Archive for the 'nipponism' Category

Taiyaki

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

This is not quite what they had in Mahoraba and Kanon, but in San Francisco we have to get by with these:

{Update – In response to Steven, Author eats them head first. The reason is, they are not symmetric: tail has more dough, head has more filling. Tail has a better balance, and Author saves the better part for the end.}

Ramp crew’s bow

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Joe snapped a picture of the ritual bow. I think I never saw hands behind back before.

みょうじ・名前はいい, but First Last dammit!

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I react violenty when people use the family-first order in English with Japanese names. It has the same power to piss me off as “u”. Sometimes I have to put up with it, because of, well, other mitigating factors. But today I saw a comment in Jeff’s entry about the reality-based plots making a short visit to Ghibly Studios, so I went to check the author. Looks like a nice enough blog, but… the name order just overwhelms. I guess I’m not going to follow that one.

Some of adherents of this sillinesscustom say that the name is just a tag in its entirety, and thus we should not monkey with it. After all, with some cultures (such as Viet) it simply is impossible to split family from given and perform the normalization. So, the logic goes, to be consistent to the worst common denominator, we should refuse to do that for those cultures where it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, for the sake of “consistency”.

The reason the “consistency” does not work is because it’s impossible. Cultures exist which prefer their mapping to be done, for example Russians. They have given names, family names, and father’s names, with the latter often mapped to “middle name” in English. Thus, Петр Феоктистович Романов is going get angry every time he sees his Driver’s License which says “Petr Feoktistovich Romanov”. It’s not that it’s wrong, but over time it’s getting annoying. The use of middle name has certain connotations for him.

But even if English speakers tried to preserve the names outside of their cultural context by their complete sound, they could not. For example, a common Russian name “Зайцев” (e.g. the character in a movie about WWII snipers) has a sound ‘ц’, which is absent from English. When a clerk in Safeway is struggling to read the name on the receipt and Mr. Zaitsew is in a hurry, he is going to get pissed more than Mr. Romanov in the above example. The plight of Mrs. Nguyen Thu Huong is even more horrible: ‘t’ and ‘h’ are separate sounds. Not only they can’t pronounce it right, they can’t spell it using English rules, period. The Anglicized name is just a new badge invented for a person, face it.

Finally, from what I gather, Japanese are perfectly happy to have their names normalized for use in English, and perhaps even prefer it. So, as far as I am concerned, fans of consistency can stuff it.

There may be other arguments, although I don’t see them articulated.

Update: Jeff sent an e-mail to remind that he also belongs to the other side. Uh-oh. I completely missed that. If I understood him right, he explains that he has to -san people a lot at work, and that is, of course, impossible with the First-Last order.

Update: Steven asks what I would feel if I saw “Zedung Mao” in a news or historical article. Honestly, I have no idea. Obviously, I didn’t make enough disclaimers about the name morphing being culture-specific (although doings so would make the article unweildy). I have no preference about the way Chairman Mao should be identified in English; I am not Chinese; I don’t watch Chinese movies.

Strangely Good Citizenship

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

From mako (the newest addition to the board of directors of Free Software Foundation):

I once saw a vending machine in Japan with a 200ml Coca-Cola, a 300ml
Coca-Cola, a 500ml Coca-Cola and a 800ml Coca-Cola. Each one cost ¥120.

I was perplexed. I couldn’t imagine paying ¥120 for 200ml of something when they could get more (four times more!) of the same stuff for the same price from the same place.

Just then, I looked over at Mika at the next vending machine. She was buying a 200ml Coke.

"Why are you buying the 200ml one‽" I inquired, shocked. "You could have 800ml for the same price!"

Mika thought for a second and replied, "I only want 200ml of Coke."

People do the same in America too. Many get a box of 10 cream puffs in Trader Joe for the same $10 which buy a box of 90 cream puffs in Costco. It’s just not quite as obvious.

