だじゃれ – Dajyare

Dajyare. Japanese Jokes. Oyaji-gag. おやじギャグ。

That’s right. Japanese jokes. Japanese jokes are pretty interesting. There is a whole category of them that is entirely based on word play. Dajyare are made mainly words that have double meanings, and can be skillfully, and stealthily worked into a seemingly innocent sentence. The jokes don’t always involve two ‘words’ that can have double meanings, but occasionally the grammar in the middle of a sentence can sound like a word as well.

This is pretty hard to explain, so let’s learn by example.

Ah. Almost forgot. First, dajyare is 駄洒落。駄、 which pretty much means… um… it is the ‘da’ which is used in ‘dame’, which means, -bad-, more or less. 洒落、means ‘joke’. So, together dajyare is a type of bad, or failed joke. Sometimes they are also called oyajigyagu. Where oyaji is old man, and gyagu, is… gag. The proper response when you hear a bad joke in Japan is to say ‘samui’ 寒い, which means cold.

Examples. This one is famous.

Japanese: monoreru mo noreru. モノレールも乗れる。
English: You can also ride the monorail.
Humor: Try saying them aloud. You say monoreru twice, the first monoreru is ‘monorail’, the second ‘mo’ is also, and ‘noreru’, is can ride.

If you can manage to work that into a regular sentence… you’ll be the talk of the town!

Here is my personal creation.

M: How do you say sidewalk in Japanese?
U: hodou (歩道)
M: naruhodo! (なるほど!)

Now that’s comedy. Wait until you hear my ‘bamboo’ joke.



Saturday I went and checked out the WaiWai Volunteer English program today at Iidabashi Central Plaza today.

I found out about the program when I was hanging out studying Japanese in the Virgin Record cafe in Shinjuku. Some guy came and sat at my table (I was alone at a 4 person table) and pulled out a 日本語教育 (Japanese Education) book and started studying himself.

I asked him if he wanted to be a Japanese teacher or something, and we started talking. It turns out he was a volunteer at this program called WaiWai, and he is training to become a Japanese teacher for foreigners in Japan.

Thanks man. We need all the help we can get.

Iidabashi is close to Shinjuku, and the building in which the classes are held is connected to the subway station, so it is easy to access. The classes start at 10am, and run until 12. The cost of lessons is 1000 yen per month, that breaks down to 250yen a session, cheap. The cost covers transportation for the volunteer teachers, as well as any expenditures the group needs for the classes, copies and stuff.

When I went there I was honestly surprised at their organization. The classes are divided into 3 groups, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Since I am big-headed, I decided to join the advanced class for my first day. We went over a newspaper article, a short one, took turns reading it, and checking for meaning. There were about 8 people in the group, four teachers, four students. It was good stuff, lots of explanation, lots of assistance. It reminded me of school again.

There were about 50 students and probably about 40 teachers at the event. It is a large group, with lots of willing volunteers. It’s beautiful!

If you are looking for a way to improve your Japanese, I highly recommend it. It is also a great place to meet people!


Happy New Years

All apologies for anyone who has been waiting for this site to be updated.

I just got a sexy new iBook and have been spending all my time figuring out how the heck it works. I have finally found some tools that I think I can use to manage this site. Not too shabby, and Microsoft free! I’ve got BBEdit to handle page creation, Goldberg to handle what little editing I do to my images, command line sftp for file transfer, and lovely Mozilla and Chimera for all my browsing needs. Works for me. For mail I am currently using Eudora… but it results in 文字化け when I try to write Japanese emails. Does anyone know a good mail client for OSX that can handle Japanese? If so, comment below pls.

New years in Japan. Personally my new years was spent at home with friends over Sukiyaki and ‘toshikoshi soba’ (年越しそば). The next day we went to do ‘hatsumoude’ at a temple close to my home.

There are a lot of New Years activities that people do in Japan, and I don’t know what they all are. Toshikoshi soba is just, soba. However you eat it in order to roll over into the new year. Toshikoshi literally means ‘over the year’ I believe. In my rough translation anyway. There is also an entire course that can be eaten during new years known as ‘osechi ryouri’ I believe. It has many things such as fish and mochi and soba and other food to bring you good fortune for the new year.

Hatsumoude is an event in which everyone goes to a shrine on the 1st to get their blessings for the new year. I have heard that Meiji Jingu in Harajuku is -nuts- on the first. If you go, you can’t go home because the trains will be full for hours, and it will take hours just to get up to the temple anyway. On the first most of the trains in Japan run on special schedules, allowing for later hours. Usually the trains stop running at around midnight over here, and start up again at 5, depending on which line.

Me and my friends went to a local temple, and even though I live in the middle of nowhere, the line was about 40 minutes or so just to get up to the front of the temple to throw in your ‘go-yen’ (5 yen coin, It’s lucky to throw a 5-yen coin, or 50-yen coin into the temples collection box.) And this is at 11am! (We over slept. Read: We are slackers.)

Most temples are selling a drink called ‘amazake’ which means ‘sweet sake’. It is made from what is left over once Japanese Sake is made, and then has sugar added to make it sweet. The drink is served hot, and makes for a sweet nonalcoholic beverage. About the only time people drink this is during hatsumoude.

There are so many traditional cultural things people do here it is really amazing. For example, ‘daruama’. The red round dude below. I don’t know the entire story behind him… part of it however though, is that on New Years it is customary to paint one eye in black before the new year, and make a wish, and then paint in the other one after the wish comes true… or the new year starts or something.

It is also a good idea to rub the bouzu’s head to make you smarter if you get the chance. I think it works that which ever part of the bouzu you rub, that part of you will get better. Am I wrong?

Another interesting New Years event in Japan is the fukubukuro (福袋)sales frenzy. Greggman has got that covered. Basically they are bags filled with goodies that you can purchase from just about any store in Japan during New Years. The contents are hidden, but you can bet that the value of the goods in the bag will be more than what you pay for it.

Enough babbling for now! iBook iBook.