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37

Quick related side story: Recently I was with my friend who is much better at Japanese than me. So much so that I won't try in this story to emulate the Japanese he used, because I'd just mess it up. It was a cold day and we were in a liquor store to buy some ice. We couldn't find as much as we needed, so we asked if there was more in back. The older woman ...


27

The answer is right on the 警視庁 (metropolitan police department)'s website. Basically it says that it is common to use foreign words as-is if there is no similar cultural counterpart, using sumo and kabuki as examples. Koban is an unfamiliar idea in most cultures, so that's why they decided to go with using "koban" as is. The koban system has been introduced ...


24

I think the word [時間]{じかん} was created in the Meiji era, but the word [時]{とき} is older. So it's definitely wrong that "the Japanese didn't have any interest in clocks (until 1871)". I searched in an old-Japanese dictionary and found the usage of 「とき」 in 竹取物語: [宵]{よひ}うち[過]{す}ぎて、[子]{ね}のときばかりに Here, the word [子]{ね}のとき refers to a certain time which is ...


18

Addendum The word 時{とき} is probably the oldest native Japanese word for "time". This term appears in the 万葉集{まんようしゅう} written in Old Japanese and compiled from poems composed from the 300s through the 700s, completed some time after 759 CE. These are some of the oldest surviving examples of written Japanese, suggesting that this term is quite ancient ...


18

It's like this: Teacher: 「野田{のだ} 努{つとむ}さん。」 野田: 「はい。」 T: 「いわい 隆{たかし}さんですかね?しゅくさんですか?」(the surname reads 祝) 祝: 「はふりです。」 T: 「はふりって読むんですか。珍しい名前ですね。はふり たかしさん。」 祝: 「はい。」 This conversation has actually taken place in my twelfth grade first classroom. Note: People with easy-to-read names don't end up in this kind of awkward conversation very often. Still, ...


17

Matt's answer is right enough, and Axioplases's description does have historical accuracy, but I felt differently enough to propose another answer. First, here is the truck in question, with the words カンガルー便 written on the side, "backwards". Note, though, that the text for the parent company, Seino, is the "right" way round, presumeably because it's in ...


16

I think this question is relevant: What do you mean, "In Japanese there are no words for "I’m suffering""? Also a little googling leads to a quote where this is clearly being used metaphorically by the speaker (presuming this is even an accurate quote/translation and not made up): Captain Sasaki of the Yokahama Guards: "There is no ...


16

I'm not sure if this is within the scope of your question, but the following is about highly stereotyped traits of "gaijin-speech" found in manga and net forums. They are explained in pages like this, this and this. Please note that they do not reflect how foreigners speak Japanese in reality. Unsurprisingly, some of them are rude or displeasing especially ...


15

I am too soft-spoken a person to be familiar with cuss words, but here are some examples in no particular order. 「畜生{ちくしょう}」 「くそっ」 「くそったれ」 「てめえ」 「てめえ、この野郎{やろう}」 「この野郎」 「くそ野郎」 「ボケ」 「死{し}ね」 「死{し}にやがれ」 「くたばれ」 「このくそガキ」 「くそ食{く}らえ」 「ざけんな」 「ざけんな、ボケっ」 「ざけんじゃねえ」 etc. Around Nagoya, we have 「たあけ」, which comes from the old, elegant word 「戯{たわ}け」. Stop me now or I'...


15

During the Edo period, villages traditionally had 10 communal activities: 冠 - 成人式 - coming of age ceremony 婚 - marriage 建築 - helping with building/repairing 病気 - helping when sick 水害 - helping during flooding/water damage 旅行 - travel 出産 - giving birth 年忌 - death anniversaries 葬式 - funeral service 火事 - fire fighting However, when ...


14

So I'm wondering, is this just a reporter's ham-fisted attempt to inflate the human drama by painting a picture of a cruel and uncaring Japanese culture that exacerbates eating disorders? There could be several reasons I can think of: The Japanese woman who said this might of meant it "metaphorically" rather than "literally", in the sense that there is a ...


14

According to Zokugo-dict: Masuo-san refers to the husband of Sazae-san in the popular anime "Sazae-san", Fuguta Masuo. Masao-san lives together with Sazae-san and their parents at their parent's home, and it's come to mean a person who lives at their wife's parents' home. Furthermore, it's become used in a broader sense to refer to a son-in-law ...


14

In my experience, the nature of the relationship and the nature of the communication are both important for knowing when/how to use the plain form and to knowing what the use of plain form signals. In written workplace communication, I never see plain form (I work at a university). In written personal communications (things like Facebook or IM), I rarely ...


