Vocabulary of the Week: Solitude・一人ぼっち・独りぼっち・ひとりぼっち

This is where you can play "Alone" by Heart, I guess.  Hitoribocchi means utterly alone, or solitary. The kanji is usually seen as 一人ぼっち、but can also be written 独りぼっち、and according to my dictionary, the kanji for hitori boushi (独法師) can also be read hitoribocchi.

I was watching a news program the other day, and they were talking about the meaning of hitoribocchi. According to the news program (I suppose I should say, "According to what I believe I understood the news program to say"), the phrase comes from hitori boushi (独法師)。The first kanji there is the same kanji that you will see in "independence." Anyway, 独法師 is basically an itinerant priest or monk. The monk would travel around by himself, sent out by his monastery or what have you, or  withdraw and wander around the world aimlessly and unaccompanied.

Try your hand at reading some Japanese by looking over the very brief explanation of hitoribocchi, and how the boushi of hitoriboushi became bocchi (or pocchi), by looking here.

The Osaka Aquarium

Read in Japanese


You may have heard a lot about the Kaiyukan; everyone seems to want to go there. I think it lived up to its reputation, and recommend a look, but it is quite expensive (2000 yen). I enjoyed the way the exhibit was set up, with the tanks extending through different levels. If it`s too crowded in one area, you may be able to descend a floor and see the same creatures there. 

The gift shops were also really nice. They have little shark forks and everything. I recommend the sweet pins. 

Besides that, it`s has a wonderful view over the bay, the building itself is quite cool, and there is a ferris wheel and butt-load of shops and restaurants right beside it (the area is called Tempozan Harbor Village). 

The buildings and murals were amazing...

...as was the view

The ferris wheel costs 700 yen to ride, and I can`t say if it's worth it since I didn`t go myself, but the restaurants were a nice end to our sea exploration. There was curry, burgers, ice cream, yakisoba, gyuudon... You should be able to satisfy your appetite. There were also clothing shops, a ninja store (really), and more. 

The aquarium is only about a five minute walk from the nearest station. A great place to spend half of your day!






ひとつの水槽が大きくて、何階にも広がっているところが、私には 好きでした。もしもある階が混んでいて、水槽の中にある魚などが見られなかったら、一階下がると、同じ水槽を見ることができますよ。







Gustatory Adventure Day 1: Mountain

Wednesdays are gustatory adventure days for my friend Doro and I, and we started with a restaurant near Nanzan University called Mountain (マウンテン). You can reach it from Irinaka or Yagoto Nisseki station after a short walk. Mountain came to our attention after some friends went and returned with tales of having tried a green spaghetti that was sweet... and maccha flavoured! We knew this would be a good place to start. The restaurant has a pretty exterior....

...and decent seating. All of the windows made it overall a really nice place to eat. The service was average - not amazing but not terrible. Smoking is allowed though, so if you're sensitive to it be forewarned. I think most restaurants in Japan allow smoking. Some have separate seating, but from what I've experienced you usually have to walk through the smoking section to get to the non-smoking.

The menu has quite a variety within three categories: spaghetti, pilaf, and dessert. (Mountain is apparently known for it's sweet spaghetti. Maccha, or strawberry flavoured varieties, for example). There's also a wide selection of drinks (including floats!!). We agreed to have spaghetti and a parfait. Since we were getting a dessert, we opted to skip the famed sweet spaghetti.

These are all the different spaghettis you can order. Is spaghettis a valid word?

I ordered from the "one coin" section - all of the meals there are 500 yen - and decided on matsutake to tori no suupu supa (まつたけととりのスープスパ). Doro asked for the spiciest spaghetti they had, which was called akai wanpiisu (赤いワンピース) and was not on the menu. (About the menu - it's entirely in Japanese; just a warning in case you can't speak/read it, to bring someone who can).

After a short wait we received our dishes. A slight digression - in America everyone's dishes are usually brought out at the same time. I suppose this is because it's considered rude to begin eating before other people. In Japan, it seems like dishes are brought out when they're ready. Your friend may get their dish a good ten minutes before you do. Anyway, we received our dishes and I realized why they may have named their restaurant Mountain.
  It is because you receive a mountain of spaghetti.


