Wednesday, December 24, 2008

She lives near the red road.

I’ve heard that seeing old women with purple hair in Japan is surprising for foreigners.

Some old people like changing their hair to bright color and it’s not so unusual to see those people in Japan.

I think it’s because Japanese (Asian) hair is very black and it’s difficult to change the color when we are young.

So, when we get old and have white hair, it’s a good chance to enjoy changing hair color.

By the way, knowing the idea of color is quite different depends on the language.

Do you know what the following expressions describe?

① 肌が黒い (hada ga kuroi) “the skin is black”

② 目が黒い (me ga kuroi) “the eyes are black”

(kinpatsu) “gold hair”

④ 赤道 (sekidoo) “red road”

① 肌が黒い (hada ga kuroi) means “sunburned, tan”.

In Japan most of women try NOT to get suntan.

This expression doesn’t have bad nuance, but be careful with using it!

② 目が黒い (me ga kuroi) means “alive”.

Because, when people die, their eyes are not black anymore…??

③ 金髪 (kinpatsu) means “blond hair”.

To be accurate, Japanese 金髪 (kinpatsu) is a little different from blond.

When Japanese people try to change the hair color to blond, eventually it becomes gold.

But we call Westerners’ blond 金髪 (kinpatsu), too.

④ 赤道 (sekidoo) means “equator”.

I guess it’s because red color is used in a map, maybe??

Again, about hair color, recently, some dogs have strange “hair color” in Japan.

The hair salon where I usually go has a “hair color course for pets”, too.

What poor dogs! (>_<)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Girls having wrinkles are cute☆

When you describe someone’s face, what kind of expressions do you use?
“She has big eyes.”

“She has freckled cheeks.”

“He has heavy bread.”

In Japan, we often talk about the eyelids, too.
If there is a wrinkle on the eyelid, it’s called 二重 (futae), “double edged eyelid”. If there isn’t a wrinkle, it’s 一重 (hitoe), “single-edged eyelid”.
If there might be a wrinkle, but you cannot see is, it’s 奥二重 (okubutae) … Hmm… I can’t describe this word in English…

Usually, people want 二重 (futae).

There are a lot of cosmetics which you use to make your eyelids seem double-edged.

Also plastic surgery for making a wrinkle on the eyelid is popular here in Japan.

Especially, when you talk about someone cute, you comment about their eyelids.

(kanojo wa futae de kawaii ne)


(futae to iuyori okubutae janai? demo tonikaku kawaii ne!)

“She has double edged eyelids and is cue.”
“She has more of 奥二重 (okubutae) than double egded eyelids, doesn’t she? She is cute anyway!”

Also, when we describe people’s faces, we use 濃い (koi) and 薄い (usui).

(koi) means thick, strong, deep, dark.

(usui) means thin, flat, sheer.

I’ve been thinking how I can explain those two words in English for long time, but I still have no idea.

Actually, even in Japanese, it’s quite hard to explain…
But most of Japanese people understand and use those expressions.
If you know the words and have a good idea for translating to English, let me know please!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today's kanji : 危

The blue part describes "cliff"
The red part describes "person who is squatting"
The green part describes "person who is squatting, too"

Two people are squatting near the cliff, because it's...

Can you guess the meaning?
See the comments page for the answer!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Recently, there are lots of people who spend a lot of money for their pets in Japan.

LOUIS VUITTON’s goods for a dog

Spending 5,000yen for a cat’s “hair salon” every week

Yoga lessons for dogs

Restaurants for dogs…

Their life seems much more expensive than my life!

By the way, the way of expression of cry or bark of animals is very different depend on the language.

Can you guess what animal’s cry these are?

ワンワン (wanwan)
ニャーニャー (nya-nya-)

ブーブー (bu-bu-)

ヒヒーン (hihi-n)

メーメー (me-me-)

コケコッコー (kokekokko-)

Answer key :

ワンワン (wanwan) is for dogs.

ニャーニャー (nya-nya-) is for cats.
ブーブー (bu-bu-) is for pigs.
ヒヒーン (hihi-n) is for horses.
メーメー (me-me-) is for goats.
コケコッコー (kokekokko-) is for chickens.

