Thursday, July 23, 2009

a "skosh" intriguing

In Japanese many foreign "loanwords" have been adopted and adapted into the Japanese lexicon, known as Gairaigo (外来語). You have come across them, and they are usually written phonetically in katakana, like:


Well, this interesting tidbit just came through my inbox today. An inversion that I wasn't aware of:

The Word of the Day for July 23 is:

skosh \SKOHSH\ noun
: a small amount : bit, smidgen

Example sentence:
The barista sprinkled a skosh of fresh ginger onto the milky surface of the latte.

Did you know?
The word "skosh" comes from the Japanese word "sukoshi," which is pronounced "skoh shee" and means "a tiny bit" or "a small amount." The Japanese word was shortened by U.S. servicemen stationed in Japan after World War II. Later, in the Korean War, a small soldier was often nicknamed "Skosh." In civilian-speak, "skosh" can be used as a noun (as in our example sentence) or adverbially (as in "I'm a skosh tired").

So I'm going to try to use this however I can. Might make me sound a little Commonwealth, but perhaps it is worth the risk

And what is the most recognized foreign loanword in the Japanese language today? Guess!

Does this all mean a breaking down of cultural barriers and differences, for better or worse? Some don't think necessarily so.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GUNDAM - 30 years old AND an environmentalist?

Hey all you Gundam fans out there - looks like Tokyo is putting on a top rate Happy Birthday celebration for this mobile suit warrior! The Japan Times article's headline seems a litle misleading in pitching the fighting robot's greenness:

Gundam goes Green: The transformational centerpiece of a drive for a clean future

Beyond the headline and the net little quote, it is basically an anime lovefest for Gundam...Nevertheless, I'm sure it'll be quite a nice party.

"The theme of 'Mobile Suit Gundam' contains a passion for the environment that matches with Tokyo's plan to expand the city's green areas," says Yasuo Miyakawa, managing director of the Gundam Character Works department at Sunrise Animation, the program's creator.

Friday, July 10, 2009

violins, beer, and Perry (Y150!)

On a recent visit to Yokohama to BankArt 1929 Christa and I took in a lot, including the blitz of media and events around Yokohama's 150th anniversary
But anniversary as what? The town has been around a longer time than that, but 150 years marks the year - 1859 - when Yokohama opened as an official internationl port city. In this case, the city's very identity is framed on its opening from the 200 year isolation of the Tokugawa shogunate. A recent article in the JR bullet train magazine discusses the adoption of Western music -and particularly jazz- by Japan. Some of the images from the magazine are pretty great in showing the odd mixtures and transitions in the early Meiji period (click on the above image to see it in detail).

Of course the man to force that opening was Commodore Matthew Perry six years before that when he arrived in the area in 1853. Perry references abound in the city right now, in fact one artist's work at BankArt on exhibition now uses Perry as a major theme. The gallery's restaurant/bar is even serving a commemorative beer based on a recipe for beer brought by Perry's crew on that first visit to Nippon. The beer, let me say, was tasty. The label that BankArt designed for the berr (called Pe-ru-ri" katakana for "Perry") makes him out to be something in between Rudolph the red-nose reindeer and a fellow who maybe is a little pink in the face from imbibing a little too much. Either way, pretty charming.