Monthly Archives: May 2016

Japanese Writing Lab #1: Basic self-introduction

In a recent post I announced I would be starting a new program on my blog called “Japanese Writing Lab” that aims to motivate people to practice writing in Japanese, provides feedback on their writing, and allows them to see posts of other Japanese learners. This article represents the first writing assignment of that program.

For this assignment, I’d like to focus on a very common, but important topic: self-introduction, known as 自己紹介 (jiko shoukai) in Japanese.

Self-introductions can range widely from formal to casual, and from very short (name only) to much longer. This time, I’d like everyone to focus on writing a basic self-introduction whose main purpose is to actually introduce yourself to me and others in the group. So while it is a writing exercise, it actually serves an important purpose as well. Try to keep it brief (a few sentences is fine) and stick more to written language as opposed to spoken language. For example, you would avoid using things like “あの。。。” which you might say if you actually spoke a self-introduction.

For those who are comfortable writing a self-introduction in Japanese, you can go ahead and get started. If you have written one recently, I suggest you try to write one again from scratch without referring to it unless you really get stuck.

Once you finish this writing assignment please post it via one of the two following methods:

  1. For those who have a blog (WordPress or anywhere else is fine): post it on your blog, and post a comment on this article including a link to your post. I also suggest adding a link on your post back to this article, so people who find your post can follow it to read other people’s submissions.
  2. For those who don’t have a blog: simply post it as a comment to this article with the text you’ve written. [Note: creating a blog is pretty easy and free on many sites, so if you have a few minutes I’d just consider just trying to create a blog]

I’ll be reading through the submitted assignments and will try to make constructive comments. I highly recommend for everyone submitting to read other people’s submissions.


For those who are not too familiar with how to write self-introductions in Japanese, here is a general template to help you get started (taken from this Japanese website). If you want to do your own research on how to write a self-introduction, that is fine as well. Feel free to omit any of the below categories, for example if you don’t want to discuss where you live.

Keep in mind that for a self-introduction in Japanese, it is usually best to use at minimum basic polite language, like ~です and ~ます, since you aren’t likely to be on very familiar terms with those you are speaking to.

General template for  basic self-introduction

  • Name (名前)

僕(私) の名前は [your name here] です。

  • Place where you live (住所)

住所は[place where you live]というところです。

  • Hobbies (趣味)

趣味は [one or more of your hobbies]です。

  • Job (仕事)

仕事は「your current job」をしています。

  • Positive ending

[try to think of something positive to close with]

My submission

For each assignment I will give my submission as well, to help give you ideas. Feel free to send me questions or comments about my submission.

For this assignment I’ll keep things pretty simple and mostly follow the template I gave above, but in future assignments I’ll start using more advanced language and get more creative.











Japanese vocabulary list: airplane related terms

I’ve created a vocabulary list of Japanese words related to airplanes and air travel in general. This is one area I’ve found I have some weaknesses in, and I thought if I was going to review these words myself I might has well write it up for others to learn from.

