Meme Tagged

Tagged by Rocking in Hakata, I guess I better respond.

So as the rules say, I should also list the rules:
1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog. (Optional, apparently.)

Seven random and weird facts about myself.

1) I’m 28 but I still get pimples if I don’t get enough sleep. Apparently in Japanese these are called できもの(dekimono)、which is a term different than the term for pimples, which is ニキビ (nikibi)。

2) If my iTunes music library is on shuffle you may hear music as varied as Pavarotti, Autechre, Square Pusher, Talib Kweli, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, and James Brown. I even have some Ravi Shankar in there.  Lately I have been into Boards of Canada. Great low key study music!

3) I’m not sure where I will be next year come May. Suspense!

4) I’ve cut my own hair ever since I moved to Japan. バリカン! Buuzzzzzzz.

5) One time I was in India, France, and Japan all in the same week on business. That was with my previous job. It made me feel important. Haha.

6) I think I embody the cheesy expression, “people person”. My wife recently told someone that she thinks I meet someone new every single day. Sure, that’s a stretch, but I do enjoy meeting people!

7) I once slept outside at the Fukuoka Castle remains with a crazy French friend. I do travel a lot and get into some mildly ridiculous situations, but sleeping outside on a stone bench at a tourist location was a first for me. It was cool in the morning being awakened by the sun and elderly Japanese (obaasan and ojiisan) doing ラジオ体操 (radio taisou, a type of radio-driven physical exercise).

Seven victims. Sorry guys.

Ayumi’s Every Other Day

Dutch Baka


Kayo at Osaka Life

What Japan Thinks

Foreigner at Home

Japan Wave

Enough of this!

– Harvey End-Year Book Sale

The is having another sale, on top of their currently running 10% off sale (max savings at 15$ per product). It seems they need to clear out as much inventory by the end of the year as possible, and they have unsold books stacking up.

There are a total of 12 books covered by this “extra” sale that ends December 31st. I’ve listed a few that I would recommend taking a look at below.

A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar ($42.50 to $32.50, save 24%)

A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar ($49.98 to $38.98, 10 bucks off)

I have never used these particular Grammar books, but I did have a Grammar book when I was in high school first starting out, and I loved even more than my dictionary. I mean, it was easy to ask someone how to say “frog” in Japanese, “かえる”, done. But it wasn’t so easy to ask people the difference between grammar patterns like たべたら, たべれば and たべるなら, all of which could translate into “if you eat” in English, but are subtly different in Japanese. Dictionaries just don’t get into that. A Grammar dictionary can be your secret weapon when it comes to figuring out these nuances.

Japanese for Busy People (2nd Edition)* (Price Varies per Book, most are at least 50% off, this is $25.00 to $9.99, 60% off!)

I have never used the Busy People books, and frankly, if you’re busy, you probably don’t have enough time to learn Japanese… But! If you are busy and still have the motivation to learn, this might be a good way to get started.

Last but not least, some books in the excellent Genki series are on sale. Both Genki 1 and Genki 2 are 20% off.

If you bought any of these books earlier in December before this sale was announced you can contact the JapanShop for a  gift certificate for the difference!

In addition, if you order something before the 31st you’ll get a free print of one of Andou Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido with every book order. Bonus!

Andou Hiroshige's akasaka

I still recommend the Genki textbook series over all of the other books available now, but the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar looks interesting!

Happy holiday shopping!

I, on the other hand, need to shop for sweaters…

– Harvey

Master Translator Donald L. Philippi

Donald L. Philippi was a talented Japanese English translator and linguist who died in 1993 at the age of 62. Reading his background will inspire any student of Japanese, so dig in.

Donald L. Philippi

This information can be found on Fred’s website, another accomplished translator – he translated Astroboy vol 1-23! And Ghost in the Shell! A true translation rock star. From the looks of it, Fred has met Osamu Tezuka as well… fascinating.

Don was a linguist. He spoke fluent Japanese, and without visiting the Soviet Union developed a near-native command of Russian. He could read and write Slovak, and he could read and understand German, Spanish and French, as well as several other languages.

Don began learning Japanese on his own as a child in the late thirties in Los Angeles, and continued to do so during the war when it was regarded as an “enemy” language. After studying at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, he went to Japan in 1957 on a Fulbright scholarship, and wound up staying there until 1970. In Japan he studied at Kokugakuin University, a Shinto university in Tokyo, and on his own. He became an expert, not only in classical Japanese, but in the Ainu language (the nearly extinct language of the indigenous people of Japan). He also studied the Altaic languages of Siberia, such as Turkic.

Don was no ordinary linguist. He had an abiding interest in what he called the “archaic”– the pre-civilized, pre-agricultural state of being– and used his language skills to explore it. He became an expert in Ainu and other archaic cultures.

Another interesting tidbit…

In his more flamboyant moments, Don liked to claim that translating technical documents gave him a “translator’s high”– that if he had a fast computer, and some post-modern archaic music by heavy metal groups such as Motorhead to listen to, he could achieve a trance-like state. In reality, however, his true joy in translating technical documents probably came from the accomplishment of a more modest goal. As he once said, “…by imposing a tiny bit of order in a communication you are translating, you are carving out a little bit of order in the universe. You will never succeed. Everything will fail and come to an end finally. But you have a chance to carve a little bit of order and maybe even beauty out of the raw materials that surround you everywhere, and I think there is no greater meaning in life.”

