Welcome back to another addition of random Japanese words you will likely have no use for in your daily life. As some of you may or may not be aware, Japan is suffering from population decline. Aside from the general public not having enough children to replace the current population, mass population displacement/migration isn't exactly helping the situation either. Since the economy is heavily reliant on the GDP generated from its largest cities, many people leave their homes in the countryside to reside closer to financial centers with more opportunities. That brings us to today's word, 秘境駅/ひきょうえき/hikyoueki・secluded station. Its a very straightforward combination of characters, so lets breakdown these kanji.
⦁ 秘/ひ/hi - secret/conceal
⦁ 境/きょう/kyou - boundary, border, region
⦁ 駅/えき/eki - (train)station
The best way for me to explain these kanji is by introducing you to some other words that utilize them in ways that make their individual definitions more apparent. So, lets start with (秘), which is most often found in the word 秘密/himitsu・secret and (境), commonly found in the word 環境/kankyou・environment. By extracting the definition of these two words and applying them to 秘境駅, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that it represents a station in a secret environment; otherwise, a station in a remote/secluded region.
So, how did I come across this word anyway? Well, Japanese television seems to make a mission out of turning anything into semi-interesting programming, so when I found a segment of a show in which a man waits for hours at a secluded station to see what type of person off-boards, I was pretty intrigued. I've included a clip for you all to enjoy below, unfortunately there are no subs available. However, I'm sure you guys are bright enough to figure out whats going on using context clues.
On the other hand, I did find a Daily Mail report that did a piece on a station that remained open for several years so a single high school student could get to school everyday. However, upon her graduation, the station, like many others closed down.
What do you guys think? Are there regions in your country or city not serviced by public transit? How important is public transit to the infrastructure of your region? Is it possible/probable that an entire station would remain in service for the sake of one person? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post.
Until next time,
Long time, no see. Apologies for the extended absence. Your boy was going through some things(some of which, remain to be resolved). However, thats neither here nor there. I decided today would be a good day to return to my habit of exploring random Japanese words I consider interesting. Today's choice is a complicated one, inspired by various personal, political, and social events. For the sake of not being so esoteric, lets focus on the demonstrations that have plagued Hong Kong for the past 3 months. I won't go into too much detail regarding Carrie Lam's proposed extradition bill, but if you are interested in learning more, feel free to checkout Asian Boss's video below.
In any-case, these protesters are vehemently opposed to the use of force by the Hong Kong police department, even resorting to violence in cases of self-defense. Therefore, I have decided today's word is "抵抗/ていこう/teikou・resistance", so lets breakdown these kanji.
As you can see, this word contains 2 separate kanji with roughly the same meaning. While some may find this to be a nuisance, I personally find this to be a blessing in disguise. Due to the number of instances in which either character may appear in combination with others, it increases the probability of understanding the general meaning of a previously unknown word. This happens to be the case for the latter half of "抵抗", (抗), since it functions as a prefix for many words such as:
抗議・Protest 抗菌・Antibacterial 抗争・Dispute 抗うつ剤・Antidepressant
On the other hand, the former half of "抵抗", (抵), is much more complicated, hence why it might be considered a nuisance. However, to be fair, its alternative uses could loosely be associated with ideas that are functionally "contrary" to a person's interest, as in:
抵触・Inconsistent/Contradictory 抵当・Mortgage 抵当流れ・Foreclosure 副抵当・Collateral security
I think its cool that these symbols can be packed with so much meaning, both static and fluid. Are you able to reconcile the slight nuances between the two kanji introduced at the top of the post? Can you see how they might differ in use depending on the context given in their alternative examples? Are there words in your native language you feel may be redundant or obsolete? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Today's word falls in-line with our previous entry covering the rainy season or "梅雨/つゆ/tsuyu" as it is more commonly referred. This post could easily be interpreted as a continuation of the last, so to keep that spirit going we will return our conversation to weather for now. One of the more pleasant things about Japan's temperate climate, is the amount of diversity in its flora across all 5 seasons. During the rainy season in particular, beautiful pink, purplish-blue, white, and green "アジサイ・hydrangea" come into bloom all across the country. This word actually has kanji(紫陽花), but is more commonly referenced and written exclusively in kana. Actually, many flowers follow this trend unless found in scientific literature. However, for the sake the blog, lets breakdown these kanji anyway.
