This week I interrupt the tales of my travels to bring up a new topic: Japlish. What is Japlish, you say? Well, it’s an abbreviation for Japanese English, and it refers to words and phrases that are written in English but that really don’t make sense to English speakers. Japlish can be found everywhere – for example, in translations on signs and posters or on T-shirt slogans. It is also sometimes called Janglish or Engrish.

During my time here, I’ve been trying to keep my eye out for interesting and amusing examples of Japlish. Of course, I’m not trying to make fun of Japan, because I know that the exact same thing occurs when English speakers try to use another language. Funny mistakes just happen. So with that being said, here are some snippets of my favorite Japlish findings so far.

First, the slogans found on clothing. The following are all phrases I’ve seen on my students’ shirts:

– “Real Great Team the Braver”

– “Things Are Going Great. Write in One’s Diary.” (Seen on a fifth-grade boy’s shirt.)

– “Lovery Kiss You”

Clothes are not the only source of my Japlish entertainment. Here are some sentences I found in a couple of children’s books about animals and food. First, the warning is to be careful of…the staples, I think:

Next, we have some informative headings:

Yes. Yes, they are.

This one’s a little hard to decipher, as it says the exact same thing in Japanese. I assume it means that I am not good at EATING vegetables. How did they know?

The plus side is that now I know how to say “I sweated much” in Japanese. If I ever want to.

Last but not least, I found an interesting Japlish sign during my visit to Ouchijuku a couple of weeks ago. There were lots of street vendors selling snacks, and this one was selling skewered balls of konnyaku (a gelatin-like substance made from a type of tuber known as konjac). I think they were trying to convey the idea that the skewers were packed full.

Well, that’s the end of today’s foray into the world of Japanese English! If you have any interesting examples of Japlish to share, leave a comment!

Walking in an Edo Wonderland, Part 2

Welcome to this week’s post! Last week, we left off right in the middle of the trip I took with my friend to Ouchijuku, an Edo-period village. This week, we’ll resume the tour of this beautiful, snow-covered village!

One thing we decided to do after we’d feasted on mountain vegetable soba was climb up to the overlook behind the village. Although there was a staircase, it was covered with snow, and it was packed hard from all the people who had been going up and down. Luckily, my friend and I both had boots with good tread, so we made it up without any catastrophes. The view overlooking the village was beautiful!

After taking our fill of scenic shots, we made our way back down the slippery steps. We began to walk beyond the village through a snow-covered field to a shrine, but we heard over the loudspeaker that one of the festival events was starting. It was an event I wanted to see, so we turned back and found the crowd of people near the central activity area. I wasn’t sure exactly what the event would be, only that it involved rice cakes (which I’m always eager to be involved with!). It turns out that the festival attendees were dressing a bare tree with colored rice cake balls, or dango. This activity, called dango-sashi, is a traditional event for this time of year, as this site explains: https://fukushima-guide.jp/experience/dango-sashi/. It wasn’t something I wanted to participate in, but it was interesting to watch!

After passing out what must have been hundreds of rice cakes to the festival goers, and encouraging them to keep sticking them onto the tree branches, the people in charge finally decided that the trees were loaded enough to raise. (There were actually two small trees, but it’s hard to see the back one in the picture). With lots of encouragement and interesting sound effects from the announcers, the colorful tree was hoisted into the air:

Against the backdrop of the pale blue sky, it was a pretty sight!

After the dango-sashi, we hung around for a couple more events. There were some students dressed in traditional garb, who performed some interesting dances.  After that was a Shinto dance involving two men under a sheet and a mask. Neither my friend nor I cared to watch that, so instead we wandered around the village some more, enjoying the sights. Around four o’clock, we decided to head out, so we took a very packed bus back to the train station. There, I was able to get some photos of the picturesque area surrounding the station.

Yunokamionsen Station is definitely a quaint little place. According to this site http://www.tif.ne.jp/lang/en/sightseeing/detail.php?id=354&category=1, this station is the only one with a thatched roof in Japan. Inside the minuscule station, there is a waiting area with a wood-burning fireplace, free green tea, and a few shelves of books.

There is even a foot bath right outside!

Our trip to Ouchijuku was fun and refreshing, but our day didn’t stop there! Come back next week to find out where we decided to go afterwards!

