sechan19: (anne)
閏年 (うるうどし) urūdoshi—
leap year
sechan19: (kusama)
千鳥足で歩く (ちどりあしであるく) chidoriashi de aruku—
(lit. to walk with the legs of a plover)
to walk with an unsteady gait; to stagger, teeter, weave, or reel
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
花鳥風月(かちょうふうげつ) kachōfūgetsu—
(lit. birds, flowers, wind, and moon)
the beauties of nature; used in the phrase 花鳥風月を友とする (kachōfūgetsu wo tomo to suru), meaning "to commune with nature"
sechan19: (anne)
能面のような顔 (のうめんのようなかお) nōmen no yō na kao—
(lit. a face like a Noh mask)
a deadpan expression
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
含み笑いをする (ふくみわらいをする) fukumi warai wo suru—
to smother a laugh; to giggle up one's sleeve; to chuckle
sechan19: (anne)
懲り懲りである (こりごりである) korigori dearu—
to have had enough; to have had it up to here with sth; to be fed up
exp. Aitsu ni wa mō korigori desu: I've had it up to here with that guy.
sechan19: (morisot)
My roommate K. and I recently started watching Game of Thrones. (She's seen it before, but I'm a newbie.) Our mutual propensity for devouring media at a hyper-fast pace means that we're burning through season one pretty damn quickly. Even our tendency to repeatedly pause episodes to discuss the subtexts of gender, race, and social hierarchy that are revealed in various scenes hasn't slowed us down much. So it's not particularly surprising that we've come up with yet another way to drag each episode out ad infinitum.

This afternoon at lunch (AKA: planning meeting for the spoof of Ancient Aliens that we're going to produce), K. brought up an idea she'd had to reduce the amount of guilt we might be feeling over blowing hours and hours on watching Game of Thrones. She suggested that we practice Japanese keigo (respectful speech) while watching episodes by attempting to translate various phrases according to their individual requirements of humbles and honorifics, casual and formal tenses. The permutations are endless: Lannister to Lannister about the Lannisters (parent/sibling/child)/the Starks/the king (the nuances would have to change depending on whether they were speaking of Robert or Joffrey Baratheon, for instance); Lannister to Stark about the Lannisters/another house/a commoner; Night's Watch Guard to Night's Watch Guard about another Night's Watch Guard/a member of a Great House/a commoner; etc. The list goes on and on.

Tell you what. We are going to become keigo ninjas. That's what.

And for those who are interested, here's a taste of what awaits us. We just finished the season one episode "A Golden Crown" last night. If Khal Drogo had been speaking Japanese to Viserys Targaryen during their final confrontation, his statement, "You shall have a golden crown that men will tremble to behold," would have sounded something like this:

他人が拝見すると震える金色の王冠を差し上げます。
Tanin ga haiken suru to furueru kin'iro no ōkan wo sashiagemasu.

The polite-tense sentence is chock-full of deferential constructions (haiken suru, humble form of miru [to see]; sashiageru, humble form of ageru [to give]), which I think would have served to convey the extreme irony of Khal Drogo's statement to everyone in the room who knew what was coming while still preserving the illusion of deference for the doomed man.
sechan19: (anne)
目から鱗が落ちる (めからうろこがおちる) me kara uruko ga ochiru—
to have the scales fall from one's eyes; to see the light; to suddenly realize the truth
sechan19: (anne)
五臓六腑 (ごぞうろっぷ) gozō roppu—
(lit. the five viscera [liver, lungs, heart, kidney, spleen] and six entrails [large intestine, small intestine, gallbladder, stomach, san jiao,* urinary bladder])
the internal organs; used in the phrase 五臓六腑が煮えくり返る (gozō roppu ga nie kurikaeru), meaning "to seethe with rage" (lit. to have one's internal organs boiling)

*the term san jiao (triple burner) refers to a metabolic system within the body that does not correspond to any particular organ in western medicine, but instead encompasses a number of them within the thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic regions and controls such functions as digestion of food and the regulation of body temperature.
sechan19: (butterfly)
About a month or so back, I was invited to attend a research session (chōsa) at the Kōsanji Temple Museum in Hiroshima Prefecture with my Japanese cohort. (I didn't blog about it at the time, although I should have. Sorry!) During this session, I spent a lot of time doing odd jobs for the group—helping to hold the folding screens (byōbu) flat for photography, recording measurements of the objects, and even taking photographs for the cohort's image archives. I was pretty nervous about playing photographer; the camera I was using was expensive, belonged to my professor, and seemed a lot smarter than me. I carried on, though, and shot somewhere in the vicinity of one-hundred pics (both close details and distance shots that captured the entirety of the works). At the end of the session, I was heartily thanked for my contribution.