  • 飛行機 (hikouki): airplane
  • 空港 (kuukou): airport
  • 便 (bin): flight
  • 直行便 (chokkoubin): direct flight
  • 乗り換え (norikae): transfer (flight)   [also 乗り換える as a verb]
  • 機内 (kinai): inside/onboard the plane
  • 機内食 (kinaishoku): onboard meal/food
  • 到着 (touchaku): arrive
  • 出発 (shuppatsu): depart
  • 搭乗 (toujou): to embark/board a plane (warning: do not confuse with 登場 which is used for characters of plays, books, etc.)
  • 搭乗口 (toutou guchi): gate (to board a plane)
  • 搭乗券 (toujouken): boarding pass
  • 航空会社 (koukuu gaisha): airline company
  • 航空券 (koukuuken): airplane ticket
  • 手続き (tetsuzuki): process
  • 荷物 (nimotsu): baggage, luggage
  • 手荷物 (tenimotsu): baggage, luggage
  • 持ち込む (mochikomu): to take something (onboard a plane, etc.)
  • 離陸する (ririku suru): to take off
  • 着陸 する(chakuriku suru): to land
  • 検査 (kensa): examination (of luggage etc)
  • 保安検査場 (hoan kensaba): security checkpoint
  • 乗る (noru): to board/fly (an airplane, etc.)
  • 国内 (kokunai): domestic (in the same country)
  • 国内線 (kokunaisen): domestic route / airline
  • 国外 (kokugai): international (going to another country)
  • 国外線 (kokugaisen): international route / airline
  • ターミナル (taaminaru): terminal
  • 係員 (kakari`in): attendant (a person behind a counter at the airport, etc.)
  • 案内 (an`nai): information/guide (ex: 案内図: guide map)
  • 座席 (zaseki): seat (on an airplane, etc)
  • 時刻 (jikoku): time (arrival time, etc.)
  • チェックイン (chekkuin): check in   [also 登場手続き (toujou tezutsuki)]
  • 預ける (azukeru): to leave/entrust something with someone (ex: leave luggage with someone at an airline counter)
  • 入国 (nyuukoku): entering a country
  • 出国 (shukkoku): leaving a counry
  • 審査 (shinsa): examination (like when entering a country)
  • パスポート (pasupooto): passport  [also 旅行券 (ryokouken)]
  • 目的地 (mokutekichi): place where you are going (目的 = “objective”)
  • 現在地 (genzaichi): place where you currently are
  • 乗客 (joukyaku): passenger
  • 旅客 (ryokaku): traveller, passenger (or a plane)
  • 旅客機 (ryokakuki): passenger plane
  • 運航 (unkou): aviation
  • スチュワーデス: stewardess (female flight attendant)
  • スチュワード: steward (male flight attendant)
  • 客室乗務員 (kyakushitsu joumuin): flight attendant
  • キャビンクルー: cabin crew  [same as 客室乗務員]
  • フライトアテンダント: flight attendant [same as 客室乗務員]
  • 税関 (zeikan): customs
  • 免税 (menzei): duty-free
  • 免税店 (menzeiten): store that sells duty-free items


Are you into Japanese culture? Consider moving to Oregon!

My family and I have decided to move from Florida, where I’ve been my entire life, to Oregon.

The response I get from most people who I tell this to is:

“You’ve moving to be closer to your extended family, right?”

No. (Actually the opposite)

“You’ve moving because of your job, right?”

No. (Will be working remotely for my same job)

“So for what then?”

For any of you who have been following my blog and know anything about me, you’ll know I’m very much into Japanese language and culture. And believe it or not, that is one of the main reasons we are moving to the northwestern corner of the US.

Without a doubt, places like California and New York have more Japanese people and culture than nearly anywhere in the US (except of course Hawaii). However, the standard of living and house prices are generally extremely expensive.

Oregon, on the other hand, happens to have a very reasonable standard of living, and since it is on the West cost it’s relatively close to Japan. This translates to more Japanese people, and a higher concentration of Japanese culture in big cities like Portland. This can be seen by the presence of Japanese bookstores (Kinokuniya), as well as multiple public and private schools that have full Japanese immersion programs. Even one of the regular bookstores (Powell’s) had a pretty nice section of used Japanese books.

I actually looked up the statistics for Japanese population in Portland vs. Miami, and I found that the numbers weren’t that different. But one thing that is not reflected in those statistics are the number of transients from Japan (for example those that come to USA on a temporary position, to return to Japan in a year or two). While I surely have met a few Japanese people in South Florida, I’ve noticed a trend where some of them don’t seem to return to Japan very often, which is only logical since Florida is so far away from. So, rather than pure numbers, I think what is important is the consciousness, or integration of Japanese culture in Oregon, and especially Portland.

Another interesting way to compare the number of Japanese doctors or dentists in Florida vs Oregon, or the number of restaurants who are owned and managed by Japanese people (this is extremely rare in South Florida, and from what I’ve heard very common in Portland). After searching for years, we were only able to find one or two places that served passable ramen, but the first place we had ramen in Oregon was amazing (I’m planning on reviewing in the near future).

Since we are raising our son Japanese/English bilingual, the Japanese immersion programs are of special importance to us. The best we could find in South Florida was a supplemental school in Miami that holds classes on the weekends, which is nice but nothing compared to a full school that runs during the week.