The radio nation

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I was reading Hashihime and started wondering if Japanese actually listen to the radio, and if yes, how. In America, most listeners tune in when they drive somewhere or when they are in a mindless entry-level job. So, radio mostly comes in two varieties: driving radio, which delivers traffic and weather information, and plays filler music, and office radio, which playes mostly what is known as “light rock”. Outside of the main two kinds, a large number of stations with relatively miniscule listenership exist: NPR for dumb liberals, Rush for dumb conservatives, Radio Disney, music stations, etc.

In anime, it’s quite common to see a boombox at a student’s table. Then, we have Lucky Star where Akira and Shiraishi plug the radio show. In Xenoglossia, there’s the Yayoi Broadcast. This seems to suggest a different listening pattern, where listeners are stationary.

By the way, I heard from the owner of Japan-a-radio that 60% of their listeners connect from Japan. Again, looks like lots of people are bound to their computers all day long. The intriguing question is, are they a part of “long tail”, or do they crop out of a general pattern?

GX: The New Hope (of Japan)

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

When I was writing a post about Edo Rocket [1], I strarted looking at performance data for various solids, and ran across a very interestig article: GX report for 2006 at Space Launch Report. It seems to have far better information that the GX article at Wikipedia (Dr. Miao… Paging Dr. Miao!), although it probably would take just a minute for Wikipedians to, ahem… appropriate good bits once they become aware of the source.

BTW, Space Launch Report is based at Geocities, of all things. In the same time, it provides more complete coverage than Spaceflight Now, which started to flag recently. For instance, the launch of Shalit in June was not mentioned on Spaceflight Now at all, even thought it’s a significant event in some sense (Hello Iran! Can you do that?).

Anyway, GX is interesting. I used to dismiss it due to the retarded management seen driven by national pride more than good sense. As the sad story of the multi-lobed composite hydrogen tank of X.33 teaches us, an attempt to bite more than you can chew is likely to end badly. But with Japanese you never know, they might just make it work. They made H-IIA fly, after all, and that was a veritable turkey. So, in some ways I root for them. Now they only need to build a pad at Solomon islands.

1: A good exmaple would be Ares-I, pushing 238 seconds of specific impulse at sea level. Such performance makes a lunar trip less than an entirely ridiculous idea, you’ll only need a ridiculous staging scheme. It is unclear what the performance of Edo-period powders might be. Estimations which I found were about one third of aluminum perchlorate, so I suppose we are talking about 115 seconds or so. At that point it became clear to me that discussing Edo Rocket in the same mode as Rocket Girls was ludicrous in itself, so I shelved that approach.

No fireworks, huh

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Second half of Bon Odori in Stockton is what they call “Bazaar”:

The second part of the Obon observance is the cultural festival to be held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on July 28 and 29. It will feature performances throughout the day by community groups, including drumming by Stockton Bukkyo Taiko as well as dance and martial arts demonstrations. This takes place in the Social Hall along with a variety of Japanese crafts, displays and food.

Located in People’s Republic of California, fireworks are prohibited (on the grounds of greater public good, naturally — it’s a fire hazard). The government prohibits them at The 4th as well, but faces massive civil disobedience at that date.

Futaba’s marriage dreams

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

At one point, Futaba exclaims, “It is just like the arranged marriage interview!” and makes this “I’m happy and excited” gesture (a substitute screencap, sorry):

She does not seem in any way uncomfortable with the concept, just the opposite in fact — as long as the marriage is arranged with the man she selected herself.

I think the bride’s input (if it occurs) makes Japanese system different, from, for example, the Muslim system, where the girl is but a slave for sale by her family (I’m sure ton of people are going to tell me how wrong I am; I only know how it was and is practiced in Central Asian countries.).

