear. Or maybe I simply hadn’t been kissed by a 17-year-old girl in a long time. It had been 18 years since I’d last been kissed by a 17-year-old-girl.

The girl stared at the charge on the INKling repelling device and finally said, “Let’s go.” The charging was complete.

Interesting. Birnbaum (or his editor) cut the interiority after the kiss. It’s just a peck and then she keeps talking. He thinks nothing of it.

As you can see, though, Murakami makes his own cuts in the Complete Works edition. When there’s smoke there’s fire, so I was super curious to check out the Japanese paperback original for “cabinet fetishist” and to see which parts both BOHE and Murakami cut. Here we go (my translation follows):

娘は奥の部屋に行ってクローゼットの中にかかっていたハンガーを床に放り出し、ハンガーをかけるステンレス・スティールのバーを両手でつかんでくるくるとまわした。しばらくそれをまわしているうちに、歯車のかみあるかちんという音が聞こえた。それからもなお同じ方向にまわしつづけていると、クローゼットの壁の右下の部分が縦横七十センチほどの大きさにぽっかりと開いた。のぞきこんでみるとその穴の向うには手にすくいとれそうなほどの濃い暗闇がつづいているのが見える。冷ややかなかび臭い風が部屋の中に吹きこんでくるのが感じられた。

「なかなかうまく作ってあるでしょ」と娘がステンレス・スティールのバーを両手でつかんだまま、私の方を向いて言った。

「たしかによくできてる」と私は言った。「こんなところに脱出口があるなんて普通の人間じゃ考えつかないのな。まさにマニアックだな」

「あら、マニアックなんかじゃないわよ。マニアックというのはひとつの方向なり傾向なりに固執する人のことでしょ?祖父はそうじゃなくて、あらゆる方面に人より優れているだけなのよ。天文学から遺伝子学からこの手の大工仕事までね」と彼女は言った。「祖父のような人は他にはいないわ。TVやら雑誌のグラビアやらに出ていろいろと吹聴する人はいっぱいいるけれど、そんなのはみんな偽物よ。本当の天才というのは自分の世界で充足するものなのよ」

「しかし本人が充足しても、まわりの人間はそうじゃない。まわりの人間はその充足の壁を破って、なんとかその才能を利用しようとするんだ。だから今回のようなアクシデントが起るんだ。どれだけの天才でもどれだけの馬鹿でも自分一人だけの純粋な世界なんて存在しえないんだ。どんなに地下深くに閉じこもろうが、どんなに高い壁をまわりにめぐらそうがね。いつか誰かがやってきて、それをほじくりかえす。君のおじいさんだってその例外じゃない。そのおかげで僕はナイフで腹を切られ、世界はあと三十五時間あまりで終わろうとしている」

「祖父がみつかればきっと何もかもうまく収まるわ」彼女は私のそばに寄って背のびし、私の耳の下に小さくキスをした。彼女にキスされると私の体はいくらかあたたまり、傷の痛みもいくぶん引いたように感じられた。私の耳の下にはそういう特殊なポイントがあるのかもしれない。あるいはただ単に、十七歳の女の子に口づけされたのが久しぶりだったせかもしれない。この前十七歳の女の子に口づけされたのは十八年も前の話である。

「みんなうまくいくって信じていれば、世の中に怖いものなんて何もないわよ」と彼女は言った。

「年をとると、信じることが少なくなってくるんだ」と私は言った。「歯が擦り減っていくのと同じだよ。べつにシニカルになるわけでもなく、懐疑的になるわけでもなく、ただ擦り減っていくんだ」

「怖い?」

「怖いね」と私は言った。それから身をかがめて穴の奥をもう一度覗き込んだ。「狭くて暗いのは昔から苦手なんだ」

「でももううしろには引き返せないわ。前に進むしかないんじゃないかしら?」

「理屈としてはね」と私は言った。私はだんだん自分の体が自分のものではなくなっていくような気分になりはじめていた。高校生の頃バスケット・ボールをやっていて、ときどきそういう気分になったことがあった。ボールの動きがあまりにも速すぎて、からだをそれに対応させようとすると、意識の方が追いついていけなくなってしまうわけだ。

