Jan 31, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Effort and Providence


Jinji wo tsukushite tenmei wo matsu

Meaning of Japanese:
Do your best and leave the rest to fate

English equivalents:
Use the means and God will give the blessing

Jan 30, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Workers, unite!


Hitosuji no ya ha oru beshi tosuji no ya ha ori gatashi

Meaning of Japanese:
A single arrow is easy to break, but try ten arrows at once

English equivalents:
Strength in numbers
In union is strength
United we stand, divided we fall
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately

Jan 29, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Osmosis and affect


Aona ni shio

Meaning of Japanese:
Like greens succumbed to salt

English equivalents:
To have a face as long as a fiddle
To seem lifeless and depressed
Have the wind taken out of one's sails

Jan 27, 2005

This Valentines Day, say it with bean sprouts

BBC reports that Tomy and Takara have both developed a novel medium for communicating feelings - bean plants which sprout to reveal one of six messages pre-inscribed by laser.
Tomy's offering features beans set in a white egg which "hatch" soon after they are put in water. The plants have a message in French on one side, and a message in Japanese on the other.

"You can have the fun of fortune telling, as you don't know what message will come out until the bean sprouts," Tomy told AFP.

Click the gif to visit Tomy's (Japanese) Mamederumon page

Tomy's products have graced the pages of dailysoy before, when the Flip-Flap was released. Looks like they aim to outdo themselves in the cute department once again.

Jan 26, 2005

We have visa

After months of garbled communications via FAX and contradictory instructions on completing the reams of necessary documentation, Rie is now a soon-to-be immigrant. We had our interview at the embassy on Monday, I waited an hour in the cold today before passing through outer-gate security, and now the immigrant visa is ours. Or hers.

Considering all the hassles along the way, the process monday was relatively painless. The staff was also fairly friendly, although the consular officer for our case amused us by munching on snacks through the entire interview - a little slice of American office decorum in Japan.

Not everyone was as lucky as us, though. One couple was sent home because the visa applicant, a non-Japanese, had let her Japan visa expire and is thus already of illegal status. Oops. Other couples were called up to revise paperwork several times. Ours was a cakewalk in comparison.

Oh, I almost forgot. We did run into a little trouble on monday.

Rie brought her requisite two passport photos uncut from the photo sheet, since no prior instructions were given to separate them. So when they tell us the pics need to be cut, she found a kind, if somewhat frazzled, Japanese staff member to locate some scissors for us. Once the deed was done, I sauntered over to the locked security booth from whence came the borrowed scissors and held them up to the window to indicate "We're finished!" The guard inside points me in the opposite direction, so I returned to our seat and asked Rie for her interpretation of the signal.

Literally seconds later, a pair of camouflage pantlegs materialize at the right edge of my visual field. I look up to find a U.S. Marine - cap positioned snugly at eyebrow level - staring down at me. "What are you doing there?" He must have asked me something like that with an insinuating glance toward the scissors potential tool of death, because I responded that we had borrowed the implement for the express purpose of trimming passport photos. "What, are you guys travel agents?" he asked next. Not yet aware that window #10 was labeled "Travel Agents," this question struck me as completely goofy. "No, we're here for the same reason as everyone else," I told him, and waited for the next question. The marine turned around and left without another word.

So now we're basically set to go. No date fixed yet, but expect us back in the states in April.

Random pic #11: Worth its weight in gold

Block of maguro being cut in the Tsukiji market by what looks more like a sword than a knife. Once three or four good-sized chunks had been lined up on the table, the men wrapped them in plain newsprint and whisked them away. At some point one of these guys mentioned a price of 6,000,000 yen (~US$58,000), which I guess would be for the whole tuna.
Note upward-gazing head in the background.

