Butterflies and Elephants

The two “to”sWhile watching a detective show (相棒) there was a scene where the younger detective was telling the older detective (水谷豊) some obscure tidbit about butterflies. Impressed by the fact the older detective didn’t know that piece of trivia, he continued by counting a group of butterflies to make a new point. He said:

このごひきは・・・ As for these five butterflies…

The older detective stopped him and said, 正式には、蝶は「ひき」ではなく「頭」で数えるんですよ。Officially, you should use ‘tou’ instead of ‘hiki’ to count butterflies.

Well, that just got my goat. How could that be? A butterfly is counted using the same counter as an elephant?!

I’ve always thought 頭 was reserved for large animals. While this appears to be true for the most part, insects are supposed to use 頭 also. However, apparently, most Japanese count butterflies with 匹.

Here is an interesting essay from a bug guy (fancy term for entomologist). He argues it should be fine to count butterflies with 匹 since this counting problem is really only found in 漢字文化圏 (countries that use kanji) and just about everyone says 匹 anyway:


This reminds me of the time in a Junior High class when I mixed up a counter. I can’t remember what mistake I made but the teacher corrected me and told the class they shouldn’t laugh since the counting system was so complex in Japanese. Then she turned to the student laughing the loudest and asked, “How do you count books?”

The student instantly said いっぽん、にほん・・・ ippon, nihon…

Of course it should be  一冊、二冊 issatsu, nisatsu

Poor kid. In his defense it was kind of a trick question since book is ‘ほん’

hiki – used to count most animals

tou – used to count large animals and apparently… butterflies

相棒 aibou Partners – I love this show. Mizutani Yutaka is the greatest! He is the definition of 慇懃無礼 ingin burei – uses overly polite to the point of being rude! (Maybe I will make a post about this later…) Link

このごひきは・・・ kono gohiki wa As for these five butterflies…

seishiki ni wa, chou wa ‘hiki’ dewa naku ‘tou’ de kazoerun desu yo.
Officially, you should use ‘tou’ instead of ‘hiki’ to count butterflies.

Tattoos and Busyness

Perhaps we should put a big 640 x 480 graphic on the front page of TJP saying “We don’t help with kanji Tattoos!”

I’ve been busy with a major product that I hope will go live in a little bit, but it may still be more like a lot a bit.  Sorry no hints… yet.

In related news, TheJapanShop.com moved to its own server the other day (it had been living in a shared server) and this morning I finally moved the database to a database on that server.  It is much faster now!  If you have ordered from us in the past few months, undoubtedly you’ve noticed we’ve had trouble with server response time.   I hope that trouble is over.

(just tested it again) Yep, it is still fast!

Funny スターウォーズ Video

Obviously, I didn’t do this one, but it is just funny:

It seems Princess Leah’s mom ate Doraemon’s last Dorayaki and this is the catalyst for him turning to the dark side. This is a scoop not even George Lucas knew about!

I thought this guy had a video of the ファイト一発! (the energy drink) mountain climbing CM, but it must have been someone else’s. If I find it, I’ll post a link to it.

Take a look at his other stuff:

How People Find this Blog…

This site doesn’t traffic in any traffic to speak of (yet), so I am always interested in how people find the place. As you would expect most people come here from TheJapanesePage.com, but occasionally I get hits from Google and other search engines.

This morning while looking at the stats, I noticed someone found us by searching for ‘Finger Flour って何?’ at Google.co.jp. Having no clue what ‘Finger Flour’ is to begin with, I was even more clueless as to why 1nichi1kai.com had anything to do with ‘Finger Flour’.

As it turns out, if you go to http://www.google.co.jp and type “Finger Flourって何?“, we come up as the #1 position!! (as of 9:33 AM Monday, April 23rd, 2007). Amazingly (I suppose), we don’t even appear if you do the same search at Google.com.

An interesting morning…

–BTW if you are the Finger Flour searcher – thank you for visiting!

— ところで、もしあなたが「Finger Flourって何?」を検索した人なら、いらっしゃいませ!

— What is Finger Flour?


A few nights ago, while flipping through the late night listings on TV Japan, I set the receiver to DVR a サラリーマンNEO episode. I thought it would be a repeat since the series ended a while back. But it was the first episode of the second season! (It may be old news in Japan, but it was the first time TV Japan aired it)

One thing I like about Japanese TV is the unusually large amount of cleverly crafted ばかばかしい shows. It’s amazing how much thought goes into making these programs.

Well, NHK is more of a straight shooter and TV Japan shows mostly NHK programming. But they have produced a very odd but entertaining show called サラリーマンNEO. It is thirty minutes of off the wall skits with only one thing in common; they all have something to do with salary men (and women).

Some skits include:

テレビサラリーマン体操 – This of course is a 真似 of NHK’s daily (and quite dry) TV Exercises, but with a Salary Man theme! Turn to your superior, bow! Turn to the office guest, bow! Reach for a 名刺, lean forward – hold stretch – present 名刺 with both hands and return to your desk.

大河内透の恋愛ブログ – Five years after learning the love of his life (at least in his mind) was to be engaged to another man, 大河内 Ookouchi receives a 年賀状 from her announcing she now has two children. He writes in his lonely hearts blog about the happenings when suddenly he is introduced to the new office lady. He screams 「キッターーーーーーーーー!!!」 to the camera. (a play on the 電車男 TV show) and the blog’s name changes to 大河内透の恋愛ブログ

セクシー部長 – Well, I can’t describe this one. Click on the link below for more…

A full list of the skits.

サラリーマン sarari-man – ‘salary man’; a company employee
ばかばかしい bakabakashii – stupid
真似 mane – imitation
名刺 meishi – business card
大河内 Ookouchi – A name
年賀状 nengajou – New Year’s cards

Yumi’s Blog 猫日記

Years ago Yumi had a blog even before I knew what a blog was. At the time we were living with my parents who had cats; five cats actually.* Yumi loved cats. So her site was called Neko Nikki (cat diary).


While in Japan she had cat everything (cat stationary, cat photo books, cat shirts, and even a real cat too!) and totally disliked dogs. Naturally when we came to the States, I decided we needed to fix that problem and went to the pound to get A dog (singular). There were these two cute puppies who introduced themselves as follows:

こんにちは!わしはテビエです! (even as a puppy, Tevye looked like an おじいさん)

こんにちは!あたしはハナというんです!あたしって、かわいいでしょう!さあ、なでてちょうだい! (Then and now, Hana sees a human and knowing the world revolves around her, gives them the honor of petting her while she licks their faces)

Impressed they could speak Japanese, we just had to get both of them.

–end interlude–

Anyway, after several years of a non-updated Nekonikki.com, I installed WordPress for her yesterday. She already has a few posts.


* Five cats, but a few of them were rather large. I suppose by weight they would be close to six cats.


konnichi wa! washi wa tebie desu!
Howdy! I’m Tevye. (わし means ‘I’ but has the impression of an old man)

old man

atashi wa hana to iun desu!
I’m called Hana!

atashitte, kawaii deshou!
I’m just cute as a button, don’t you think?

saa, nadete choudai!
Well then, let the petting begin!