November 29, 2010

Shooting Fish in the Language Barrel

There are different versions of English used in Japan: English the foreign language, English words that enter the general vocabulary through Japanized pronunciation, and in smart-but-contrived quasi-“English” (for example: remote control = ‘remokon’). Use of English in Asia is growing and often results in hilarious and inexplicable gibberish that is subsequently celebrated in websites such as (The opposite of this is Western people who get tattoos of Chinese characters of which they are unsure of the meaning, occasionally resulting in permanent ink-induced hilarity indelibly marked on their skin…)

Anyway, I’m not heading into a rant about English in Japan or a lecture about pedantic Westerners and their attitude toward Asians’ use of the language. I don’t really care. I think language morphs with time and that the Internet is wreaking havoc on linguistic conventions in a way that global society has yet to really grasp, so why worry about it? If people want to speak understandable English, they’ll learn it. I just like the humorous elements of it all. Irony is a universal concept.

It’s too easy to find oddball English to hack on as it’s an almost-daily occurrence. I do, however, want to add a few unique signs that I have found over the last few months, viz.

Fukku: a hair salon in my neighborhood. Want your stinkin’ hair cut? Oh fer chrissakes, alright. Gimme your damn money. And Fukku you, too. This salon’s marketing tagline: “Service with a forced smile of contempt.”

I Heart Working: really? Japanese people are renowned around the world for their work ethic, but come on. Gimme a break. (I expect this shop to go bankrupt any day.)

Hard-Off Eco-Stadium (in Niigata prefecture):
Too much saltpeter in the hot dogs? Something in the water supply?

Beat Myself: I don't think this magazine cover's intention was to imply this Hiroshima Carp pro ballplayer "waxes his bat."
(Thanks to SDM for this addendum, added 05DEC10)

Season’s Greetings!

November 22, 2010

Standard Catch-up Post

The weeks have flown by and the Rising Family™ has been swept away by a tidal wave of motion. The calendar has been so filled with full-on fun your humble scribe has been neglecting to chronicle the latest feats of the Rising Daughters. To keep the blog fresh! Keep it crisp! Keep it raw! I will offer a snapshot of our girls’ goings-on written like New York Post headlines. 

Elena loves kagura, a type of traditional Japanese music and dance associated with Shinto religion fables. We’ve been to three shows in the past month or so. Hiroshima is one of leading regions for kagura in Japan, and there is no way we can keep Lady E. from watching once she knows there is a show on. Click on the link for a short video I shot at the shrine in our neighborhood.

Elena’s school recently held its annual sports day mini-Olympics. Parents relished the skirmishes of rabid preschoolers in frenzied competitions on the immaculate gym floor. This is sold as part of the national holiday in late October to promote sports and physical and mental health.

Otherwise known as Halloween trick-or-treating. Elena was a princess; I was an out-of-shape ballplayer. It was a blast despite lousy weather.

We celebrated Marina’s 6-month birth milestone by going on her first overnight trip outside Hiroshima. The trip featured a visit to a terrific aquarium near Hamada, a small city on the Japan Sea coast about 90 km north of Hiroshima. The aquarium has an adjoining jungle gym complex that was also a hit with the family. On the way back, we swung by the Sand Museum (with the world’s largest hourglass timer!!) —a major boondoggle and source of endless mirth and jokes for me.

Marina, super-happy at six months old

-- Foreign Fogey Feigns Fitness in Running Feat --
On November 3, I participated in this year’s Hiroshima Peace Marathon. I ran the 10K and came in at 56:09. Not my best result, not my worst.

Naomi had her hands full with the kids and couldn’t snap a photo of me in action—I wonder why?