Osaka Science Museum

The Osaka Science Museum was honestly one of the most interesting places I visited. After entering its doors and progressing from one floor to the next, I collapsed to my knees and wept for having not decided to spend my life researching problems of the time-space continuum and other science-y things.

Here you can study the muscular system of Pac Man.
Not only are the exhibits interesting (though many descriptions are written only Japanese), but the bulk of them are interactive. That means there are 4 floors of fun and science where your mind can run amok within your skull. There is also a planetarium (which costs extra to enter, and has the distinction of being the first planetarium built in Japan) and a science show with a Japanese version of Bill Nye (which is free, and only in Japanese).

 I thought this was a prop from Doctor Who. 
It is an accelerator, which is just as cool.

And here is a statue of Einstein sitting on a bench, with which you can take your picture. You can also spend some time staring at the solar system, testing your sense of smell, making an egg spin, speaking through tubes, seeing a spaceman suit from up close, and so much more. I wished desperately that my little brother was there with me, because this is a place made for that childish wonder that adults can often only feel quietly within themselves (unless they want to be pointed at and called stupid). The only thing that disappointed me was the gift center, which was lacking. I wanted to take some of the cool back with me, but there didn't seem to be anything special. So, I went back and took as much video as my little camera would take (see top of post).

 We had very deep discussions.

The Science Museum is right next to the art museum (which is underground, and has one of the coolest entrances you will ever see in your life). We only had time to go the the Science Museum, so I can't testify to the (probably amazing) contents of the art museum, but if you can only go to one, I have to implore you to choose the Science Museum. If you want to see a little more of what kind of exhibits are available (my little camera only had so much memory, alas) check out these youtube videos if you'd like!









Some terms:


Grammar: -tara ~たら #2 and #3

Use of the conditional ~たら #2 and #3: to state an intention or offer a suggestion.

#2: to state an intention. For example, "after I eat, I'm going to sleep." 「食べたら、すぐ寝る。」 "When he answers, we'll decide." 「彼が答えたら、決める。」 Notice that the actions are ordered; the verbX with -tara attached must happen before verbY. 

#3: to suggest. For example, "how about you eat at Matsuya's today?/ Why don't you eat at Matsuya's today?" 「今日、松屋で食べたらどう(ですか)。」

Necessary vocabulary for all Japanese students:

血に飢えた・ちにうえた bloodthirsty
一角獣・いっかくじゅう     unicorn
逃げる・にげる                 run away, escape
去る・さる                          leave

I just noticed that I made a mistake with my unicorn kanji! Did you notice, or would it have been better if I'd said nothing?

Iga Ninja Museum


The Iga Ninja Museum. I think I could end the blog post with that and the video that follows.

But I'll give you a bit more information, in the infinitesimally small chance that you weren't chomping at the bit to get to this place after simply seeing the word 'ninja'.

There is an AMAZINGLY fun demo given by the ninja here (you see some of it in the video). In attending the demo, you will see some crazy ninja moves choreographed with music and sound effects, see some weapons demonstrations, laugh at the comments and reactions from the adorable children watching, and get covered (if you are lucky) in stringy ninja blood. 

One of our demonstrators

 Apparently, if you go in the summer you may get to see
Tomochan shirtless. Many girls in our group were upset
that it was, alas, February.


After the demonstration, you can pay a hundred yen or two and throw shuriken at the demo board. If you make a bulls-eye, you get a prize!

 Besides the demo, there is a tour of some ninja houses and all the hiding places they contained. You can even try some of those spaces out yourself! The museum part of it is contained in a couple buildings, one of them underground, crammed with weapons and other artifacts, as well as quite a bit of fun trivia and history . (Hm, history is probably a prerequisite for most museums.) Information was in both Japanese and English.

The gift shop was small but had a lot of cute key chains, books, etc, which you can bestow upon those unlucky enough to have not accompanied you to the Museum.

If you need any more convincing to visit, which I doubt, you should now that there you can rent a ninja costume for the day like this kid:

Your dreams CAN come true!









