Different names for the month of June:
Different names for the month of June:
The other day, my wife and I took a sanshin (三線) lesson. Big fans of Okinawan music, it was something the two of us had been meaning to do for many, many years, but, well, kids have a way of putting those kinds of things on hold.
If I can find the time—don't hold your breath—I will try to explain a little—the very little I know, that is—about the instrument. The shamisen (三味線), which is used to accompany kabuki or bunraku puppet plays and Japanese folk songs, has its roots in a Chinese instrument called the sānxián (三弦) that was introduced through the Ryūkyū Kingdom (modern-day Okinawa) in the 16th century. The sanshin and shamisen can be considered distant cousins, if you like. One major difference in how the two instruments are played is the "plectrum". The shamisen is strummed with a flat, fanlike bachi made of wood. The sanshin is plucked with the horn of a water buffalo. The sanshin in Amami Ōshima, just north of Okinawa, is played with a long bamboo stick.
The song we learned was not a difficult one, but we succeeded in butchering it all the same: Ippē Kanasandō (いっぺーかなさんどー)
いゃーが するくとぅ なすくとぅや
The things you do, the things you make
I can never stop thinking about them.
I love . . . I love . . .
I love you so very much.
いゃー“Iyā” and うんじゅ “Unju” mean “you” in Uchinaguchi (うちなー口), the dialect of Okinawa. In Japanese, it can be translated as anata (あなた), kimi (君), or o-mae, (お前).
A word similar to いゃー (汝, nanji, meaning you, thou, or thy) is やー (家, ie, meaning home, family). The younger generation, under fifty, use the two terms interchangeably.
For someone in a lower position (a junior, a younger person, or one’s inferior) use:
いったー (Ittā) is the plural form
For someone in a higher position (a senior, an older person, or one’s superior) or people you are not familiar with use:
うんじゅなー (Unjunā) is the plural form
The meaning of unju, incidentally, is御所 (Gosho, an ancient imperial palace).
We have seen するくとぅ (suru-kutu) in an earlier post. The Okinawan dialect lacks the “o” sound, and many Japanese words that contain お (o) are pronounced as う(u). 事 (koto) becomes くとぅ (kutu).
Wan (わん) is a common way to refer to oneself not only in Okinawa but also in Amami Ōshima. Wā (わー) is also fairly common.
私が Wanga (わーが), used when I is the subject of a clause
私たち Wattā (わったー), plural form of “Wan”
私は Wanya (わんや)
私は Wannē (わんねー)
私も Wannin (わんにん), Wānin (わーにん)
私の Wannu (わんぬ), Wānu (わーぬ)
私には Wangā (わんがー), Wāgā (わーがー)
Ippē (いっぺー) means “very, a lot, terribly”. I may be wrong, but I think ippē comes from "ippai" (いっぱい) which can mean "a lot" or "full", among other things.
The てぃ(ti) ki-ni kaketi is pronounced like a “ch”
Kanasandō (かなさんどー) sounds a lot like the standard Japanese word kanashii (悲しい, “sad, unhappy, pathetic”), but actually means “cute” (かわいい) or “dear, beloved, precious” (愛しい). Today’s kanashii and the Okinawan word kanasandō actually share a common etymological root.
Kanasandō (かなさんどー) can be interpreted to mean “I love you” (愛してるよー), “I’m crazy about you” (大好きだぞー), “I’m always thinking about you” (いつも想っているぞー). I think we have all had that kanasandō feeling some time in our lives.
There was a hit in 1983 called かなさんどー (Kanasandō) by Maekawa Shuken (前川守賢, 1960~). Here's a bad recording of the song performed by Maekawa:
Englishbooks.jp e-mailed me this morning with a recommendation for a "tracing dictionary" for kids. Curious, I clicked the link and found pretty much the same thing that I have been doing for my own sons (but not as nice to be quite honest). The "dictionary" looked handmade--in a bad way--so I checked out the publisher and learned that Beacon Hill Publishing "publishes resources for the diverse Christian community".
Now, I have nothing against Christianity, but, let me be honest here: many of them are in desperate need for some straight-talk when it comes to design and art.
There was an article on Facebook a month or so ago that I meant to read, but didn't have the time. The title was something like "Why Christian Movies are So Painfully Bad". Yes! Yes! Yes! (Found it!)
My working theory is that many good Christians are incentivized to not be artsy because artsy-fartsy is the purview of the Left and the Gays. I could be wrong. I often am.
I take it that Beacon Hill is publishing "educational" material mainly for home-schoolers. I don't agree with home-schooling in general, but I must admit I am in debt to the home-schooling movement because they provide so many teaching materials online for free which I download with abandon.
My main concern with homeschooling, though, is that it robs kids the opportunity to have to deal with people different from themselves. If you surround yourself only with fellow travelers throughout your childhood and adolescence, you may find you have difficulty dealing with society at large later on in life. I'm sure there are exceptions. There always are.
The other problem I have with home-schooling is its half-arsed approach to education. I have met several home-schooled kids here in Japan. Most of them are the sons and daughters of Christian missionaries. While they are very nice people, really sweet, when you talk to them, you find yawning chasms in their knowledge of the world.
Why? Because many of them did not partake in standard education, they weren't forced to learn subjects they weren't interested in, or simply weren't taught because their parents couldn't or didn't want to teach them.
Again, there are exceptions, but those exceptions are exactly that: exceptions.
This is getting too long. What I meant to be a joke has quickly become a sermon. Bless me Children for I have sinned.
Anyways, seeing that crappy "tracing dictionary" has given me ideas. I'm sure I could put one together that doesn't rely as heavily on Microsoft Word clipart.
Japanese boys were asked what they wanted to become when they grew up. Their dreams have changed considerably over the years.
Whereas the most popular occupations in 1962 were salaryman, baseball player, driver, and salesman (yuck), in 2016, they were soccer player, doctor, YouTuber (God help us), and, ugh, civil servant. Engineer came in 6th, researcher in seventh, and game creator tied for ninth.
Two decades ago the Kurosaki's shopping arcade was hopping with shoppers. Today, it is virtually bedridden . . . with pneumonia and bedsores.
Over a quarter of a million people live in Kitakyushu's Yahata Nishi Ward, and yet the heart of that ward feels like a cold wet stone.