Flash forward to today. We had our first day of seminar after the New Year holidays, and there were a lot of announcements to be made. The professor handed out free tickets to museum exhibitions that she had received and mentioned that we'd be discussing plans for upcoming research sessions at next week's meeting. When class broke up, after three interesting presentations, we all milled about—as per tradition—making small (and large) talk.

I was about to pack up and leave when I heard the professor calling me.

"Teva, come and look at your photo!"

It turns out that the professor had used one of my shots from the Kōsanji trip for an article she recently published on Genji-e, and she wanted me to see it in all its glory. Myself and two other students had a look at the glossy shot, while the professor praised my photographic skills to within an inch of their life. It was apparently an incredibly well-detailed photo, perfectly suited to the specifications of what she wanted to illustrate, and she was exceedingly happy with it.

Admittedly, this was all a little embarrassing. I consider myself an indifferent photographer at best. When I do remember to take pictures of things with a camera, I typically point, shoot, and hope for the best. But I'm very happy that she was pleased with my shots, and it was incredibly kind of her to make such a big deal of what was a actually very small contribution on my part—even if it did cause me to blush profusely in front of my colleagues. The journal issue itself, which is entirely dedicated to Genji-e, looks very, very interesting. I'll have to see if I can get a copy of it...
sechan19: (morisot)
伏魔殿 (ふくまでん) fukumaden—
Pandemonium; an abode of demons; used in the phrase 政界の伏魔殿 (sekai no fukumaden) to indicate "a hotbed of political corruption," e.g. Washington D.C. (or anywhere, really) ;-)
sechan19: (kusama)
付和雷同する (ふわらいどうする) fuwaraidō suru—
(lit. peaceful attachment to the same lightning)
to follow someone blindly; to echo someone else's opinion without thinking about it.
sechan19: (kusama)
In honor of my amusing typo/Freudian slip in the previous post (now corrected thanks to [livejournal.com profile] metanoiac), I thought I'd post my top Gangnam Style videos for your viewing pleasure. The meme may be over, but the legacy lives on...

Original Gangnam Style Video
Lo Pan Style
Mitt Romney Style
Eton Style
Naval Academy Style
Deadpool Style
Psy and MC Hammer at the AMA: Gangnam Style v. 2 Legit 2 Quit

And, last but not least:
Gundam Style (Yeah, someone already thought of that one...)

Happy watching!
sechan19: (butterfly)
In Japan, the coming of the new year (Shōgatsu) is far and away the most important holiday of record. (Other major holidays include Setsubun [the bean throwing festival], Tanabata [the star festival], and Obon.) In contrast to the anything-goes party aesthetic that often attends the "western" new year, Shōgatsu is a family holiday. Many people return to their hometown in order to spend the first week of the year with their parents and, rather than partying 'til dawn on the last night/first day, visit their local shrine at midnight and local temple in the next week to pray for a prosperous twelvemonth. Of course, that doesn't mean that the party 'til dawn approach to new year's isn't savored by the denizens of the city, and the beauty of living in Tokyo is that you often get the best of both worlds.

I was fortunate this year to have the opportunity to do just that... )

All in all, this was one of the best New Year's I've ever spent, and I've spent some damn good ones over the course of my life. Here's hoping that yours was just as lovely and the coming year of the horse lovely to match...
sechan19: (anne)
Well, I couldn't let the year pass without doing one of these cathartic little bastards. Apologies for the radio silence; I'll try to blog more in the new year if I can.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Completed a professional translation; went through the entire tedious process of renting an apartment in Tokyo.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No, I didn't. But this year I hope to do better.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes.

5. What countries did you visit?
Japan.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Focus.

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 19. The day I moved into Obayashi Biru. AKA: The House of Trash and Glitter. AKA: The Room.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Completed a dissertation chapter draft.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I didn't let people know when I needed help as often as I should have.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, actually. I think it's time I admitted that my seasonal depression is an illness, and that it causes me a lot of difficulty.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A stuffed broccoli plushie.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Saskia's.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The usual suspects.

14. Where did most of your money go?
My mortgage primarily, but the initial startup costs of my Tokyo move were pretty impressively steep.

