Moving Temples

In Japanese, your temples (the ones on the side of your head, not the religious ones) are called こめかみ (komekami).

Before you jump off to another blog… wait… This is actually pretty interesting.

The kanji for こめかみ, which is hardly ever used anymore, is 米噛み. This is the kanji for “rice” 米 and the kanji used in the verb “chew” 噛む.

Next time you hear some word in Japanese that sounds kind of random, look it up in your Japanese-Japanese dictionary. There might be an interesting explanation waiting for you!

And trust me, after you’ve discovered an interesting explanation like this, you’ll never forget the word.

– Harvey

Hoshi Shinichi – Short Shorts


Shinichi Hoshi (星新一) was a Japanese author from Tokyo who lived from 1926 to 1997. He is famous for writing extremely short (4 or 5 pages) science fiction short stories for adults. Many of them have a dark twist to them at the end.

I was introduced three of his stories in the Japanese class that I am auditing now. My two favorite were おーいでてこーい (oi! detekoi! – Hey! Come out of there!), and ボッコちゃん (Bokko-chan) written in 1958.

You can see a video recreation of the おーいでてこーい story on YouTube.

The animated short for ボッコちゃん starts at 6:40 in this video.

There was another story called 約束 (yakusoko – Promise), of which I’m not a huge fan is the first story on that same video clip.

They’re all in Japanese with no subtitles… But the endings are always interesting so I don’t want to spoil anything by giving away the plot.

I wish I could find the full text of his stories online, but I’m not having any luck… If you’re interested, and in Japan, head to a Book-Off or something and grab a copy of his story collections! They’re short, quick, and interesting, so great for learning Japanese!

Other Hoshi Shinichi stuff around the web:
Shinichi Hoshi Official Site
Some foreigners re-enacting Bokko-chan

Are You a Sauce Face or Soy Sauce Face?

Language and culture time on JapanNewbie!

Are you a Sauce Face or a Soy Sauce Face?

In Japanese the expressions 醤油顔 (shouyuu gao) “soy sauce face”, and ソース顔 (sousu gao) “sauce face” are used to describe two different types of faces.

First of all, “sauce” is not just any sauce, it’s the Japanese sauce that is used on okonomiyaki, or croquettes sometimes. The sauce is thick and hearty. Flavorful. It’s deep… It’s called Worcester sauce in English apparently. Here is a definition from my Casio EX-Word.

As you can see it says, 『日本でいう「ソース」はこの「ウスタースース」を指すことが多い』, which means “The ‘sauce’ that we say in Japan usually refers to this Worcester sauce”.

People with sauce faces have deep facial features.

The Japanese singer, Ken Hirai, is about as Sauce Faced as they come.

As for Soy Sauce faces, they’re the opposite of sauce faces. Soy sauce is kind of light, and thin.

People with soy sauce faces have shallow facial features.

Yukie Nakama, the Japanese actress, is pretty soy sauce faced.

As is Tadanobu Asano, the star of “The Mongol”.

So, what are you? Soy sauce? Sauce? Or something else… like Ketchup?

– Harvey

Image-based Japanese Flashcards for your iPod

The JLPT is less than 40 days away now, are those of you who are planning to take it ready? If you need a bit more help cramming vocabulary and kanji, PlaySay might have a solution for you.

Image-Based Flashcard Examples for ANY JPEG capable device are now available. Here are the JLPT 1 images in action on my iPod Touch.

I set up a separate photo album for my JLPT Level 1 Japanese-English flashcards.

Few of the thousands of images that make up the set.

Clicking on some random place to start… we get 打撃

Advance one image and you get the hiragana reading…

Advance again and you get the Kanji, the Hiragana, and the English meaning.

That’s it!*

*The PlaySay flashcards come with 3 folders of images giving you 3 ways to study. The images above show the Japanese-English way. It also comes with the reverse, an English-Japanese way. In addition, it comes with a “complete” set, in which there is only one card per vocabulary item, and they all look like the last image shown there, with the Kanji, Hiragana, and English all on one screen. More on that later.

The concept is incredibly simple. The vocabulary that you need to know (mostly kanji compounds) for the exam are in .jpg images with large font.

You get three folders full of images with your PlaySay Image-based Flashcards Purchase. Both the E-J and J-E folders include 3 images per vocabulary item (exceptions for katakana vocabulary). One image displays the kanji compound, one image displays the kanji and the reading, and another image displays the kanji, the reading, and the meaning in English all together on one image. The third folder contains the “complete” image set, in which a single image has the Kanji compound, the reading, and the English all together. The “complete” set allows you to study using one image per card. Again, when you purchase PlaySay for any JLPT level, you get all three of these folders, which allows you to study anyway you please.

This system is great. Perfect for a quick review anytime and anywhere. The only drawback is that since the images in the J-E and E-J folders are organized by filename, and since you need to have the 3 images (Kanji, Hiragana, Kanji+Hiragana+English) appear consecutively to be useful, there doesn’t seem to be a way to easily shuffle the cards and practice in a random order when using the E-J or J-E sets. However, you can shuffle the “complete” folder set as you like since there is only one image card per vocabulary item.

Having said that, in my experience the sheer volume of vocabulary has made simply beginning on some random card and then progressing through in order more than sufficient… There are just so many vocabulary cards that it feels random anyway. With JLPT1, we’re talking 2,957 individual vocabulary words here… 2,957! That’s a lot of vocab! I also wish the flashcards included example sentences, but hey, that’s what a dictionary is for I guess.

So, if you’ve got a pda-ish device that can display .jpg files, you might want to check these PlaySay Image-based Flashcards out. (They’re near the bottom of the page, after all of the PlaySay audio files, look for “Image-Based Flashcard Examples for ANY JPEG capable device”)

Happy studying!

– Harvey