Happy 100th post

Nabari Dam

This blog has now 100 posts- many pictures and many details about my life in Japan. So let’s celebrate a little! This post is going to look at Nabari Dam in a bit more detail, a HOW2: for Place names and a product review as well. I hope you enjoy this 100th post and happy reading.

Additionally, on the homepage, there are 2 new sections:

  • A pictures in Japan section
  • A western calendar to Japanese era conversion page

Let’s start the post!

Full Review: 青蓮寺ダム Shorenji dam aka Nabari Dam

A nice, pretty picture of the dam

I have previously talked about Nabari lake and I have mentioned Nabari Dam in passing but now well look at it in a bit more detail.

Nabari Dam was constructed in response to the Ise typhoon disaster in 昭和34年 or 1959. Nabari experiences wide spread damage and thus the dams construction was finished in 昭和45年7月 or July 1970.

The Dam is 275 m long, 82 m tall which allowed the formation of lake with an area of 1.04 km 2 containing over 27 million m 3 of water- which is quite a bit.

Around the dam, there are signs which highlight the 5 main advantages of this dam:

  • safety: the dam allows Nabari and other cities down stream (Osaka, Nara) to remain safe in extreme weather
  • ecosystem: the dam provides a constant stream of water supporting life downstream
  • household use: allows a water supply to Nabari and other areas (from drinking water to bath water)
  • agricultural use: allows water to be used for rice farming within the Iga area comprising of 1,150 ha at 1.72m3/s
  • electricity generation: green electricity is generated

The slight problem with the dam is the road that was constructed along its’ top.

There is a single carriage way which requires cars to move the the side to allow them to pass. There is a lovely video of on my social media pages.

Along the lake side there are many parks, tennis courts and picnic spots and just above the dam is the viewing spot which is also known as the famous sakura viewing point- somewhere to go in April.

The views are spectacular and are well worth a visit for those in the area. With the amount of thing available (from sports, to eateries, to hikes, photo opportunities etc) I would definitely recommend a visit. Think of this place as a trip to a national park or just a larger park: plenty to do (including an Italian restaurant that is always booked nearby), plenty to enjoy and plenty of places to relax.

Just remember: take only photos and leave only footprints.

HOW2: Japanese place name ~ヶ丘

One thing that you need to be aware of with place names is the ending ~ヶ丘 or ~gaoka meaning “one hill”. Examples of this around Nabari are 梅ヶ丘、つつじヶ丘、桔梗が丘 etc. There are many examples across Japan but with the ending, you should expect extremely steep hills, that even cars struggle to climb.

The kanji is quite strange. ” ヶ ” is an ichi-dan counter used as a suffix to count objects and ” 丘 ” means hill- in such combinations as 丘上-きゅうじょう meaning hill top or 丘疹-きゅうしん meaning pimple (there are other combinations out there).

Near the Top of Tsutsuji-gaoka or つつじヶ丘

This was a fantastic view of Tsutsuji-gaoka just before my arrival at the dam. What you cannot see in this picture is the extremely tall hill that it is built on. Additionally, each settlement that can be seen in the distance is an entire other area- either Nabari city or small settlements surrounding it. The name should definitively be it’s warning when cycling or walking. You could argue that it should be つつじ山 instead.

The reason that you must be aware of its name is simple put: google maps. Google maps do not show you how steep the hill you climb are when using the app (they do during the planning stages on desktop).

Product review:

A vege bowl- with meat

The last product made me smile when I found it and that was a simple salad. In Japan vege salads refer to salads being made up of more vegetables than normal- which is a weird phrase now that I think about it. But to the rest of the world, a veg salad is (or at least should be) a vegetarian salad. My favourite was a salad bowl with massive shrimp on it stating vege salad.

The salad was extremely good- all crispy fresh veg, a nice mix of oats and rice and a sort-of miso dressing (extremely Japanese) but went well never the less.

Strangely enough, there was no problem with this product- even with the Japenglish. Check them out in Aeon supermarkets.

Thank you for reading and here’s to many more blog posts to come.

How2: romaji

ひのとり becomes Hinotori in romaji

Anyone who either learns or attempts to learn Japanese comes across romaji or romanized Japanese. Other languages have similar systems (pinyin for Chinese, romaja for romanised Korean etc- there are many different systems to represent each language).

In simple terms, romaji (Japanese romanisation of either Kana or Kanji) for most sounds is simple. Japanese sounds are either a vowel or a consonant and examples of singular vowel sound are: “a, i, u, e, and o”. In English there are the main vowels (we’ll ignore y) but each sound is pronounced differently- which is extremely important to note.

