Japanese Character Input Mistakes

As many of you probably already know, when typing Japanese on a keyboard, it works something like this.

– Enter the Romanization of the Japanese word you want to type. Example: kimono
– If you’re in a Japanese input mode, by default your keyboard will change kimono to the proper Hiragana, in this case, きもの。
– Then after that you hit the space bar, and that will cycle you through all of the Kanji (Chinese Characters) that are pronounced kimono. In this case, 着物 is the first that pops up after hitting space once, and it is the most commonly used character for the pronunciation kimono. So, we hit the enter key, and we’re done.

However, if you continue pushing the space bar for kimono, you can get other Kanji possibilities which are all pronounced “kimono”, but don’t necessarily mean the kimono you wear…

Seems there are a lot of internal organs in this list…

This action of changing the characters from roomaji to hiragana to katakana or kanji is called HENKAN (変換)。

So, this brings us to the main topic… 誤変換 (gohenkan).

GOHENKAN is literally, mistaken henkan. For example if you meant to write SANKA as in, attend 参加, but you accidentally write SANKA 酸化 as in… oxidization… How embarrassing.

There are much more interesting GOHENKAN examples than this…

Anyone language geeks out there got any to share?

– Harvey

PS.  undrentide has submitted some excellent examples of GOHENKAN.

Check it out! Thanks undrentide!


Moving On…

From the poll that is currently running, it seems that you would like to know more about Japanese Society, see more Japan Pictures, and well… see some hot Japanese girls. I can deliver on the first two, but there are already plenty of hot Japanese girl sites, so I’m going to leave that category to the pros. Hope you don’t mind.
The map below shows where all of you (all 100+ a day of you) visitors are from, pretty cool! There seem to be a curiously high number of visitors from Singapore… Who are you guys? Image Courtesy of Google Analytics.

Back to the poll results… I thought I had the pictures part covered! What more do you want to see?? I’m surprised the interest in Japanese language is so low, 残念 (zannen). I know some key readers tend to enjoy the language tidbits though, so I’ll try to mix them in with the topics of society an pictures in general. Two birds with one stone!

For the past four years I have been working in Japan at an IT job I got at the Boston Career Forum immediately after graduating from university in the States. The Career Forum is a weekend suit-wearing, resume-passing extravaganza that most bilingual English-Japanese speakers in the US will be familiar with.
From September I’ll be studying Japanese (again), at this advanced Japanese program in Yokohama called IUC. This is an ultra-intense (or so they say) language program, after which I should know more Japanese than will ever be necessary for any practical purpose.

After IUC, I don’t know what I’m going to do really. The program is only 10 months long, so I have about half that time to figure it out I guess. The Monbusho scholarship to study at a Japanese graduate school is always an option… I am interested in International Development, and also China recently, so maybe I’ll try to get in with JICA or some other Japanese development organization. Or maybe I’ll go back to school in the US? Who knows?

Anyway, during August I’m going to be in Thailand and Cambodia, slacking like I have never slacked before. I have enough material about Japan that JapanNewbie won’t sleep while I’m gone. No worries there.

After I return, I will be moving to Yokohama in Sept, so you’ll likely see a reduction in the number of Takoyaki or otherwise Kansai posts… But an overall increase in the quality of content on this site since I’ll have more free time as a student.

We’ll see what happens! Hope it’s entertaining!
– Harvey

Hale Hale Cafe Closing Down

One of my favorite restaurants in Osaka, Hale Hale Cafe (ハレハレ カフェ) in Shinsaibashi, is going to be closing down August 27th. If you live in the Osaka area… Or even if you live anywhere in Kansai, please get down and check this place out before it closes.

I have listed instructions on how to get there in the “shops” page on this site, check it out under Osaka area shops.

Hale Hale Cafe is an organic restaurant located right in the middle of downtown Osaka (south side). The shop is in an old house, a huge Japanese style house that can really bring you back in time. The place is amazing. A great tatami interior, wide open spaces, and a small Japanese garden in back. I could live there.

Sadly, the reason Hale Hale is closing is that while the shop owner doesn’t own the land the shop is on. The owner of the land has decided to sell it, and the new owner has decided that he doesn’t need an organic restaurant or rustic house. Owning land downtown anywhere in Japan is extremely costly, so the owner of Hale Hale cannot afford to just buy up the land.

So Hale Hale will close, and the house will be torn down.

What a waste!

This is one of those stores I frequent often enough that the staff remembers my face. Granted, that’s not so hard in Japanese shops with few foreigners, but still… It’s really too bad that this place is closing down. I will also be leaving Osaka at the end of August to move to Yokohama, so it’s kind of like we’re leaving at the same time.

It’s going to be weird coming back to visit Osaka and not having Hale Hale in Shinsaibashi.

– Harvey

Japanese Sake and Sugidama

Test your Japanese culture knowledge… Do you know what this is?

If you guessed “sideways-furry-moon”, you’re wrong.