娘はじっと発信機の目盛りをにらんでいたが、やがて「行きましょう」と私に言った。充電が完了したのだ。 (361-363)

The girl went to the closet in the far room, threw out all the hangers, and began to rotate the stainless steel bar with both hands. As she turned it, there was the clink of gears engaging. She continued turning the bar in the same direction, and a square of about 70cm or so popped open in the lower right section of the closet wall. I peeked in and beyond the opening I could make out a darkness so thick I could’ve scooped it up into my hands. A musty chill blew into the room.

The girl turned to me with the bar still in her hand. “Pretty impressive, huh?” she said.

“It certainly is,” I said. “Normal people would never expect an escape hatch in somewhere like here. You’d have to be a total maniac.”

“Hey, he’s no maniac,” she said. “A maniac is someone who fixates on a certain thing or tendency, right? Grandfather isn’t like that; he’s superior on all different levels. From astronomy to genetics and even carpentry like this. There’s no one else like Grandfather. There are tons of people who appear on TV or in magazines to try and promote themselves, but they’re all a bunch of phonies. True geniuses are fulfilled by their own world.”

“But even if geniuses are fulfilled, the people around them aren’t. The people around them try to break down the walls of that fulfillment and use their genius for something. And that’s why accidents like this happen. You don’t exist in a world that’s purely your own no matter how smart or how stupid you are. No matter how deep underground you dig, no matter how high of a wall you try to surround yourself with, right? Eventually someone will come along and try to expose you. Your grandfather isn’t any exception. Thanks to him, I got my gut slashed, and the world is going to end in just over 35 hours.”

“Once we find Grandfather, it will all work out.” She came over to me, stood on her toes, and gave me a peck just beneath my ear. When she kissed me, my body grew warmer, and it felt like the pain in my would also faded slightly. Maybe there was some kind of special point just below my ear. Or maybe I simply hadn’t been kissed by a 17-year-old girl in a long time. It had been 18 years since I’d last been kissed by a 17-year-old-girl.

“If you just trust that everything will work out, there’s nothing in the world that can scare you,” she said.

“As you get older, you trust in fewer things,” I said. “It’s like the way your teeth wear down. You don’t get cynical or skeptical, just worn down.”

“Are you scared?”

“I am,” I said. I squatted down and looked in the hole again. “I can’t stand dark and cramped spaces.”

“But we can’t go back. We can’t only keep going, right?”

“In theory,” I said. I gradually started to get the feeling that my body was no longer my own. I occasionally had that sensation when I was playing basketball in high school. The ball moved too fast, and when I tried to make my body keep up, my consciousness got left behind.

The girl stared at the charge on the INKling repelling device and finally said, “Let’s go.” The charging was complete.

So “fetishist” is literally “maniac” in the Japanese. I think Birnbaum’s fetishist is a better translation. I left it as maniac to give non-Japanese readers a better sense of the passage. The only other possibility in English is “zealot,” perhaps.

As you can see, Murakami cuts the discussion of genius in its entirety for the Complete Works edition, and Birnbaum has adapted it somewhat liberally above in his version. It’s too bad that the line about trust gets cut: say what you will about Murakami as a writer, in his younger days he did write compellingly about what it feels like to get older.

And it’s nice to see his pet images the well and the wall in the original paperback version.

I wasn’t quite sure about the implications of 吹聴, but I took it to mean “experts” who are always making appearances on TV or in magazines, partly to share their knowledge but also to build their brand.

As mentioned last week, next week’s cut is a doozy. Can’t wait to take a closer look at it.

