| Dec 22, 2013

This year's buzzwords show how Japanese is evolving

by Mark Schreiber

Last month I shelled out ¥2,980 for my 2014 edition of 現代用語の基礎知識 (“Gendai Yogo no Kiso Chishiki”, “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Words”). It’s a 1,660-page monster that’s well worth the outlay, and this year publisher Jiyu Kokumin-sha, as an extra bonus, included a 74-page booklet ...

December: A last tango with soba

| Dec 15, 2013

December: A last tango with soba

by Kaori Shoji

Some men go out to buy that flaming red sportscar. Others embark on a messy but absorbing divorce process. Then there is of course, nirvana: the gorufujō (ゴルフ場, golf course). But in Japan, when men hit a certain age they have another option to ...

Some illuminations on the red lantern

| Dec 1, 2013

Some illuminations on the red lantern

by Minoru Matsutani

Last month, the chōchin (提灯, a Japanese traditional lantern) at Kaminarimon (雷門, the gate of Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, in Tokyo’s Taito Ward) was replaced with a new one, the first time it has been renewed since 2003. The Kaminarimon chōchin is 3.9 meters ...

You may find <em>mei</em> mystifying

| Oct 20, 2013

You may find mei mystifying

by Mark Schreiber

It’s almost Halloween again, so before I set out my カボチャ提灯 (kabocha chōchin, jack-o’-lantern), I thought the time is right to take up the topic of 迷信 (meishin, superstition). The first character is 迷, meaning lost or puzzled, made by combining the phonetic 米 ...

| Sep 29, 2013

Good morning Miss Kita-Senju, konbanwa Japan

by Matthew Chozick

Perhaps there comes a day in many a man’s life when he squints and says to himself something like this: 「まずいなぁ、もう少し度の強いメガネがあったら良かった。この距離だと、あの方が女装している北野武さんなのか、ミス・インターナショナルなのか、分からないや」(“Mazui nā, mō sukoshi do no tsuyoi megane ga attara yokatta. Kono kyori da to, ano kata ga jyosō shiteiru Kitano Takeshi-san nanoka, Misu ...