It is what is called a “sugidama”(杉玉). Or, ball of cedar? Don’t translate that.

I really don’t know how they are made, but they are normally hung outside of sake shops in Japan. I also do not know why sugi is associated with sake.. Anyway though, if you want Sake, look for the giant ball of cedar…

Jim Breen’s translation engine translates each component as such.

杉 【すぎ】 (n) Japanese cedar; cryptomeria japonica; (P); EP 玉 【ぎょく; たま; だま】 (ぎょく) (n) (abbr) king (shogi); (たま) (n,n-suf) ball; sphere; coin; (だま) ; (n,n-suf) ball; sphere; coin; SP

There is no translation with the both together.

The Japanese wikipedia entry for Sugidama explains that it is an object made of the leaves of the cedar tree. It is also called “sakabayashi”. Ahhh, and also, these are traditionally not decorated outside of sake shops in Japan all the time, but are especially put on display to announce that NEW sake has been brewed (can you say “brewed” for sake?) at the shop.

When the sugidama is first hung, the leaves are still green, but it quickly fades to the brown color you see in the second picture. With this change of color, customers can feel how new the sake at the shop may be.

These days, the sugidama is really only used as a type of sign to help customers recognize the sake shop, but originally it was more of an object expressing thanks to the gods.

Thank the gods for Sake.

– Harvey

Gion Matsuri Here again

Gion Matsuri has come in gone in Kyoto again this year. Last year I was right in the mosh pit and got some decent pictures. This time I didn’t get any especially intersting pictures, but we went up to the festival the day before the big event.

Anyway, check out that link from a year ago for a blast from the not so distant past.

Wow, a year flies by so fast…

– Harvey

ParaPara Dance on YouTube

Has everyone hear heard of “Para Para”? Here is a video on YouTube featuring a popular parapara dance instructional video.
Parapara was a type of… “dance”… popular in Japan about one year before I went to study Japanese at Nanzan University in Nagoya so many years ago. Around the time I arrived in Nagoya, my Japanese friends were telling me it was going out of style.

Parapara was mainly done in clubs, by mostly girls, but guys also join in sometimes. The more skillful parapara dancers would climb up on a small stage in front of the club (or a big stage, depends on the club!) and do their parapara dance to the music. These parapara girls would have big hair (extensions), tall boots, and short skirts.
The motions for each parapara song are predetermined, and must be memorized. If you miss a step, you’re not cool. You can purchase tapes and DVD’s in stores to learn the moves for each song, and need to stay updated as new songs are released. Occasionally I would see girls and guys outside in front of department store windows at night, using them as mirrors to practice their steps.

Again, Parapara is pretty much dead now in Japan, my unprofessional guess would put it at about the same level as break dancing in the states. Some people do it, and are pretty hardcore about it, but it is not at all mainstream.

Break dancing is cooler. A bit more… how do you say… Originality between dancers.

– Harvey

Water Bottle Defense

Can you guess why these water bottles are sitting outside this Japanese home?

Water Bottles
Water Bottles

The reason is to keep cats and crows and other undesirable animals away from the flowers. It’s common knowledge here, that these animals cannot come close to these water filled “pet-bottles”.

I don’t think this actually works though… Apparently it’s something about the way the bottles reflect the light that scares the animals enough to keep them away.

Has anyone else ever heard about this?

Does this work? What’s the deal?

– Harvey

Japanese News Blooper

There is a video on YouTube showing a Japanese News Cast originally filmed in 1998 from Fuji TV in which a lady attempts to demonstrate a safety evacuation device, only to have it fail and drop her five floors. She survives the fall, but she temporarily loses consciousness and reportedly breaks her hip in the fall.

Thanks to JapanProbe for the link to this video on YouTube.

Some key phrases from the video.

Time 0:01 – Girl says: 高いんですよこれみてみて。This is so high look at this!
(takaindesuyo, kore mite mite)

Time 0:14: – Man says: 〜切れませんから、心配ないです。It won’t break, no need to worry.
~kiremasenkara, shinpainaidesu

Time 0:25 – many exchanges of 大丈夫ですか? Is it really OK?
daijyoubu desuka?

Time 0:36 – Girl is screaming, but pretty excited to go, she says, 行きますよ! I’m going!

Time 0:41 – Male newscaster says, あれ〜外れちゃった今。 Ahhh, it came loose…
are, hazurecyatta ima
Time 0:45 – Female newscaster, says AHAHAH!!! そうなんだ?外れちゃった。 Laughing, oh really?
Sounanda? Hazurecyatta.

Then finally the female caster realizes it’s not some joke, and calls out to see if she is OK.

Camera cuts back to news casters.

They mumble about wow, it broke, wonder if she’s OK. Then they break to the weather for a second. After which they cut back and assure viewers that she has regained consciousness, and apologize for the dangerous mess up.


I think I’ll be evacuating my apartment via the stairs.

– Harvey

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