Unlike the rest of the words I've introduced so far, the reading of the kanji doesn't match the pronunciation outside this particular context. So, unless you were aware of the what the kanji are actually referring to in the beginning, I think most beginners would actually misread these kanji(and rightly so). However, I think that is what makes these characters particularly interesting because its current kanji usage was derived from a misunderstanding centuries ago.
There was once a famous poet from Tang Dynasty China whom wrote about a beautiful blue flower that was blooming in the sunshine. This poem became quite famous during the Heian period in Japan, and the the flower was mistakenly interpreted to be the hydrangea when, in fact, the hydrangea was not in bloom at the time in China. The poet was actually describing a different flower. But since, there weren't any photos back then, no one was aware of this mistake. On top of that, the Japanese used the kana version of the word to describe a type of mackerel(ガクアジサイ) which shared a similar pronunciation. So, in order to make a clear distinction, the kanji stuck and became associated with the image of the アジサイ we have today. Eventually, this mistake was noticed and the kana became あづさヰ.
Anyway, I'll end the lesson here before things become too convoluted. In all, the kanji attached to this word was all a big misunderstanding that stuck around for hundreds of years. What do you guys think? Does your language have a word with a similarly interesting history? Is there a Japanese word with an origin that confuses you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Its about time we got back into the groove of featuring some common, yet mildly interesting Japanese vocabulary experienced on a daily basis. Today's word is related to the weather, more specifically the seasons. Were you aware that Japan has five distinct seasons? That fifth season is called "梅雨/つゆ/tsuyu・rainy season", typically lasting from early June to Mid-July . But what do these kanji really mean? Lets break it down.
*The pronunciation of these kanji changes depending on context.
Unlike some of the words I've introduced on the blog previously, the true definition of the individual kanji is vaguely helpful in understanding the true definition of the word. Naturally, this requires us to take a closer look at the history and etymology of the word. For those unaware, Japanese originally derived from Chinese centuries ago. Because of this, the two languages share similar writings and pronunciations of certain characters still used today; hence the asterisk above.
What we commonly recognize as 梅雨 now, used to be written as 黴雨/ばいう/baiu when early Japanese still maintained closer ties to the Chinese language. The first kanji(黴), means mold. In China(Japan as well), mold easily sprouts during the rainy period and was therefore aptly named. However, due to the negative connotations that "mold" has, the Japanese selected a more palatable kanji(梅) with the same reading(bai) that would also be seasonally appropriate -- please note the Japanese Almanac of Seasonal Words. Whatsmore, plum trees blossom in early spring and eventually bare fruit toward the summer. Eventually as the language developed, alternative readings for various characters would proliferate until the colloquial pronunciation persisted into the modern era. Cool right? Well, I guess that depends on who you ask.
What do you think? How many seasons does your country have? Do you have a favorite season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
As it gets warmer summer quickly approaches, leaving us with a number of unique flora indicating the tail end of spring. With a culture of flower arrangement being ubiquitous in Japanese society, many types of plants hold a significant cultural value here. All across the country, flowers and plants are landscaped in a manner that acknowledges history, culture, and our awareness of the environment as we shift our lives through the changing seasons. One such flower encouraged me to write today's word of the day: ツツジ/Tsutsuji・Azalea.
ツツジ/Tsutsuji There is no kanji to discuss within today's word, so I'm going to give you the rundown on why these flowers are so popular. First, ツツジ typically bloom between late May and early June. This year, we saw them come into season very early due to the dramatic rise in temperature. At the time of writing, a lot of them have begun to wither away , but not before I managed to take a nice picture.