Another added bonus is that being closer to Japan means our trips there will be significantly cheaper (about half the price) and faster (about half the time), which hopefully will translate to more trips there.

Besides the Japanese angle, Oregon has a lot else going for it: nice weather (at least to me), a strong movement to grow and eat local foods, no sales tax, famous coffee/beer culture, and other “weird” things. If you do a search for a list of top things about Oregon or Portland you’ll really find a bunch of crazy stuff. Honestly I don’t know how much that is exaggerated, or whether I’ll care much about any of it, but if nothing else it holds great potential. I’m also hoping for generally cleaner air, less traffic, and the ability to grow a wider variety of plants and vegetables (not too much luck in Florida with that). Another nice thing is we will be only a few hours from California or Seattle, two other places that have pretty high concentrations of Japanese culture.

Despite the fact I was born and raised in Florida, many of the supposed great things about it (“beaches”, “sun”, etc.) actually don’t interest me very much, and I’ve been here so long that whatever “culture” is present here I’ve become accustomed to. It’s like drinking water–neither good nor bad, but not very interesting. However, we will be leaving behind important family and friends, and do plan to come back once in a while to visit them. But will I miss having to worry about getting sunburned, or what Florida’s fickle weather will decide to do each day? I think not.

And above all, for someone like me who still invests a good portion of my time into Japan’s language and culture, it is just more logical to live somewhere like Oregon.

We are very excited about our new journey, and I hope to write more articles about Oregon and Portland, especially as it relates to Japanese culture. So stay tuned.

By the way, someday I’m hoping to start a Japanese meet up group in Portland (or join at existing one), so if you happen to live nearby and are interested, let me know.




Introducing “Japanese Writing Lab”: a new way to practice writing in Japanese

When studying a foreign language, learning to write holds a special place because one can attain a fairly high level of competency without actually living in a country where that language is spoken. This is because both reading, an important related skill, and writing itself can be learned and practiced with just a computer and an internet connection. Strictly speaking, an internet connection isn’t needed for the writing part, but looking up words and related background knowledge is made much easier by online tools. Just to be clear, when I say “writing” I am focusing mostly on the aspect of creating sentences using words and grammar, not the actual process of writing each character by hand, though that can also be learned regardless of where you live.

Despite the fact writing is much easier to learn than conversation in many respects, I feel that sometimes it can be hard to get into the habit or periodic writing practice, especially if you are self-studying or are currently in between taking language classes.

In recent years there have been several websites where you can get feedback on your Japanese, and while these can be useful I feel they have some significant drawbacks. One of the biggest ones to me is the lack of personal connection, or community, when using websites being used by millions of people. Also, they may not provide the level of motivation you need to keep up your writing practice frequently enough.

So, after some thought, I’ve decided to create a little program leveraging this blog, dubbed Japanese Writing Lab, which helps to motivate people to practice writing in Japanese more, provides feedback on their writing, and allows them to see posts of other Japanese learners.

Here is a few simple steps describing how this program will work:

  1. I’ll write posts with the title “Japanese Writing Lab #X”, where I give a simple assignment, or theme, such as “self-introduction” or “an anime series I like”. I will start with a frequency of once a week, but depending on participation and other factors I may post these more often.
  2. Anyone interested can write a few paragraphs in Japanese on the given topic and post it via one of two options:
    1. For those who have a blog (WordPress or anywhere else is fine): post it on your blog, and post a comment to my article where the topic was introduced, along with a link to your post. I also suggest adding a link on your post back to the original topic post, so people who find your post can follow it to read other people’s submissions.
    2. For those who don’t have a blog: simply post it as a comment to the article where the topic was introduced. [Note: creating a blog is pretty easy and free on many sites, so if you are in this category I’d just consider trying to create a blog]
  3. I will read all the submissions from everyone, and try to make constructive comments including grammar mistakes or wording suggestions. (If you don’t like others reading these comments and you are posting on your own blog, you can just read them and delete them without making them public)
  4. I highly recommend to all participants that they read the submissions from other participants. Feel free to leave your own constructive comments, or simply give a motivational “nice job” message.
  5. As an optional step, I recommend telling anyone you think might be interested about this program. The more people, the better chance of everyone having their stuff read and commented on, and the more opportunities to meet other people.

