Archive for the 'culture' Category

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The Age of Female Gender Loss

November 8th, 2007

One of the things I’ve grown completely used to, but found odd when I first came to Japan, is that there is some nebulous age at which, apparently, Japanese women just turn into Japanese people.  Somewhere around 50. It’s not at all unusual for female janitors to clean men’s restrooms while they are in use, […]

The Times They Are A Changin’

August 4th, 2007

Things are changing in Japan, vis foreigners. Two things in the last two days which brought this to mind: This morning, on one of the TV talkshow/variety shows (think The Today Show or the like if you don’t know Japanese TV), they had a segment where they asked a bunch of foreigners what Japanese food […]

Japanese and the Weak Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

July 11th, 2007

I’m not a reductionist. I’m not big on sentences that start with “the reason that…”, especially if the end of the sentence is something universal like “…Japanese people do blah”. However, I don’t think things pop up in a vacuum, either, so while I might disagree that a certain thing is the reason doesn’t mean […]

A Japanese Misconception About Marriage

May 9th, 2007

I’ve had a few coworkers with an odd misconception about international marriage.  I tell them that I’m married, and they say “So, you’ve become a nationalized Japanese?”  When I tell them “no”, they say “Oh, then your wife became an American citizen”.  When I tell them “no, my wife is still Japanese, and I’m still […]


May 2nd, 2007

This one goes out to my Japanese speakin’ peeps. よく「インド人って毎日カレー食べるんだ」と聞く。それもインド経験が無い人だけでなく、実際インドに長期旅行したことある人も言う。でも、そんなわけないとずっと思った。で、こないだやっと真偽がわかった。 ★ある意味で★毎日カレーを食べる。 まず、「カレー」って何だろう? 日本では本来「カレーライス」という意味だったが、まぁ、このブログを読んでいるのは「パーティー」を「パーチー」と発音するじいちゃんばあちゃんじゃないから、それはさておこう。ならば、「カレー」は何だろうか?SagPaneerもあればChannaMasalaもあって、AlooGobiもある。 結局共通点は「スパイスが入っているなんとか」。 ということは、「インド人は毎日スパイスが入っているなんとかを食べる」という話。 じゃ、そもそも「カレー」という単語って本当に「スパイスが入っているなんとか」という意味だろうか? いや、そうでもない。 「カレー」という単語の意味は単なる「おかず」。 そうだ。「インド人って毎日カレーを食べる」というのは「インド人って毎日おかずを食べる」という意味。うむ。なるほど。そのおかずは大体スパイスが入っているが、別に「カレー」という食べ物ではない。 日本でたとえると、「日本人は毎日Okazuという料理しか食べない。Okazuとは、醤油が入っているもの。毎日同じ物ばっかり 食べても飽きないのかな?」という、実にアホな話になる。 結論: インド人は毎日カレーを食べる。日本人も毎日カレーを食べる。この世の中、ほとんどの国の人は毎日、毎日カレーばっかり食べてるのに、飽きないんだ。 すごいな、カレーパワー。

I Got My Ossandals!

May 2nd, 2007

One of my goals, when I was young, was to avoid jobs where I had to wear suits and ties. I’ve done pretty well at it: I was supposed to wear a tie when I was an English teacher, but I managed to bluff the tieless look as an “exposing students to American culture” thing. […]

Motherfucker with an AK in my Supermarket

April 30th, 2007

America has no official language. English is the de facto language, but as far as I know, that’s nowhere writ in law (that’s what makes it de facto). So I wonder exactly how the FCC decides which profanity is deserving of big fines and which isn’t. Is it only English profanity that’s forbidden? English and […]

Why is Japanese Polite Speech So Hard?

March 22nd, 2007

I have no idea. That is, I don’t think it’s so hard, but just looking around me, I’m surrounded by people who can’t speak politely. Not people who won’t , mind you (that’s a universal constant), but people who want to but can’t. Basically, Japanese has 3 politeness levels: friendly, polite, and formal. Friendly is […]

What Fair Use Means to You

February 22nd, 2007

There is an infinite amount of material on the internet discussing copyright, so this post will fail in comparison, but I just wanted to note what use Fair Use has to y’all, with a concrete example: If you get rid of Fair Use, your mass media will start to look like Japan’s. Japan has no […]

The Advantages of Knowing Stuff, and Why the Simpsons Failed in Japan

January 29th, 2007

(Note: This kinda ties back into this post.) There are a lot of advantages to knowledge, and people talk about them often, but one of the overlooked ones is the increased scope of comedy. When I was a teenager, I liked the Simpsons a lot. And so did my parents. But it was always kinda […]

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