15. What did you get really excited about?
New experiences.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
"Q.U.E.E.N." by Janelle Monáe

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- i. happier or sadder?
Happier, I think. More hopeful, certainly.
- ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I actually don't really want to berate myself about this issue.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
See above.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Watched Die Hard on Christmas Eve and called my mom on Christmas Day.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
No.

22. Did you fall out of love in 2013?
No.

23. What were your favorite TV programs?
Doctor Who; Sleepy Hollow; American Horror Story; Ancient Aliens.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Absolutely not.

25. What was the best book you read?
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle

26. What were your greatest musical discoveries?
Sister Crayon, Ahn Trio, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Gnarls Barkley.

27. What did you want and get?
A chance to live abroad.

28. What did you want and not get?
A pony.

29. What were your favorite films of this year?
Iron Man 3, Now You See Me, World War Z, Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, The World's End, and 47 Ronin. (I'd expect Thor 2 and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to be on the list, too, but they haven't come out in Japan yet.)

30. What did you do on your birthday?
Went flea marketing with my parents; had a nice dinner.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Rolled out of bed and called it a day.

32. What kept you sane?
Nabe, chips, and beer.

33. Which celebrity/public figures did you fancy the most?
Orlando Jones, Nicole Beharie, Tom Mison, Evan Peters, Jessica Lange.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The US Government shutdown.

35. Who did you miss?
Everyone I left behind.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I met a lot of new people this year, and the jury's still out on who was the best.

37. What was a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Everybody needs help from time to time, and there's no shame in asking for it.

38. New Year's plans?
Partying in Tokyo with friends old and new.

39. Quote or song lyric that sums up your year?
"And all this music inside my head just keeps on playing in reverse/I swear I prayed to keep it curbed/But it's so easy to get distracted..."

A Good Day

Oct. 14th, 2013 04:27 am
sechan19: (butterfly)
So it looks like the apartment is definitely happening. K. and I go into the realtor's office on Wednesday to sign the contracts and then we'll be able to pick up the keys and relevant paperwork (this is the day for burnable trash pickup, this is the day for non-burnable trash pickup, this is the day for recycling pickup, etc.) on Friday and move in on Saturday. Needless to say, K. and I are super excited.

We met up this afternoon in Takadanobaba, which is a neighborhood adjacent to our neighborhood, and wandered around seeing the important sights (100-yen shop, Don Quijote store, best ramen in Takadanobaba, super shady Curry joint, awesome little hippie outfitter, and so on) and considering what our first steps should be after M-Day. We walked the streets around our apartment, which is so awesomely situated it's almost unreal. There's a well-stocked and extremely reasonably-priced supermarket, a 24-hour convenience store, an extensive drug store, a cheap hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, and a Parisian-style bakery all within a stone's throw. And apparently, there's what appears to be a decently outfitted liquor store nearby as well. Makes me almost feel like the universe knew I was coming and planned accordingly.

The apartment is also conveniently close to the hub of Waseda University's college town, but it's in an area of the ward that's located across the Kanda River (which is more like a stream) from the more boisterous areas. The result is that though a lively central hub is within an easy walking distance, the place where our apartment is feels like a little slice of quiet, small-town domesticity. It's really, really perfect, and I can't wait to get moved in—even though I know a collection of horrible experiences await me once moving begins. I will have to transport my things from where I'm staying in Chiba into Tokyo (most likely on the subway, which won't be pleasant), and I will have to jump through whatever bureaucratic hoops the Japanese government has lined up for me to change my residence and get my insurance and banking information switched over accordingly.

But I'm happy now, and I went on a delightful little shopping spree today in honor of the happiness. With K.'s encouragement I bought a hanko (a name stamp that is substituted for a signature on most official documents), a case to hold the hanko and a little ink pad, a sleek little pen case, a knitted winter cap with a bear face on it (no, really!), and a box of giant lightsaber pocky sticks (no, REALLY!). Shit just got real, y'all.

More to come.
sechan19: (anne)
My first week went by in something of a blur. Multiple meetings with school administrators, my professor, and the realtor; piles and piles of paperwork; lectures, seminars, and workshop presentations; get-togethers with friends old and new. It's been great/busy/frustrating/scary/exhilarating/exhausting. Even though there's still so much to do (I've started learning hentaigana and kuzushiji for real, which is a massive brain-strain, and I've got a presentation coming up in the first week of November that's closer than anyone thinks), I know that sometimes you just have to take a break.

And so, I found myself at Kasai Rinkai Park on Sunday, taking in the day's spectacles with my friend Eunja and her son, Son'eu. I've talked about Eunja many times on this blog, but for those who are new a little bit of introduction is probably in order.