Walking in an Edo Wonderland

Well, this weekend is a three-day weekend, in which National Foundation Day is observed. According to https://study.gaijinpot.com/lesson/holidays/national-foundation-day/, this holiday “mark[s] the foundation of Japan and the accession of Emperor Jimmu.” All I know is that it gave me an extra day off, which I am really grateful for!

Most of my teammates took this opportunity to fly up to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, to attend the Sapporo Snow Festival. I thought about it, but it wasn’t something I cared about enough to spend the money on. Instead, I and the one other teacher who had decided not to go to Hokkaido took a little day trip to a place called Ouchijuku. It’s a traditional village from the Edo period, and they were having their own snow festival. It turned out to be a fun experience, although it took quite awhile to get there!

Here’s a little picture/video tour of our trip:

I have my geography mixed up a little in the video – apparently the village is located in Shimogo Town, not Yunokami Onsen (that’s the train station), and the video footage is of the entrance to the village.

The village consists of a street lined with traditional thatched houses.

Different snow sculptures, including lamps, lined the street:

There were also beautiful colored balls of ice…

…and snow houses that you could get inside!

Most of the houses served as souvenir shops and/or restaurants. One of the shops specialized in fabric ornaments, like these flowers:

My friend and I were super hungry upon arriving at the village, so we soon decided to have some lunch. Most of the restaurants sold soba and udon (Japanese noodles), so we rather randomly chose one of the shops, and ordered soba with mountain vegetables. It also came with a side of daikon pickles and some sort of fern dish.

This was the restaurant we ate at. It had the cutest old lady sitting outside!

After lunch was when the festivities started, and when we did a little hiking to get some photos of the village from a higher perspective. But that’s a story for next week… 🙂

Eating on the Go: Japan

Yesterday, my friend and I made our way to the bustling metropolis of Koriyama, which is the place to go if you want to venture from the limited selection of stores and restaurants in our small city. Our mission was to purchase some Japanese study books, but we made a couple of stops for food along the way. I realized how interesting some of these quick food options are – thus I bring you today’s post, Japanese food on the go!

My friend hadn’t yet eaten a proper lunch when we headed out, so when we arrived in Koriyama, we stopped in the station so she could grab a bite to eat. I don’t know if American train stations are the same way or not, but the larger train stations here are full of restaurants, stores, and souvenir shops. The place where we stopped was a little noodle shop, where you order by machine! There is a panel with all the menu options; you press the buttons for the options you want, insert your money, and get a little ticket that states what you’ve chosen. You bring the ticket to the counter, and the ladies behind the counter prepare your food.

Here are the pictures of the menu options, with the buttons down below:

My friend choosing her option: “I think I’ll have the kake-udon…”

This little noodle shop was convenient, but there are also many other restaurants to choose from. One choice that I thought looked interesting was a shop selling roast beef dishes – with raw egg on top. YUM.

On the way back from the bookstore, we stopped in the station again for one of Japan’s specialties – crepes! Some of the food options here surprise me, and crepes is one of them. It feels like something I’d find in France, not Japan. Nevertheless, I love crepes, so I’m not complaining.

As is common here in Japan, there are models of the different items on the menu:

I chose the “chocolate parfait” crepe, which was chocolate cake and pudding with whipped cream and two strawberry pieces on the top. My friend chose the berry “layer cheese,” which looked like cream cheese in the model, but that turned out to be basically like whipped cream. We also ordered bubble drinks, which this crepe shop specializes in. They have a wide assortment of drinks with tapioca balls in the bottom. My friend got peach tea, and I got chocolate milk. The tapioca was a lot chewier than I’d expected. For some reason I was expecting the fruit-flavored balls that they have at frozen yogurt bars, or that I’ve had before in iced tea drinks. This was totally different. It wasn’t bad, though. I just sucked up the squishy orbs with my extra-wide straw and chowed them down.

The paper in which the crepe was wrapped was covered with English slogans: “Crepes for all, all for crepes” and “We love crepes! We love crepes!”

Yes, we do:

After our sweet dinner, we caught the next train home. It had turned out to be a pretty good day, we decided, not just because of the great food but also because we each went home with some fresh study material. We both agreed that nothing is better than new books and delicious desserts!