But I Don`t Know How to Rugby in Japanese


Rugby. If you know how to play it in America, it would follow that you could play it in Japan. The rules are all the same, the winger is still the winger, and your goal is still to get the ball over their try line, and keep them from getting it over yours. This past year the college club team I play with came together so well, I began to mistakenly believe that I was finally getting the hang of it. Now I have it, I thought. Finally, I understood the field, and where I should be. Sometimes I could read the defense, and my teammates and I were more in tune than ever.

Then I came to Japan, and started coming to practices with the Nagoya Ladies RFC. Everyone is extremely kind and welcoming. If there were any single reason for learning Japanese, being able to laugh and speak with them would be it. Many of the women I've met are on the National team, but in the first couple practices we did things that I was familiar with: fitness, 3 on 2, and passing drills. I haven't been very active since the end of our rugby season in late November, but thanks to my few semesters of experience at university, I was managing to keep up (as best I can!). But the last couple of practices, the team has been gearing up for the Sevens Tournament here in late March, and I've realized that a bit of experience isn't what's going to cut it when I practice with the Ladies.

Rugby is as much about communication as it is about strength, skill, speed, or agility. For me, there's still a delay between the words reaching my ears and my understanding them; in the time between, I'm translating. I hear 「ボール見て!タナ、上がって!」 and it takes me a moment to understand what people are saying to me.  Playing with the Nagoya Ladies I feel the same sense of confusion that I did when I first started learning to play rugby, and in the midst of it yesterday I realized what made me so much more tuned into the game back at home.

Basically, communication. My improvement came with an improvement in our team communication, and now that I`m in a situation in which I can`t properly communicate, running drills is suddenly treacherous territory again. Where should I be? How do I let them know when I can take the ball, and when they should run with it? I`m learning the lingo little by little, and it`s all great fun, but it emphasizes how important it is that I learn to speak concisely. I`m finding even more gaps in my vocabulary, which is never fun, but it`s good to know that even when I`m playing rugby I`ll be studying.

The Nagoya Ladies are going to be playing Rugby Sevens at Mizuho in Nagoya on the 21st of March. If you have an interest in rugby, there will be teams from all over there; if you`re in Nagoya, it  will be fun to watch. Either way, you should come and see, at least when the Ladies are playing!




アメリカでラグビーのやり方がわかるなら、日本でもそのやり方なわけでしょう。 ルールは同じなんです。ウィンガーやはりウィンガーで、目的はボールをゴールラインの中に置くことです。享年、私の入った女子ラグビー部は、皆さんと協力して、やっとラグビーをやれるようになったと思い込んでいました。ああ、わかったと思っていました。やっとピッチのどこにいるべきかわかってきたし、時々的のプレーを見抜けたし、チームメートと一心になってきました。


ラグビーは技術、強さ、速さ、敏捷さも重要だけど、コミュニケーションも大事ですよね。日本語を勉強している私にたとって、日本語の言葉が耳に届いたときから、その言葉がわかるときまで、まだけっこう時間がかかるんです。その間の数秒で、一生懸命訳しているんです。「ボール見て!タナ、あがって!」と聞いて、それはどういう意味だったっけと、思い出そうとしているうちに、時間がたちます。名古屋レディースRFCとの練習の中で、ラグビーを初めてやったときの困惑 を思い出して、アメリカでゲームにより溶け込めていた理由に気づきました。


ゆっくりゆっくり単語を習って楽しいけど、そのことがちゃんと意味を伝える必要を教えてくれると思います。 単語が足りないとわかって全然楽しくないけど、ラグビーをやるときにも、日本語の勉強になっていいですね。

Some terms:


Grammar: Use of -tara ~たら

Conditionals. In English all you have to do is stick on an 'if' and you're pretty much covered. (To be honest, they're pretty complicated in English, if you think about it. 'If I eat' vs 'If I had eaten' vs 'If I had eaten' vs 'If I ate' vs 'If I have eaten'... I suppose that isn't a problem of conditional conjugation, but of past/present/future and everything in between.) In Japanese, it's a little more complicated. Depending on what you're trying to say, you can choose from ~たら、~と、~ば、and なら.We've been reviewing the differences between each in class, and instead of studying for my test like a good student, I decided to doodle and call it studying. First in the series: "The Use of -tara #1". 

This use is for use in ordering past events. Basically, "When/After X-ed, Y-ed!" When I woke up this morning, there was a Turtle Cat standing on my bed.

