In this Issue...
Thank you so much
for your purchase!
This month, we will wrap up our three-part series on ukiyoe, Japan’s biggest contribution to world art. The cover of this issue isn’t a Japanese artist, but if you read last month’s reader, you’ll know that Vincent van Gogh was a huge ukiyoe fan. He did two copies of prints by Hiroshige. Here is the original (left) with his copy to the right:
Notice something different? Van Gogh made it even more Japanese by adding kanji to the borders. Learn more by working through this issue’s reader.
If you do or if you have suggestions for improvement, please let us know: email@example.com
Clay & Yumi
Laughs, Jokes, Riddles, and Puns
“okane, hoshi no?”
“You want money?” “Yeah”
- お金 okane—money
- ほしい hoshii—want; desire
- の no—(informal question ender)
- まー maa—well; I think; hmmm, I guess so...
- ね ne—(indicates agreement)
It sounds like saying 新しい twice.
atatakai no ga atta kai?
Was there a warm one?
の no—one (の is used in place of a noun; perhaps there is a warm towel or a warm drink)
あった atta—was there; existed
かい kai—(question marker)
HINT: What does まーねー sound like in English?
Running around in circles; like a chicken with its head cut off; moving about in confusion; going every which way
Literally, “go right and left.”
totsuzen no jishin de hitobito wa uou saou shita.
A sudden earthquake caused the people to go
in all directions.
- 突然 totsuzen—sudden; unexpected
- 地震 jishin—earthquake
- で de—with; by (the earthquake)
- 人々hito bito—people [The 々shows repetition of the previous kanji; note the sound change on the second “hito”]
- した shita—(past of する)
Japanese: 鹿児島県 kagoshima ken
Capital: Kagoshima 鹿児島
Population: 1,703,406 (December 1, 2010)
DID YOU KNOW?
Spanning some 600 kilometers from north to south, Kagoshima is the southernmost prefecture of the southernmost main island (not including Okinawa). Japan is made up of four main islands in addition to thousands of smaller ones. This region is called 九州 kyuushuu. In the old days, Kagoshima was a part of the Satsuma province that played a major role in the Meiji Restoration.
PLACES TO SEE:
· Sakurajima—an active volcano near Kagoshima City.
· Ibusuki—hot spring resorts.
· Lake Ikeda—some say a monster similar to the Loch Ness called “Isshi” lives here.
· The Flower Park Kagoshima—the largest flower garden in Japan with 400,000 flowers and trees of 2,400 different species.
· Saigo Takamori—an influential samurai whose life (loosely) inspired the 2003 movie, The Last Samurai, was born and died in Kagoshima.
· Green tea—the second largest producer next to Shizuoka.
· Sweet potato
· Unagi eels
· Sakurajima daikon radish—the largest radish in the world
A book from the Heian period has “nekoma” for “cat.” As time passed, the “ma” was dropped and it became “neko.”
Another possible origin is that during that time, the cat’s cry was represented as “neu neu.” So, the “naku ko”, that is, the creature who cries “neu neu” came to be called “neko.” Even today, the cat who cries “nya– nya-” is called “nyanko.”
I am a cat.
- 吾輩 wagahai—I; me (literary; old-fashioned)
- は wa—(topic marker)
- 猫 neko—cat
- である de aru—is; to be (literary)
- This is the title of a novel by 夏目漱石 Natsume Souseki.
Phrase of the Day
ちょっと is one of the most versatile words in the Japanese language. It can mean “a little” “just a minute” “somewhat” “fairly…” “hey!” or with a negative verb, it can mean “not easily done” (or really, “impossible!”).
chotto matte kudasai.
Please wait a moment.
chotto atsui desu.
It is a little hot.
chotto yoroshii desu ka?
(Do you) have a moment?
chotto sumimasen ga.
Excuse me. Sorry to bother you, but…
chotto dekimasen ga.
I can’t really do it.
[Japanese tend to not be direct. The ちょっと softens the let down.]
chotto! chanto shite yo.
Hey! Get it right!
[ちゃんとしてよ means something like “You are sloppy. Get your act together and do it properly.”]
Haiku, Condensed Japanese Language and Culture
Basho is undoubtedly the most famous of the classical haiku poets. While on a long journey from Edo in the spring of 1689, Basho wrote his most famous collection of poems called, Oku no Hosomichi.
初雪や 水仙の葉の たわむまで
hatsuyuki ya / suisen no ha no / tawamu made
The first snow falls | the leaf of a daffodil plant | bends a little
- 初雪 hatsuyuki - first snow (of the season) [this is the 季語 kigo or season word: winter]
- や ya - kireji (a kind of punctuation word in poetry)
- 水仙 suisen - daffodil (flower); narcissus (flower)
- 葉 ha - leaf; blade (of grass)
- 水仙の葉 suisen no ha - the leaf of a narcissus plant (daffodil)
- たわむ tawamu - to bend; to warp
- まで made - to the extent (the amount of snow was just enough to bend)
Haiku is famous for the 微妙 bimyou subtle hints. The 季語 kigo (初雪 hatsuyuki - first snowfall) tells us it is winter (without saying so explicitly). And the まで at the end implies the extent to which the snow fell. If the first snowfall was large, the delicate daffodil plant would be crushed. But no. It slightly bends. Therefore, without explicitly saying it, we know the snowfall was light.
Learning Kanji on Character at a Time
There are many, many kanji that have the kanji part 大 (big). Here are a few of the most common.
Look at the character and try to come up with a mnemonic to remember it or use our suggestion (not a historical analysis). The weirder the mnemonic, the better.
大 ダイ・タイ・おお~・おおきい・~おおいに large; big
(a big headless man with arms and legs extended)
天 テン・あまつ・あめ・あま~ heavens; sky; imperial
(heaven is above a big man)
犬 ケン・いぬ・いぬ~ dog
(a little dog sits on a big man’s shoulder)
太 タイ・タ・ふとい・ふとる plump; thick; big around
(a big man drops a plump piece of food)
矢 シ・や dart; arrow
(a big man pulling a bow back to shoot a dart or arrow)
実 ジツ・シツ・み・みのる・まこと・みの・みちる reality; truth
(big truth is found when a man 士 sits under the roof 宀 and thinks)
決 ケツ・きめる・~ぎめ・きまる・さく decide; fix; agree upon; appoint
(a big crooked line sits by water 氵 — the radical for water))
夫 フ・フウ・ブ・おっと・それ husband; man
(a big husband has an extra line)
美 ビ・ミ・うつくしい beauty; beautiful
(a horned king 王 is big and beautiful)
Continuing our look at asking negative questions for politeness, let’s try using くださいませんか. It is a polite way to ask someone to give you something.
How to Use:
■ Use as you would with ください. After nouns and after the て form of verbs.
Won't you correct my Japanese for me?
[my | Japanese language | (direct object) | fix | won't you please?]
Won't you give me that suitcase?
[that | suitcase | (direct object) | won't you please?]
Do you have any questions about the Japanese covered in this issue? Find any errors? Please contact us by clicking here.