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Japanese Language Fun (日本語)

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I got this in Japan about 14 years ago. Had no way to play it at the time, but now I do! Not bad for $4.

クロノ トリガー (Kurono Torigaa).


Chapter 11, The Arrival of the Cold. 寒到来 (kantourai). 


So, “aka neko” (Red Cat) appears to refer to this guy, an arson. So I guess “red” was not health or blood, but fire (火, hi).


So the convicts in the jail are indeed singing a welcome song for Ogami Itto! “Saa, koi” and such all amounts to “So come, come on in!” The guy at the bottom adds a bunch of stuff about leaving the world behind…

This series was written a good 20 years before Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but somehow I can’t help but think of “Be Our Guest” here, Edo-era prison style.


Ogami Itto is being thrown into prison. The guy on the left says “Hey guys, it’s time to do the welcome song!”



Kozure Ookami (Lone Wolf and Cub) Chapter 10: 赤猫まねき (akaneko maneki), Red Cat Invitation. Interestingly, the English translation goes with just “Red Cat.” People might be familiar with the “maneki neko,” the beckoning cat – usually a ceramic or status of a cat sitting on its hind legs and with a front paw (or both front paws) raised in beckoning. Usually maneki comes before neko, so I’m not sure of the significance here of it coming after. Also, red maneki cats usually symbolize good health, but red can also symbolize blood….


On to Volume 2 of Kozure Ookami (子連れ狼), Lone Wolf and Cub, featuring Daigoro with a かざぐるま (kazaguruma, a pinwheel).


And here we finally get the full exposition for the story (well, most of it, anyway). The prose describes the Tokugawa reign, and the power of 3 groups. The Oniwaban (御庭番, or the garden one; basically ninja; of the Kurokawa clan), the assassins (刺客, shikaku; of the Yagyuu clan), and the executioners (介錯, kaishaku; of the Ogami clan). And that historicall, the Ogami clan mysteriously vanishes, with Yagyuu taking on both roles. And then eventually Yagyuu vanishes.

And that this story could be one of the possible answers!


Yes, Chapter 9 is showing us a lot about Ogami Itto’s past. Here, we see that he gave a very young Daigoro the chance to choose whether he would join his father (choosing the blade), or he would join his dead mother (choosing the temari, or 手毬) – meaning that Itto would slay his son.  


Kozure Ookami (Long Wolf and Cub) Chapter 9, the final chapter of Book 1, is 刺客街道 (shikaku kaidou, assassin’s road). Flipping ahead, it appears the chapter is mostly a flashback, and we’ll finally see some of Ogami Itto’s past.


Two things about the end of Chapter 8. First, notice the six “tobiccho” (gang of ronin) at the top. Then notice the six uses of “ギャア” and “ガア” (basically, screams). The English translation made the first two “caww” for the crows, but it’s pretty clear they’re all the death cries of the six tobiccho, perhaps mixed in with the birds (the imagery of which is an echo of the Chapter title and subject matter, which includes the wings of birds).

Second, the leader of the tobiccho has realized who Ogami Itto really is. He begs for mercy and says he won’t tell anybody. Oddly, the English translation says “you’re the Shogun’s executioner.” But the Japanese translation only says “介錯人など” (kaishakujin nado, executioner and such). This is really the first glimpse we’ve gotten into who Itto might really be. It’s interesting that the English translation decided to reveal the shogunate connection earlier than what seems to be revealed here in the Japanese version.


At the beginning of the doubly-long Chapter 8, the head of the “tobiccho” (a gang of ronin that have banded together for general crimes and debauchery) meets Ogami Itto and says that he seems familiar. But he can’t quite place it.

At the end of the chapter, the tobiccho are preparing to leave the hot springs, and they announce that they are going to kill the other visitors to keep them quiet. One of those visitors is a sick samurai. He begs for a 介錯 (kaishaku) while he commits 切腹 (seppuku), the ritual suicide. A kaishaku basically stands behind the person committing suicide, and cuts off their head at the moment of the stomach stabbing.

The word “kaishaku” shocks a memory for the head of the tobiccho. He then sees a monk, who is chanting the Namu Amida, which makes him think おがむ (ogamu), which means “to pray” or “to pray with hands pressed together” (it’s about the posture of the prayer)…. he repeats it… ogamu… ogami…. suddenly it all clicks with “介錯人拝一刀” (kaishakujin ogami itto) – or, Executioner Ogami Itto, and he realizes who the latest visitor really is….


So each of these ladies has a kanji on her chest (either a tattoo or painted), 1 through 8. The first three, however, don’t use 一、二、三. Instead, they use 壱、弐、参. These are 大字 (dai ji), or alternate kanji.

As you might imagine, it might be easy to alter 一、二、三 (adding two lines to ichi to make san, etc) to falsify documents. So these more complex kanji, the daiji, are typically used in legal documents.

Alternate versions also exist for 十 with 拾, and 万 with 萬。


Ok, I’m certainly learning about a lot of new things as I read through Kozure Ookami. Chapter 7′s title is 八門遁甲の陣 (hachimon tonkou no jin), which roughly means something like The Mystical Eight Door Battle Formation.

