Sugoi! Where is that word from anyway?

One of the first words any student of Japanese will learn after encountering an actual Japanese person is ‘sugoi.’ すごい. Yes, Sugoi. One of the most overused words in the entire Japanese language. Probably.

“Sugoi” as used by modern Japanese means: Awesome! Cool! Amazing! That’s great! Fabulous! Incredible! Wonderful!

When using Kanji sugoi is written as 凄い but it’s often written only in Hiragana. The Kanji carries the real meaning of the word. So, what other words use this 凄 character?

凄まじい すさまじい susamajii | terrific; fierce; terrible; tremendous; dreadful; awful; amazing; absurd; cutthroat; intense;

凄惨な せいさんな seisanna | ghastly; gruesome; appalling; lurid

So you can see that this word has the connotation of something so sugoi that it’s terrifying. I’m not sure when Japanese started using sugoi as often as they do now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the original use wasn’t in a positive context at all.

Anyone else know?

Modern fancy Japanese also occasionally write sugoi using some katakana… スゴい!

Check the online ALC dictionary for even more examples of this character 凄.

Mingus Coffee in Sapporo

Fancy hipster jazz coffee shop in Sapporo!

Mingus Coffee has excellent and strong coffee, yummy cakes, and traditional jazz playing on vinyl to keep spirits up. It’s also located in the center of the city close to Sapporo TV Tower so you can stop by after doing some sightseeing.

Mingus Coffee is a smoker-friendly environment, so there’s that. When we were there on a Monday morning there were no other customers, so we didn’t have an issue with smoke. At other times you may be enjoying some second-hand smoke with your coffee, but hey, that’s usual in Japan.

The shop has a nice rustic look with old cameras, jazz record jackets, and coffee equipment filling out the scene. There are window seats though they don’t offer much of a view. The coffee menu is straight forward, but has the nice touch of having the strong coffee options clearly labeled “strong” (though in Japanese only). So if you like your coffee with a kick you can be sure to find something you like.


Google Maps will get you there. Here’s the address.

Mingus Coffee
1 Minami 1-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku
Osawa Bldg. 7F, Sapporo 060-0061

住所:北海道札幌市中央区南1条西1 大沢ビル 7F
最寄駅:地下鉄「大通」駅32番出口より 徒歩1分
営業時間:09:00~24:00 (Open from 9-midnight)
定休日:不定休 (No regular holidays)
公式HP:なし (No official website)

Mingus Coffee around the web:
This site claims that Mingus Coffee is one of the best coffee shops in Sapporo as ranked by locals.

This site seems to suggest that Mingus Coffee has terrace seating. I can’t verify as I was there in the dead of winter and sitting outside was the last thing on my mind.

I store all my photos on Smugmug.

Off to Yokohama

On December 16th, 1941, just about one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, this American song was recorded.

“Good bye Mama I’m Off To Yokohama”

Goodbye mama I’m off to Yokohama For the red, white, and blue My country and you. Goodbye mama I’m off to Yokohama Just to teach all those Japs The Yanks are no saps A million fightin’ sons-of-Uncle Sam, if you please Will soon have all those Japs right down on their Japa-knees So goodbye mama I’m off to Yokohama For my country, my flag, and you. Say Goodbye to mama. You’re off to Yokohama. So be brave and be strong, You won’t be gone long. Say bye-bye mama, The land of Yama-Yama, Until April, I guess, Will be your address. On Christmas Eve when dad and I are trimming the tree, You’ll do your share of trimming out on land and on sea. Say goodbye to mama, You’re off to Yokohama, For your country, your flag and me. Goodbye mama, I’m off to Yokohama For the red, white, and blue, My country and you. Goodbye mama, I’m off to Yokohama Just to teach all those Japs The Yanks are no saps. A million fightin’ sons-of-Uncle Sam, if you please Will soon have all those Japs right down on their Japa-knees. Goodbye mama, I’m off to Yokohama, For my country, my flag, and you.

Here is an image of the actual record. More info on this site.



Hokkaido Shrine in Winter

It’s -3°C here in Sapporo! The locals tell me it’s usually colder.

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It’s not even “real” winter yet here in Hokkaido. Whenever I get into a cab the driver inevitably tells me that last year there was three times as much snow on the ground this time of year. Regardless, it’s cold, and there’s a lot of snow. Pretty though right?

Most of the people around Hokkaido Shrine this month are either Japanese going for their New Year visit, or tourists from Asia.

If you find yourself in Sapporo, Hokkaido Shrine is definitely worth the visit. It’s the biggest Shrine in Hokkaido and very beautiful. Here are some photos from today! Notice the icicles hanging off of everything and how thick the snow is piled up. Brrr!

I use SmugMug to store my photos!

Shiroi Koibito Park in Sapporo

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter you may have noticed that I’ve bene living in Sapporo for the past few months. Well, we had some friends in town so we decided to visit Shiroi Koibito Park, a theme park built around the famous Shiroi Koibito biscuits that are Sapporo’s most well-known souvenir.

Shiroi Koibito Park was much more interesting than I expected. Then again, my expectations were pretty low because I tend not to like commercial theme parks…

For my friends and family, which included a six-year old and a three-year old, the highlights were…

Making your own Shiroi Koibito Cookies!
You can sign up to make your own Shiroi Koibito snack! You get to wear a bakers cap and work with the staff to make a cookie. At the end you even get to package your cookie in the real Shiroi Koibito packaging. Pretty cool!

Factory Peeping
You can also view the Shiroi Koibito factory in action from above. This is probably the most interesting thing for adults at the park.

白い恋人 factory

A video posted by Jnewbie (@japannewbie) on

Candy Labo Candy Maker Peeping
You can also watch the candy makers at Candy Labo do their thing. The candy-making process is pretty showy so our kids had a great time.


A video posted by Jnewbie (@japannewbie) on

Making candy at Sapporo 白い恋人パーク

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Otherwise the Park is okay. A visit will probably take about three hours if you participate in the Shiroi Koibito making activities. There were a lot of foreign tourists there when we visited on a Saturday in January, so I expect that most of the staff are probably English ready. If you’re in Sapporo with a some extra time on a wet day you might consider a visit to Shiroi Koibito Park!

They also have Clione. Why.


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