Book: Guin Saga Vol.130

This is the final volume of Guin Saga, entitled “A Fathomless Future”.

I’ve read 130 volumes of this story, and the final book doesn’t have an ending because the author died before she finished it. Even so, the story seems to continue.

Valerius, the chancellor of Parros kingdom, says in the book; “The Middle Land may be about to go into very difficult times.”

There is a lot of foreshadowing. I really want to read the rest of the story, but I can’t.

Will Istavan be able to meet his son? Will the son have family troubles with his half-brother? Will he inherit Istavan’s kingdom in the future? What will happen to Rosalie? What about Rinda? Who will be the heir of Guin’s kingdom? What will happen to Octavia? Above all, what is Guin’s real identity? Where is he from!?

The story suddenly ended in the middle of the story. Do I have to imagine the rest of it by myself?

Thank you.

Koir, thanks as always.


When will you have fun?

I used to go to an English conversation school. One of the teachers there had started learning Karate, using the same style I had learned. The coaches that taught me were also teaching him.

He said he would be competing in a Karate tournament, but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to go to see the matches. So the next day, I asked him how he did.

His story was that one of his coaches told him not to enter because there were too many fighters. I don’t know the details. Anyway, he was not able to fight in the tournament.

What surprised me was his words: “They should change the system of the tournament. They now choose the opponents by lot, so sometimes beginners fight advanced students. If beginners fight between beginners, they will have a lot of fun. They can reasonably expect to win.”

I was astonished. “They will have FUN?”

Indeed, in the first-round, most beginners fight against advanced students and lose.

However, nobody had ever thought as he did. Japanese people think that if you want to win, you need to become strong. It would take about three or four years, and it’s not surprising. Try hard! In addition, I say that nobody has ever said they had fun or wanted to have fun in the Karate school. They only wanted to be strong.

Now I know this seems to be a Japanese way of thinking, and foreign people wouldn’t agree.

Still, Karate is not a sport. I can’t call Karate fighters “players”. Am I too serious?

Thank you.
Koir, thanks as always.


A villa of Mito Kohmon

Mito Kohmon’s real name was Tokugawa Mitsukuni (July 11, 1628 - January 14, 1701). He was a famous territory lord during the Edo era, and many TV dramas have been made using the “Mito Kohmon” name. As a result, almost all Japanese know about him.

I went on a trip to Ibaraki prefecture and saw his villa last Sunday. He lived there after he retired, and eventually wrote a history book. The villa has a large, beautiful garden and receives many visitors each year.

When I was a kid, children were always joking about Kohmon because the word has the same pronunciation as “school gate” and “anus”. Kids must still make this corny joke even now.

Thank you.




Koir, thanks!


A University Entrance Examination

I think many of your schools start in September every year, while Japanese schools start in April.

The Japanese school system is six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of high school, then two or four years of university.

Many foreign countries seem to have many options to finish schools, while we only have the 6-3-3 system in Japan.

Just after I graduated high school, I entered a pharmaceutical school. Normally, you would complete university training then enroll in a professional school in your country, right? You can take time to decide your profession which seems very convenient.

However, students in Japan need to decide before they're seventeen whether to become a doctor, pharmacist, lawyer, or another profession. I took an entrance examination for pharmaceutical school when I was seventeen. The school was one department of a university where they taught medicine and other fields of study typical for Western universities.

When I worked as a pharmacist, one of the office women said to me, “You decided to become a pharmacist when you were 15 or 16 years old, didn’t you?”

She was right. I decided when I was 16 and started preparing for the exam. Japanese universities and professional schools are hard to enter, but many of them are easy to graduate.

She said, “I can’t believe that! I didn’t imagine anything about my future when I was 16! I wish I did. If I have done that, I could have gotten a better job and salary!”

How old were you when you decided your occupation?

By the way, this is when I had the entrance exam. I didn’t know a certain English word in the English examination. The word was “pub”.

I have been to some pubs in Ireland now, but normal Japanese 17 year students don’t know what “pub” is! What do you think?

Thank you!


Koir, thanks for helping as always.


She said, “I feel queasy.”

Years ago, when I had just started working in the pharmaceutical department of a hospital, the senior nurse came into the pharmacy and said, “I feel queasy”.

Hearing that, you would think that she was suffering from nausea, wouldn’t you?

Well, she said it in Japanese, and the words she used were “mukamuka suru.” That means both “I feel sick to my stomach” and “I feel offended”, so I first thought she had had some sort of conflict.

I said, “What’s up?”which meant “I’m prepared to listen about your worries.”

She didn’t realize I was misunderstanding her, and kept repeating “I feel queasy.” for several minutes. I waited for her to confide in me. Then she said, “E ga itai.”

I was in a crisis! “Itai” means “have a pain”, but I didn’t know what “e” was. I thought it must have been a part of a human body I didn't know about.

“I should have studied harder!” I regretted my lack of knowledge since earlier I had mistook “nose bleeding” for “a small amount of bleeding” during a phone call from a paramedic. (Both words have the same pronunciation in Japanese medical terms.)

I said, “Which part?” with some hesitation. She repeated “E ga itai” for about 20 minutes.

And then, she told me that she had eaten too much. I finally realized what she was saying.

“You have a pain in your stomach?”

She angrily looked at me. Her eyes seemed to be saying “How many times do I have to tell you?”

However, “stomach” is “i”. Not “e”. Never!

She just wanted some stomach medicine.

Afterwards, I found out the senior nurse was famous for her dialect. Many people had problems understanding what she would say. This made me wonder how possible it was that she was unaware of her dialect and how it confused people, but I didn’t have the guts to ask her.

Thank you!

Koir, thanks as always.


Music : TAKE Heart~Tobitate heiwano hatoyo~ by Yukio Hatoyama

Yukio Hatoyama is the Prime Minister of Japan. He recorded this song in 1988, and released it last month. The lyrics are as follows; “Take heart. Let’s live together looking forward a better tomorrow, pursuing liberty and peace.”

He often speaks about the spirit of “yuuai”. My English-Japanese dictionary says that “yuuai” means “fraternity”, and an online English dictionary says that “fraternity” has the following meanings:

1 : a group of people associated or formally organized for a common purpose, interest, or pleasure

2 : the quality or state of being brothers

3 : persons of the same class, profession, character, or tastes

However, the Japanese word “yuuai” doesn’t mean such a group, quality or people. Instead, the word means “friendship and love”. I believe when Mr. Hatoyama says “yuuai”, it also means “Everybody lives at peace”.

His name “Hatoyama” means “pigeon mountain" (hato means pigeon, yama means mountain), and a white pigeon is the symbol of peace. So I think his deeper feeling is that he should pursue world peace, as his name contains the symbol for peace.

Thank you.


Koir, thanks for helping as always.


Book : Guin Saga Vol.129

This is the latest volume of Guin Saga, entitled “The Child Chosen”.

This is what Skarr (the second son of the Arugosu’s king) said:

"You say that we, who are at the mercy of the gods, try to escape fate desperately to survive or try to achieve our ambitions while, all around us but just out of sight, necromancers and strange monsters who came from nowhere are struggling for power to dominate the whole world?"

The storyline seems to be becoming a magic and monster story. I prefer human stories to stories about magic or monsters. If a powerful wizard appears, settles wars and saves people in the end, the story is absurd.

I believe that telling a wizard story is difficult because the author must decide what a powerful wizard can’t do. If there are many almighty wizards, regular people are useless. The author of Guin Saga might have known this and therefore made Skarr speak the lines above.

The problem is that the author has died. Who can take over the world’s longest great story?

Thank you.


Farewell Party

I gave a farewell party for one of my friends from belly dancing class.She is going to Kobe, which is very far from Kawasaki. I will be missing her. When I belly danced for the first time at the belly dancing party, she danced with me. It was very fun to practice together, and to talk about the costumes for the party.
We were sad to say goodbye, so we took many pictures with her just before she left us.I wish she lives in happiness in Kobe.

Thank you.

This is the restaurant where we held the party.

Koir, Columbine and DougLewis, thank you for helping.


Ise Grand Shrine

I went to Ise Grand Shrine last week. Ise Grand Shrine is the headquarters of approximately 80,000 shrines, and the most traditional site in Japan.

The Ise Grand Shrine has two distinctions. One of them is that the shrine has two gods.

There are 125 shrines within Ise Grand Shrine, and the two main shrines each house a major god (not saints). The names are “Amaterasu-oomikami” and “Toyoukeno-ookami”. “Amaterasu-oomikami” is said to be one of ancestors of Tennoh(Emperor of Japan) and the Imperial Household of Japan.

The other distinction is that the two main shrine buildings and the gate bridge are rebuilt every 20 years.

You would think a very traditional shrine would be old and huge. However, Japanese people believe that gods would like to live in new houses. We think gods lives in the shrines, not in Heaven Above. So we can’t take pictures near the buildings. (I took the picture shown above at the foot of the stairs in front of the building.)

Another reason for rebuilding is the architectural style known as Shinmeizukuri. That means the building doesn’t have groundwork. Ise Grand Shrine is the one and only shrine built in this style.

When I entered the gate of the shrine, it started raining. I walked about 20 minutes to get to one of the main buildings in the downpour. I thought gods might dislike me.

Thank you.



Yokozuna is in the highest position in the sumo world. Yokozuna Asashoryu won in the Akibasho(Autumn Tournament). He displayed a sign of pleasure with his fists in the air when he won the last match. This kind of behavior is a problem in the eyes of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council.
They say that Yokozuna should not behave like that. I agree with them. I believe a Japanese sumo wrestler would not do that. Asashoryu is from Mongolia, so he does not have Japanese feelings or sensitivity.
I used to do Karate, and I had never behaved like that when I won. Showing your pleasure is rude when you win a Japanese traditional match. If he was a soccer player, there would not have been any problems.
However, some people approve of his behavior. They say Asashoryu is exciting, and that we need to accept foreign manners when non-Japanese are involved. These days, judoists display their pleasure when they win in the Olympics or similar matches, and there are many foreign judoists in the world.
Should we change our culture? I don’t think so, but I need to accept the possibility. Still, I don't like seeing people showing their pleasure when they win in Japanese traditional matches.
Do you understand what I feel?


We are entering the realm of the unknown.

Yukio Hatoyama took office as prime minister, and gave his inaugural address on September 16th. “We are entering the realm of the unknown” was a part of his speech.

He promised to reduce bureaucratic meddling in politics, eliminate the practice of wasting tax revenue, and to make the best effort with a sense of responsibility.He did acknowledge “we might fail through a trial and error process”. It was then that he said “We are entering the realm of the unknown.”, and asked for people to be tolerant.

This would be an odd thing to hear, right? This is the Japanese way of speaking. I believe The President of the U.S. would not speak in this way.

Some Japanese people don’t like a person who displays any confidence when beginning something. For example, a Japanese person new to a company would say he or she has no knowledge, needs help, and is not confident even if he or she knows the business well and is confident. If you say you are full of confidence when you are new, you arouse ill feeling.

Despite that, I believe he went too far by saying “we might fail”.

Thank you.

This is the inaugural address in Japanese. Sorry, we don’t have it in English.

This is an article about Yukio Hatoyama.
Koir, snbzk. Thanks for helping.


‘A Dress Shirt’ has become ‘a Y-Shirt’ in Japan

We call a "dress" shirt a "Y-shirt" in Japan.

By the end of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), people had begun wearing dress shirts. At that time, dress shirts were only available in white, so they were called “white shirts”.

However, the word “white” was indecipherable as a word to Japanese speakers, to whom it sounded like the letter “Y”.

Many Japanese people have trouble with spoken English; the Japanese language has many vowels which makes hearing consonant sounds difficult. To illustrate this point, Japanese speakers refer to “white" as “howaito” (white=ホワイト) in romaji.

By the Taisho era (1912-26), people began referring to white dress shirts “Y-shirts”.

Even though many colors of dress shirts are available now, we still call them Y-shirts. In Japanese, it’s “waishatsu".

Here is a song named “Heya to Y shirts to watashi” (or “Our Room, Your Dress Shirts and Me").http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUBAUVg5Kxs

Thank you.

Koir, Naoko, thank you for helping.


To Praise the Members of Your Family

You are not expected to praise the members of your family when speaking or writing in Japanese. However, this seems to be a little difficult to understand for some American people. (I don’t know about people from other countries.)

One of my American friends had begun studying Japanese. He wrote me something in Japanese, and he kept calling his wife beautiful. This sounded very strange to me.

In Japanese, we speak about our own family in a modest way. If you praise them, you sound sort of rude.

When I warned him not to praise his wife, he insisted that was his choice and writing style.

He didn’t understand that he should use the Japanese style when speaking in Japanese, as learning any foreign language is connected to learning the foreign culture. He eventually gave up studying the Japanese language.

Nevertheless, many young people read Japanese manga and know much about Japanese culture from them. I believe this is a great thing. Studying Japanese may be easier for them.

Thank you.

Nagoyankee, thanks for the first sentence.
Koir, thanks for the great revision.
Snbzk, thank you for telling the grammar.


Election Day

I went and voted today.

Japan has been under the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) regime since 1994. They have issued too many government bonds, and collapsed the social insurance and pension systems.

Now, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is trying to take over. They promise to revive the deeply troubled economy.

Both parties say they will do things successfully, so I have got leaflets of their political views.

The contents seem to be almost the same. My focus is on the appearances of the leaflets themselves.

The DPJ is a paper folded in the middle, and contains four pages. It doesn’t look too expensive, and the four pages are enough to know what they will do. It appears to show an efficient spending of money.

On the other hand, The LDP’s leaflet has 20 pages including the cover. The paper quality is better than the DPJ’s so initial impression is good.

However, the contents were not easily understandable or clear. The same descriptions are repeated on multiple pages. Also, there is no table of contents. I needed a lot of time to understand the ideas the leaflet presented. I judged that this was a waste of paper and money. This, to me, means that the LDP will be unable to quit their wasteful use of tax revenue. They don’t seem to be smart.

It’s 1:30 pm, August 30, 2009. The result of the vote will be announced tonight.

Thank you.

P.S. The picture shown is of the place where I voted.
Koir, Orochitachi, thanks for helping.



Last night I went to a summer festival at a shrine. There were many roten and yatai, which are small mobile shops.

Yatai generally means a small mobile shop, a definition that includes roten. However, yatai and roten offer different things. Yatai offers different kinds of food, we think of shops selling food. Roten, on the other hand, offer toys, willow baskets, goldfish scooping or ring toss. The picture shown is of a shooting game roten.

Rumor has it that yatai and roten are affiliated with gangs. The people selling things at yatai have a certain hierarchy: the higher-ranked people cook difficult dishes such as “okonomiyaki” and “yakisoba”. The lower-ranked people cook simpler food like baked corns. (Which, as you may have guessed, only need to be baked.) The highest-ranked people normally don't sell anything, but instead patrol the area and prevent fights. Nobody would start fighting knowing the scary people are walking around.


Guin Saga Vol.128

This is the latest volume of Guin Saga, entitled “Secrets behind the Sacred Shrine”.

Chief of Staff Yona of the Parros kingdom travels to Yaga, the holy land of the Miroku religion. He is secretly investigating the religious community. Yona discovers the people of Yaga are brainwashed as though they are puppets on wires. The magus assigned to protecting Yona is burned in a magic fire. To make matters worse, the community is enforcing a law making it illegal to leave Yaga once they enter.

I really want to know the future of Istavan’s sons! I think I need to wait about 100 volumes, but there isn’t any information about the new author continuing the series. (The original author, Kaoru Kurimoto, died in May.) Istavan has two sons: he has never seen one of them. I’m dying to know if they will lead their countries to war with each other in the future!

Koir, snbzk and ANegative, thank you for correcting my English!


Fireworks Display

Every August 15, there is a fireworks display held close to where I live. I watched and enjoyed it again this year.

In the Edo era, people used to shout “Kagiya” and “Tamaya” while watching fireworks displays. Kagiya was the oldest fireworks maker in Japan, and Tamaya was the second. They would alternate their fireworks displays on the banks of a river. Kagiya was in the lower course of a river, and Tamaya was in the upper. People would shout the makers’ names in admiration.

In 1843, the Tamaya Company burned itself and the half of the town in an accidental fire. In those days, such a thing was a felony charge. As a result, the government put an end to the company and took all its assets. The master of Tamaya, Ichibee, was banished.

Kagiya still exists, and their master is the fifteenth-generation now.

Nowadays, there are many fireworks manufacturers. So, few people shout “Kagiya” and “Tamaya” during fireworks displays.

Regardless, small children enjoyed shouting "Kagiya" and "Tamaya" this year. Their parents may have told them to shout it when they watch fireworks. Their voices were very cute.

Thank you.

Koir, thanks a lot!


Bon/Obon : Augusut 9, 2009

Bon (or Obon) is a Japanese Buddhist custom concerning the spirits of ancestors. It takes place around August 15 in many areas all over Japan.

The main custom of Obon is visiting the graves of the ancestors, but customs vary by area.

In many areas, they make a horse and a cow called “shouryouuma” with a cucumber and an eggplant to welcome the ancestors. Shouryou means spirit, and uma means horse. They are the spirits’ conveyances between our world and the afterworld. The cucumber represents a fast-running horse; the spirits use it in their journey to arrive in our world early. The eggplant represents a slow-moving cow; the spirits use it to travel back to their world late.

However, there are many people who don’t visit the graves or participate in the ceremonies. They go out for a trip because many companies are closed around bon, and they take advantage of this opportunity.

Almost 50,000 people departed from Narita Airport yesterday, and they stay abroad for about a week.
Like Golden Week, all leisure venues and almost all Shinkansen trains are full of people. Expressways are full of cars, and plane tickets are more expensive during bon.

You should avoid Bon when you come to Japan for the same reasons as Golden Week.

Thank you.

Koir and Nathan, thanks for correcting my English.


Bon Dance Event: August 2, 2009

I went to a bon dance event today. It is a festival that is held by neighborhood communities on summer nights. During the festival, people perform bon dances.If you go bon dancing, you should wear yukata. They are more informal kimono made from thinner fabric. Those who have stayed in a Japanese-style hotel, or "ryokan", may have worn a yukata. Hotel customers wear it to relax. It functions as both pajamas and bathrobe. In the past I enjoyed bon dancing. When I was an elementary school student, I made a promise with friends to go to bon dancing every year. I was really looking forward to going to the festival. I would put on yukata the day of the festival. My mother gave me some money. I bought some food at yatai (stalls which are open only during a festival), and ate with friends. And then, we danced in line.After becoming an adult and before getting married, I took Japanese classical dancing lessons. As a part of the lessons we performed bon dancing while wearing matching yukata.I’ve heard people perform bon dancing in many other countries now. If you see people dancing, please try. It’s very easy and simple.

Thank you.

Koir, thanks for helping as always.


A Book: Kushiel’s Dart : July 29, 2009

This is a fantasy story written in 2001 by Jacqueline Carey. Recently, it has been translated into Japanese and published here.

When I started reading, I thought I had bought the wrong book as the heroine was a courtesan. Reading further, I discovered that the story seemed to be about conspiracies in an aristocratic society. I can’t be absolutely certain because the first volume was divided in three parts, and currently only the first third has been translated into Japanese. Even so, the story is interesting.

I want to read the next one soon, but I don’t know when the other two parts will be released. I seem to need to read it in English, but it would be too difficult to read the story in it's original English language as there are too many coined words and "specialized" terms for physical pleasures. Therefore, the Japanese translation is more preferable as these terms have been translated into words more easily understood by Japanese readers.

Regardless, the amazing part of the story is the elimination of Christian morals. Japanese people originally don’t hold to the same kind of morals, so those who grew up in a Christian community would feel the story is more specific or unique than I do.

Koir, thanks for correcting my English.


General Election

Prime Minister Aso dissolved the Lower House on July 21st to prepare for a general election to be held on August 30th.

As you may know, Japanese Prime Ministers change rather quickly. Mr. Aso took the seat of Prime Minister after the two previous Prime Ministers resigned.He was elected by members of the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party). Most people can’t vote when a Prime Minister is elected, as it is the responsibility of ruling party legislators.

They elect their boss, and then drag him down. This would make them appear to outsiders as nothing more than a pack of wild dogs.

Japanese people don’t attempt coup d’états or assassinations. They are meek, docile, and quiet. I sometimes watch news stories on TV of people in other countries protesting against unfair treatment. If those energetic people immigrated to Japan, the country would be changed by their behavior. I think Japanese politicians may know that, so they ban immigration from other countries.

Thank you.

Koir : "Politics make strange bedfellows, but soon they get used to the same bunk."

That's an English saying that came to mind while I read your post. It refers to the fact that political interactions seem to combine different kinds of individuals with different viewpoints, but after a short length of time they all end up behaving the same way as previous politicians. Just a little insight, Yuri.

As for the post, I changed a few sentences completely to increase their readability (to my eyes at least) but still tried to keep the central concepts. Even without revision, your strong views on the subject are very clear. It is a valuable insight.

The troubles in Japanese politics are known to some extent even in the Western world. Scandals and quick falls from power seem to be the norm. However, the feeling that people only raise someone up in order to tear them down is a universal human trait. It puzzles me why that happens so often.

The only thing I can think of as a reason is people do so in order to get their views and their desires fulfilled over anyone else's; the direct connection to the power to shape the world as they see fit, without any difficulty or repercussions. When that doesn't happen, the only thing they can think of doing is destroying what they just raised to a higher position.

I suppose I could go on, but then it would become an unproductive rant.

A very informative post, Yuri. Have a great week!

Koir, thanks for the revision and the comment.


Sleeping on the Train : July 16, 2009

Many Japanese people sleep while sitting on the train; some sleep while standing up. This may be hard to believe. One of my English teachers from the U.S. said he couldn't imagine it before he came to Japan, but then he saw people doing it every morning in Tokyo.
I’ve never seen people sleeping on the train outside Japan. I wonder what you think when you see people sleeping on the train. I’ve read that some foreign men have named it the “Japanese siesta”.
When I get on the underground train in New York, I tried to sleep out of habit, but then I remembered I wasn’t in Japan and woke up quickly.
Do you sleep on the train in your country?

Thank you.

Koir, thaks for correcting my English.