Watermelons

With the goal of stirring up even more interest in Murakami between now and the next week (or two), when the Nobel Prizes are announced, I will post a small piece of Murakami translation/analysis/revelation once a week from now until the announcement. You can see past entries in the series here:

Year One: BoobsThe WindBaseballLederhosenEels, Monkeys, and Doves
Year Two: Hotel Lobby OystersCondomsSpinning Around and Around街・町The Town and Its Uncertain WallA Short Piece on the Elephant that Crushes Heineken Cans
Year Three: “The Town and Its Uncertain Wall” – Words and WeirsThe LibraryOld DreamsSaying GoodbyeLastly
Year Four: More DrawersPhone CallsMetaphorsEight-year-olds, dudeUshikawaLast Line
Year Five: Jurassic SapporoGerry MulliganAll Growns UpDanceMountain Climbing
Year Six: Sex With Fat WomenCoffee With the ColonelThe Librarian, Old Man

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Differences between the original and translation of Chapter 11 are apparent from the chapter title: in English, the title is “Dressing, Watermelon, Chaos” and the version in the Complete Works is 「着衣、混沌」. The 1985 version, which is「着衣、西瓜、混沌」, quickly shows that the changes here are being made by Murakami and not Birnbaum.

This was another short installment, so it was easy to locate those changes. In this chapter, the librarian gets dressed (very sensually, as Watashi admires from the corner of his eye) and then leaves with the library books after giving him her number. Watashi then preps for shuffling the data, explains the shuffling process, and starts shuffling.

Shuffling required scientists to extract the “core” of his consciousness in the form of a “drama.” The title of Watashi’s interior drama is “End of the World,” but they didn’t tell him anything about the drama. He just calls it up, putting himself in a dream state, shuffles the data, and then turns it off, remembering nothing after.

First I’ll look at the way that Birnbaum translated the 1985 version, and then I’ll show you what Murakami did differently in 1990. Without further ado, the 1985 version followed by its translation, which is very accurate and makes very few changes/cuts:

「それを知ることは君には不必要なのだ」と彼らは私に説明してくれた。「何故なら無意識性ほど正確なものはこの世にないからだ。ある程度の年齢——我々は用心深く計算してそれを二十八歳と設定しているわけだが——に達すると人間の意識の総体というものはまず変化しない。我々が一般に意識の変革と呼称しているものは、脳全体の働きからすればとるにたらない表層的な誤差にすぎない。だからこの〈世界の終わり〉という君の意識の核は、君が息をひきとるまで変わることなく正確に君の意識の核として機能するのだ。ここまではわかる?」

「わかります」と私は言った。

「あらゆる種類の理論・分析は、いわば短い針先で西瓜を分割しようとしているようなものだ。彼らは皮にしるしをつけることはできるが、果肉にまでは永遠に到達することはできない。だからこそ我々は皮と果肉とをはっきると分離しておく必要があるのだ。もっとも世間には皮ばかりかじって喜んでいるような変わった手合もいるがね」

「要するに」と彼らはつづけた。「我々は君のパス・ドラマを永遠に君自身の意識の表層的な揺り動かしから保護しておかなくてはならんのだ。もし我々が君に〈世界の終わり〉とはこうこうこういうものだと内容を教えてしまったとする。つまり西瓜の皮をむいてやるようなものだな。そうすると君は間違いなくそれをいじりまわして改変してしまうだろう。ここはこうした方が良いとか、ここにこれをつけ加えようとしたりするんだ。そしてそんなことをしてしまえば、そのパス・ドラマとしての普遍性はあっという間に消滅して、シャフリングが成立しなくなってしまう」

「だから我々は君の西瓜にぶ厚い皮を与えたわけだ」とべつの一人が言った。「君はそれをコールして呼びだすことができる。なぜならそれは要するに君自身であるわけだからな。しかし君はそれを知ることはできない。すべてはカオスの海の中で行われる。つまり君は手ぶらでカオスの海に潜り、手ぶらでそこからでてくるわけだ。私の言っていることはわかるかな?」

