Japanese “Cat-phrases”

Posted on January 16, 2017 | genkijacs

Every language has sayings in which animals play an important role. However, in Japanese, the cat appears particularly often. Here are some “cat-phrases” that will make you smile. (Unless, of course, you are allergic to these cute pets.)

Do you know the feeling of impatiently waiting for your nice hot coffee to cool down because your tongue will get burned if you don’t? Then you may have a 猫舌 (neko jita) a cat’s tongue. This means you cannot drink or eat if you’re meal is too hot.

Maybe, you drink it anyway and spill the hot coffee all over the table in pain. If you don’t want anyone to find out it was you, you might want to look as innocent as possible and 猫を被る(neko wo kaburu), dress up as a cat. This term is more than fitting, don’t you agree? Let’s be honest. Cats look cute but they sure aren’t completely innocent .

The next phrase emphasizes this fact. 猫に鰹節 (neko ni katsuobushi). Just imagine putting some delicious fish-shaped flakes directly next to a cat. You will have to pay great attention. Otherwise, you will find yourself in an incredible mess. That is exactly what this phrase intends to describe: a situation where you mustn’t lose focus.

However, if you did lose focus, you will need a lot of help cleaning up the mess. You will be so busy you would even 猫の手も借りたい (neko no te mo karitai), want to borrow a cat’s paw.

Still, you might then find yourself with 猫の子一匹いない(neko no ko ippiki inai), not even one kitten there.

The Japanese language is full of cat-related expressions. If you like these cute little animals, do some research and thereby safe your day.
By the way, did you know that Japanese cats do not say “meow” but “にゃん” (“nyan”)?

早言葉(はやことば) Tongue Twisters

Posted on January 09, 2017 | genkijacs

They do exist in the Japanese language as well: the loved and feared tongue twisters. They help us make a fool of ourselves but that is exactly why it is fun to try.
Japanese has a grand variety of these 早言葉(はやことば). Some are more difficult than others. Here are some examples. Practice them and impress your Japanese friends.

→ 李も桃も桃のうち。(すもももももももものうち。) "sumomo mo momo mo momo no uchi" (that's a record 8 "momo"s in a row!)
It means: Both plums and peaches belong to the peach family.

→ 隣の客はよく柿食う客だ。(となりのきゃくはよくかきくうきゃくだ。) "tonari no kyaku wa yoku kaki kuu kyaku da"
The customer next to me is a customer who often eats khaki.

→ 二羽の庭には二羽鶏にワニを食べた。(にわのにわにはにわにわとりにワニをたべた。) "niwa no niwa ni wa niwatori ni wani o tabeta"
In (Mr.) Niwa’s garden, two chickens ate a crocodile.

→ 赤巻紙、黄巻紙、青巻紙(あかまきがみ、きまきがみ、あおまきがみ) "akamakigami, kimakigami, aomakigaki"
Red scroll, yellow scroll, blue scroll.

Shiritori (しりとり)

Posted on December 19, 2016 | genkijacs

This game is a fun way of memorizing vocabulary. Shiritori means “taking the end”, which is exactly what this fun Japanese word game is about. The players take turns saying words that start with the last kana character of the previous one. Of course, there are similar games in other languages but the challenge becomes even greater when played with kana instead of letters.

Why don’t you go ahead and try this game with your friends? These are the basic rules:

1. Of course, the word has to start with the previous word’s last syllable.
2. A word can only be used once.
3. If the word ends in ん, the next player loses.
4. If a word’s last kana has a “long sound” (chuon), there are three different possibilities. (ex.: きょうとう):
4.I. Use the chuon as a vowel. (In the example, オcould be used as the beginning of the following word; e.g.オレンジ.)
4.II. Ignore the chuon. (In the example, the next word could begin with ト; e.g. トマト. )
4.III. Let the next word begin with a chuon. (e.g. とうきょう)

