Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Shodo

Ok, maybe not ‘everything.’ Musouka left a nice comment on my last post about World Domination. It was a question about how to use the Shodo set bought from our online Japanese bookstore.

Here is a brief history and definition. I wish I could go in to it more, but the truth is, I don’t do shodo. I’ve tried it in the past, but I am just not that skilled. Shodo is an art form that requires patience (I lack that) and hand-writing skill (I most definitely lack that) – Oh, and lots of paper (that I can manage).

What is it?
Shodo 書道 shodou is Japanese calligraphy dating back at least 1500 years. Essentially, shodo is writing Japanese kanji and Chinese characters on special Japanese paper called 和紙 washi [和 wa Japanese 紙 shi paper] with a brush called 筆 fude.

Japanese Calligraphy - Shodo Set sold at TheJapanShop.com

* Suzuri: place where you mix the sumi with water and it holds the ink
* Sumi: Solid black ink that you rub in water on the Suzuri to make the liquid ink
* Shodoueki: already ready ink in liquid form. (If you don’t want to mess with the Sumi stick, here you go!)
* Mizusashi: just a container to squirt water into the suzuri when needed.
* Fude: Brush. The smaller brush (kofude) is used for writing your name and the larger brush is used for drawing the *characters.
* Bunchin: Heavy metal stick used to hold paper steady while writing.
* Shitajiki: Black, soft mat to lay under the paper

The beginning of this video shows how to mix the ink using the sumi on the suzuri.

Check out MoutainGaijin’s other videos. Very neat.

For more on the history of Shodo, check out Wikipedia’s entry.

My First Step to World Domination

I have reservations about titling a post, “My First Step to World Domination”, but as mentioned in a previous post, my first step to world domination would be to get 500 subscribers to our Youtube page. Today we’ve accomplished this first step.

I’m catching up with geriatric1927 and his 45,156 subscribers. 🙂

A TJPer last week made an excellent suggestion to improve our kanji pages. He suggested trashing the Quicktime animations we currently have and make mini Youtube videos in their place. Not only would it work with nearly 100% of browsers, but it would increase traffic to and from Youtube.

I want to work on this idea and try to post a prototype kanji video possibly today.

Selling Houses…

As mentioned previously, Yumi and I are trying to fix up our house to sell it. (and then buy a bigger house) We’ve done a lot of work, but the more we do, the more it seems we have left to do.

This morning a friend emailed me a link to a site that could potentially help anyone buy or sell a house.

For sellers: Iggy’s House is a FREE service that lists your house on the MLS. (the MLS is a huge database of houses on the market) Usually this can only be done through a realtor. Iggy’s House acts like your realtor but charges you NOTHING. Gone is the 8% commission. I don’t mind paying someone to list the house and do a little advertising, but 8% is just a little too much. We pretty much decided to do a For Sale by Owner, but that would mean not getting on the MLS. Iggy’s House solves that problem at no cost.

For buyers: Iggy’s House’s sister site BuySide Realty is the opposite. It acts as your realtor when looking for a house. The neat thing is they pay YOU 75% of the commission they receive from the sale. That is a lot of money. I am not sure if I can do the math right – 数学できないんです – but if the commission is 4% (half of 8% split between BuySide and the realtor who listed the house) then a $300,000 house would result in a $12,000 commission. BuySide keeps 25% ($3,000) and the 75% goes to the buyer ($9,000).

I did a quick search to see about their reputation. It looks pretty good. Here is one BBS for realtors about Iggy’s. You can feel the fear in the realtor’s posts (that is good for consumers). Competition in a free market is good for everyone. It drives prices down for the consumer AND the seller. It isn’t fun (at first) for the seller (I certainly understand this with our store) but it is best for everyone – especially the consumer.

Anyway, I will report back about this after testing their services a little.

Die Angst

I am still officially on vacation from this blog, but while cleaning the house I found a dialog for a skit I wrote way back at the University for a German Klass. It was so silly and embarrassing, I thought I’d make it public by posting it here.