The phonics of each sound are:

  • /a/ from fat
  • /i/ from ink
  • /u/ from Uber
  • /e/ from egg
  • /o/ from video

Please note, there are no other ways to pronounce the letters- unlike English- there is either the correct or incorrect way.

These 5 sounds are then combined with a consonant either: k, s, t, n, h. m, y, r, or w. Together sounds such as ra, ma, ya etc are created. There are obviously exceptions. The main exceptions are

  • fu (not hu)
  • ha in a sentence is pronounced as “wa”
  • wi, wu, we- these sound have been mostly removed from the language
  • wo is just pronounced o
  • n- is a consonant digraph. Imagine the m sound you make when thinking- not pronounced but made in the throat. This is n.

With this basic understanding, the following sentence can be read:

watashi ha nihongo wo yomemasu. ( I can read Japanese)

For any visitors, this is immensely helpful with reading Japanese signs or simple sentences. Now we’ll get into it a bit more.

There are a lot more rules for transliteration on Japanese and converting elongated sounds to romaji but in order to read romaji and write, you need to be aware of some slight differences.

An elongation in a u sound may be represented in one of the following ways:

  • u- without any hit elongation (technically a mistake)
  • either using uu or uo to stress an elongation
  • û shows a stress and thus elongation
  • ū uses a line to show a lengthened vowel

I hope you enjoyed my into into the romanisation of Japanese.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

How2: prefectures in Japan

HOW2: 都道府県 or Prefectures in Japan

When speaking English, prefectures are vastly simplified. Nara is simply Nara Prefecture, Kyoto is Kyoto prefecture, Hokkaido is Hokkaido prefecture etc. However life for the Japanese is not so simple.

In regards to prefectures, there is a lovely phrase 都道府県 (と・どう・ふ・けん or to/dou/fu/ken) which are the administrative divisions of Japan. To break it down further:

  • only 1 都 : 東京都 Tokyo
  • only 1 道 : 北海道 Hokkaido
  • only 2 府 :大阪府と京都府 Osaka and Kyoto
  • 43 県 i.e. every other prefecture in Japan.

For non-Japanese speakers the difference is almost unimportant. The difference in suffix represents the power each area had prior to WW2. Each kanji actually has quite an interesting history as to why they were chosen.

Modern use can simple be summarized:

  • 道 was initially used to represent a territory which Japan had conquered. The use of 道 is technically redundant as it simply means prefecture in modern use. One difference is that 北海道 is also a Chiho (地方) one of 8 regions of Japan and the Hokkaido prefecture government refer to themselves as the “Hokkaido Government”.
  • 都 which is used to represent the capital city- or the place where the imperial palace is. This use is quite modern. It was changed from 府 to 都 in 1943 to represent the power changes in the region.
  • 府 are metropolitan areas that previously held more power than they do today. Today’s meaning simply means prefecture, but the history of the kanji is important to residents in Osaka and Kyoto
  • 県 meaning prefecture technically comes from the classification of land areas which was started by the Portuguese when they arrived in Japan. Japan adapted this practice and the prefecture system was born.

I hope you found this interesting. Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Mauerfall or ベルリン壁崩壊

Today is the 30 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall and even Japan is reporting on it

Asahi-shinbun from 08/11/19

I was tempted to write this article in German, but I think that there is more of a needed for more historical Japanese terms to be available in German and English.

The article gave a full overview of the history the former DDR (Democratic republic of Germany or ドイツ民主共和国) but the article in question used the terms 旧西ドイツ – the former west Germany and 旧東ドイツ- the former east. The Kanji used ” 旧” read きょう means ex- or former.

The article gives a quick timeline of the wall (and pictured above) and gives the some lovely facts including: West Berlin being surrounded by 155 Km of wall; demonstrations happening within the DDR about the democratization of the country (民主化 or Demokratisierung) which were the Montagsdemonstrationen (or Monday demonstrations) which took place in dusk of the DDR.

The most tragic facts about the DDR were the 140 people (or thereabouts) that were killed trying to cross the wall.

The facts given within the article are what you would expect e.g. the wall was erected after WW2 and lasted for 45 years; the USA, UK and France occupied Berlin (米英仏に西側を占領された) etc.

One interesting things was the transliteration of Angela Merkel name which became Merukeru or メルケル首相. Interesting note, did you know she’s 65?!

