Two things happened on today’s 散歩 sanpo (dog and baby walk). We take a walk every day after the post man takes away the orders for the day. Things happen. Occasionally a big dog without a leash appears. He ignores us, but our little Tevye and Hana go crazy. Occasionally we stop to talk to our neighbors working in their yards. Things happen.

But today, other things happened.

1) It sounded like Makoto said ‘inu‘ and ‘dog‘ while pointing to Tevye. Makoto at 1 year and 3 months hasn’t spoken outside of ベビ語 bebi go (baby language). But it really sounded like he was making ‘inu‘ and ‘dog‘ sounds while referring to Tevye. I’ve heard him speak Korean and Chinese but never Japanese or English.

2) We’ve realized young children only notice the dogs and older adults only notice the baby. We pass a child and he inevitably says, “Nice doggies.” We pass an adult with one or more gray hairs, we hear, “Nice baby.” Today had this rule’s first exception. A grandma was walking with her granddaughter and said to the child, “Look at the nice dog.” What was she thinking? What about the baby? Was she under the influence of 孫パワー mago pawa- Grandchild Power?

Strange things indeed.

The Mysterious Return of Hana – 神出鬼没


ninja ken
kunoichi hana sanjou

Ninja Dog
An Appearance by the Female Ninja Hana

Hana, the Dog

A few days ago I began to notice Hana (our dog) suddenly appear inside when I distinctly remembered letting her out.

I blamed it on my thirty-something rampant senility, but after the third ‘deja vu’, I grew suspicious.

Hence today’s word:

shin shutsu ki botsu
Appearing suddenly in unexpected places and at unexpected moments

Yes, like a ninja, Hana teleported herself from the wild back yard to our even wilder (since Makoto’s been here) inside. Dog Teleportation (or more commonly known as DT) may very likely be your first thought. Mine too. However, digital photos can’t be manipulated. Here is the proof for a far less sensational theory:

The Screened Area Leading to the Great Outdoors
The back screen area


And the Proof without Pudding:
The Evidence

忍者犬 ninja ken – Ninja Dog
くのいち kunoichi – a female ninja; A neat trick is to draw the kanji for woman: 女 start with く then katakana ノ then 一.  This spells out ku-no-ichi
ハナ hana – Hana, our dog’s name
参上 sanjou – Visit



Nintendo DS Lite Available at Amazon!!

After months of not having them in stock, Amazon now has new Nintendo DS lites in stock for the standard $129.99 price:

Nintendo DS Lite – Polar White

The ‘Lite’ improves on the original DS giving the screen increased brightness, lighter weight and other slight adjustments.

The Nintendo DS is a super great tool for learning Japanese. I’ve done a few videos showing how useful it can be (see Here and Here)

I guess Nintendo had a massive shortage and was not able to keep up with the demand.  If  you’ve been looking for one, grab it while you can.

Sickness and Names

I may get in trouble for this post…

My apologies to all the Gary’s and Deb’s out there.

Since my sister’s daughter was born three weeks ago we have been sick on rotation and haven’t been able to go over to see her. First, I fought a sore throat and head cold for pretty much the whole three weeks. Then for the past three days our son has been sick with a bad case of diarrhea. Thank God, he is totally over it now.

The first night we pretty much stayed up all night with him. The next morning, a friend who owns a lawn maintenance service was out cutting our grass (That’s right. I don’t live in Japan) at the very early (or so it seemed) hour of 10 AM. After he finished he came in and our conversation went something like this:

Gary: Hi Clay! How’s it going?
Clay: I’m fine, but Makoto, well.. Do you remember what I told you your name meant in Japanese?
Gary: Of course. I haven’t been able to forget that since the day you told me what it meant over breakfast. *
Clay: Well, Makoto is sick.

Here are a few words that sound somewhat like a Japanese word:

Gary sounds like 下痢 geri – “diarrhea”
Deb sounds like デブ debu – “fat” or “chubby”
Connie sounds like カニ kani – “crab”

And from the movies:

Rambo sounds like 乱暴 ranbou – violent
Uma (the skinny blond actress) sounds like 馬 uma – horse

Oh and of course McDonald sounds a lot like マクドナルド makudonarudo – McDonald’s

* We occasionally have what I call the ‘Old Men’s Club’ Friday mornings for breakfast. Just for the record, I’m the youngest.


I had a lady write me this morning asking for children’s traditional songs in ‘English but not translated‘. I can only hope this means ‘please write it in romaji‘. She particularly wanted Momotarou.

I did a Google search for ‘momotaro’ and ‘dango’ since those were the first two words of the song that popped in my head. About eight down was a hit to TheJapanesePage.com. I had forgotten, but years ago Yumi and I wrote the Momotaro song out and recorded her singing it.*

A few hours later I picked up a Crayon Shinchan manga and happened to flip to a story where Misae (his mother) is reading him a bed time story. It happened to be Momotaro – well, something to the semblance thereof. Allow me to quote it:

mukashi mukashi, aru futsuu no tokoro ni futsuu no ojiisan to obaasan ga imashita.
A long time ago, there lived an ordinary old man and old woman in an ordinary place.

aru hi futsuu tarou wa oni ga machi no hitobito ni ijiwaru shite iru no wo kikimashita.
One day, Futsuu Tarou heard there was an Oni who was causing trouble for the town’s people.

shikashi futsuu tarou wa futsuu no ko datta node sono mama futsuu ni kurashitemashita.
But Futsuu Tarou was an ordinary child so he continued to live an ordinary life.

If you took out all the 普通s and had a brave little boy willing to stop the oni, you would have the story of Momotaro.

* Of course I am writing this unbeknownst to Yumi. I am sure she would like for me to take it down.

Speaking in Japanese on the Phone

I use Japanese everyday. I read a good bit and spend a lot of time speaking to my wife, my one year old son, the dogs and various inanimate objects that happen to be in my way. However, I rarely speak Japanese with anyone else.

I realized a few months ago this made my Japanese pretty casual. For example, I rarely have a need to use ます・です forms. Yesterday I was on the phone with a Japanese teacher and found myself unconsciously dropping the ます and going for the plain form of the verbs. Each time I did a mental “aughh!” and went back to the polite forms.

This reminds me.* We put out a Denwa Download pack for learning set phrases associated with phone Japanese. It won’t help with forgetting to use ます, but it has ten dialogs and some eighty common phrases with sound.

That teacher was really nice and I greatly enjoyed the chance to speak with her. Since the town we live in has a Japanese population of one (including my wife), I don’t have a great chance to practice my polite Japanese. It is odd to say the least using keigo with Yumi.

* Honestly, I didn’t write this rant around the product, but if you think it will help you, buy it anyway!