While I may give a suggested length for each topic, you can write as long as you want (even a few sentences is fine). Just be conscious that the longer your submissions, the less likely others will read it to the end and provide helpful commentary, so you might want to limit yourself to a few paragraphs.

There are no requirements in terms of experience, and this program is open to anyone of any level from complete beginner to expert. While I can personally point out grammar errors and give general suggestions, having other advanced students will be a plus to provide even more feedback to the less experienced learners. If you are going to write comments on other’s submissions, I prefer that you do make your own submissions just for the sake of fairness, though if you consider yourself fluent in Japanese (either native or not) you can be excepted from this.

Just so everyone can gain the most from this program, let’s all please use English as the primary language for giving comments about grammar or unnatural phrases, although if the content is simple (ex: “good job”) you can of course use Japanese as well.

I’ll be participating myself, since I need to work on my writing just like everyone else, and I’m always open to any comments or questions about my own writing.

I’m aiming this to have the feel of a virtual classroom, so those who don’t have an opportunity to take a class in person can benefit from that type of environment. I’m also open to any feedback about the program itself, either before it starts or midway through.

I’m aiming to send out the first email with a suggested topic in the next week or two.

If you might be interested in participating, feel free to like this post just to give me a heads up on what size a group to expect initially.

Japanese Novel Review: 『そして、星の輝く夜がくる』(Soshite, Hoshi no kagayaku yoru ga kuru) by 真山仁 (Jin Mayama)

Lately, I’ve been trying out a bunch of random Japanese novels via the free samples available on the E-book site Booklive. I went through a few that were mediocre, after which I came across upon the 2014 novel『そして、星の輝く夜がくる』(Soshite, hoshi no kagayaku yoru ga kuru) by Jin Mayama. I got absorbed into it after only a few pages, and before I knew it I had bought the full version.

For those of you who don’t like to learn too much about a book ahead of time, I’ll just give you my one-line summary:

This book is really great–one of the best Japanese novels I have read in some time–and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about Japan’s culture.

Now for those of you who didn’t stop in the last paragraph to go and order the book somewhere (if you didn’t, no offense taken), I’ll go ahead and give some details about what makes it so great.

This novel, whose title can be roughly (and non-literally) translated as “And then, the star-filled night was upon them”, is about the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 (東日本大震災) where the main character, a teacher by the name of Teppei Onodera (小野寺徹平), is dispatched to help out in an elementary school in the fictional town of Toma. The book chronicles his challenges and successes through a handful of interconnected episodes.

What I really liked about this book was the realistic way it depicted several issues brought about by this terrible disaster. In particular, the psychological after-effects on children, as well as the complex relationships between survivors and volunteers who come to help them are brought to light in detail. Several times I caught myself thinking, “Is this really fiction?” since the emotions of the characters and the situations they were put in seemed so real. At some point I realized the author must have thoroughly researched these types of disasters and the emotions of those involved (for example those who have had to evacuate their homes due to the earthquake), and the several-page references section in the end of the book was a testament to that. The story doesn’t confine itself to only this recent earthquake–there are references to the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 and other historical events–and I feel that the story is general enough so that anyone who has been impacted by a natural disaster can empathize with the characters’ feelings.

In case you are the type of person to get turned off by grim subject matter, let me clarify that this book isn’t all about gloom and doom. It’s about how the efforts of Teppei and others help to bring needed sunlight back into these kids’ lives. And ultimately, I feel this book is really about the Japanese resilient spirit in the face of terrible catastrophes, and how the Japanese have evolved socially to better cope with situations like this. Unfortunately, due to Japan’s unique geography there is no telling when another earthquake will strike, and this is exemplified by the recent string of Earthquakes this year in Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu island.

Stylistically, this book had the ring of authentic “文学” (literature) from the first few pages. This doesn’t just mean it takes itself seriously, but also that there is a fairly high level of vocabulary and grammar knowledge required to get through he book. On more than a few occasions I felt that the author seemed to go out of his way just to use some uncommon word for the sake of expression, but had I been a native Japanese person a bit more well-versed in literature I probably wouldn’t be bothered by this. In any case, because of its advanced Japanese those who have learned Japanese as a second language will likely find the book quite challenging and need to spend a good portion of time looking up unfamiliar words. You might want to consider getting the E-book version since it’s so easy to look up the meanings of words, especially if you don’t know the Kanji character(s) involved.