Even though to many die deutsche wiedervereinigung (or the German reunification) is the important event (which takes place on the thrid of October), one must not forget about the importance of die Mauerfall!

I hope you enjoyed reading and happy exploring.

Opinion: English speak still I cannot

Japenglish returns for another visit

Jap-English returns with a vengeance

Extremely strange English returns for another visit. The following examples are from both magazines and found while walking around.

English use in Japan is certainly varied- despite Japan’s admission for all children to seemingly be fluent in English. But it is all too easy to find examples of bad English.

The example above is a special example of corporate bad English use. “Coordinate for dream”, is the type of bad English use where you can easily say I know what you were going for; good try.

A lovely advert but the English used to try and encourage Japanese readers to experience the exoticism of the brand, leaves a lot to be desired. “Windup cars Auto” or “Car’s windup auto” is grammatically incorrect unless someone is called car. Nevertheless, wouldn’t you trust a car brand that highlights the fact that their cars are windup, not petrol powered.

This section is similar to any local British newspaper where people announce the birth of their children. But there are 2 problems with this section. Firstly, “kiss kiss kids” sounds slightly extremely strange to a natives ear. Secondly, and more importantly, “take a shot” is not the phrase you use when telling someone to take a photo- but the message is understandable.

Together, however, it’s a rather ominous message: Take a shot!! Kiss Kiss Kids which sounds like you are asking a gang called Kiss kiss Kids to shoot someone.

It’s not all bad English in Japan. There are generally some good examples- even thought I misread it at first.

The example above is an example of brilliant English use (and it doesn’t say “Up Life”) on a product for sale. It is actually a rather nice phrase and message. The only problem with this is its’ audience- I doubt may Japanese people are able to understand this or the nice sentiments it conveys.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

How2: Japanese Halloween

Japanese vocabulary for Halloween

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

Halloween is a very commercial time for the Japanese, especially those with children or those who work with children. Here’s a handy list of some spooky vocabulary for you.

Firstly, picture the scene you are at a ハロウェインパルティ(Halloween party) and you are really enjoying seeing all the 怖い飾り(spooky decorations) hanging all around you.

The problem with these 怖い飾り is that they are sub-dollar store quality. You look around and see a giant hairy くも(spider), in it’s 蜘蛛の巣(spider web)along with black コウモリ (bat- animal) small orange かぼちゃ (pumpkins). There are かぼちゃ everywhere! They are next to the キャンディー/ 菓子 (sweets or candy), and next to a TV where a ホラー映画 (horror film) is playing.

You’re actually a bit bored and you decide to mingle a bit, you have- like many others decided to 仮装する (wear a costume) and there are some good ones tonight! There is a ミイラ (mummy), ゾンビ (zombie), 魔女 (witch), an old fashioned おばけ (ghost) – is that a bed sheet?- not too original then; a 吸血鬼 [or the more updated  ヴァンパイア] (vampire), and finally is that several 骸骨 (skeletons) doing the 骸骨の踊り (skeleton dance) from the 1929 Disney short?!

What sort of party in what sort of 御化け屋敷 (haunted house) did you go to?

English speaking learnt I have not?

Random English use in Japan: part 1

Japan has a fascination with foreign languages – most noticeable its use on everyday products. There are many such examples and I could dedicate the blog to bad English use in Japan- but that would get repetitive. I will however choose weird use, while not necessarily bad, you must question why this was chosen.

The first picture features a lovely phrase on a recycling container. Grammatically it is fine, but the message is a little existential for a recycling container. “Would you like to review what your life should be…?”- where shall I begin?

Firstly, “like to review”, think over your life and evaluate it but do nothing? Or review your live and put an implement an action plan to have the live you want? Next, “what your life should be”, is okay but wouldn’t “where you life should be up to”, read a bit better or as the message is trying to say “are you happy with your lot in life?”

Regardless of this, it’s a recycling bin- why are such questions being asked on this to people who most lively will not understand the English on it?

Grammar my old friend please come back to Japan again….moving on. “Today’s schedule with [a] smile”, is okay but what about tomorrow’s schedule or next weeks etc? It seems a little bit fixed in addition to this, there is no theatre in Nabari so there’s that problem.

Or does the schedule consist of cleaning and that’s it- which is a slightly darker look on Japanese households. Also, are you supposed to check once completed? The message is a bit confused.

These 2 are just the start of a series of Japenglish to come, in addition to Japench (Japanese French) which is usually used correctly.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring