« May 2002 | Main | July 2002 »

June 30, 2002


My wife says I have a habit of saying "Ja". Ja or jaa is an adverb that is similar in meaning to "then" as in "All right then." I haven't noticed that myself. In fact, nobody has pointed it out to me. But paying attention to what I say when talking with her, uh-oh, yeah, I'm in the habit! And, what's worse, it seems that my ja often sounds like "if you insist" to her.

"There's sports news at 11."
"Okay, let's watch it , ja."

"A cup of coffee?"
"Yeah, I'll have one, ja."
"No 'ja', please! Do you REALLY wanna have coffee?"

Hey, believe me, I don't mean to accept your offers reluctantly. Ja has no special meaning in this case. Nothing funny. Don't you see?

But, you know, she seems to enjoy herself pointing it out. Ha ha! Yeah, I admit uttering too much ja. I've become ja-conscious.

Do you have any certain words or phrases that very often come out of your mouth unconsciously?

Ja, mata! (See you!)

June 28, 2002


The word "sibling" looks like a very convenient word for me. It refers to both "brother" and "sister". Actually, there is no equivalent word in Japanese. We have only ani (older brother), ototo (younger brother), ane (older sister), and imoto (younger sister). So, in a strict sense, there are even no words in the Japanese vocabulary that are identical with "brother" or "sister". Whenever we talk about siblings, the idea of "older" and "younger" follows. This has much to do with our culture.

Sure, we have kyodai (older and/or younger brother) and shimai (older and/or younger sister) to refer to brothers and sisters more generally. But they are just another ways of reading the kanji of ani & ototo, and ane & imoto combined. Still haunted by that idea and no match for "sibling".

I have a brother. If I will say this in Japanese, I have no choice but to say something like "I have (a) younger brother." If you have a brother and a sister, chances are that you have either an older brother and an older sister, or older and younger, younger and older, or younger and younger. If you have two brothers and three sisters, well, eh, .... Why not the word like "siblings"!

I think it's high time for the Japanese people to create a new word that is as reasonable as "sibling".

June 27, 2002

No Kids Talk

A talk between two first-grade girls in class yesterday:

Girl A: Tell me, how do you say this in English?
Girl B: NO! You must think by yourself, or you won't learn anything!

...wow...great kid...isn't she?

June 26, 2002

Dad Tales

Heart-warming stories on "The Best Gift My Father Ever Gave Me...." Especially the first one rocks.

My father is now 68, already retired from work and seems to enjoy his post-retirement life doing some local activities and playing go. He was a school teacher. As most sons do (...right?), I went through a kind of rebellious-against-father age when I was a high school student. My case was not that extreme, but I would rarely talk to him in those days. A school teacher was the last thing I would like to be. He was a social studies and music teacher, but I never took interest in those subjects. Now I come to think of it, it would be good for me if I had learned some piano. Too late. It was not until I left home after graduating from high school that I came to know how much I owed to my father (and my mother of course). It's interesting that I'm in a teaching job now, if not a school teacher.

So the best gift my father ever gave me is the fact that he is my father. But, you know, I'm too shy to tell him so. Haha!

Oh, I forgot to give him a gift on Father's Day!

June 25, 2002

Life Expectancy

Do you ever think about what your life expectancy is like? Nobody knows how long you will live, but LongToLive.com offers to calculate your life expectancy in accordance with your life style.

I tried, fearfully, the Calculator and, voila, it says my average life span is 86 years old. EIGHTY-SIX YEARS OLD?! Wow, can I live that long? Besides, by modifying my lifestyle things, it insists that I can live longer to 98 years old. Hah!

The Calculator is kind enough to tell me that I was born on Friday. Yeah, I know I was born on Friday the 13th. And? You have lived 15,837 days. Uh-huh? You have 15,699 days left to live. Oh? Let's make them count! Come on! If I were to live to be that age, I'm just in the middle of my life. Midlife crisis? No, no, no. You should die on Saturday June 17, 2045 at 8:17:00 PM. Oh, it's kind of you to let me know about it. A weekend may be nice for my last day.

As they say, the Calculator is "just for fun." But gazing at the Life Clock may let you have an opportunity to think about how your life from now should be.

-- via 100SHIKI (Japanese)

June 24, 2002


Strange, I feel like something is missing in spending two consecutive days without any World Cup matches, though I can't watch most of them live. South Korea has made a superb achievement. I was able to watch the whole match because it was Saturday. I'd like to congratulate Korea, but the match itself was a kind of disaster. There were several weird calls made by the referees that should cost Spain at least one goal. Unlike the Italy match, my sympathy goes to the side of Spain this time. Referees can make mistakes. That's what a soccer match is about. But if there were significant ones in a single game, the match would be ruined. And I'm also sorry for the Korean players for being involved in the refereeing controversy in the last two matches, because they have really been showing great performance. Spain could have won, and equally South Korea could have won. I hope their glory would never be colored in disgrace.

There are only four matches left. I'll cheer for all the teams except for Brazil, which is likely to win, though. Ha!

June 23, 2002


While writing the last entry, I remembered a dog that does remain in my distant memory. His name was "Koro". I was four or five years old. As a little kid, I didn't know where he had come from. But he was there -- a black dog with white eyebrows. He was a gentle dog. I can't recall how he barked; he never barked at people. We played together every day, though it is not clear whether he was with me at that dung puddle or not. He was my equal partner. We would do wrestling -- No, it was he that charitably took on my challenges. Sometimes during that round I played him foul by pulling his ear; there is a photo in my parents' house that proves it. Even on such occasions, he would never tried to bite me. He was genuinely a good-natured guy. I loved him, and I believed he loved me too.

One morning, I found him lying still in the shallow pond behind my house. He was dead. He had died alone. He had passed away without letting anyone watch his last breath...

I thought I had lost my friend, my precious one.

-- A bittersweet memory in the dim and distant past.

June 21, 2002

Phobia II

Hey, I've been posting too much of football-related stories recently. Need a change? Yeah. By the way, I've inclined to use the word "football" instead of "soccer." Do Americans tend to think of "American football" when they hear the word "football"?

OK, so I'll write about something stupid today. Are you ready?

I wrote about my phobia the other day. Well, the truth is, I have another phobia that only my wife (and possibly some of my students) knows about. That is -- horse dung. Oh, don't laugh. Ha ha ha! ... ah, I'm serious. It's not that I simply don't like horse dung. Yeah, I know finding someone who loves horse dung is a tough job. The fact is, I'm scared of it. Yes, horse d**g scares me. Believe me.

I don't think I am a born horse-dung phobic or whatever. I grew up in surroundings where horse du*g was not a rarity. I dimly remember lying sprawled comfortably just beside the heap of horse d*ng when I was a very little kid. Then why? I'm not quite sure, but there is one episode that probably gave me a trauma.

-- That was when I was still a little kid, maybe preschool days. I was playing alone in the field. There was a fairly big puddle. I approached to it and, to my joy, found a diving beetle swimming in it. I liked catching them in those days. But, right beside the lovely little thing lay THE STUFF -- horse dung. I hesitated. Though I was not scared by horse *ung, I was not wild enough to put my hand readily into horse *ung puddles. I pondered. Hey, I don't wanna put my hand in this dirty puddle, but I badly want the beetle. I want it. C'mon, I want it. He should be mine. Catching diving beetles is my mission. Yes, it's MY MISSION! So I put my hand into the puddle, chased after the bug, and caught it. --

I'm not sure if that small incident directly links to my phobia. But by the time I was in second or third grade, I think I was already scared of horse du*g. I used to hear a local saying that goes, "If you step on horse d*ng, you'll be taller," and though I badly wanted to be tall, I didn't dare to do it.

Just the thought of the very thing lying near me -- Aaaargh! I know I can't be a cowboy. Oh, for the honor of horses, I have to emphasize here that I don't hate horses at all. They are cute animals, really. They are hard-working, and mean a lot to us. It's only their dung that scares me. Yes, I have to live with it. And I'm scared to ask you how scared you are of horse dung. ...Seems like horse dung will haunt me all day from now!