「わかると思います」と私は言った。

「もうひとつの問題はこういうことだ」と彼らは言った。「人は自らの意識の核を明確に知るべきだろうか?」

「わかりません」と私は答えた。

「我々にもわからない」と彼らは言った。「これはいわば科学を超えた問題だな。ロス・アラモスで原爆を開発した科学者たちがぶちあたったのと同種の問題だ

たぶんロス・アラモスよりはもっと重大な問題だな」と一人が言った。「経験的に言って、そう結論せざるを得ないんだ。そんなわけで、これはある意味ではきわめて危険な実験であるとも言える」

「実験?」と私は言った。

「実験」と彼らは言った。「それ以上のことを君に教えるわけにはいかないんだ。申しわけないが」

それから彼らは私にシャッフルの方法を教えてくれた。一人きりでやること、夜中にやること、満腹状態でもなく空腹でもないこと。

“There is no need for you to know more. The unconscious goes about its business better than you’ll ever be able to. After a certain age—our calculations put it at twenty-eight years—human beings rarely experience alterations in the overall configuration of their consciousness. What is commonly referred to as self-improvement or conscious change hardly even scratches the surface. Your ‘End of the World’ core consciousness will continue to function, unaffected, until you take your last breath. Understand this far?”

“I understand,” I said.

“All efforts of reason and analysis are, in a word, like trying to slice through a watermelon with sewing needles. They may leave marks on the outer rind, but the fruity pulp will remain perpetually out of reach. Hence, we separate the rind from the pulp. Of course, there are idle souls out there who seem to enjoy just nibbling away on the rind.

“In view of all contingencies,” they went on, “we must protect your password-drama, isolating it from any superficial turbulence, the tides of your outer consciousness. Suppose we were to say to you, your End of the World is inhered with such, such, and such elements. It would be like peeling away the rind of the watermelon for you. The temptation would be irresistible: you would stick your fingers into the pulp and muck it up. And in no time, the hermetic extractability of our password-drama would be forfeited. Poof! You would no longer be able to shuffle.”

“That’s why we’re giving you back your watermelon with an extra thick rind,” one scientist interjected. “You can call up the drama, because it is your own self, after all. But you can never know its contents. It transpires in a sea of chaos into which you submerge empty-handed and from which you resurface empty-handed. Do you follow?”

“I believe so,” I said.

“One more point,” they intoned in solemn chorus. “Properly speaking, should any individual ever have exact, clear knowledge of his own core consciousness?”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said.

“Nor would we,” said the scientists. “Such questions are, as they say, beyond science. [They are the same questions the scientists at Los Alamos ran into.]”

“[They might even be more important than the problems at Los Alamos.] Speaking from experience, we cannot conclude otherwise,” admitted one. “So in this sense, this is an extremely sensitive experiment.”

“Experiment?” I recoiled.

“Yes, experiment,” echoed the chorus. “We cannot tell you any more than this.”

Then they instructed me on how to shuffle: Do it alone, preferably at night, on neither a full nor empty stomach. …

As you can see, Birnbaum’s translation is quite accurate. He cuts the space break, and yes, he’s colorful here and there, notably with the “Poof!” but there’s really not much to complain about. The only lines he cuts completely are those referring to the development of the atom bomb by scientists in Los Alamos (which I’ve bolded in Japanese and bolded/bracketed in English).

The one thing worth noting is that Birnbaum’s translation makes the text slightly more Kafkaesque than the original. Murakami uses 彼ら (they) as a speaker tag in the original, and he occasionally picks out a single scientist to interrupt this plural subject, but in translation Birnbaum decides to be more explicit and dramatic by translating this as “they intoned in solemn chorus.” I really like this rendering. It adds a hint of fear to the proceedings, which is reflected in the Japanese dialogue in the way that the dialogue mirrors the dialogue of the old man/scientist/grandpa slightly with its んだs and がねs: these scientists are just a little off, and Birnbaum hints at that nicely with the ornamented speaker tag.