The catch is, the Y action has to be an uncontrollable/surprising occurrence. This means you can't use it to order things like your daily actions (ie, "when I woke up, I got out of bed") because you have control of them. You can use this to recount things that happened to you, or things that you noticed - basically things outside of yourself. 

"When I got home, my friends were waiting outside." (OK)

"When I went to McDonald's, I sat in the booth on the right." (X)

In my textbook there was a line that confused me, because I felt it contradicted the rule: 「さきはいたら、だいぶよくなりました。」 "After I threw up earlier, I felt a lot better." My thought was she controls the way she feels, but really your health isn't something you control, so it adheres to the rule. 

When using ~たら #1, your sentence may come out as either when or after, since depending on the content one will sound more natural than the other in English.


Vocabulary of the Week: Kokoro (こころ)

We're reading “Kokoro” (『こころ』) by Natsume Souseki in my Japanese Literature class. During the lecture our teacher told us a bit about the etymology of the word kokoro, heart.

First, there's an onomatopoeic origin. Koro koro (ころころ) is the sound that something makes, for example, when it's rolling quickly across the floor. Its sound is also reminiscent of the "lub-dub" of your heart's beat, don't you think?  It can also mean something that is easily overturned, or set into motion: for example, a conversation can suddenly, ころころと, turn to darker themes. I thought it was interesting that the sound, perhaps, of a heart could be related to the idea that it is something that is easily moved, or that  ころころと  changes.

The second word that our professor mentioned is the word kogoru (こごる、凝る), which means hard, frozen, or to coagulate. This seems to refer to the fact that the blood in your body hardens when your heart is no longer koro koro-ing. こごる can also signify a state in which you cannot break yourself free (ie, your arms and legs are bound). This brings to mind the way that your heart can be 'frozen' or 'captivated' by one thing. In fact that same kanji shows up in the word koru"(凝る), to be fanatic.

Thinking about the English "heart"... We use it in so many different phrases to signify so many different things. The center of something is the heart; you can believe something by 'taking it to heart'; someone with similar preferences to me is someone "after my own heart"; you can remember someone by keeping them "in your heart"; your emotions and opinions may be revealed if you "wear your heart on your sleeve"; a person who is too sympathetic is a "bleeding heart"; and so on. But I have trouble pondering the etymology of the word. It seems to stand on its own in my head. It isn't like the word inspiration, that you can break into Latin...


Osaka`s Tennouji Zoo 天王寺動物園

 Baby. Baby zebra.

Very close to the hostel we stayed at in Osaka was Tsuutenkaku Tower, from which you can easily see Tennouji Zoo. From the tower I could see that the area was pretty expansive, and also (most importantly) there appeared to be a baby zebra on the premises, running crazy circles around the giraffes like it was full of crazy water.






友達二人と一緒に、通天閣タワーから2,30分だけ歩いたら、すぐ着きました。 前の日に比べ、天気が非常に良かったけれど、意外と動物園は人があまりいなかったから、満足いくまで、ぶらぶらと歩くことができました。


先にちょっと一言。「動物の監獄だ」などと信じ、どうしても動物園が大嫌いな人がけっこういるんじゃないか遠いもいます。しかし、動物園で生まれた動物は、動物園でしか生きられないし、動物園は子供に対して自然環境 のことを教えることができると思いますから、動物園に住む動物にとって、いい生活空間を作ってあげてあるなら、私は動物園の存在に対して道徳的な異議はありません。そうは言いながら、天王寺動物園はあまり好きになりませんでした。楽しい時間が過ごせなかったというわけじゃないですけど、動物園に住む動物のことを考えると、感情的、道徳的な困惑もありました。

動物園は外にあるものだから、冬や天気などが問題ですけど、動物園を通って、居心地の悪そうなところにいる動物が気の毒になってしまいました。写真を見るとわかるように、街の真ん中にある動物園です。入ったときはすごく楽しみにしていたのに、「ああ、帰りたくなっちゃった」という感じで・・・ きつねを一匹、シロクマを一匹見て、さびしいんじゃないかなと思いました。