By the way, which is creepier to you, snakes or spiders? My answer is, spiders.

June 20, 2002

Emotional Remarks?

It's a shame that an Italian football club has fired a Korean striker after he scored the winning goal over Italy. Is this really the case?

I watched the game. I was rooting for South Korea, to be sure, but it seemed to me that Italy wasn't just trying to get another goal after their early score, while the Korean players were desperate to chase the ball. There were several (or many?) close calls, but video replays showed them all.

In any international sports matches, there seem to arise refereeing problems. Too bad. In this World Cup so far, the referees at Italy - Croatia and Brazil - Belgium have been said to admit their significant misjudgment. Too weird. But I doubt the South Korea - Italy match was the case. (Incidentally, I was very glad to know before the Japan - Turkey match that the world-famous Italian referee would be on the pitch.)

Hope the Italian club's president didn't mean what he said.

June 19, 2002

Good Job

Japan 0 - 1 Turkey

The party is over. Japan could have won, but given the fact that Japan had three losses and no win in the last World Cup, they have accomplished an impressive achievement this time. Never have the Japanese people, in any sports events, cheered so enthusiastically, united in one, with this intensity, wow, for our national team as at this World Cup. It's just amazing. Could soccer (football) be more popular than baseball in this country?

I thank Team Japan for having given us a happy time, and am looking forward to the next Cup, where the real Japanese football strength should be tested.

Oh, the World Cup is not over yet. Co-host South Korea won a stunning victory over Italy. They are just great!

Now that Japan is out, which team should I cheer for the rest of the games?

Go Korea!
Go England!
Go Turkey!

Wish you luck!

June 18, 2002

Showdown II

Japan plays Turkey today for a ticket of a quarterfinalist. Turkey is a powerful team. Maybe they are superior to their Japanese counterparts in many ways. I hope Japan will play a good game with their well-organized style of play and "guts", and win.

It's interesting that nobody, even the players themselves, seemed to know for sure how strong Japan was before the kickoff of the World Cup. The players have shown us that they are not the guys whose principal concern is how to do with their hair-do patterns. They are really cool sportsmen.

But, as usual, I can't watch the match! Last time, no students skipped class to watch the game. Hey, aren't they cute kids? So I turned on the radio during class and we enjoyed listening to the Japanese team win. They were cheering, "Nippon (Japan)! clapclapclap Nippon! clapclapclap" Ah, maybe this time too.

June 17, 2002


Thanks, TaTroyer, for mentioning my journal in your blog. It is always exciting to find my blog mentioned in other blogs. It's also great to have friends from other parts of the world.

TaTroyer Ramblings is his personal blog. His writing style is crisp and clear, which makes his blog much fun to read. Check it out, folks!

June 15, 2002

Well done!

Japan did it! The young stars have made a history! And congrats, America the Clean Fighters! I say "Boo!" to Brazil for this.

Well, well, this week's Saturday Scruples.

1. You phone a friend at 2 a.m. but accidentally dial another friend. When his indignant voice answers, do you hang up?

I've never phoned a friend at that ungodly hour (probably). Neither do I want to be called that late. My answer is, well, no. If he were a close friend, I'd say I'm sorry to bother him at this early hour, ask how he's doing, have some chit-chat, and say good night.

2. You're about to buy a newspaper when you notice the vending box is open. Do you pay for the paper?


3. A new business opportunity could make you rich. Do you try to involve family members and in-laws?

If that is a multilevel marketing one or the like, I don't. I wouldn't involve my family, nor my friends. But before that, I'd never want to be involved in that kind of business. My ancestor said (Oh, really?), "Never think there is an easy way to make money fast."

June 14, 2002


Japan plays against Tunisia today for qualification into the Round of 16. Can it be all right that Japan will proceed to the second round when France and Argentina are out of the games? That's what sport matches are about.

Today's match starts at 3:30 p.m. I can't watch the game because I have classes. I should have cut a couple of classes for my students (and me) to watch the match? Hmm...not all students are football fans. But, eh, I won't blame you kids if you skip class today.