14

Perhaps you have to give up on the idea that "there should be a perfect equivalent of hello in Japanese (or in Kyoto)". Different languages have different sets of greetings. Some common phrases like いってきます and よろしくおねがいします are difficult to translate to English. Where you expected hello, you might have heard いらっしゃいませ, どうも, もしもし, すみません or おつかれさまです instead. ...


13

There are two different issues to consider here. The first is right-to-left horizontal writing as explained by Axioplase. (Note: Sometimes this is considered a special case of vertical writing, with columns of height one as your wife suggested. This is not necessarily the case. For example, the ー (choonpu) is always written horizontally rather than ...


13

Actually 邪 has a long history of being used for its sound alone, going back at least to the Warring States Shakespeare, Zhuangzi: 天之蒼蒼、其正色邪。其遠而無所至極邪。 The sky looks very blue. Is that its real color, or is it because it is so far away and has no end? [tr. Burton Watson] Here the character 邪 is twice used simply to represent the sound of asking a ...


12

I would say the expression お世話になりました is spot on. Especially since you are trying to express gratitude for guidance, which is contained in the word 世話 "looking after; help; aid; assistance". Moreover, お世話になりました is formal and certainly suitable for a corporate environment. To adapt it to your situation, you could say, e.g. 長い間お世話になりました。


12

「[三低]{さんてい}」 consists of: 1.「[低姿勢]{ていしせい}」(low profile): We now must keep a low profile to be preferred by Japanese women in 21st century. We must be polite, non-swaggering and sincere. 2.「[低依存]{ていいぞん}」(low reliance): We shall not rely on our female partners for all the household chores. 3.「[低]{てい}リスク」(low risk): We must choose a career that is ...


12

The safest neutral phrase is ○○ファン (e.g. アニメファン / 漫画ファン / アニメやゲームのファン / etc), which is widely used both by otaku and non-otaku people. This can be safely used with non-otaku hobbies, too (e.g. サッカーファン, 将棋ファン). This is definitely the first choice, for example when you write a news article introducing (favorably) an otaku event in mass media. Other common ...


12

次{つぎ}行{い}ってみよう is a famous phrase used by a Japanese comedian いかりや長{ちょう}介{すけ}. IIRC this phrase caught on in the late 1970's. He used this catchphrase frequently in his TV comedy show, at the end of many comedy bits. (picture taken from here) It literally means "Let's go to the next segment (scene, chapter, etc.)", which is not really funny by itself. ...


12

I think this is all you need. 午前 AM ・ 午後 PM 日 SUN ・ 月 MON ・ 火 TUE ・ 水 WED ・ 木 THU ・ 金 FRI ・ 土 SAT 先勝 sensh­ō ・ 友引 tomobiki/y­ūin ・ 先負 senbu ・ 仏滅 butsumetsu ・ 大安 taian/daian ・ 赤口 shakkō ¹ モニター display 時刻合わせ sync リセット reset 戻る back 進む forward アラーム alarm ¹ six-day cycle of auspicious/inauspicious days. More info here or on Japanese Wikipedia.


12

Well I don't know about school per se, but every form I've seen so far (Foreign registration, tax, social security, subscription to various utilities...) asks you to not only write your name, but specify the pronunciation using Furigana. See for example this generic contact form: It has a 名前{なまえ} field, split into 姓{せい} and 名{めい} for family name and surname....


12

If the scenario were saying "I don't want anything" in response to someone offering you something (food, drink, etc.), you could also use (私は)[結構]{けっ・こう}です。 → I'm fine/all right.


12

This gesture, typically seen in fiction such as anime, manga, rather old films or dramas, and typically done by young boys, indicates one's pride, confidence, and/or embarrassment. In Japanese fictional works, you'd see characters, usually young boys, do this gesture when they feel proud or confident when someone has praised them or their achievement. This ...


11

I cannot post comments so I link it here: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/天国 This tells you what religion uses what term. Also note the figurative term 楽園{らくえん} and パラダイス


11

Basically it's a joke. Since most otakus supposedly feel more comfortable in 2D world (anime/manga) than 3D world (reality), this guy makes a play on it and says he feels fine in 3D because he comes from a 4D world.


11

Asking someone to speak in plain Japanese is not rude if it's done nicely. However, asking someone to speak in Teineigo seems strange, I would say. Because it sounds like a challenge. Keigo(敬語) is composed of Sonkeigo(尊敬語), Kenjogo(謙譲語) and Teineigo(丁寧語). So, a Teineigo-only conversation sounds like a sorting Keigo quiz or something. How about asking them ...


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