Plain Talk


Language Connectioni by Elizabeth Reagles

I believe that language brings people together. By learning more languages, you are opening yourself up to new ways to view the world and connect to other people in it. However, the one big problem with languages is that not everyone knows the same ones! Plus, let’s be honest, translating is a hassle! Even if there is a direct translation it often doesn’t cover the cultural meaning that say urban dictionary would give you. Also, don’t even get me started on Google-Translate and other translation apps that lead you astray!

Japanese especially is such an expressive language! Full of emotion, context, and colorful imagery. Due to it’s uniqueness, Japanese has a lot of words and phrases that just don’t translate quite right. One of my favorite examples of this is the word “Mendokusai.” This word roughly translates to annoying. However, it means so much more than this! Depending on the context it can mean anything from “I don’t want to” to “this is so much more effort than it’s worth!” You can back someone up and mean “yes that is so much work!” Or you can complain about an assignment you have been given and say, “I don’t wanna, it’s too much to do!” You can also say the same word different ways. You can be blunt and say the word sharply and quickly for an impactful meaning. Or you can extend out the word over a few seconds to really exaggerate the point. You can be as loud and colorful as you want or oppositely be as cold and condescending as you would like. It is up to you!

Language should fit your personality. I think learning local words and phrases that fit your lifestyle is incremental to fitting in with the local culture and finding your “in group.” One way to go about this is to learn the most commonly used expression words. You could also look in books and do research about specific hobby related words. Both of these methods would work; however, I advocate for learning the most human of phrases - complaints! There is nothing quite like complaining about common anxieties and pain points that just allow you to get along with others! My favorite complaints that start a conversation are: samui (It’s so cold!), tsukareta (I am tired), nemui (I am sleepy), onaka haraheta (my stomach is empty/hungry), and tabetai (I want to eat that). Basically, I like to complain about the weather, my laziness, and how much I like to eat. Luckily for me I am not alone! In Japan the winters are cold, and the summers are very hot and humid. After a long day of work most people are tired and let’s be honest everyone get’s hungry!

One day maybe we will all know the same language. Till then let’s fight on with our language survival skills!

言葉は人の絆を深めると信じている。他の言葉を学ぶと、新たな視線で世界を見つめようと心を開き他の人とのつながりができる。しかし言葉にはひとつ大きな問題があり、それは誰もが同じ言葉を話さないということだ!さらに、正直なところ、翻訳するのは厄介だ。直訳しても、『Urban Dictionary(オンライン俗語辞書)』が教えてくれるような文化的意味まではわからない。それに文句を言えばきりがないが、『Google -Translate』や翻訳アプリでは、途方にくれる!

日本語は特に表現力豊富な言葉だ!感情、文脈、変化に富んだ比喩は多い。他の言葉とは異なるため、日本語には、本当の意味を翻訳できない言葉や言いまわしがいっぱいある。私の好きな言葉は「面倒くさい。」おおざっぱに言えば、うっとうしいという意味だ。しかしそれ以上の意味がある! 言いまわしによって、「したくない」から「苦労の割に得るものが少ない」まである。誰かの手助けをした時に使えば「そうね、本当に苦労が多いわね!」という意味になる。あるいは与えられた仕事に不満を言う時に使うと、「したくない。大変だから!」同じ言葉でいろいろな使い分けができる。ぶっきらぼうな態度でとげとげしく素早く言うと強烈な印象を与える。あるいは数秒かけてゆっくり言うと誇張できる。気分次第で声をあげ、乱暴に言ったりできるし、逆に、よそよそしく上から目線でも使える。どうぞ使ってみて!



Plain Talk


Yasujiro Ozu and Setsuko Hara: Japan's Gloriously Gifted Filmmaking Duo
by Patrick Hattman

Seventy years ago in 1949, Japan was just a few years removed from defeat in World War II. One way for many Japanese to find a respite from the postwar grind of their daily lives was going to the cinema. Two people who helped them find that escape were director Yasujiro Ozu and actress Setsuko Hara. 1949 witnessed the first collaboration between the renowned director and the beloved starlet, and they would team up a total of six times through 1961, producing some of the greatest films in Japanese cinema history.

Ozu was born in 1903 and was captivated by early silent films. He got his start in the movie business in the 1920s and gradually earned positions writing and directing silent films before his first "talkie" in 1936. Hara, born in 1920, got her start in front of the camera as a teenager in 1935. She acted in dozens of movies prior to their first joint effort in 1949 called Late Spring.