Fortunately, this book is relatively short, having under 300 pages in it’s paper format. Reading speed varies from person to person, but I was able to complete it in a little under a month, reading approximately one or two hours a day. I adjusted the font size to make reading complex kanji easier without having to squint, so the actual number of “E” pages I read was over 1000.

If you are the type of person who likes to study Japanese regional dialects, it’s useful to know there is a good amount of exposure to Osaka dialect, since Teppei comes from that area. Ironically, there isn’t very much North-Eastern dialect (東北弁) which is what the people near the accident would speak, probably because the students and teachers generally speak Tokyo-dialect when at school.

This book is available in both printed and E-book form from publisher Kodansha, from the usual places including Amazon and Booklive. Both of these sites have a sample you can read to get the feel for the book (look for 無料サンプル or 立ち読み).

After I finished this book I realized it is a little bit like the classic series Great Teacher Onizuka (available in many forms such as manga, anime, drama, and movies), so if you like that type of story then that’s another reason to check out 『そして、星の輝く夜がくる』.

On a final note–not only do I love this book’s title, but the author ties it in skillfully to the overall story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Translation challenges: the tradeoffs of title translation with “Godzilla”

When translating some form of media from it’s original language into another language, the translation of the title is extremely important – nearly as important as choosing the title for the original work. A good title manages to capture one’s interest to learn more about the work in question, or at least stands out enough so you don’t easily forget it. It also should be different enough from existing, or at least well know movies’ titles to avoid confusing people (of course there are exceptions to this for certain in-demand titles).

Because of these things, titles are often translated quite non-literally. One good example of this is the movie “Big Hero 6”, where the Japanese title is actually “ベイマックス” (Baymax). I feel this is actually a more fitting title than the original, since the impression of Baymax as a central character far outweighs the other side characters.

“Godzilla” is one movie I think most of us are very familiar with, and I had heard of this movie long before I ever began studying Japanese. In fact, it was around way before I was born (1954!).

I stumbled upon some people having a conversation the other day about how they didn’t like this movie title, and how they actually preferred the sound of the original title, “Gojira” (ゴジラ, or written in Kanji as 呉爾羅). It was said this word was originally created as a mix of the Japanese words for whale (“kujira”, クジラ or 鯨) and gorilla (“gorira”、ゴリラ). It’s also interesting to note that some other names were based off of “Godzilla”, such as the software bug-tracking system Bugzilla.

If you look up the first movie from 1954, you’ll see the original title was simply “Gojira”, though this got changed to “Godzilla” at some point.

From a translation/marketing point of view, I can understand why they changed the title to “Godzilla”. The “God” part not only stands out and is easy to remember, but has the connotation that the monster is God-like or as powerful as a God. The “zilla” part also seems much more exciting or leaves a stronger impression than the simple “jira”. I also feel the strong “d” sound created by “dzi” adds to the word’s overall impact. Finally, I feel there is a similarity to sound of the old “Gila Monster”, and the “Godzilla” name seems to help emphasize that.

I didn’t directly ask why these people didn’t like the sound of “Godzilla”, but I am guessing because it contained the word “God” which is a special word filled with various nuances. Regardless of their reasons for preferring “Gojira”, surely there would be some who would dislike something likened to “God”.

The translator had to balance the tradeoffs of having a more memorable, meaningful, and impactful title vs. the detractor of those who would be turned off by a named associated with “God”. In the end, the movie became quite famous, so I don’t think anyone would claim the translation was done badly. But in the modern age, I wonder how this would have been translated. Possibly they would have just kept with “Gojira”?


Wikipedia for Gojira (Japanese)

IMDB for Godilla

Yuzu kaiten-zushi restaurant in David, Florida – One of the best in south florida

I’ve lived in South Florida for quite some time, and I feel that the more time passes, the more disappointed I get with the general state of Japanese cuisine in this area. There are precious few restaurants that have high-quality Sushi, and some of the better places seem to have gone downhill in the last few years. One of the few that was still great last time we went was Mikan (reviewed here), but I haven’t been back in some time.

