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Category Archives: Looking Back

So…Katakana and The Black Eyed Peas were at a Karaoke Bar…

…and mocked all Japanese students trying to learn English.

A while back I used to teach a 2nd year junior high student. She was vivacious and confident as well as outspoken – that’s super rare for Japanese girls her age. On  random Saturday, she comes to me flashing a printed copy of Boom Boom Pow and bursts out into song. As a fellow Black Eyed Peas fan, I couldn’t help but notice all those f-bombs she was sporting in the lyrics. Yes, encouraging my kid student to sing an explicit song in a foreign language was morally questionable, but that’s for another day. My main ire was her style of singing the song: Stereotypical Japanese. I cringed when she turned Will.I.Am’s ‘Beats so big I’m steppin’ on leprechauns’ line into a comedy bit for closed minded *cough* American *cough cough* English speakers. All you ‘Flied Lice’ jokers are closed-minded English speakers in my book. *Shrug*

Anyway, she knew the words way too well to have learned them from simply paying attention to a dutiful teacher like me.  The the answer to this suspicion was…

KARAOKE BARS WITH ENGLISH SONGS!!

Well, that just brought about more questions. At the time of this surprise concert, I had taught this student English for a good year and some change, so I was pretty sure of her English reading level…definitely not at Boom Boom Pow speed on the Accelerated Reader scale. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star would have been a better assumption. So…how’d she do it?

KATAKANA AND FURIGANA!!

For a country collectively eager to learn English, Katakana has to be the worse crutch for Japanese English students. It’s one of the three styles of Japanese writing (Katakana, Hiragana, Kanji) used to for non-Japanese phonetic purposes. For example, This is the word ‘katakana’ written down:

カタカナ

カ(ka) タ (ta) カ (ka) ナ(na).

Here are some other examples of Katakana:

Ice cream:

アイスクリーム

ア(a) イ(i) ス(su) ク(ku) リ(ri) ー(i) ム(mu)

Tia Haygood:

ティア・ヘイグッド

ティ(ti) ア(a)・ヘ(he) イ(i) グ(gu)ッド (ddo)

If you sound out the letters in parenthesis they sound pretty close to the original version. Katakana sounds are basically what many native English speakers hear when listening to a Japanese person speaking with a heavy Japanese accent.

Now here is the English version of Boom Boom Pow and while you’re at it here’s the video if you were living under a rock throughout 2008-2009.

This is what Japanese Karaoke Bar singers read when they sing Boom Boom Pow. *Might as well just scroll through it all, then laugh for understanding ‘3008,’ then move on. 

ゴッター・ゲットゲット・

ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ゴッター・ゲットゲット・

ゴッター・ジージージーゲットゲットゲット・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ノーズ・ブーム・ブーム・

ブーム・ノーズ・ブーム・ブーム・ポーズブーム・ブームズ・

ヨー・アイ・ガート・ザト・ヒット・ザト・ビート・ジー・ブロックズ・

ユー・カン・ギット・ザト・バス・オーバーローッズ・

アイ・ガート・ジー・ザト・ラーク・アンド・ロルズ・

ザト・フューチャー・フローズ・

ザト・ディジットル・スピツ・

ネックスト・レブル・ビズアル・シットズ・

アイ・ガート・ザト・ブーム・ブーム・ポーズ・

ハウ・ジー・ビート・バング・ブーム・ブーム・ポーズ・

アイ・ライク・ザト・ブーム・ブーム・ポーズ・

ゼム・チッキンズ・ジャッキン・マイ・スティレズ・

ゼイ・トライ・コッピー・マイ・スワガーズ・

アイム・オン・ザト・ネックスト・シット・ノーズ・

アイム・ソー・3008・

ユー・ソー・2000アンド・レイテズ・

アイ・ガート・ザト・ブーム・ブーム・ブームズ・

ザト・フューチャー・ブーム・ブーム・ブームズ・

レット・ミー・ギット・イット・ノーズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ノーズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ノーズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ポーズブーム・ブーム・ポーズ・