 子供のための面白い、教育用のサファリも、かわいいものがいっぱいのみやげ物屋もありました。動物に触れる場所も、夜に行うデモンストレーションもありました。いろいろな動物のすごい彫像もあって、おしゃべりして楽しみました。だから、天王寺動物園に行くことは時間の無駄だとか、 恥ずかしいことだというわけでは全然ありません。言い時間を過ごしたけど、もう一度行きたい!という場所ではないと思うんです。都市を取ると、動物園の魅力がわからなくなっちゃうのかな?人が多い夏の間は、動物園はもっと世話に行き届いてるんじゃないだろうかと思います。


動物園に行くのは、久しぶりでした。 天王寺動物園に対してのあいまいな感想は、他の動物園に行ったら変わるかもしれません。



We went to Osaka. I was told that in Osaka you absolutely must try takoyaki (balls of dough and octopus) and okonomiyaki (sometimes called a Japanese pancake).

**GRAMMAR NOTE: Osaka is famous for okonomiyaki = 大阪はお好み焼きで有名です・おおさかはおこのみやきでゆうめいです。Now you can use this pattern to say X is famous for/known for/infamous for Y. XはYで有名です。This is an awesome power. Please use it wisely.**

Usually you can make okonomiyaki yourself at the restaurant, right at your table, but ours was brought out already made. The flakes on top are bonito (apparently called かつお in Japanese).

They wiggled in the heat, which was a pretty cool effect.




普通は、お店の自分の席で、鉄板を使って自分で お好み焼きを作るものだけど、私たちのお好み焼きはもう出来上がった状態で出てきました。上にのっているフレークは、かつお節と呼ぶんでしょうか?アメリカでは「bonito」と呼ぶと思います。



Grammar of the Week: bohtto suru

“Bohtto suru” (ぼーっとする).

Brain fart. To go blank. To be unable to think.  To zone out.**  To zone out, relax, laze around, "doing nothing special." That is, ぼーっとする.

**A bit of an edit, but I ended up writing about what might be the English equivalents of "bohtto suru" on Lang-8 the other day, and got some really helpful comments about the phrase.

ash says,  "The Japanese 「ぼーっとする」 also means 'to relax' or 'doing nothing'" [my translation]. He gives the following example:

A: 何してるの?(What are you doing?)
B: ボーっとしているだけ。(I'm just relaxing.)

Eigolove mentions the various ways you can use 「ぼーっとする」: 頭がボーッとする。頭がボーッとしている。きれいな人をボーッと見ていた。She offers the following:


mikaringo7 also provides the kind of context a native speaker might use  「ぼーっとする」 in:

["Oh, I'm sorry, I zoned out and didn't hear what you were saying.']
[''You've been zoning out all day today.']

tsy says: "The Japanese phrase 「ボーっとする」 and "zone out" look to be one and the same. I feel like the other English phrases are a little different" [my translation].

megu agrees, saying  "If I hear 「ぼーっとする」 the first meaning that pops into my head is 'relaxing, thinking about nothing and being carefree'. I feel like we don't say 「ぼーっとする」 when we're thinking of something with all our might but just can't say it. 'Zone out' is a perfect expression of 「ぼーっとする」 or 「ぼんやりする」. [my translation]"

As you can see, my original evaluation of what English might be equivalent to  「ぼーっとする」 was a bit skewed, so I've replaced it.It would be better to define it as: zone out, relax, laze around, "doing nothing special".


Kejime wo tsukeru

Read in Japanese

Asashouryuu, the top sumou wrestler, has been in the news a lot lately. The other day as I was watching the television, the phrase that kept coming up in conjunction with his name was kejime wo tsukeru (けじめをつける). I asked my host father what kejime was and really put him on the spot. It seems like a very hard word to explain.

The thing about Asashouryuu is this: as a yokodzuna 横綱 (a position you have to be elected to with regards to your 'winningness', power/skill, grace, etc), he has the job of maintaining an image for the public. He sustains not only his own image, but the people's image of sumou, a sport which is quite popular (and exciting to watch, if you haven't). He has to maintain dignity. But it seem his image has slowly been tarnished by various incidents, the latest of which is his assault on a private individual, so he's getting pressure to resign. Of course, being forced from your position doesn't leave a good impression, so Asashouryuu has decided to kejime wo tsukeru, and retire from sumou, saying 「けじめをつけるのは僕しかいない」. I understand the phrase as “take responsibility for one's actions,” but I'm not sure of its nuances.