Kotowaza of the day: Why freedom is "hard work"


Enryo nakereba kinyuu ari

Meaning of Japanese:
He who does not pause to consider what is distant (future consequences) shall find sorrow near at hand

English equivalents:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Forewarned is forearmed
Look before you leap

Jan 24, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Some for the late bird


Nokorimono ni fuku ga aru

Meaning of Japanese:
There is luck (happiness) to be found in leftovers

English equivalents:
Good things come to those who wait
Sometimes the lees are better than the wine

Jan 23, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: On minding one's own business


Yabu wo tsutsuite hebi wo dasu

Meaning of Japanese:
By poking at a thicket (bush) you will drive out a snake

English equivalents:
Let sleeping dogs lie
Wake not a sleeping lion
Leave well enough alone

Open up a (whole) can of worms

Jan 21, 2005

Inaugural has worldwide audience

CSM provides a sampling of some foreign media reactions to Bush's inaugural speech. Excerpts:
"Critics who were hoping that he would get mired in detail about Iraq were mistaken. Instead he went back to basics, reaching out to the belief of most Americans in the fundamental importance of freedom and using that to explain his policies at home and abroad. At times it sounded more like a sermon than a speech. Mr. Bush may not be much of a speaker. But sometimes the message is more important than eloquence and what he had to say yesterday had the power of real conviction." – Irish Independent


Offering a decidedly different and longer view of history, China's official newspaper, People's Daily warned against American historical intent:

"No banquet under the sun will last forever. After the firework fades away Washington is still under a dark sky. The sole superpower sends a sense of inauspiciousness to the world when it's president is inaugurated under wartime security standards: America, where [are] you heading?

... Judging from Bush's inauguration theme in 2005, being morally conceited and militarily aggressive are two major elements of American nationalism."

In related news, Giblets addresses the nation in Freedom is Like a Woman. While you're there, be sure to scope the comments for poems by Revs. Blotho Udge and Blutho Odge.

Kotowaza of the day: Life before credit cards


Futokoro to soudan

Meaning of Japanese:
Consult your wallet/purse before making a purchase
To not live beyond one's means

English equivalents:
Cut your coat according to your cloth

You know you're Japanese when...

you step outside on a cloudy day and open your umbrella like everyone else... even though it's not raining.

Jan 19, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: nature trumps nurture*


Mitsugo no tamashii hyaku made

Meaning of Japanese:
What a child learns at three is unforgotten for 100 years

English equivalents:
What is learned in the cradle is carried to the grave
The child is the father of the man
A leopard cannot change its spots

nature = (inherited Nature) + ((imprint) + (early vital character-shaping experiences))
nurture = enculturation, socialization, and all other subsequent attempts to change nature

These are definitions tailor-made for this post and this post only. Please to not confuse with classic nature v. nurture debate.

Random pic #10: Ukiyoe

Series of woodblocks involved in producing an Ukiyoe. Above each woodblock is its corresponding monochrome print, and above those are prints showing the cumulative effect (R-L) to that point. On display at the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Jan 17, 2005


Students for an Orwellian Society
Because 2005 is 21 years too late.

(another treat via Bifurcated Rivets)

Kotowaza of the day: Be the ball


Ja no michi wa hebi

Meaning of Japanese:
Snakes follow the way of serpents

English equivalents:
Set a thief to catch a thief
It takes one to know one
An old poacher makes the best gamekeeper

Jan 16, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Drink, drank,... dunk


Kaichuu yori haichuu ni dekishi suru mono oushi

Meaning of Japanese:
More have drowned in their cups than in the sea

English equivalents:
Bacchus has drowned more men than Neptune

Random pic #9: Keep our city clean

A small concrete public manners reminder along busy Yasukuni Street in Shinjuku. Embedded in a strip of green where a pedestrian crossing cuts through a median, it reads: "If you're going to spit, do it on the grass (not the street)."

You know you're Japanese when...

you can finish an entire meal without taking even a sip of something to drink.