I admit, I actually downloaded some Motorhead and tried listening to it while translating the other day.

Easier said than done.

Wow. If my translation resume ever looks like these guys, I’ll be quite satisfied with myself.

– Harvey

Lowest Mountain in Japan

Mt Teppozan, the lowest mountain in Japan, stands proudly in Osaka.

I have posted on Mt Teppozan before, but back in September I visited it again with a friend, and secured this coveted certificate.

In 2007, I was the 1634th person to claim this certificate after scaling the perilous peaks of Mt Teppozan. I went with a good friend, so now we both have certificates.

How about that huh? This is going right up there with my JLPT1 certificate. If I ever get a frame, I’ll frame it.

How many other Japan bloggers can say that they have climbed the lowest mountain in Japan… TWICE.

Only on JapanNewbie folks. Oh yeah.

– Harvey

Japanese Tattoos and such

One of the most popular posts on this blog, quite surprisingly actually, is the Tattoo in the Onsen post.

No tattoos or drunks in the onsen please, the sign says.

Lots of people search for “kanji tattoo” or “chinese character tattoo” or “japanese tattoo” and such and end up on that page.

I guess people really want to get authentic Japanese tattoos, or tattoos with Chinese characters on them. Personally I have nothing against tattoos, though personally I’ll probably never get one, but if you’re to get one be careful!

You don’t want to end up like this! Girl’s Chinese Tattoo of Boyfriend’s Name Really Spells ‘Supermarket’. I don’t know how that could happen. I mean, wouldn’t her boyfriend tell her? Does anyone know Chinese well enough to explain this for me?

Anyway. For all those people looking for Japanese Tattoos, I ‘ll throw this link out there.

There is a magazine called Tattoo Lifestyle (Japanese Version) available with full color pictures of tattoos, in Japan. Hardcore full-back (ouch!) tattoos for all your inking needs.


Does anyone out there reading this have a Japan or Chinese character related tattoo? What is it of? I’m curious.

I hope it doesn’t say “supermarket!”

– Harvey

HearJapan Online Japanese Music Store

For those who like to act rather than read…

Access HearJapan, a beta online Japanese music store.

Use this Coupon Code to register a new profile: jpn536

Browse, listen to 30-second clips of any song, read band profiles, or buy a song for as low as 100 yen (currently 5% off entire albums).

Now for the readers…

Hey everyone! If you like Japanese music and aren’t able to access enough of it to meet your eccentric tastes, I think you’re going to love HearJapan (details on how to register follow).

HearJapan is a brand new online music store (kinda, technically it’s not released yet, it’s still beta – but even Gmail is still beta, so let’s not hold that against them) that allows you to buy Japanese music online.

Even if you have other ways to acquire your music, I still think you’ll be hard pressed to find a location that offers so much Japanese music related content in English, including band profiles, album information, and lyric translations. Just browsing the site to read about what’s out there is entertaining. You can even listen to 30-second clips of any song available on the website.

(click for larger image)

Even though the site is brand-spanking new and new albums are being added daily (literally), they already have some major artists available including: Vidoll, D’espairsRay, and ALvino. Vidoll is the visual band you see in the “group information” screen shot below. If you’re into Japanese visual bands, they’re one of the major upcoming acts right now. Check out the song “Sarah”, it’s alright. I’m not into visual rock at all… but I picked up a track from an instrumental rock band called Te’ in order to test the site. Good stuff.

In regards to the shopping experience, the mp3s are high quality, have no DRM (yes!), and get this, once you purchase you can download the music three times from the HearJapan website. So if you lose the file for some reason, or even if you want to download your music to another computer you’re free to do so. It’s obvious this is a music site created by a music lover.

(click for larger image)

You can purchase individual songs at prices between 100 and 150 yen per song (about $1.00 – $1.50 USD), and during this beta period if you purchase an entire album you get 5% off each song. At the moment purchases can be made with major credit cards, but PayPal isn’t supported yet. I’ve been told that support is coming soon. I hope so. I happen to like Paypal.

As I said, HearJapan is still beta, and on a “invitation” only basis. So here’s an invitation. You can access HearJapan using the Coupon Code ‘jpn536’, and entering it along with your information at this registration URL. The “beta” is really very open, and it is OK to share this code with anyone else you want to be able to access the site. I guess the creators want a controlled “word of mouth” crowd to break in the site before they open it to the rest of the Internet.

The owners of HearJapan are located in Japan, speak fluent Japanese, and love music. I met one of the creators while I was studying at IUC. He graduated a year before me and did his research project on Japanese intellectual property law. HearJapan is the fruit of his hard work.

This is an extremely grassroots-style project, as the creators have personally contacted each and every band whose music is available in order to get the license agreements to make this work. This is a true labor of love, and I really think it’s going to take off!

– Harvey

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