Fortunately there is one place that I’ve been to recently that still has top-quality Japanese food, at least Sushi-wise.  It’s called Zuzu, and is in Davie, Florida.

This restaurant is one of the few kaiten-zushi (回転寿司) places in SF where there are sushi-bearing plates moving around on conveyor belts that pass by each table. If you seen something you like, you can open the window and grab it, and you’ll be charged at the end based on the colors of the plates you’ve eaten from. This style of Sushi dining is more popular on the West Cost (like in California), and of course in many areas of Japan.

But what makes this restaurant great is not that the flashy conveyor belts–it’s the amazing freshness and taste from the sushi.

Though I don’t generally consider myself a food connoisseur, not only have I made Sushi myself several times from fresh, hand-picked ingredients, but I’ve had it made for me by a master sushi chef with several decades of experience. So I’ve learned to distinguish the good from the not-so-good

The main things I enjoyed at this restaurant this time were JB rolls and salmon sashimi. These were of very good quality, based on the flavor, scent, texture, and color.

Try to smell the seaweed of a sushi roll next time you eat one out somewhere. I bet in most of the places you visit there will be no smell, and conversely the fish may have a slight fishy smell. Top-quality sushi is the opposite: the nori should have a strong smell, and the fish little to no smell, and it should also not be too cold.

As an interesting note – the tap water at this restaurant was also surprisingly good, one of the best sources of tap I’ve tasted, though when the ice eventually melted the taste dropped a little. The miso-soup was also above average, with all the ingredients noticeably fresh.

I can’t vouch for every item on their menu, but overall I think you have an excellent chance to dine on magnificent Sushi at this place. The prices are also pretty reasonable, with a meal for three around $40.

The only real disadvantage (if you can call it that) is that I am not sure if any people who work here are actually Japanese. Usually I treat this as a bad sign, but in this case the food is so good it doesn’t really matter. But if you are looking for someone to practice your konnichiwas with, you may not have much luck here.

Japanese particle confusion:  人「?」手伝ってあげる

All human-made languages are built from rules, upon which are piled on exception after exception (at least in the languages I have studied).

In this post I’d like to go over a confusing usage of a Japanese particle that I’ve stumbled across in my own speech several times.

What particle do you think fits in the following sentence:

  • 人「?」手伝ってあげる。  (hito 「?」tetsudatte ageru)

Let’s try to reason out what might be a good guess here. Typically, the 〜て+あげる form is used when doing an action for another person. While often that person is the listener (i.e. the person that is being spoken to) and is omitted, in some cases it can be specified. For example:

  • 友達に掃除してあげる。

So, based on this pattern, you might think ”に” is a good guess for the original sentence in question.

Next, let’s take a look at the verb 手伝う “tetsudau”, which means “to help”. It typically uses the “を” particle to describe the thing that is being helped with, i.e.:

  • 掃除を手伝う。

(掃除 = “souji”, “cleaning”)

If you do some research, you’ll find out that を is also used when you are helping a person. This was a surprise to me (I expected に to be used before a person that is being helped) because is a bit different than helping with an action (like 掃除).

Based on this, now you might think ”を” should be used in the sentence in question (人「?」手伝ってあげる). However, because “に” is generally used before the receiver of an action you might still feel “に” is more appropriate.

The correct answer is that “を” is in fact the correct particle in this situation, yielding:

  • 手伝ってあげる。

Another example of this pattern is the verb 助ける (“tasukeru”, “to help, to save”), which takes ”を” before the person being helped with and without あげる. For example:

  • 友達を助ける。
  • 友達を助けてあげる。

So, I think the pattern to remember here is that when you use the 〜て+あげる form, you keep the particle which was used before あげる was added.  However, if the verb by itself (without あげる) doesn’t typically have a person as the object or target, you just use “に” before the person when you add it to the phrase containing あげる.

As an example of the latter case, take the verb 考える (“kangaeru”, “to think”) which typically doesn’t take a person as an object. So if you want to express thinking about something for a specific person, you would use に before the person, not を.