In Late Spring, Hara's character is a young woman who seems content living with her widowed father until pressure from him and others persuades her to marry. In 1951 they made Early Summer. Again Hara was cast in a role about who to marry, and the film delves into the changing attitudes of young people either choosing their marriage partner or having nuptials arranged for them. Hara went on to play various family roles in her other movies with Ozu: Tokyo Story, Tokyo Twilight, Late Autumn and the End of Summer.

For all the combined box office success of their six films, one movie stands out from the rest: Tokyo Story in 1953. The film's plot involves an elderly couple from western Japan traveling to Tokyo to see their children and grandchildren. What they find there, though, are family members focused on their careers, and the presence of the parents is sadly a distraction. The notable exception is their daughter-in-law, played by Hara, who was widowed during the war. She is devoted to them and does the most, especially when her mother-in-law dies at the end of the story.

I highly recommend Tokyo Story not only for its obvious merits as a jewel of cinematic production, but also for its exploration of the reality of the passage of time, and how we all must accept the changes that accompany it, particularly in family life.

Tokyo Fab



Tokyo Voice Column


What Did One Sakura Petal Say to the Other Sakura Petal? by Curt

“Oh, these paparazzi are such a bore! Why can’t they get enough of us?”

“Enjoy it! You’re only young once!”

“But all the close-ups! So tedious! Always having to keep the right angle, the right color, doesn’t it tire you?” “No, I just smile. A smile’s always beautiful.”

“Oh, here comes that ol’ windbag again. Hold-on!” “Mmm . . . nice breeze.”

“I’ve been feeling rather sickly lately.”

“I’ve felt a little weak myself. Like my muscles are softening or something.”

“Stress! Stress! It’s from the stress of those cameras! Click! Click! Flash! Never ending!” “Relax. Life’s too short to stress the small stuff.”

“Are we any different than the other million petals on the tree?” “Actually, yes.”

“Are we any different than the other million petals for the last thousand years?”

“Yeah, like snow flakes, each one of us is unique, one-of-a-kind, pretty cool, huh?”

“And my color! I feel like its fading lately!” “Natural.”

“I’ve been trying to get that noisy crow to drop some fuchsia on me.” “Really?”

“But he just laughs, ‘Ha! Ha!’ Always, ‘Ha! Ha!’ So irritating. So humiliating!”

“Maybe he’s busy finding worms for his nest of chicks.”

“‘Brood of vipers!’ Ohhh—that wind again! So soon! Can’t he leave us alone either?”

“Only a moment.” “So rude!” “Feels kind of nice. Listen! Is he whispering?”

“I feel weaker by the moment. Is he getting stronger?”

“No, I think it’s us. Wait. What’s he saying?”

“‘Us?’” “Yeah, look around . . . No, down.” “What? Is it so? My God--”

“Afraid so. Well, not ‘afraid,’ really.” “I refuse to submit to such an inglorious ending.”

“It’s a beautiful cycle. A perfect circle.” “It certainly is not. Well, maybe for you.”

“But, yeah, such a beautifully small circle . . . ring . . .”

“My circles are ever-widening, like a pebble dropped into the ocean.”

“. . .maybe that’s what makes it so beautiful. Ocean? Here he comes again.”

“Ohhhh—I can’t hold-on! Save me!”

“Just let go. See--”


Who am I?

A 'human pup' who says he has never felt like a man eats his meals out of a dog bowl, wears a dog mask and often barks at, licks and bites friends. Kaz James, 37, claims he's felt like a dog since childhood and says he always felt 'weird' and unable to relate to others before finally allowing his pup persona to shine through in his late teens. The store manager, from Salford, Greater Manchester, has had help from an online 'pup play' community and open-minded friends to transition from part-time pooch to confident canine. Outside of work he can be found in customized rubber outfits, masks, dog leads, harnesses and even a bespoke £2,000 fur suit. After a long day's work or going out socializing Kaz loves nothing more than relaxing at home and eating meals out of his dog bowl. He continued: "I feel a sense of peace being a human pup.

I know who I am!

Cats can recognize their own names but just chose not to listen to their owners, researchers claim. The study by Sophia University in Japan showed felines responded by moving their heads or twitching an ear when their names were read out among three other words of a similar length. And no reaction was spotted after the other words were spoken. Previous research has highlighted how other animals, including dogs, dolphins and parrots can too show some understanding of human vocalizations. But until now, there has been no scientific evidence to suggest felines can show such understanding. The experiment involved 78 cats in homes and "cat cafés" in Japan.


50 Shades of Yikess