The English translation for Lone Wolf calls this chapter Eight Gates of Deceit.

So what’s the deal?

遁甲 (tonkou) refers to a type of Eastern astrology. In particular, there’s something called Qimen Dunjia, which in Chinese is usually spelled 寄門遁甲, which is an ancient form of divination from China. It was originally used with figuring out military tactics. It uses a 3x3 grid.

I’m not exactly sure where “bamen” (八門) comes into play. But either way, Japanese audiences are probably familiar enough with the term 遁甲 to understand the meaning here.

Western readers are probably much less familiar with the terms, and so they’ve chosen a different tact in translation. As far as I can tell, nothing in this title suggests “deceit,” and so the English translators are probably using something that happens in the chapter.

Another common seasonal word in Japanese: 紅葉, momiji. Momiji refers to the maple leaf, but it also means leaves turning red, or autumnal colors (the characters themselves mean ‘red’ and ‘leaf’). And again, ‘momiji’ is a special reading for these characters.


Chapter Six opens with an unknown man leading a horse, upon which Daigoro sits, singing a song. The man makes a comment about being told to deliver the boy to this temple, and he departs. Daigoro finds his father, upon which he reveals that the tie for Daigoro’s hair contains a message (殺, kill).

Daigoro has been involved in some important way in each chapter so far, and all quite different ways. I was not expecting this level of involvement, and it’s neat to see.


Chapter Six. “Waiting for the Late Autumn Rains.”

Japanese seems to have special words for seasonal weather. This chapter shows a good example, 時雨 (しぐれ, shigure), means later autumn or early winter drizzle. Which is also a special reading for those characters.

I think the first time I ran across the term “shigure,” it had to do with a museum in Japan that somebody (recently retired?) from Nintendo had created, and I think they were using the Nintendo DS (the original DS, which was just new at the time) to serve as a tour guide.


Well, this is certainly a way to start a chapter. 

こわっぱ (小童, kowappa) is a derogatory term for a child, kinda like brat.

This is the second time in the first 5 chapters that Daigoro peeing has played a role in the story.


The 4th Chapter (其之四, sono yon) means something like “Baby carriage on the River Styx.” 

三途の川 (Sanzu no kawa, Sanzu River) is, according to my dictionary “the Buddhist equivalent of the River Styx,” or the River of the Dead, for those not familiar with Greek Mythology. 

乳母車 (ubaguruma, baby carriage) is “nursing mother” plus “cart.” 

If this were another series, I might wonder whether they chose to mention the River of Death specifically in Chapter 4, since 四, four, can have the same pronunciation as 死, death. But so far, it seems as though every chapter is going to have death as a theme…


And even in the first word speech bubble, I learn something.

両 (ryou) are the coins piled on that small altar. As the man says, the “promised 500 ryou.” I was more familiar with the term “koban,” the oval gold coins (if you know what Meowth are, those are koban on their foreheads). Koban were apparently minted to have about 1 ryou of gold. So koban was the coin itself, but the ryou was the value of the material. 

Like any currency, the value fluctuated over time. It looks like 1 ryou ranged around 1-4 koku a rice, where 1 koku of rice is considered the amount of rice to feed 1 person for 1 year. Other figures put 1 ryou ranging from $30 to $1,000 USD. No matter how you count it, 500 ryou is a hefty sum.

I’d be curious if anybody knows if the altar with the heart-shaped hole has any cultural significance? I imagine this series will have lots of importance cultural references.


I was afraid of this…. I haven’t event started reading the first chapter, and I’ve run into something archaic. The chapters all have 其之 in front of them (其之一、其之二, etc). Apparently these are the kanji for その (sono), just nobody uses them much any more, they have an archaic feeling (appropriate for this story, then). Also, その gets used as counters for stories, episodes, or chapters, so 其之一 (sono ichi) amounts to Chapter 1 or Episode 1. I think I might have learned this a long time ago, but it comes up so infrequently…

And apparently, つかまつる (tsukamatsuru) is an old/polite form of 仕える (tsukaeru), to serve, to work. So the chapter title is roughly, Child for hire, “arm” (sword) for hire.


On to the next series! Next up, Kozure Ookami (子連れ狼). Numerous people have recommended it to me, and so I’ve wanted to read this one for a while, but I don’t know anything about it, other than it’s a historical play (時代劇, jidai geki).

It most often gets the translation “Lone Wolf and Cub” but as usual, the English is adding more than is in the Japanese. A more accurate translation would be “Wolf Taking along (his) Child.” The 連れ (tsure) means to take along, and becomes ‘zure’ when combined with 子 (ko, child), to give ‘kozure.’ 

This story came out in the 1970s (1970-1976) and comprises 28 volumes. It also looks like it will be heavy on historical aspects, so I’ll likely be on this one for a while. Even finishing one book per week will mean half a year!

Edit: Oof, and the first page is already pretty tough. I might need to intersperse something on the lighter side. Recommendations welcome!


