Study for the JPT

I’m studying for the Japanese Proficiency Exam which is coming up in December. I have never taken the test before, but I’m gonna take Level 1, the hardest level. I do this because I’m a genius, or really really stupid. I’ll let you know when I get the results.

Studying for this thing though is crazy. Half the time when I ask my Japanese friends what things mean, it goes like… Hey Ken, what does 「…試験に勝たんがために~塾に通う」mean? The answer is usually something like “Hahaha, last time I heard that was in a jidaigeki on TV! Have you been watching samurai movies??” “No man I’m studying for this exam!” Geesh…

You know you’re in trouble when you’re looking up vocabulary that appear like 5th and 6th in your electronic dictionary. For example, じたい。字体, nope. 自体 nope, 事態, nope, 辞退 yup. That’s the one. It’s about freakin’ time! You people studying Japanese will know what I mean. Same thing goes for when you’re typing Japanese too, henkan, henkan, henkan, henkan… how long is this freakin’ list?! It’s even worse when the word is not in the Japanese-English dictionary and can only be found in the Japanese-Japanese dictionary, like 「検案」。I guess they figure that there is no way that a non-native Japanese person will ever need to use this word or something.

Then there’s the words that seem to have only one example sentence in existence. Seriously though, Japanese seems to have a lot of words like that. For example, I look up 喪失 (そうしつ) in my dictionary, and get the example, 「彼は戦意を喪失していた。」 Something like, ‘he lost his will to fight’. When I first saw that I didn’t know 戦意。 So I looked that up. I get the example sentence, 「彼は戦意を喪失していた。」 Does this mean that the only way to use 喪失、is with 戦意?? Isn’t there anything else to lose other than your “fighting spirit”???

I also know a lot of vocab that is really unnecessary now. Like, 憤慨 (ふんがい), or how to write 垣根 in Kanji… Or freakin’, 山岳(さんがく)I think the kanji GAKU is only used in this word, and this word alone. What the heck.

And then there’s the stuff that really isn’t going to be on the test, but is just as good to know. Like, 半尻(はんけつ)It literally means “half-butt”. You can use it when you’re sitting on the edge of a crowded bench and only half your butt is on it. Ask your Japanese teacher about that next week.


Japanese Jokes

Hey guys.

I can make Japanese jokes, the type of joke that I enjoy is called, 駄洒落 (dajyare) or, 親父ギャグ (oyaji gag) I’ll show you a few examples, then I’ll describe how they work. Note these, jokes are usually plays on words… Japanese words… so translating them usually destroys them… not there is always much humor in there initially anyway…

Stolen Joke #1
A: 日曜日にパーティがあるんだけど、来なかったら許さんデ!
nichiyoubi ni party ga arunndakedo, konakattara yurusannde!
Sunday there is a party, if you don’t come, I won’t forgive you!

This is funny, because, the slang for “I won’t forgive you”, 許さない。 Is pronounced, yurusannde!! And the last ‘sannde’ sounds like SUNDAY, which is, Nichiyoubi. GET IT! HAHA! FUNNY!

One more classic that I stole from this Dajyare database site.

Ah. Before I do this. Dajyare in Japan are known to be くだらない。 (kudaranai). Like… the kind of jokes that would get a glazed over eyes… silence… and low “ohhh myyyy gooooodness…….” kind of reaction if the same type of joke could be told in the States. In Japan, the reaction is usually silence… and sometimes anger. Especially in Kansai.

Stolen Joke #2
konyaku, konyakuu
I’ll eat konyaku tonight. (See, translations are totally pointless.)

This is funny because the food is konyaku, and to say, “Will eat tonight” casually, you can say “konya (tonight) kuu (eat)”, so, they sound almost the same… GET IT!? FUNNY!!!

Okay. Here are the GEMS. My Personal, 自家製駄洒落!!!!

Joke #1
A: “How do you say, ‘sidewalk’ in Japanese?”
B: “umm… yokomichi?”
A: “nooo.. that’s not it… try again…”
B: “Hodou? (歩道) (this is what you are looking for!)
A: NARUHODO!!!! (Means ‘I SEE!’ in Japanese)

Gawd that’s a funny joke.