In the Complete Works version, this is how the passage looks:

「それを知ることは君には不必要なのだ」と彼らは私に説明してくれた。「君はそれを必要に応じてコールして呼びだすことができる。なぜならその〈世界の終わり〉というパス・ドラマは要するに君自身であるわけだからな。しかし君はその内容を知ることはできない。すべてはカオスの海の中で行われる。つまり君は手ぶらでカオスの海に潜り、手ぶらでそこからでてくるわけだ。私の言っていることはわかるかな?」

「わかると思います」と私は言った。

それから彼らは私にシャッフルの方法を教えてくれた。一人きりでやること、夜中にやること、満腹状態でもなく空腹でもないこと。

“There is no need for you to know more. You can call up the drama, because it is your own self, after all. But you can never know its contents. It transpires in a sea of chaos into which you submerge empty-handed and from which you resurface empty-handed. Do you follow?”

“I believe so,” I said.

Then they instructed me on how to shuffle: Do it alone, preferably at night, on neither a full nor empty stomach. …

Significantly shorter. All the sections about the development of the conscious mind are gone. So is the watermelon metaphor. As is the ominous question SHOULD WE HAVE TRUE SELF KNOWLEDGE.

I really don’t like these cuts and I’m not sure what Murakami was going for. It feels like he sterilized the text to a certain extent, maybe to speed it up, maybe because he didn’t feel like the section ties in with the main themes of the book. There’s no question that the result is less funny, although I have to admit that Birnbaum’s translation probably makes it sillier than the original. Still, the “Experiment?!” line on its own is pretty funny, and it gets cut.

Which makes me wonder if that’s why Murakami cut it – not because it was funny but because it might ruin the believability of the plot a little. If Watashi had some idea that shuffling wasn’t anything more than a complex experiment poking around in his melon, as it were, would he really have participated? We know he’s a pretty easy-going “for convenience-sake” kind of guy – this has been well established since the very first chapter, which also introduced watermelon as a metaphor for his brain – but even he has his limits. Maybe that’s what Murakami was going after here.

Thus concludes Murakami Fest 2013! The Nobel Committee has not yet revealed the date of the Literature announcement, but it will likely be at some point next week or the week after, in the middle of the other prize announcements. I’ll probably continue to read Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, so check back for more blog posts.

Day 2 with Project Tohoku in Ofunato

I was with the same ditch project, but today I was working on the canals instead. I started off taking buckets from the diggers and wheeling them to the dump site, but in the afternoon I jumped in the canal and helped shovel. For the last hour or so I was working on a different section of the canal that we haven’t reached yet. I fished out the biggest pieces of debris like roof tiles and other things and put them on the side of the road to be carted away.

Everything else other than that was the same as yesterday. We have a different team of people, so things ran a little differently, but it was all tough labor out in the sun.

Here is some of our group eating our delicious bento lunches. We ate at this small house near the work site, and the lady there made us soup yesterday and today. Yesterday she also boiled us eggs, and today she gave us cans of miso sardines. Very tasty.

This is the area of town where we were working. As I mentioned yesterday, the destruction was very spotty. Some things are totally gone; others are still standing. This photo is facing the coast, so you can see that some things closer to the coast are still standing.

Here’s a photo of a very clean ditch. I’m not sure if our team worked on this, but this is what they look like when we finish with them.

And here is the canal I was working on. This is what it looks like when it’s dirty (although we had done one pass…the section I worked on at the end was much, much dirtier).

And here’s a clean section.

A group of Japanese officials came by and took photos of us working. I gave them my email, so hopefully they’ll send them my way soon. I’ll post them up when I get them.