Gesshuku Ishiyama mother passed away

Posted on December 14, 2016 | evankirby

Sachiko Ishiyama funeral

At GenkiJACS, we offer a few different types of dormitories for our students. One of those is the 月宿 (gesshuku), which is like the owner’s house opened up into a dorm. Two of the gesshuku we offer in Fukuoka are 月宿朋 (Gesshuku Tomo) and 月宿石山 (Gesshuku Ishiyama). A lot of our students, in particular under-20 students, stay at these two dorms.
Traditionally, university and high school students often stay in gesshuku, and the owner, called 月宿のおばさん (Gesshuku no obasan) cooks and cleans for the students, and helps them with their problems. She acts as a kind of second mother for the students in her care.
On Sunday the 11th of December, the Obasan of Gesshuku Ishiyama, Sachiko Ishiyama, passed away suddenly from a brain hemorrhage. She was still young, and had seemed healthy just shortly before she was found in her room. It was a very sudden, surprising and sad event for everyone.
When we talked to her, she often said “I always worry whether we can take good enough care of students in our small dorm. It makes us very happy and proud when GenkiJACS students say 「おばさん、楽しかった!」(I had fun, Obasan!) as they leave.” She was a warm-hearted and lovely person. Our accommodation coordinator Aya says that seeing how Ms. Ishiyama felt about her job made Aya feel more proud of her own job too.
The Gesshuku is run by the whole family, including Ms. Ishiyama’s husband, son and daughter. They would arrange many events for our students, including taking them on day trips, BBQs, and others. The living room of the dorm was covered in photos of former students, and they loved to talk about what students are doing now. Gesshuku Ishiyama was exemplified by the care they gave to each student.
We used Gesshuku Ishiyama for younger students specifically because of the great care they gave to each student. Younger students who came with their parents to see the dorm first would often say, after eating dinner with the Ishiyamas, that this is where they wanted their child to live. Even with only limited communication in English, the essential goodness of Ms Ishiyama was easy to see.
At GenkiJACS too, we feel that we have lost an important and special person. The staff and teachers here know that accommodation is almost as important as the school for our students, and that our school is only a success because of the support of people like Ms. Ishiyama. We learn from her about Japanese hospitality.
Ms. Ishiyama, thank you for taking in so many of our students over the years, and for taking such good care of them. Now is your turn to rest. The thoughts of all of us at GenkiJACS are with you and your family.

GenkiJACS Staff representative, Yuuki Yamazaki

We Have a Winner

Posted on December 12, 2016 | genkijacs

This year`s winning 流行語 (りゅうこうご) have been announced on December 1st. And 2016’s “word of the year” is …

「神ってる」(かみってる).

This phrase is based on the Japanese word 神(かみ)(=god), which has been turned into a verb describing the receipt of the gods’ spirit. It characterizes miraculous or rather superhuman behavior.
This year, the phrase suddenly gained popularity after it had been used by the manager of the Hiroshima Toyo Carps, referring to his baseball team’s performance in June. One of the players, Seiya Suzuki, had shown “god-like” skills during Central League Championship. According to the manager, he had picked up this phrase from his children.

Apart from 「神ってる」, the following other 流行語 have made it to the TOP 10:

→ 「ゲス不倫」(ゲスフリン)(= “Gesu Affair”)
→ 「聖地純利」(せいちじゅんり)(=”Pilgrimage”)
→ 「トランプ現象」(トランプげんしょう)(=”the Trump Issue”)
→ 「PPAP」
→ 「保育園落ちた日本死ね」(ほいくえんおちたにほんしね)(=”day care failed, Japan die”)
→ 「(僕の)アモーレ」((ぼくの)あもーれ)(=”my amore”)
→ 「ポケモンGO」(=”Pokemon GO”)
→ 「マイナス金利」(マイナスきんり)(=”negative interest”)
→ 「盛り土」(もりど)(=”raising the ground level”)

With the announcement of the top buzzwords, the year is about to end. So enjoy the celebrations and forget all the past year worries. However, more than anything, don’t be sad that awaiting 2016 流行後 is over now (though we would totally understand if you were). 2017 might hold even more exciting new buzzwords.

Kaomoji – Let us know what you feel

Posted on December 05, 2016 | genkijacs

A language does not only consist of grammar and words. Particularly in social media, an emoticon can say more than 1,000 words. In Japan, young people have gone to great effort inventing thousands of cute "kaomojis" (literally "face letters") over time. For foreigners, they are not always easy to recognize. However, once your eyes are trained to see the art behind the strokes and signs, it is very easy to tell your opponent’s feelings.
Here are a few examples:


(۶ૈ ᵒ̌ Дᵒ̌)۶ૈ=͟͟͞͞


( ง ᵒ̌皿ᵒ̌)ง⁼³₌₃



These ones are really angry. Can you see how they are raising their fists? The first one is even throwing things at you. Maybe it is time to apologize?


m(._.)m


This poor fellow has a guilty conscience. He is bowing to the ground feeling ashamed. The English letter “m” represents a hand lying on the ground.


⊹⋛⋋( ՞ਊ ՞)⋌⋚⊹


Birds are very popular among the Kaomojis. Can you see the little wings going up and down in pure joy?


o(〃^▽^〃)o


This one is excited about something, don’t you think?