  • 友達に考えてあげる。

Of course, depending on the flow of conversation, the “友達に” can possibly be omitted completely.

Japanese cool band: Fox Capture Plan

Recently the same friend who had introduced me to the great Japanese band Jizue (review) told be about another entertaining Japanese group: Fox Capture Plan.

This is an instrumental band with three members (Ryo Kishimoto – Piano, Hidehiro Kawai – Base,  Tsukasa Inoue – Drums). They bill themselves as “Modern Japanese Rock” (現代版ジャズロック), but much of it sounds closer to Jazz to me: a fast, funky, frenetic mix of these three instruments. The rhythmical, repetitive nature of their music also gives it a similarity to Techno. The have put out 4 albums in the last 3 years, which is a pretty fast pace, though their last album COVERMIND is a cover album. Their songs are also published a few other places like compilation albums.

They have a few music videos available to view on YouTube you can check out. One of my favorite songs of theirs is Butterfly Effect, which is really helped by a string ensemble to compliment the trio’s usual instruments.

If you are looking for a good pick-me-up, or just to see what kinds of unique music Japanese musicians are putting out these days, I highly recommend you check them out. They do have some similarity to Jizue, at least rhythmically, but the lack of a vocalist is a big enough change to move them to another genre. Their style is different enough from Jazz, Rock, and Techno to put them in a category of their own.

There Japanese Wikipedia page is here:


Origami Tales: The artful performance of Kuniko Yamamoto

Today we visited an event at a library in Fort Lauderdale, South Florida, which had many great activities for kids including a free book for the first 1000 children to arrive, boardgames, picture taking area, face painting, and live performances. The first performance was by a Japanese woman of the name of Kuniko Yamamoto, titled “Origami Tales”. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but since it was at a library I thought maybe it would be some sort of book reading of Japanese fairytales.

Though it was scheduled to start at 10:30am, it didn’t actually start until nearly 11am, and by then there was a good number of people in the auditorium, nearly all families with children.

The performance began with an older woman walking on stage, wearing what appeared to be a traditional Japanese kimono. She began to speak to the audience about Japan and how the flight is so long to get there, and what children would do on the long flight to try and avoid becoming bored. Although she had a thick accent which at first caught me at guard, I soon grew use to it, and eventually realized had she spoke perfect un-accented English, she wouldn’t really seem so “foreign” after all.

After a few minutes it was clear she was very good interacting with children, with her very expressive facial gestures and body movement helping to get laughs from everyone. After a few minutes of performing without props, she finally brought out her origami which was quite impressive. While many of the origami models she used were fairly simple, she leveraged her expressive motion skillfully to bring them to life, while integrating them into her stories. She used a few other props, and I feel that one of the best of them was actually not related to origami.

For those not very familiar with Japan, there was some interesting cultural bits to learn, including the story of 1000 cranes, as well as some cultural differences between people who live in Tokyo and those who live in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan (Tokyo is of course #1). She spoke about how people from Osaka are generally more aggressive and loud than those from Tokyo. Since I have not lived in either city I generally like to be open minded about such stereotypes, but this is something I’ve heard before from several other Japanese people so I think there is some truth to it.

While the purpose of the performance wasn’t to learn Japanese, there was some Japanese phrases interjected here and there, for example basic phrases like “konnnichiwa” and “arigatou”, and even the Osaka greeting “Donai? Bochi bochi” which was used as an example of how Osaka people differ from Tokyo-ites.

Overall, the show was quite enjoyable and even moving at a few points, with some deeper topics touched upon here and there. The performance really exceeded any expectations I had. The only minor disappointment was that I wished she used a bit more origami, and did more folding from scratch as opposed to using pre-folded or pre-made models.

I am not sure how often she does shows in the U.S., but the person who introduced her said she had worked at Disney and other famous places, so if you are lucky she may come near you someday. If so, I highly recommend seeing her live.

Though it is a bit of neta-bare (spoilers), if you want to see a video which shows portions of some her act you can check it out on her website here: Just be aware that the video there is a few years old (I’d guess at was recorded at least 10-15 years ago). Her website has some other interesting stuff, like a study guide, that you might want to check out as well.