After two days on the ditches and canals, I’m ready for a new assignment. There’s a project going to do some work on a the grounds of a school, and I’ll be joining them. In the afternoon we should have a chance to play with the kids. I’m very excited to be back teaching again, even if it is just for an afternoon.

Old Edo Great Beer Pub Crawl – Director’s Commentary

How to Japanese – Old Edo Great Beer Pub Crawl from Daniel Morales on Vimeo.

00:27 This movie was definitely inspired by the song, Van Morrison’s version of “There Stands the Glass.” It pretty much sums up the content of the video – glasses of beer on bar counters.

This is the first video I made with my wide-angle lens. I picked up the lens in Akihabara, had a sandwich at Subway, and then went on a pub crawl. Not a bad night! I think the results are clear – everything would have looked terrible without wide-angle conversion, especially the indoor footage. I use it all the time now.

00:42 I love Dry Dock. The big secret is that although it looks rectangular, it’s actually more triangular in shape on the inside. I’m interested to get a better look inside the kitchen (er, I should say “galley”) to see how much farther it goes back.

00:48 I had my expectations for this beer way too high after reading that Michael Jackson labeled it the best American dry stout. It’s good. Maybe I need to try it again. Dry Dock has a great blog. Sato-san, the master, posts pretty frequently about what they have on tap, different events, magazine articles he’s written/appeared in, and Motocross races. They are pretty intense with the way they clean and care for glassware at Dry Dock. Respect.

01:08 Organic Saison Dupont – nothing noticeably different from the regular Saison Dupont. I have a giant crush on the Houblon lady.

01:26 Another beer I’d like to try again, but I don’t think it would beat Green Flash’s Le Freak, which has to be the pinnacle of Belgian IPAs. I left the case for my new lens on the counter. Right behind the bottle. Doh!

01:40 If you haven’t been to Towers, you are missing out. Especially if you can speak some Japanese. The master is a really funny guy.

02:04 I haven’t been to Bacchus for a while now. Really should make an effort to go. They brew quite a few original beers. I’ve only had this one, but it was solid.

Original post here.

13連休!

I’m heading home to New Orleans for the first time in two years on Wednesday, so How to Japonese will be on hold until after Golden Week. I’m hoping to make at least one video while home, so check back at some point to see what’s new. Enjoy the 連休! How many days do you have off this year?

ようこそ!

Welcome to How to Japonese! Last week I was racked by the sudden fear of a(n unlikely) Blogsome crash, which would leave me with nothing but Word backups of my data, so I went out and got hosting and a domain. Unfortunately the standard spelling of “How to Japanese” is already registered by someone selling a somewhat fishy-looking “CD-ROM”. [Christ, when was the last time you said “CD-ROM” out loud? The person running that site is clearly way old! I especially love the “Tanoshin de kudasai” on this page. ] The only thing I could think up on short notice was to substitute one vowel. Meh. At least the current spelling emphasizes the “po” aspects of the site – I’m not making any cash off this. At least not yet.

Aside from basic layout changes, most everything about the site should be the same. The one thing I’ve added is a twitter badge in the sidebar (under Insta-Hows) for the new How to Japonese twitter account (which is @howtojapanese, with an ‘a’…made it before buying the domain). I plan to post random language info as well as up-to-the-pint information about my drinking plans so that anyone can come and drink along.

今後ともよろしくお願いします!

Vacation

I’m off this week showing some family and friends around Japan. I thought I’d have time to write, and I actually have prepared some posts, but I want to wait and check them over again before they go up, and there are two small kids that are in the group I’m showing around – I should be getting paid for this (oh wait, I am!). How to Japanese will continue as regularly scheduled next week. Look forward to next week (especially Wednesday).

Sincere Apologies

While I managed to hike 10 kilometers of the actual Great Wall, I was unable to overcome the Great Firewall of China, and therefore unable to update How to Japanese over the past week. As an apology, I’ll try to do a post a day for this week starting shortly after this post.