Happy 平成19年!

Well, it is the new year in Japan anyway. 


 Here is our 年賀状 with our address blacked out.  I know everyone who reads this is a good guy, but what about that person reading over your shoulder?!  


 It is now Heisei 19. (Just in case you lost count)


Here is a bit about the Japanese New Year 



It's official.  The White (male) Group wins!


If you have never lived in Japan during the New Year, you may not know what Kouhaku is.  As the name implies it is a kind of singing contest between the 'red group' and the 'white group.'  Women performers make up the 赤組 (red) and male performers make up the 白組 (white).  Performing on the Kouhaku is by invitation only so it is always interesting to find out who 'made the cut'.

It seems to have three groups of singers: 1) those who can REALLY sing well, 2) those who can't REALLY sing well, but have nice faces and 3) those who are willing to perform in the most outrageous getups.

If you like J-pop and/or Enka, watching Kouhaku can be fun and educational as every song has 字幕 (subtitles) in Japanese.

It started way back in 1951 on radio (hence the '57th') but today it can be watched on HDTV and voted for from your cell (if you live in Japan of course!).

NHK's Kouhaku page



I first heard this phrase at a middle school in Japan.  The students entering a school play pointed at their respective parents sitting in the stands and said to me, 「親バカ」.  Naturally I was a little appalled at hearing school children call their parents fools.  I mean, these were THE good kids.  Seeing the horror on my face and a flash in their minds of me running to their parents tattling 'Your son called you バカ!' they quickly said 'クレイ先生 – dictionary, dictionary'. I pulled out my good ole Canon IDX-9500 and calmed down.

 Kenkyusha's huge J-E says this:

おやばか「親馬鹿」     foolish [blind] parental doting

 And then it goes on to give five example sentences which accurately describe what Yumi and I have become over Makoto!

The Most Muppetational Trip

We bought a DVD player for our minivan so that Makoto could be entertained instead of crying.  For the most part he did well without it, but there were moments on the eight hour trip that called for it.  

Here is what I learned: 

    Baby Einstein – Overpriced
    Wiggles – Awesome       
    The Muppet show First Season – Awesome (OK, this one was for me)

 We got back safely, but Makoto had a stomach bug on the trip back.   Other than being tired out from the trip, he seems to be mostly over the bug.

Free 3 Kyuu Kanji Email List

I have been saying I'd do it for years and one day I paid my sister to do the work for me! Well, I did have some prep work. Anyway, if you are studying for 3 kyuu in '07, sign up to receive an email a day with all the information on that kanji from theJapanesePage.com's Kanji Study Center.  It is free, of course!

I threw the signup script up there a few days ago and we already have 79 subscribers (about 15 sign ups a day). If you spot any errors or problems with any of the emails, let me know. (I am also getting them daily and checking)
To sign up, go to the front page of TJP:


* There is also a 4 kyuu list.

** 4 kyuu basically covers the 100 most useful kanji.  3 kyuu continues that for another 200 or so kanji.

Miyamoto Musashi 宮本武蔵

Musashi the BookI just started reading Musashi by Eiiji Yoshikawa (in English). It is definitely a page turner.  I'm only about 100 pages down the road, but I will do a full review when I am finished.  

  A director named Hiroshi Inagaki did a trilogy of movies based on this book staring the one and only Mifune Toshiro (I know I put the last name first here, but it just looks strange to read 'Toshiro Mifune' すまんね)