アイム・オン・ジー・スーペソニック・ブームズ・

ヨル・ヒア・ジー・スペイスシップ・ズームズ・

フウィン・フウィン・アイ・ステップ・インサイド・ジー・ルームズセム・ガールズ・ゴー・エイプシット・アッフズ・

ヨル・スタック・オン・スーパー・シットズ・

ザト・ローフィー・スチューピッド・8ビツ・

アイム・オン・ザト・HD・フラットズ・

ジス・ビート・ゴー・ブーム・ブーム・バップズ・

アイム・エイ・ビースト・フウィン・ユー・ターン・ミー・オンジントー・ジー・フューチャー・シバートロンズ・

ハーダー・ファースター・ベッター・ストロンガーズ・

セックシー・レイディズ・エックストラー・ロンガーズ・

コース・ウィー・ガート・ジー・ビート・ザト・バウンセズ・

ウィー・ガート・ジー・ビート・ザト・パウンズ・

ウィー・ガート・ジー・ビート・ザト・808・

ザト・ブーム・ブーム・イン・ヨー・トーンズ・

ピープル・イン・ジー・プレイセズ・

イフ・ユー・ウォナー・ギット・ドーンズ・

パット・ヨー・ハンズ・イン・ジー・エイ・ウィル・アイ・アムズド・ロップ・ジー・ビート・ノーズ・

ヤップ・ヤップアイ・ビー・ロッキン・ゼム・ビーツ・ヤップ・ヤップズ・

アイ・ビー・ロッキン・ゼム・ビーツ・ウァイーイヤップ・ヤップズ・

ヒア・ウィー・ゴー・ヒア・ウィー・ゴー・サッタライト・アッヂア・

ヤル・ゲッティン・ヒット・ウィス・ブーム・ブームズ・

ビーツ・ソー・ビグ・アイム・ステッピン・オン・レップレッチョーンス

シッティン・オン・ヤル・ウィス・ジー・ブーム・ブームズ・

シッティン・オン・ヤル・ユー・ウィス・ジー・ブーム・ブームズ・

シッティン・オン・ヤル・ユー・ウィス・

セズ・ジス・ビート・ビー・バンピン・バンピンズ・

ジス・ビート・ゴー・ブーム・ブームズ・

レット・ジー・ビート・ロックズ・

レット・ジー・ビート・ロックズ・

レット・ジー・ビート・ロックズ・

ジス・ビート・ビー・バンピン・バンピンズ・

ジス・ビート・ゴー・ブーム・ブームズ・

アイ・ライク・ザト・ブーム・ブーム・ポーズ・

ゼム・チッキンズ・ジャッキン・マイ・スティレズ・

ゼイ・トライ・コッピー・マイ・スワガーズ・

アイム・オン・ザト・ネックスト・シット・ノーズ・

アイム・ソー・3008・

ユー・ソー・2000アンド・レイテズ・

アイ・ガート・ザト・ブーム・ブーム・ブームズ・

ザト・フューチャー・ブーム・ブーム・ブームズ・

レット・ミー・ギット・イット・ノーズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲットズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ゴッター・ゲットゲット

ズ・ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ノーズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ブーム・ノーズ・

ブーム・ブーム・ポーズブーム・ブーム・ポーズ・

レット・ジー・ビート・ロックズ・

レット・ジー・ビート・ラーク・ゼッド・

レット・ジー・ビート・ロックズ・

レット・ジー・ビート・ゼッド・レット・ジー・ビートズ・

レット・ジー・ビート・ラーク・ラーク・ラーク・ラーク

ZOMFG! How can anyone learn proper English with that? There aren’t even ABC’s in that sucker (Ok, an ‘H’ and a ‘D,’ and done).

Katakana is basically a Japanese interpretation of English which unfortunately makes my beloved student sing like Breakfast at Tiffany’s stereotypical sounding Mr. Yunioshi instead of something more natural. Japanese American music enthusiasts may get high kicks for singing foreign songs but they aren’t necessarily improving their English skills in the long run. Picking a tremendously difficult Black-Eyed Peas song, isn’t very beneficial either.

On the not so flip-side, I try to improve my Japanese understanding through pop music. I’ll be the first one to stand up and break out a Mr. Children song or Zankoku na Tenshi no Tese in a heart beat. But I do solely read the romaji, AKA the English interpretation of Japanese language? Sometimes, if the song is difficult I’ll use it to get comfortable with the song first. However, it’s almost always better to print out the hiragana and/or kanji to research the meaning and pronunciations of the unknown words to sound more natural.

My confidence in pronunciation, speed, and voice improve when I actually understand what I’m singing. I can’t possibly imagine how Japanese karaoke singers manage to sing any foreign songs decently without understanding a word they’re saying or the general meaning of the song. It’s especially embarrassing for Japanese hip hop fans at a club singing a rap song when the song is clearly giving a ‘black’s only’ message or making reference to cultures, people, or places they’ve never heard of. You’ll never see me singing Lynyrd Skynyrd songs or anything related to the deep south or rednecks.

So my advice to anyone trying to sing a foreign song with ease and fluidity without sounding awkward and looking silly: LOOK THAT KANJI UP! Usually if the song is popular enough there is already a translation posted with. Oh? Need to know how to read that Kanji? No problem. (FURIGANIZER and Hirahira have always helped with reading kanji.

One thing I commend my former student for is taking initiative and being gun-ho about singing in English. Though Black Eyed Peas wouldn’t be the first song I’d pick for learning English at the Junior High level, it’s a start.

じゃあね! Oh and Happy Fourth!

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Not in America? Love Halloween? No problem.

As a UNC Chapel Hill student, Halloween meant going to a street called Franklin street pre-gamed and dressed in a costume. What’s awesome is that the whole purpose is to just look at other people’s costumes and maybe stop off at a bar. No special events required.  Walking up and down the heavily crowded street was enough fun for us.

