Moving “Recycling Oriented Society” to the compost heap

If you translate out of Japanese, you've probably come across the term "循環型社会." According to wikipedia, it means "a society that efficiently uses and reuses finite resources in a sustainable cycle" (my translation). For some reason, the accepted translation for this term seems to have become "recycling oriented society" (it's the only one listed in […]

Game to test kanji trivia

Here's a cool Flash game called "Verbatim" that tests your ability to read obscure kanji compounds and English words (I did best at that). After the time is up, it creates a mecha-robot for you. The more you got right, the cooler your robo.

Japanese website

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to create a Japanese-language website. I waited until November, but I managed to get one up by year's end. Here it is: BetterTechEnglish.com My goal for the site is to give pointers on technical-English writing to Japanese native speakers, while creating a presence that will help […]

Electronic dictionaries: dead gadgets walking

Back in the 1980s and 90s, stand-alone word processors were all the rage in Japan. It was before PCs found widespread adoption in Japan, and because of the large character set of the Japanese language, it took years of training to be able to "type" Japanese on a mechanical device. I fondly remember a word […]

From the “who thought this one up?” category

Kusaya (くさや) is a Japanese dish of fermented fish. The taste isn't too bad, but the smell is truly overpowering. A work acquaintance of mine is from an area where kusaya is a delicacy, and wanted me to try some. So when she and her husband visited us in Okinawa, they brought a bottle of […]

Who in the heck uses half-width alphanumeric input?

If you write Japanese, you'll be familiar with using a front-end-processor (FEP) to input Japanese text. On Windows, this is typically the IME. IME lets you choose between various "input methods": direct input (normal keyboard typing), hiragana (which can be converted to kanji as needed), katakana, and so on. With the exception of direct input, […]

Free money

Japan is handing out money to every resident of Japan on other than a tourist or student visa, in a bid to stimulate consumer spending and help get us out of this recession. If you were born before 1945 or after 1989, you get 20,000 yen; otherwise you get 12,000 yen. My family is getting […]

Toilet etiquette in Japan: The most shocking differences are the ones you don’t expect

The Japanese Me blog has a cool post that talks about things she's noticed since moving to Japan. Thinking back to when I first arrived on these shores a bit over 14 years ago, the things that really shocked me were the things that I had never thought about. I expected beer vending machines (now […]

Funny errors in Japanese

I recently bought the book いいまちがい (Japanese Made Funny), a bilingual collection of funny errors made by foreigners speaking Japanese. One of my favorites was a guy who wanted a hamburger with no ketchup or other condiments. He calls up his Japanese friend, and asks him how to say "plain" in Japanese. The friend tells […]

Differences in Japanese and Western website aesthetics

One of my New Year's resolutions is to create a Japanese-language website. Researching designs for the site, one thing that strikes me is the different design tastes of Japanese and Westerners. The current fashion for design on Western websites is a clean and clutter-free look, while Japanese sites tend to prefer the "energetic" look. As […]