Next, It is very common to see the flowers placed alongside roadways due to their ability to recycle polluted air. Though the background is out-of-focus in the image above, I took the picture in front of an apartment that faces an intersection. Lastly, this particular genius of flower comes in 3 colors that were first bred over 300 years ago, purple, pink,and white. ツツジ are incredibly resilient to high temperatures, don't need much maintenance, and some are actually edible! Even though ツツジ are visible in most places throughout daily life, some shrines and gardens host brilliant Azalea festivals that celebrate the flowers. Because they adorn landscapes in such a majestic manner, I highly recommend you visit such festivals should you ever visit Japan during the season.
Thats all for today, what do you think? Did you know ツツジ were exported to America and Europe in the 1800s? What is your favorite type of flower? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
After a long 10 day vacation, I'm back to the grind of everyday life here in Japan. While it was fairly easy for me to get reacquainted with my work habits, I've been reading news articles about others whom are having much more difficulty falling back into the flow. Perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of people DISLIKED having a long vacation as the pressure of work no doubt weighed heavily on their conscious through out the holiday period. Which, more or less, is a segway into today's word of the day, "五月病/ごがつびょう/gogatsubyou ・May Blues".
The generic definition for May Blues suggest that it is experienced by individuals whom have a difficulty adjusting their mental state to a new environment. This type of anxiety is commonly observed in college freshman and new employees, but can refer to situations in which there is a prolonged absence from work/school. But why is it referred to as 五月病？ The reasoning is simple, but lets breakdown these kanji first.
*Beware: The pronunciation of this character may change depending on context.
The fifth month is obviously May, but the reason why "sickness" is associated with it is due to Japan's imperial calendar. In previous posts about job hunting and the moving season, I mentioned that the start of the fiscal year is observed at the beginning of April. Since that is the case, schools and business start not long afterwards, leaving new recruits/students to become acclimated to their new environments. Since change isn't always welcome, the discomfort manifests as May Blues.
Interesting? I've mentioned other illnesses in word of the day posts prior. You can read about that here. What do you think? Have you experienced depression or anxiety after a long vacation? How about from being in a different environment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
After returning from a long Golden Week, a subtle shift in people's dress can be found all across the country. If you don't live in Japan, you definitely won't recognize this small difference even upon visiting the country, but its the start of a very particular season. And no, its not summer. Its "クールビズ シーズン/Cool Biz Season"!
Introduced in 2005 by the Environment Ministry, Cool Biz is an initiative to lower energy consumption and combat climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. Japan gets extraordinarily hot and humid during the summer months, so all corporate businesses and governement agencies adopt a slightly more relaxed dress code. Cool Biz Season, or just "Cool Biz", is the coined term for the period of time between May 1st and October 31 used to acknowledge that break in dress code. During the first few weeks of May, you will notice more and more salarymen leaving the necktie at home. Around June, it typically becomes very rainy, and therefore very humid, so most people will leave for work without a suit jacket. By July and August, most men begin wearing short-sleeve dress shirts if they haven't already. Of course, women also participate in Cool Biz, but I never notice many changes in attire with the exception of color and material.
Since クールビズ does not have any kanji, solely written in katakana, I will go over the 2 components of this compound word as it relates to what is acceptable dress.
How's the weather in your region? Is it heating up? Does your governement have a national protocol for how people should be dressing for work during various parts of the year? What do you think about this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, please like and share this post~
Until next time,
Todays word will be in relation to the upcoming holidays set to take place in Japan. If you have read my previous post about the new era, 令和/reiwa, then you may be aware of its significance in the days ending out April. Moreover, there are several other sequential holidays coming in a block known as "ゴールデンウイーク/golden week", which will be the topic for todays entry.
So, since there is no kanji to break down, and I've discussed the purpose of katakana in a previous post, we will discuss the nature of festivities that happen during this block of time.