And this guy

Last year was my first time missing out on the Franklin Shenanigans. Halloween in Oyama was modest at best. Last year’s costume was hasty and uninspiring: A generic hippie with a 99% sign in light of the Occupy Wall Street protests. But lets face it Japanese adult students don’t even know about the 99% let alone the children the Halloween week was aimed for. So by the end of Halloween week my kids decided I was Captain Jack Sparrow or some fortune teller from Tortuga on the Pirates of the Caribbean with a my mismatched jewelry and gypsie wrap…Shoganai. (-_-)

Fake scared cause my fortune saw it coming. FAIL.

Ok so when it comes to preparing a Halloween costume, I’m a bit めんろくさい AKA lazy about it. In the end, it wasn’t all bad. I got to wear jeans to work so it was a nice win. But I knew the next year was going to be better. This year, my new めんろくさい approach to finding a costume was googling characters who have articles of clothing I already own.

Occupy Strawberry Shortcake. もっともえ

So this year was the black version of Strawberry Shortcake. No one who saw me knew Strawberry Shortcake the character but love the actual strawberry shortcake so I lucked out and had more fun. I was very upstaged by some of my friends who dressed as One Piece characters. When in Japan, don’t mess with One Piece. You get cut.

One thing I will say is Roppongi is a major spot to enjoy Halloween. Some friends of mine went there and posted pictures. They were very similar to what Halloween was like in NC but on a larger and less regulated scale. Any large city is also good. I was in Omiya Halloween weekend and enjoyed the bars and clubs without a hitch.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Looking Back, misoPOW!, Real Happenings

 

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Wait? My Bill is HOW MUCH?!

I’ve been meaning to write about this one since late May but here it goes!

I finally made the leap many foriegners fear when it comes to serious medical attention in a different country. Mine was extracting my last wisdom tooth.

My experience with wisdom tooth extraction in America has been pretty straightforward: Sleep during the surgery, feel like a zombie afterwards, and eat like a baby for the next week. Plus, me and the dentist visits have enjoyed our put-it-off-till-the-end relationship since my very first visit. So you can imagine coming to Japan with a wisdom tooth growing in already, meant it was going to stay there for a while.

Not such a wise idea and the issue needed to be dealt with promptly…in Japan. On my first visit I walked out already feeling nervous. My oh-so-happy dentist informed me of Japan’s is strict about anesthetics meaning I wasn’t going to be under when he planned to take it out. On the day of, I really wished I was asleep. The technic my dentist used required a lot of pressure on the tooth forcing me to hear – and feel – a lot of crunching and cracking noises. I have a pretty interesting imagination so having the erie sound effects wasn’t helping my nerves at all. In the end, I actually missed the whole thing. He’d already extracted the tooth! I guess you could say, it was sort of painless. ヽ(´▽`)ノ

But that wasn’t the real kicker of this story. Nope. The grand total of having a $200 per tooth job done in Japan is approximately $30 per tooth. Of course I have health insurance that covers both medical and dental services. But even with dental insurance in the States, dental jobs still have expensive out-of-pocket fees. I went back three additional times just to get my teeth cleaned and looked at. Getting my teeth cleaned was about $10 and getting my teeth looked at was around $14. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the dentist more times in one month than I have the entire time I’ve been in college.

I read around for other wisdom tooth extract stories and many are a bit scarier. I may have just lucked out due to the location of the tooth. Many foreigners avoid it all together because of the no-anesthetic policy. It’s both a personal choice of getting it done or waiting a while til it gets to a certain position. That’s what I did. Whatever happens whether you’re in your home country or not, I recommend getting it removed in a timely.

Useful terms I learned from going to the dentist four times this month:

  • Dentist: Haisha (歯医者)
  • Dental Clinic: Shika (歯科)
  • Gargle: kuchisusugu (漱ぐ)
  • Cavity: Mushiba (虫歯) (Yeah they found ONE small one)
  • Take out: Nuku (ぬく)
  • Anesthetic: Masui (ますい)
  • Wisdom Tooth: Oyashirazu (親知らず)
  • To brush teeth: ha wo migaku (歯を磨く)

Comments, Questions welcomed! (^_^)

 

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April 29th One Year Ago…

On this date, I was sitting in a plane both anxious and excited about my Eikaiwa teaching interview in Chicago. Having never been to the Windy City, I was increasingly excited–and maybe even hopeful to catch a glimpse of Oprah or the Sears Tower.

I remember riding the elevator up to the lobby with fifty other interviewees dressed to please and hoping for the best. My competition looked stiff. “Mission Accepted,” My favorite childhood character would always say to a challenge. So, I walked in the room graced it with a smile and…well…mingled.

I met some amazing applicants and good friends. A few who I still talk these days. I won’t get too into the minced meat of the group interview but if you’re curious please shoot me an email in the meantime I managed to actually enjoy my first trip to Chicago despite the high pressure.

You know just meeting random people at the Sears Tower and riding the train. Didn’t get a glimpse of the Harpo though.

Mattemasu!!

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Looking Back