It is called ‘Die Angst’ which means ‘the Fear.’ Here is the prologue (In English):

Narrator: Many years ago, there happened about this fellow who shall remain nameless. Now Bob (That was his name) had it good. He and his wife, Scotty – of whom he knew very well, set sail for the New World. However, they had to stop for directions midway. It was at this very spot where Bob and Scotty encountered a giant man-eating-sloth (it was a good thing for Scotty – being a woman). “Poor Bob,” Scotty thought as she watched the giant man-eating-sloth consume her husband, “Oh well, we’ll always have Paris!” And they did.

Interrupter: Wait a minute. What does any of this have to do with German?!

Narrator: Nothing, nothing at all. It’s just every dialog should start with a Bang.

Interrupter: Well did it?

Narrator: Did it what?

Interrupter: A Bang, that is, did it start with a Bang?

Narrator: BANG!

That is how it started and it just goes downhill from there. You might ask what this has to do with Japanese. Nothing, nothing at all.

Today’s Super Suiyoubiのミス

Oh boy. I messed up a little this morning.

About an hour ago I was wondering why we had so few orders for today’s Super Suiyoubi deal. Sometimes the Super Suiyoubi deal is a big hit and sometimes it… isn’t. But today’s deal was for 20% off two of our most popular items – A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar & A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar. I couldn’t understand why it was doing so poorly.

And then I opened Firefox…

You see, I use a small Flash file to do the ad for the special on the front page. I have a Flash file for the normal weekday ad and then I just change the filename in the code for the Super Suiyoubi sale (with a newly uploaded Flash file). The problem is the code has two spots for the file name. I misspelled one of them. I tested it in IE this morning and it worked, but I didn’t test it in Firefox! Well, Firefox didn’t work until a few minutes ago. I guess the handful of orders we got for the books all used Internet Explorer. The funny thing is, I usually use Firefox for just about everything. Oh well.

If you don’t have these two books, I highly recommend them. We will be out of the office tomorrow (Thursday) so the 20% off sale will be good until Friday morning (EST).

And now back to moving work…

Chotto Matte…

Yumi and I have pretty much decided to sell our house (a couple of days ago) and buy a bigger house. We have absolutely no room any more – especially with our business and Makoto too. So, I will take a little vacation from 1nichi1kai this month. I will probably post a few times, but not as regular as I have been. October should see regular posts again. (Well, we’ll see)

As Schwarzenegger paraphrased MacArthur, – “I’ll be back.”

P.S. Digital Juice is retiring their Presenter’s Toolkit:

I bought it on a super sale about a year ago for $99 or so. It isn’t great for TV video, but if you do web animations, graphics, videos etc, it is a must have. It says it was made for PowerPoint presentations, but I’ve found it to be perfect for web work.

40+ GB
4900+ Graphic Backgrounds
2000 Photos
2500 Photo Objects
3200+ Video Clips (320×240 MPEG1 Video 30 FPS)
900+ Music Clips (128 kbps MP3)
6700+ PowerToonz Illustrations

Plus you get to choose one of three free bonuses.
(see the page for a video showing it off – and no, I don’t get a kickback from this 🙂 )

How Many Languages?

I learned something today.

A nice lady emailed me asking what this meant:

何カ国語 nan ka koku go

I told her I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t look right and asked for context. She emailed back saying a friend’s Japanese teacher gave it as an assignment and there was no context. The assignment was simply to make a sentence out of it.

This threw me for a loop. Normally 国語 kokugo means the Japanese language, but I knew it could also mean a country’s language in general. Also the カ seemed like it should be the small ヵ or ヶ as in:

(more on this on a different post next week)]

After Yumi assured me it wasn’t wrong but perhaps a little strange out of the blue, I looked it up in my Casio XD-GW9600 (In case you weren’t paying attention, the link was a cunning plug for our store).

Under the entry for 国語, the first meaning given is a general language (of a country). But the immediate examples caught my eye:

  • 2か国語に通じている人 ni ka kokugo ni tsuujiteiru hito – a bilingual person
  • 何か国語も話す人 nan ka kokugo mo hanasu hito – a multilingual person; a polyglot

Yumi said to think of it as 「何か国」 plus 「語」. In other words, “several countries’ languages.”

But hovering my mouse over カ国語 and using Rikaichan (If you don’t have this, get this amazing free resource! I will blog about it later) it says, “counter for languages.”

Putting all this together, the original example makes sense.

You might be saying, “Clay, you’ve studied Japanese how long and you didn’t know that?!” Yep, I didn’t know that.