June 13, 2002


According to the webloggers' personality test by BloGinality, I'm an ISTP, which stands for Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving. Oh, really?

"You will change the format of blogging or design frequently to keep it interesting and different."

I don't change the design so frequently, but that may be because of my laziness. Aha.

"You could be easily bored with blogging."

Yes, why do you know that?

"You like following a project through."

Could be. That's what keeps me blogging, eh?

"Your loyalty may have you reading the same blogs over a long period of time."

Sure, but as long as they keep me interested.

I think I'm a kind of "outsider" in the blogging world. Or an alien, because I'm an Englishman in New York, no, no, I'm a Japanese in the English blogs' world. I don't mean to say it's lamentable. Oh, yeah, the word "lamentable" reminds me of an English teacher who used to teach at a college-entrance-exam preparatory school I attended long long ago. He taught me how to memorize the word. That is, "Hitanni kurete ramen taberu." (You eat ramen in disappointment.) It's a play on words. In Japanese, "lamen" sounds like ramen (Chinese-style noodles), and "table" in this case taberu (eat). Thus, "lamentable" sounds like "ramen taberu (to eat ramen)." "Hitanni kurete" matches "in disappointment", somewhat similar to the meaning of "lamentable." You can learn the word easily, can you?

Oh..., where was I? Yes, I like being an outsider when it comes to blogging in English. I don't have to be a skilled writer. The thought makes me relaxed. But it doesn't mean I would be satisfied with writing poor English. I'd be glad if my writing was good enough for you to read at all. One of the purposes of my blogging in English is to maintain my English ability. Reading great blogs out there is also very inspiring. Finding and getting back to the blogs I like to read is a lot of fun. (You can find them in the left side bar. There are a lot more that I frequent, but I keep the links displayed to the minimum, otherwise the list would be too looooong.) And getting to know wonderful people like you (Yes, you!) is great pleasure too. All in all, I enjoy blogging.

June 12, 2002


"Hooligan" is a word that has become widely known among Japanese people for this World Cup. It will almost certainly be nominated for this year's "Word of the Year" Award.

As the World Cup was approaching, Japanese TV were noisy every day showing the violent scenes caused by hooligans in the previous World Cups and major football tournaments. This must have whipped up excessive fears among the locals around the football stadiums and made them prepare for forthcoming turmoil. I hear quite a few stores and bars went so far as to take out "World Cup insurance." Overreaction, would be. But in a country where it's kind of unthinkable (I should say, as yet so far) that a sport match can cause a riot, it's no wonder people would have more than somewhat uneasiness about something unexperienced. Japanese police also seemed a little too nervous preparing for the worst, with a variety of high-tech equipment. If that turned out to be overload, it would be all right with them anyway.

Meanwhile, this article made me smile. Police are nervous, but soccer fans are open and natural. In general, typical Japanese behavior toward people from other countries will be either friendly, too friendly sometimes, or xenophobic. But as a brighter side, this World Cup has given us the feeling of togetherness with people from various countries -- through the sport.

June 11, 2002


I've added a calendar in the side bar. I don't see any special meaning in displaying the calendar here. What's the use of it anyway? OK, MovableType can automatically generate a calendar, so I simply wanted to try it. Ha! Looks good?

MovableType offers a lot of gems to choose from. I can't handle all of them, of course. One which I'm thinking of trying out is the "CATEGORIES" feature. Categorizing my blog entries seems like a tough job, though. Maybe at some future time.

June 10, 2002

Way To Go!

Japan 1 - 0 Russia

Come on! Can you believe it? Japan won! Our first-ever World Cup victory! Yeah, I know Japan is still way behind the world's football superpowers, but they proved -- if you try, you can do it!

June 8, 2002

Zen English

This article is too funny! "Zen English" is a nice naming scheme, isn't it?