Joke #2 (Usually I beef this out, but, here’s just the punch line)
A: 昨日鎌倉でおしゃれなBambooの箸を売ってる店があったよ~
B: へ~~それで?何か買った?

A: Yesterday in Kamakura there was a shop selling styling bamboo chopsticks.
B: Did you buy any?
A: Nope, those BAMBOO chopsticks cost 5000 yen! EXPENSIVE!

Funny because slang for expensive, TAKE!!! also means… Bamboo, TAKE.

Now that’s. Comedy.


French in Japan

Way out of your territory…

Some things just weren’t meant to be. And when they do happen, they’re incredibly strange.


I have worked in Japan for about one year, and spent about 5 months working in Prais up until a few months ago. I had heard it before, but one of the interesting things about France, is the relaxed work atmosphere, and the long vacations that employees are able to enjoy. It makes me seriously wonder how French people who work in Japan survive…

As anyone reading this probably knows, In Japan, company employees (salary men) typically commute an hour to work by train, spend long hours in the office, skip vacations they are entitled to, and take incredibly compressed speed vacations to recover from this hectic life. In the place I currently work, the men finish lunch in 30 minutes. I’m not joking.

If you have been in Japan for any amount of time I am sure you have heard of the ridiculous working hours that some people put in. I’m sure you have heard stories of unpaid overtime (service zangyo) and employees skipping their summer vacations because they are just “too busy”. When people are finally able to escape from work to grab a few days off, the time is so short they are forced to plan their vacations to be ultra efficient so that none of their precious break time is wasted.

In France however… I didn’t even -see- my boss for the entire month of August. In France employees are required by law to have 30 days of paid vacation, plus something like 10 days of national holidays. This adds up to be quite a bit. In Japan it is hard for employees to find time to take their 3 day summer vacations, in France people have to plan ahead to see what they will do with their 30 days off. That’s not even double, that’s 10! times the vacation days. It’s almost difficult to imagine.

Most people in the company I worked at in France took off for an entire month at a time, usually in July or August. I believe in Japan this would be called “tensyoku”. I literally mean, start vacation August 1st. Return to work in September. Employees have so much vacation time they can spend a long time on a beach in the south of France… learn to play a musical instrument… or visit a French speaking colony in Africa.

I had a friend in the office in France from New Zealand. He had been in France for a few years, and learned to speak French, and become very familiar with French culture. When I asked him why he decided to stay so long, one of the first things he mentioned was the vacation time.

Once you have lived in a country with a month of vacation regularly available, it is extremely hard to go back to anything less. Could you imagine going from 30 days of vacation a year, to 10? Or less? For the same pay? Similar benefits? It almost doesn’t make sense at all.

This makes me wonder. It makes me really wonder WHY there are French people working in Japan, and how they feel about their new working life once they arrive. Are they able to adjust to the hour long commutes, 40 minute lunches, and expected overtime? What makes them stay?

I imagine some of the reasons for staying are similar to the reasons why I am here. However, I am from a country with an equally -low- amount of vacation time. I didn’t have to make such a large social adjustment.

To each his own huh?

If you’re crazy. Read this.

Poopie Swap

Today I heard an especially funny story from a Japanese man…

He told me that about forty years ago, while he was in school, he played a prank that had the school in a fit for a week. This story is funny on so many levels…

According to this man, about 40 years ago in elementary schools in Japan it was a common health test for kids to be required to bring in a bit of ‘shouben’, or, a stool sample (the solid kind, number 2, you know… dookie… 小便!) to be tested for various things. They would prepare a piece of dookie at home, scrape it in to a little cup, seal it into a few special plastic bags, and give it to their teacher the next day.

One day, on the way to school, this guy forgot to bring his sample. Fearing he would be scolded or get in trouble at school, he looked around desperately for some way to escape the situation.

On the way to school, he saw some dog crap on the ground.


He picked up the dog crap, put it into his sample container, and turned it in to his teacher when he got to school. His teacher then turned it into the health office, and they ran their tests.

Now, remember that this kid is in elementary school. He was really just trying to do the right thing!

The nurses ran their tests, freaked, and went wild. They called this kids parents in, told him to stay home from school until they figured out why he had so many strange types of bacteria, and other things uncommon in human feces. Apparently the school was up in arms for a week over this…

Now that’s hilarious.