Alas, the input is sometimes limited, e.g. in Mahoraba the choice is whom and not if:

In Dual, it’s even worse:

In the same Dual things progress well enough for us to see the interview, the kind of which made Futaba so charmingly excited (unfortunately, no screencap). It seems not unduly ritualized and is not an empty formality either. The lady who carries out the arrangement sits on the bride’s side of the table, as I observed. Not sure what it signifies though. All in all, not entirely what androphobic American intelligenzia makes out of it.

UPDATE: Also, Kyouju.

Japanese archery

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

Girls of archery is something commonly seen in anime. They are not as abundant as mikos, the shrine maidens, but the type is well established. But with all my years of anime I noticed something odd just now. Look where the string of Lemmy’s bow is.

It can be seen plainly (with the help of slow-motion) that after the arrow is released, the string continues to move, circles around the left hand and comes to rest on the outside of the left wrist of the shooter. I can only presume that the bow turns almost a full turn in the grip. Not being an archer myself, I have no idea what purpose this technique serves, but since it’s painstakingly reproduced in anime I have to assume that it’s real.

UPDATE: Reader Refugee wrote to inform that the technique is called “yugaeri” (弓返り — literally “bow return”) and provided a link.

In the shooting form, the yugaeri allows the archer to return to correct toriyumi no shisei (bow holding posture). This is the beginning and ending shooting posture where the bow and arrows are held at one’s side. If the yugaeri is incomplete the bow must be readjusted after shooting in order to return to the correct posture, and that action takes away the fluidity of the shooting procedure.

Refugee also asked, “Why do Edo-era and older farm buildings have large rocks on their roofs? Lack of nails?” I automatically assumed that to be the case, although I do not know.

WSJ and Renegade on anime diplomacy

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

A fellow AB member Renegade linked a yet another article about Japanese government supposedly waking up to the popularity of anime. There is nothing new to it for anyone who was following the events. Supposedly more Americans are studying Japanese now than in any time in history (This observation comes from Gilles Poitras, I don’t know if he meant per-capita numbers; the population growth devalues the statement otherwise. But I know that Japanese classes are overflowing in many local colleges.).

However, Renegade’s lede for the article was: “Honestly, I think this is one of the boldest and most important moves they’ve made in years.” Is it really? This is what WSJ says:

Tokyo anticipates spending at least 20 million yen ($175,000) a year on this new “manga diplomacy campaign.”

No, seriously. I have to wonder if the WSJ author confused millions, billions and trillions. The sum is too triffle.

In passing, Renegade makes a semi-related argument which I could not let by. It is a tired and weary cliche:

Finally, the article makes one point in the end which really bothers me. It states that a group of young men say “We love Japan!” Then it goes on to ask “But will their parents?” Every half-witted moron out there who worries about what our parents think is too far off the track to matter in this day and age. The youth vote is the vote. If you’ve got people under 35 or 30 on your side, you have the parts of the country that matter. Sure, it doesn’t look that good on paper, and it won’t always win elections, but the older parts of the country are increasingly out of touch. Plus, in a few years, people of our generation will be parents, and we’ll be the majority of the country, able to make decisions on behalf of others.

It is undoubtedly important to corrupt them young. However, the effect is mitigated by human capability to learn from their experiences. There’s even a proverb: “That who weren’t a communist at 20 has no heart. That who is a communist at 40 has no brain.” I see anime bloggers burning out of it every day. Some are declared like Karoshi, some undeclared like Astro and Pilgrimage (both continue to blog elsewhere, football and movies respectively). A few attempt a comeback, like Sama Zama, but not all succeed. It is natural for people to move on. The mistake here is to assume that they move on between 20 and 40, but do not move on between 40 and 60.

In regards to anime, we can also point at dubious relation between anime and age, and that the link between anime and general attitudes is unproven. In fact, trying to get it proven can harm fans by association (the WSJ article makes that point). But this is besides the point. All I am saying is, perhaps I am “increasingly out of touch”, but it seems to me that this argument is not as powerful as Renegade thinks.

UPDATE: This sounds conceited, but it looks like I awoke both Astro and Alexander. Both were watching something but not blogging.