Now guess what they mean:

1. Ai kyanto Ingurisshu.
2. Duu yuu noo mii?
3. Mejaa riigu izu mai buum.
4. Rettsu sushi!

June 7, 2002


What I think a real killjoy about today's soccer is what is called "simulation". A player is dribbling and his opponents are trying to charge the ball, when he suddenly holds up his hands like Superman and dives beautifully to the ground. -- Cheating. He is simulating a victim of a tackle to claim a foul and a free kick. Besides, the fake "victims" will almost always roll around the ground in agony as if they got a nice kick by a kickboxer. Hey, are soccer players such fragile athletes? There sure exist this kind of players in the soccer world. I'm fed up with those scenes.

I could be naive and lame. But don't they have pride as first-class sportsmen? I don't want to see cheapie swindlers in supposed-to-be exciting matches.

June 6, 2002


Wow, my journal was mentioned on greggman.com! Thanks, Gregg. I'm flattered. But speaking of my English, I sometimes feel like I'm walking in a dark, long tunnel whose end I haven't been able to see yet. Or English is like a gigantic (but lovely) monster for me to fight (or play) with. ;)

Gregg is an American living in Japan and his site consists of bilingual blogs. Great work. His blog is fun to read, and his inter-cultural view is inspiring. You should check it out!

June 5, 2002


Japan 2 - 2 Belgium

Japan's first World Cup point ever! Fantastic job! The players' performance moved the Land of the Rising Sun. I think I have to see the level of Japanese soccer in a fresh light. The Japanese team has progressed impressively. The Red Devils are not what they used to be?

South Korea 2 - 0 Poland

Korea's first-ever Wold Cup victory. Congratulations, Korea!
(But what the heck is this all about? Got any proof,dude?)

June 4, 2002

Japanese Football

The Japanese team will make its appearance in the match against Belgium today. The match would prove whether Jananese soccer has come close to the world level or not. As usual, Japanese TV is making fuss about the expectations for "Team Japan." They say, "No host country in the World Cup history has failed in proceeding to the second round. That's why Japan has every chance to ..." Huh? Come on! Don't you guys think it's simply because they were genuinely strong enough to win the first round? With only two world-class players, Nakata and Ono, is Japan that strong? Do you ignore the fact that Japan is placed lower than the other three teams in Group H in FIFA's World Rankings? Can't you say Japan has EVERY chance to be the honorable first host to lose in the first round? I wonder what makes them (want to) believe that Japan will have a 2-0 win over Belgium. If so, it would be a hysterical, no, no, historic event for Japanese soccer. Let's wait and see.

Anyway, I can't watch the match because of work. Argh! Hope the Japanese players will put forth their strength and have a good game. Gambare!

June 3, 2002


Do you know RPS?

I thought RPS or Janken as it is known here was a game unique to Japan. It's sometimes a good method for decision-making. In fact, Janken plays an important part in my classes to decide who to answer the questions I give. I've been looking for other interesting means, but Janken has been the best so far.

Any volunteers? OK, Janken-Pon!

--via 100SHIKI (Japanese)

June 2, 2002


I went out to a yakiniku restaurant with my wife to enjoy yakiniku yesterday. "Yakiniku" is Korean-style grilled beef and there are a lot of cook-it-yourself yakiniku restaurants all over Japan. The first case of "mad cow desease" was confirmed in Japan last year and this has led to the reluctance among consumers to eat beef. I hear a number of yakiniku restaurants have gone bankrupt because of this. The restaurant to which we go once in a while seems to be in good shape.

The World Cup: It came as a great surprise that France lost to Senegal. I'm looking forward to the England-Sweden match today.

June 1, 2002


OK, this week's Saturdy Scruples.

1. You want to quit a job without notice but you need a good reference from your employer. Do you invent a family health emergency?

No. Instead, I'd start a new business myself. An English school would be a nice choice. Oh, I've already done it. :)

2. In a parking lot, you accidentally dent someone's car door, do you leave a note taking responsibility?

Yes. Thinking if I were in the reverse position and the person ran away... I can't leave there without doing anything. I often see this kind of parking-lot mishaps in local newspaper forums or the like. That really sucks.

3. You're a homeowner. A group home for mentally challenged adults is planned for next door. Do you sign a petition to stop it?

Probably no. If the home is necessary and should be there, there is no reason I'd be against it.