I met Eunja five years ago on a plane from San Francisco to Tokyo. Eunja, who is Korean and living in Tokyo with her husband, Kim, was returning from a visit with a friend; I was on my way to Japan for an additional round of language classes at KCP International. In the last quarter of the flight, we struck up a conversation (in Japanese as I don't speak Korean and she doesn't speak English), exchanged contact info, and vowed to meet up in Tokyo to hang out. Five years later, Eunja and I are the best of friends. She's been an amazing support to me in my travels in Japan, providing me with language assistance, accommodation assistance, and general moral support in everything I've done here. A year and a half ago, she and her husband had their first child, Son'eu, who is a complete delight: energetic, bright, and enthusiastic. I love hanging out with Eunja and her family, and I try to meet up with them at least once a week for a meal and conversation.

This week's excursion took us to Kasai Rinkai Park, a massive waterfront park in Tokyo's Edogawa Ward. The space boasts a giant ferris wheel, freshwater and seawater ponds, vast expanses for bird watching, barbecue stations for picnicking, observation towers, and an aquarium complete with penguins. Naturally, we did not even begin to see everything the park had to offer. But we did get ourselves some festival food (yakisoba, yaki onigiri, and sausages on a stick) and had lunch on the grass, while Son'eu rambled about the fields—seeming to be equally interested in running as far away from us as Eunja would allow and trying to figure out how to operate my parasol.

When Son'eu tired, we put him in his stroller and made for the Tokyo Sea Life Park, an aquarium dedicated to the recreation of the world's various marine habitats. There were tanks for the Great Barrier Reef, and the Caribbean, and the Pacific Northwest, and the Ivory Coast, and everywhere else in between. They even had a penguin habitat, which caused me to reassess the incorrect perception I'd held up to that point that penguins only live in cold climates. Apparently, plenty of species of penguins live in temperate zones. You learn something new everyday.

And another thing about penguins; they are noisy. And they sound kind of like donkeys. Or geese. Or donkey-geese. (Do we even have donkey-geese? We really should. They could be the most fearsome antagonists of an awful made-for-SciFi-movie. They wanted to create the single most ornery animal known to mankind; now they'll wish they hadn't...)

The trip to the aquarium eventually put Son'eu to sleep, although he fought it for a long time because fish are strangely mesmerizing and children always have to fight sleep on principle. But once he'd drifted off, Eunja and I sat down by the gift shop and chatted for a little while over sodas and ice cream. And then it was time to head back "home." I had emails to reply to and the week's schedule to draw up and lots of hentaigana practice waiting for me.

But it was a lovely day, and I can't wait for our next outing.
sechan19: (anne)
I'm currently in the throes of house-hunting with my future roommate, K. Or, well, sort of. As it stands right now, we've hunted the house and are now waiting on documents. At least, I am. I'm pretty sure that K. has everything sewn up at this point. I've currently got two out of four required items, and I hope to have all of them by week's end. Fingers crossed for that.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to me during this process was the cultural prejudices that revealed themselves. Everybody knows that it can be hard to find a house as a foreigner. Many landlords won't even consider a foreign renter; no ifs, ands, or buts. However, what we didn't realize is that many landlords are also leery of renting to a pair of girls who are not related to one another. The reasoning being that girls fight over petty things, and two girls living together might get into a fight over something petty and suddenly not want to live together anymore. Furthermore, they're less likely to be able to manage their finances well.

The fact that K. and I have prestigious scholarships to study at Japanese universities seems to have gone a little ways towards ameliorating this fear. (And I also have the impression that the fact that we are not from the same country also helped somehow. Much was made of the fact that I'm American and K. is British. Two American girls would probably have been verboten...) Nevertheless, we were still asked to provide proof that our families would support us if we got into financial difficulties here, in addition to the standard request for a Japanese guarantor.

Now, I planned for a lot of hoop-jumping in my Japanese apartment search, but I have to admit that I never imagined I'd need to prove that my parents love me. Good thing they actually do, huh?
sechan19: (anne)
After a long and tumultuous flight across North America and the Pacific, I touched down in Narita Airport's Terminal 2 and began the process of getting home. I was seated in the back of the plane, which made take off really interesting because you can truly see the incline of the aircraft as it climbs to its cruising altitude—something I had never paid attention to before—from that position but also resulted in me being last for nearly everything: deplaning, immigration, baggage retrieval, customs. None of those things were problematic, however, and I was treated to an amusing Big-Brother-ish experience at immigration. Apparently, they make your foreign registration card on arrival now (instead of requiring people to go to their Ward Office to receive it), and they use the photographs that you supply in your Visa application—giving the impression that they knew I was coming and were waiting patiently for me.

