While casually reviewing my stats, I noticed someone had found this site by searching Google for “japanese word for clay”. Of course my name is ‘Clay’ but I kind of doubt our web surfer had that meaning in mind. I’m sure he meant… the dirty word.
No doubt he left the site disappointed since, until this post, no page on this site had the Japanese word for clay. But just in case he returns or someone else would like to know, it is 粘土 nendo.
This brings a few くだらない memories to mind.
I remember the first time I went to my main school as a JET. The teacher in charge of me (a very difficult job, it was), was giving me the grand tour. As we climbed the stairs and turned a corner, I overheard two elementary students whisper, 「粘土先生だ!」. I thought, oh boy I haven’t been here a day and it’s already started. The funny thing is after that, I never heard a student call me 粘土先生 again – even those who considered English class to be about as useful as teaching a dog to use chopsticks while eating pizza.

Second, I remember the time my parents came to visit us in Japan. My mother joined me for an elementary school class. I don’t remember why, but I was telling them what my full name meant. I explained my name, ‘John Clay’ meant essentially a dirty toilet*. Since I did the explanation in Japanese, my mother had no idea why the kids were laughing while pointing at her. Even after explaining in English, she never let them know why she had named me such.

  • the john – toilet; as in “I’m going to the john.”
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