ニュアンスがよくわからないけど、英語の「take responsibility for one's actions」という表現に似ているでしょう。

*日本語を 勉強している方は、Lang-8の日記に行くと、とても勉強になる「けじめ」の説明を読めます。とても役に立つと思いますから、どうぞご覧下さい!リンクはページのトップです。



Read in Japanese

February third was Setsubun (節分). It's a whole lot of throwing beans (まめ、豆), chasing ogres (おに、鬼), and celebrating the last day of winter. It's a bit like spring cleaning: you chase the demons that have accumulated out to make room for the good stuff of the new year.  Doro and I went to the Osu Kannon shrine, but not in time to catch the parade (though we did manage to catch six beans to split between us; not quite enough, since you're supposed to eat an amount equal to your age to stay healthy through the next year).

Besides the bean-eating, other traditions include: eating an entire makizushi in silence while facing eastward; and throwing beans shouting "demons out, happy in!" (おにはそと、ふくはうち;鬼は外、福は内). (OK, to be more correct it's something like 'demons out, fortune in', but...) Actually, here in America some people follow the tradition of eating beans on the New Year. Black-eyed peas are supposed to bring good luck (they are beans, despite their name)!

You can read a story about the Demon of Setsubun here. This website also has an option to listen to the story, to improve your listening comprehension (聞き取り)!


英語で読む そこでビデオもあります!



鬼という積もった悪を追い出して、次の年に備えるところは 、なんとなくスプリング・クリーニングみたいですね。友達のドロと私は大須観音に行きました。行くのが遅かったからパレードを見られなかったけど、一緒に豆を6粒集めたよ!でも元気でいるためには、年齢と同じ数だけ豆を食べなきゃならないそうだから、ちょっと足りなかったですね。


Vocabulary of the Week: Bread's Ears (パンの耳)

Read in Japanese

I call the end of a loaf of bread the "heel” of the bread, but you also hear "butt of the bread" (that just sounds unappetizing) or simply the "end of the bread." Presumably they call it the heel because its hard and rough, just like the heel of a foot. I like this expression.

Apparently in Japanese, a load of bread does not have heels. It has ears! At first this sounded strange to me, but thinking about it, the ends of a loaf of bread are one on each side, just like your ears. Thus, pan no mimi パンの耳. In English the words that we use to signify those crusty slices of bread vary from person to person. I wonder if the same is true in Japanese? Maybe there's also a パンのおしり.

There's an old wives' tale that says if you eat the heel of the bread before eating the middle, you will never make ends meet in life. Imagine how many poor suckers there are in the world, whose only sin was to not like the crusts. (Does anyone remember the "Richie, eat your crusts" skit from Bill Nye?)

The real reason for eating the heel last is probably to keep the middle fresh, but whether the old wives' tale version is true or not I never eat the heel of a loaf bread without eating the slices in the middle first.

In my opinion bread ears are the tastiest part of the bread, especially if they are toasted.

単語 ・ パンの耳

この日記はYumieさん, truethさん、Miyokoさん、

私はパンの硬い部分を「heel」と呼ぶんだけど、人によって「end of the bread」とか「butt of the bread」とか言います。でもパンのおしりって、全然おいしくなさそうですね。たぶんパンのその部分は足のかかとみたい硬くてざらざらしているから、そういうのかもしれませんね。「Heel」という表現が好きです。


初めて聞いたとき変だと思ったけど、ちょっと考えてみたら、パンの横にある硬い部分はまるで頭の横にある耳みたいですね。だからパンの耳ですよ。英語ではぱりぱりしたその部分は色々な名前があるか、日本でも同じなのかな。「The butt of the bread」のように、パンのおしりと言ったりするのかな?!



Some points...

  • 表現 
    • 'expression' 
  • 言ったりする 
    • Past tense + り する. Do things such as... 
  • 中央の部分より先に
    • The middle part before... 
  • X理由はYため
    • The reason for X is Y 
  • 決してパンの耳を最初に食べたりはしません 
    • 'I will NEVER eat the heels of the bread first.' I think of the 'Xたりする' part as 'do the likes of..!'