There are 4 national holidays that fall within Golden week between the end of April and beginning of May.
Even though Golden Week is an annually observed series of holidays, this year saw the addition of several more, totaling an unprecedented amount of 10 consecutive holidays. On 5/1, the new emperor will be coronated marking the beginning of the 令和 era, thus becoming a National Holiday. However, the cool part is the existance of a law that designates the day falling in-between two national holidays also be observed as a national holiday. Taking this into consideration, both 4/30 and 5/2 become holidays. With so much time off, Golden week becomes one of the 3 busiest travel times of the year. Since a variety of businesses are closed during this time, most people take this opportunity to visit their hometowns or travel abroad. On the flipside, a lot more people continue to work at some point during the holiday, usually opting to come in on a saturday or sunday in an effort to make-up lost time. My day job requires me to work in the public school system, so I will have an uninterrupted break until the 7th. During this time I will be leaving Tokyo at some point to visit my girlfriend's family in the countryside for a few days.
How often do you travel? Do you get to enjoy many vacation days throughout the the year? What would you do if you had 10 days off? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Recently, news has been spreading concerning a number of Kpop stars being involved in the filming and distribution of illicit spy cam pornography. Though this news primarily comes from South Korea, I'm certain Japan is not immune to such illegal activity. In fact, the privacy laws in Japan are so strict in regards to filming individuals without consent, that all cellphone camera apps are defaulted with a shutter sound that cannot be deactivated. However, over the years, numerous hotels across korea have been found to be compromised by highy quality spy cameras, most of which are no larger than a pinhole. The hidden cameras have been found inside the most inconspicuous items such as coke cans, toothpaste rolls, smoke detectors, books, and any/all types of typical hotel furnishings. I recommend taking a look at the video below to see some of the most common hiding places and methods of finding hidden cameras.
Anyway, our word for the day is "隠しカメら/かくしかめら/kakushi kamera or hidden camera. Lets break it down.
*Beware: This is the conjugated noun version of the verb 「隠す・to hide/conceal」.
The later part of the word is written in Katakana, clearly borrowed from English. Its pronunciation is almost identical, so I will skip it. On the other hand, I think 隠し is very peculiar looking. Starting on the left 阝・hill, mound. Top- to-bottom, 爪 or ⺤・claw, ョ・katakana "yo"(could possibly mean "pig snout"), and finally 心・heart. I'm not entirely confident about ヨ having a definition in this context, but if so chosen I think it could make sense. I can imagine a pig at the foot of hill trying to conceal itself(heart) from predators(claws)...or something like that.
Today is a short one, so I will leave it there. Do you worry about spy cams when you stay at hotels? How about in an Airbnb? Will you be super paranoid about it now? lol I know I will. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, please like and share this post~
Until next time,
As you may have heard, Taiwan experienced a sizeable 6.1 magnitude earthquake in its northeastern region yesterday afternoon. The seismic activity was enough to topple buildings and injure at least 17 people according to early reports.
Since Japan also sits on the ring of fire, we experience minor earthquakes on a regular basis. Because of our regions suseptibility to this type of natural disaster, I chose "地震/じしん/jishin・earthquake" to be the word of the day. Lets breakdown these kanji.
*Beware: pronunciation of individual kanji may change depending on context.
Though these kanji may look complicated, I think being aware of each individual definition makes this word easier to understand relative to the instances in which we encounter them in the context of other words.
That might seem like a lot, but the point is becoming accustomed to using context clues; identifying the relationship between the kanji you do know, among the ones you do not. I didn't know the word 耐震 before writing this post, but if 「耐」is associated with "resistance", then its safe to assume that if I encountered it combined with a kanji I'm familiar with...like, 火・fire, 「耐火」probably means "fireproof".
Hopefully that bit of logic is helpful. Have you ever experienced an earthquake? How about any other natural disaster? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,