And it’s over, Volume 10 done, and Parayste (Kiseijuu) all finished.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend this story for anybody looking to read something that’s not just an action clone or a ROMCOM. It’s also probably worth remembering that this story began in the late 80s, when the environmental messages weren’t as common as they are today (in fact, the author comments on that in the afterword).

The final scene for the back cover of Volume 10 shows Satomi sitting, and perhaps reading an assignment for university. Satomi plays a very important role throughout the whole story, even though she never takes the stage much, or for long. 


The inside-cover art for Volume 10, I think he wants to ask a question.


On to the final book, Volume 10, of Kiseijuu, or Parasyte. Given the way Volume 9 ended, this serene scene of Shinichi is interesting, particularly the “hidden” right arm…


And so Volume 9 ends, and what a cliffhanger, Shinichi seemingly without Migi. The art on the back cover depicts the Migi-less and bloodied Shinichi…


Uhoh, the last chapter of Volume 9 is called ミギー (Migii). That can’t bode well…


He said the thing!

As the police and army forces close in, Mayor Hirokawa makes a speech.

It’s worth noting here that the regular word for “parasite” in Japanese is 寄生虫 (kiseichuu), where that last part is “chuu” meaning “insect.” But the title of this manga series is 寄生獣 (kiseijuu), where that last part is “juu” meaning “beast” (it’s the same “juu” as in kaijuu). Hence, one reason the English uses the spelling “Parasyte” for the title.

Throughout the story, the “parasytes” refer to themselves as 寄生生物 (kisei seibutsu), parasites, or “parasitic living beings.” 

It’s in his final speech where the Mayor highlights the issue. He says that humans are parasites (寄生虫) devouring the world. Then he corrects himself: いや。。。寄生獣か (iya, kiseijuu ka), “no, parasitic beasts (or “parasytes”).” And here, in case you hadn’t already caught on, we get the revelation that it’s the humans that are the “parasytes,” the parasitic beasts.


The police (and army) are having a showdown with the parasytes that have clustered at the town hall, They explain that they’ve chosen shotguns, for their ability to cause lots of damage, but that they’re switching the smaller BB-sized pellets for larger ones.

Here, the person describes the smaller ones as ジンタンつぶ (jintan tsubu, Jintan grains/seeds/pills). Jintan are tiny spherical mints. But a BB is probably the best reference for the US.

The person describes the larger ones as パチンコ玉よりやや小さい (pachinko dama yori yaya chiisai), or slightly smaller than a pachinko ball. They’re about 8 mm, and 16 of them fit in the shell. One English translate mistranslates this as 16.8 mm pellets, which would be twice as large as described, and more the size of grapes. Oops.


The inter-chapter art in this book features some really great pictures of parasytes.


On to Volume 9 of Kiseijuu. The cover appears to show an action shot of a blood-splattered Goto. Looks like he’s going to be getting a chance to shine!

Goto’s name  (後藤) is interesting, in that it invokes the 5 parasites (五, go) in his body, but uses 後 for the sound “go.”

And… She’s gone. Ah well. But she left an important gift, and I’m not talking about the baby. It felt a little abrupt, though, but so be it. The end of Volume 8. The back cover yet again featured Shinichi looking off into the distance.


On to volume 8 of Parasyte (寄生獣, Kiseijuu), featuring Tamura Reiko on the front.

Well, I had a feeling she was going to die, but this image of her in a white dress would seem to foreshadow it… I kinda hoped she would make closer to the end, though (there’s still 2 volumes after this one).

The end of Volume 7 of Parasyte (寄生獣, Kiseijuu). Murano looks furtively behind her, perhaps looking to see if Shinichi is there…

Oh. Absolutely my favorite chapter so far of this series.

Yep, toooootally normal laughter.

I’m going to love this chapter.

Zkanji upgrade?

I really like Zkanji for reading and studying Japanese. But it hasn’t been updated in over 7 years. Anybody have any newer recommended software?

On to volume 7 of 寄生獣, Kiseijuu, or, Parasyte. A foreshadowing perhaps, Shinichi looks bloody and a bit furtive… And in the woods?

The end of Volume 6. Shinichi glances off in the distance at night.

Also totally normally laughter.

Actually, no, wait.

食われた (kuwareta, was eaten). As in, your mother was eaten by parasites.

So not totoally normal. Good practice on use of passive voice, though!

Totally normal laughter.


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elugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threelugraphy:蟯虫標本のある学校A school with specimens of eggs.@horrorjapan蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means thre



A school with specimens of eggs.


蟯虫 (ぎょうちゅう, gyouchuu) means threadworm or pinworm, so this series of photos seems to take on a more ominous tone, if it really means “A school with an example of pinworms” ….?

みんなの安全 (minna no anzen) – “Safety for Everybody”

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Migi pours over details on the ground…. ふむ (fumu) is a common utterance, a good translation would be “hmmmmm.”


One of the inter-chapter pieces of art from Volume 6 of Parasyte – features this  twisted head that can be viewed upright or upside down…


Half-way, only 5 more volumes to go! Volume 6′s cover features a parasite beginning to change…