Jan 14, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Calm acceptance


Taikai wa akuta wo erabazu

Meaning of Japanese:
The sea does not select the rubbish that flows therein

English equivalents:
The sea refuses no river
No sin is too great to forgive

Jan 13, 2005

Remember where you came from (a rant)

The Mexican government last month began distributing a booklet titled Guia del Migrante Mexicano, or Guide for the Mexican Migrant. This isn't their first such publication, but it is novel, apparently, in its comic book format.

I don't know if this is big news in the U.S. or not; it would have completely escaped our attention here if not for a small page 5 article in yesterday's paper. But to this humble observer it just looks like an effort to protect those people who are tempted to make a potentially deadly border crossing. The Arizona Republic reports that immigration-control groups are, predictably, up-in-arms over the publication:
"This is more than just a wink and a nod," said Rick Oltman, Western field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "This is so transparent, this is the Mexican government trying to protect its most valuable export, which is illegal migrants."
Said John Vincent, editor of a newsletter published by Virginia-based Americans for Immigration Control: "It really looks like the Mexican government is encouraging illegal immigration. It shows the contempt that the Mexican government has for our laws."
At least one Border Patrol spokesman has his head screwed on right:
"If they've already gone ahead and made that decision to cross illegally . . . then anything that helps protect lives is worth it," said Andy Adame, spokesman for the Border Patrol's Tucson sector.

A quick Googling of the English title reveals a lot of bile and blather, starting with this bizarro racist site. They even go so far as to label the effort an "invasion," or tantamount to a declaration of war.

War? Contempt for laws ostensibly in the interest of public safety? The irony here is so thick I can barely breathe.

What these clowns seem to be forgetting is that ALL Americans - except those, of course, with Native or First Nations lineage - are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. We enjoy our exceptionally high national level of material comfort precisely because we accept immigrants and let them do the hard dirty work we won't touch.

Like to eat? Who do you think harvests and handles the produce that finds its way to your table? Enjoy the occasional steak? I challenge you to find a WASP (managers don't count) on the killing floors of America's slaughterhouses. The trains that carry all our stuff across the country? The Transcontinental was completed only with the help of thousands of Chinese laborers.

There seems to be a lot of hatred and bloodlust in post-9/11 America. But there's gotta be a more reasonable scapegoat than "Fur'ners."

Word up

The Rap Dictionary, "the oldest and ultimate resource for looking up hip-hop slang," has gone wik-wik-Wiki! Kinda slow-loading right now, so when only the background was up I thought Wikipedia had commandeered my browser.

Kotowaza of the day: Insensitive self-pleasure


Ware omoshiro no hito komarase

Meaning of Japanese:
To enjoy (entertain) oneself at the sacrifice (expense) of others

English equivalents:
To fiddle while Rome is burning

Jan 12, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Those sounds in the basement


En no shita no chikara-mochi

Meaning of Japanese:
One who labors unnoticed beneath the floor

English equivalents:
To work behind the scenes
One who pulls the strings
Perform a thankless, unrewarded task

Jan 10, 2005

Random pic #8: Fruit freak show

Captured at an exotic fruit retailer in Shibuya. Okay, so this pic isn't timely in the slightest and most of us have probably seen similar photos already. But it's one of my favorites. And with all the toxic train wrecks and natural disaster action going on lately, I thought it would be nice to focus on some tasty - not to mention space-saving - results of human genius.

Note the 50-yen mini pineapple toward the lower right. Quite a deal compared with the square watermelon's 12,000 yen price tag!

Kotowaza of the day: Soft'n'fluffy v. Cold'n'prickly


Mawata ni hari wo tsutsumu

Meaning of Japanese:
Like hiding a pin in floss silk

English equivalents:
A saint abroad and a devil at home
A wolf in sheep's clothing

Jan 8, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Just ask the sadomasochist

楽は苦の種 苦は楽の種

Raku wa ku no tane, ku wa raku no tane

Meaning of Japanese:
Pleasure is the seed of suffering, and suffering the seed of pleasure
Pain is born of pleasure; pleasure is born of pain

English equivalents:
No pleasure without pain
No pain no gain
Sweet is pleasure after pain
No rose without a thorn