Tag Archive 日本語

Opening Poem on “Twilight” by Vangelis

The lyrics that are floating around on the Internet are mindless cut-and-paste jobs by people who have never sat down and listened to the  beautiful opening poem on “Twilight” from Vangelis’ album The City.

日が暮れる。 Hi-ga kureru. Day falls.
それは時の魔法。 Sore-wa, toki-no mahō. This is time’s magic.
明日同じ時、 Asu onaji toki, Tomorrow at the same time
違う魔法。 chigau mahō. there will be a different magic.
それは色が香りに、 Sore-wa, iro-ga kaori-ni, It is when colour becomes fragrance,
香りが色に変わる時。 kaori-ga iro-ni kawaru toki. and fragrance becomes colour.
そして陰は Soshite, kage-wa Then shadow
限り無い青に溶ける。 kagirinai ao-ni tokeru. turns into fathomless blue.

(This is my shot at the lyrics as I hear them. Corrections and comments welcome.)

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「日本鬼子」(Japan-devils) is a Chinese racial slur for the Japanese.

Leave it to the Japanese to take the insult and make fun of it by turning it into a もえ (cartoon character representing something).

That sequence of Chinese characters can be pronounced several ways in Japanese, including “Hinomoto Oniko” which sounds like a woman’s name. …

Thus, the racial slur has been owned and turned into a cartoon of a warrior woman with demon horns.

Only in Japan.

China Hush has an article on this.

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Handy Japanese Web Site Dictionary Tool

Is 朝日新聞社 all Greek… er… Japanese to you? Here’s a useful Firefox plug in.

I’ve used Rikaichan to help interpret Japanese web pages for quite some time. When activated, placing the mouse cursor over Japanese text causes a window to appear with the WWWJDIC dictionary definition. とても便利ね。 (Very useful, isn’t it?)

Install the plugin, labeled “the main extension”, then the dictionary of your choice. If you speak English, choose the Japanese-English dictionary. Dictionaries for Japanese to French, German, and Russian are also available.

Here is a shot of Rikaichan in action. The mouse is over the word 「警官」. Rikaichan shows that it’s pronounced keikan, and that as a noun it means policeman. The word can also function as a の adjective (indicated by adj-no).


There is an optional dictionary for those pesky Japanese name kanji. If this is installed, hold down the shift key before putting the mouse cursor over the kanji, and a list of possible names will appear instead of the dictionary definition.

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Daddy Brush

Goldilocks made it to the sitting room, dining room, and bed room, but didn’t make it to the art room.

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In Japan, Signals Are Red and Blue

Just as with the English-speaking world, Japan uses red and green lights to indicate “stop” and “go”. However, the Japanese language does not use those terms. They call the red light 赤い(red)and the green light 青い (blue) even though it’s actually green. I do not know the historic reason behind this, but I suspect that this may be bleed over from Chinese.

赤い信号 青い信号
Akai Shingō Aoi Shingō
Red Signal Blue Signal
赤い信号 青い信号

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Push Button Style

Japanese sign next to a pedestrian crossing light that reads 押しボタン式.When I watch Japanese movies I’m often looking in the background at signs and what people are doing. In one anime I saw a sign that I couldn’t figure out.

What It Says: The sign says 「押ボタン式」(おしボタンしき). I understood 押しボタン (push button) but 式(しき) according to the dictionary means “style”. This is misleading.

What This Is: This is a low-traffic pedestrian crossing that remains red until the button is pressed.

Idea Grouping: 式 is used to indicate a subgroup among several possibilities.

“Push button style” does not make sense because this is not how we use “style” in English. We would use the word “type”, “kind”, or more commonly, an adjective or modifying phrase. Here are some examples from the Tanaka Corpus.

漢字 ふりがな 英語
自動式の洗濯機 じどうしきのせんたくき automatic washing machine
ダイヤル式の電話 だいやるしきのでんわ dial telephone
オーストラリア式フットボール オーストラリアしきフットボール Aussie rules football





2008-08-12: FaceBookでビデオ のほうがいいです。

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We don’t see Japanese things around here. Today I was driving south on the Interstate. I saw something surprising. There was a large truck. I saw the name of a Japanese company on the door in kanji and kana.

I quickly took one picture with my iPhone. (Taking a picture while driving is dangerous. Please don’t!) You can see “米国ヤマト運輸” (USA Yamato Transportation) in the picture. There are a cat and a kitten. The cat is carrying the kitten.

We don’t see Japanese things around here. Today was a lucky day.


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