Customs was a non-issue; I had nothing to declare, and I breezed through the checkpoint with barely a pause. My friend T. was waiting for me in the arrivals lounge. He took command of my largest piece of luggage and waited patiently while I withdrew money, purchased a new prepaid cellphone card, and reactivated my phone account. Then we made for the train station and went back to his place, where I struggled to stay awake for a few more hours to inform people that I'd made it safely before collapsing in exhaustion at 8pm.

The next day it was up and at 'em. My friend K. had set up an appointment for us to view a potentially desirable apartment at 11am, and T. needed to go into his office to do some work.

On the way to the station, which is a brisk twenty-minute walk from T.'s place, we chatted about various subjects before T. asked me to explain a concept he'd heard me mention once before in passing: Mercury Retrograde. Retrogrades are astrological phenomena (yes, I'm into astrology, deal with it) wherein a planet, by virtue of its position relative to the earth, appears to move backward along its orbital plane. When this happens, the planet is said to be retrograde and the elements of daily life that it influences are often stymied. Retrogrades occur at different intervals, depending on the length of the planet in question's revolution around the sun. Mercury goes retrograde 3-4 times a year, and—as it is the planet of communication—conversations, email exchanges, reservations, and so forth are likely to go subtly awry during these periods. For example, if you send an email message during Mercury Retrograde that never gets a reply, it's probably a good idea to send it again.

T. was fascinated by this explanation, his fascination due in no small part to the fact that it was nothing like what he expected it to be. T. thought that Mercury Retrograde was a term used to explain why we (in general, as Americans, I guess) are so fucked up—namely, that we absorbed too much mercury during our childhood (from thermometers or whatever) and that made us into low-functioning emotional idiots of some kind. He liked my explanation better, though, which is nice considering that it's accurate, and has decided to use Mercury Retrograde as his new excuse for everything. Forgot to respond to an email: Mercury was retrograde. Drank too much wine with dinner last night: Mercury was retrograde. Couldn't remember that Obi Wan Kenobi died in the original Star Wars: Mercury was retrograde.

As excuses go, it's not bad. Except for the part where Mercury is not actually retrograde at the moment. But in Japan, as elsewhere, it's best not to sweat the small stuff.
sechan19: (butterfly)
I'm the type of person who doesn't really feel hungry after I wake up. It usually takes me several hours after waking up to feel hungry, and for that reason I've never been much of a breakfast eater.

The last few days I've been staying with my friend Eunja and her family in Tokyo. Eunja lives with her husband, her son, and her mother-in-law. They've been feeding me extremely well at breakfast, although I've eaten sparingly in return. (I've been out most of the time the last couple of days for a conference, so I haven't had lunch or dinner with the family.) This morning, Eunja cut some fresh peaches for me and brewed a cup of tea, and I sat down to take care of some email and long-overdue reading—the usual drill—while I drank the tea and nibbled at the peaches.

As I worked, breakfast began to take shape around me. Rice was steamed, Korean vegetables, tofu dishes, and soups were brought out. Then Hamni (grandmother) and Eunja both began to ask me if I was going to eat. "Are you going to have some rice?" asked Hamni. I declined. She looked at Eunja in consternation. Eunja offered me yogurt, and I declined. She offered me cereal, and I declined. I explained that I never felt very hungry just after waking up, and the fruit was more than ample for me.

"I thought Americans eat lots and lots of food!" said Hamni.

"Oh, I suppose I'm not a very American American," I replied.

"Well, you have eat well to live well," said Hamni, and she went back to setting up the breakfast table, adding as she did: "I would have thought Americans need to eat lots and lots of food."

I returned to my work, and Eunja set about the task of spooning up bowls of rice. When she had two bowls prepared, Hamni broke in again: "Are you going to have some rice?" she asked me.

I looked at Eunja. Eunja looked at me.

"Maybe if I just have a small portion of rice?" I said.

Eunja immediately grabbed a bowl and spooned a half portion of rice into it. "Like this?" she asked.

"Yes, that's good," I said.

I took my bowl of rice to the table and sat down. Hamni ladled up a bowl of cold onion soup and gave me a dish of Korean daikon radishes. "You have to eat well to live well," she told me.

"Yes, that's true," I said and ate my breakfast.

May 2014

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