໒( ♥ ◡ ♥ )७


Can’t you feel his love?

。゚(*´□`)゚。


Oh no! You made the emoticon feel sad and now he is crying.


ヾ( ๑´д`๑)ツ

This one is fleeing in fear.


There is great variety of all kinds of kaomoji emoticons representing many different emotions but also animals or actions. As you can see, they are more than just simple emojis, they are small pieces of art.
If you want to know more, you can find a collection of all sorts of emoticons on: japaneseemoticons.me/

駄洒落 (だじゃれ) - Japanese Puns

Posted on November 28, 2016 | genkijacs

In general, dajare could be described as Japanese Puns. However, while English puns are usually created by exchanging a word in sentence with a similar one, dajare benefit from similar sounds within a sentence or different possible interpretations of a sentence.

Here are some examples:

→ イルカがいるか? ("iruka wa iruka?): Is there a dolphin?

→ アルミ缶(かん)の上(うえ)にあるミカン ("arumi kan no ue ni aru mikan"): a mikan on top of an aluminum can
This one could also interpreted as:
あるミカンの上にあるミカン ("aru mikan no ue ni aru mikan"): a mikan on top of another mikan

→ パン作った(つくった)ことある?("pan tsukutta koto aru?"): Have you ever made bread?
can be changed into:
パンツ食(く)ったことある? ("pantsu kutta koto aru?"): Have you ever eaten underwear?

Japanese puns can be hilarious. However, be careful using them as Japanese people might not always agree :)
By the way, the standard response to being told a really bad pun is 寒~い!("samuuui", that's cold).

流行語2016 – More Possible Words

Posted on November 21, 2016 | genkijacs

Here are some more possible 流行語(りゅうこうご) that are likely to be among the 2016 nominees:

→ 野球賭博(とばくやきゅう) (Baseball Betting)
In Japan, betting on a sports team is illegal. Still, it is becoming more and more popular throughout the country. The number of people charged with betting on baseball teams has reached record highs this year.

→ SMAP 解散(かいさん) (SMAP break-up)
In January this year, the famous boy band SMAP announced their break-up. As they did not only have fans within the country but abroad as well, this soon became one of the most discussed issues on television.

→ トランプ旋風(つむじかぜ) (Trump whirlwind)
This term describes the harsh expressions and radical performance of the American presidential candidate Donald Trump and the fierce “election war” he is leading against Hilary Clinton. As the outcome of this election will have great influence on the whole world, even Japanese people are impatiently awaiting November 8th.

→ パーフェクト・ヒューマン (Perfect Human)
During one of his jokes on Oriental Radio (オリエンタルラジオ), the comedian Atsuhiko Nakada used the phrase “I’m a perfect human”. This phrase soon became famous via YouTube.

流行語2016 –Changing World, Changing Word

Posted on November 15, 2016 | genkijacs

While the release of this year’s nominees for the top 流行語(りゅうこうご) is coming closer, let us give you some insight about the “history of 流行語” itself.

In 1984, the publishing house 自由国民社(みんしゃじゆうこく) announced the 新語(しんご)・流行語大賞(たいしょうりゅうこうご) (“New word and Buzzword winners”). Since then a ceremony is held annually awarding the year’s top 流行語.

At that time, the 流行語 were mostly originated in recent news or television and radio programs such as the word “オシンドローム” from the TV series and novel “おしん”. Throughout time, the variety of public media has changed.

Today, ads like Line or other online services like YouTube are an equally common source. For example, the popular smartphone game “ポケモンGO” is one of the possible nominees for 2016.

流行語2016 – What can we expect?

Posted on November 08, 2016 | genkijacs

November is coming and the nominees for the top 流行語(ryukougo) 2016 will soon be announced. 流行語are famous words or phrases made famous by TV, ads etc. We are excited to hear this year’s nominees.

Here are a few words that we think might appear on the list:

→ センテンススプリング (sentence spring)
This word was first used during a Line exchange between Enon Kawatani, a famous vocalist, guitarist and songwriter (Gesu No Itami Otome and Indigo la End) and the celebrity Becky. The word refers to the magazine Bunshun (文春) that had discovered an affair between the two. (文= sentence; 春=spring)

→ パナマ文書(ぶんしょ)(panama documents)
This term refers to a series of secret documents that often appear on the media in relation to tax avoidance.

→ グラブる
This catchphrase derives from a popular smartphone game called グランブルーファンタジー.