How do you describe them in your language?

I know some of them in English and I think English expressions sound much more real than Japanese ones!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I want to call you "you".

What is the most different point between English and Japanese?
I think the way of using the word “you” is one of the most different points.

When we speak English, we use “you” all the time.

Do you like chocolate?

Have you met Ichiro?

In my English-Japanese dictionary, there are “あなた(anata)” “(kimi)” “お前(omae)” for the word “you”.

But actually we almost never use these words especially in formal situation.

あなた(anata) is one of the most popular words for “you”.

But I almost never use or hear “anata” in general conversation.

If I use “anata” for my friends, boyfriend or family, it sounds unfriendly.

Also if I use it for my boss, it’s unbelievably rude.

Instead of “anata”, we usually use the person’s name.


(Yuuko san wa chokore-to ga sukidesuka.)


(Yuuko san wa Ichiro ni attakotoga arimasuka.)

But, if we don’t know the person’s name what should we do?

When you talk with a customer in a department store, ask a taxi driver a question, run into your friend’s homeroom teacher…

We just try to avoid using “you”.

It means that we drop “anata” from the sentence.


(chokore-to ga sukidesuka.)

(Ichiro ni attakotoga arimasuka.)

But sometimes we can’t avoid using “anata” anyway.

In that case, we use the person’s position, occupation instead of the name.

お客様(okyakusama) for your customer, 運転手さん(untenshu san) for the taxi driver, and 先生(sensee) for your friend’s teacher.


(okyakusama wa chokore-to ga sukidesuka.)


(untenshu san wa Ichiro ni attakotoga arimasuka.)

I like being called my name or calling my friends’ name instead of saying “anata”.

But, you know, it’s sometimes difficult to remember someone’s name especially when we meet someone accidentally.

I hope using “anata” becomes more common and natural in Japanese like English.

Do you know any other language which has the same situation as Japanese?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How can we describe "gigabyte" in kanji?

Basically, kanji is used for Japanese (Chinese) words and katakana is used for words coming from foreign countries.

But there are some kanji for katakana words.

means “meter”
means “one thousand”

means “small, thin”

(me-toru) “meter”
(kiro me-toru) “kilometer”

(miri me-toru) “millimeter”

means “gram”

(gramu) “gram”

瓦+千= (kiro guramu) “kilogram"
瓦+毛= (miri gramu) “milligram"

We usually use katakana but kanji for the above words, but it’s still interesting that there are some knaji which we can’t describe in Japanese words.

Don’t you think so?
I’m not sure if these kanji is used in Chinese too and if they pronounce same way though.

Well, maybe we can “develop” new kanji for some English words.
How about some words used for computer?

Do you have any idea about kanji for “byte” “mega” and “giga”? ;)

To type the above kanji, I used Windows "IME Pad Hand writing".
Those are not 常用漢字(jooyoo kanji) which is basic 1954kanji we lean in elementary school and junior high school in Japan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't pull my leg!

There are a lot of idioms using a part of the body.

Today, I’m introducing you some idioms with “leg”.

Leg is "足 (ashi)" in Japanese.

① 足が重い (ashi ga omoi)

"The leg is heavy."

This means...
"I don’t want to go to the place but I have to go."


(ashita wa JLPT da, ashi ga omoiyo.)

"It will be the Japanese proficiency test tomorrow. I don’t want to go but I have to go."

② 足元にも及ばない (ashimoto nimo oyobanai)

“It doesn’t reach to even foot.”
This means…
“Someone is much greater than I am.”

This is often used for describing a humble attitude.


(shachoo wa gorufu ga ojoozu desune! watashi nante ashimoto nimo oyobimasenyo!)

“You are a great golf player, our president! I’m much worse than you!”

③ 足を引っ張る (ashi o hipparu)

“To pull someone’s leg”

This means…
“to interrupt someone’s success or career”

(Yoshida, ore no ashi o hipparanaide kure.)

“Yoshida, don't interrupt my career."

Does your language have same or similar expressions using legs?