dorchadas: (Warcraft Won't Stop Searching)
Listening to the latest episode of Vidjagame Apocalypse yesterday and they had a brief section about Night in the Woods, the adventure game about snake person angst, and included a cover of one of the songs from the protagonist's band:


I played it for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and gave a summary of the premise as I knew it, since I knew she'd understand. She's from Paducah, and as a child she had the goal to just get out in the way that I think a lot of kids from rural areas do. I'm from the Chicago suburbs, so it never affected me the same way, but I know people who lived in those dying towns before they moved away. The factories have closed, the malls are ghost towns, and people work retail because that's all that's available and mark off the days on the calendar. I mentioned that the protagonist and her friends hang out at the hardware store for lack of anywhere else to go, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd nodded sagely.

I'm leaning towards buying the game based on how much I liked that song, honestly.

Farmer's Market Dinner )

For class, we were supposed to discuss an article but Aya-sensei forgot to email me, so we just chatted for an hour (and I did okay! Weeee smiling happy face). We're doing the article next week, though--an essay by Hirano Keiichirō entitled 無常ということ (mujou to iu koto, "On impermanence"), about the changes Kyōto has undergone, efforts against that, and what the "real Kyōto" is anyway.

One part stood out to me:
人が死ぬように、建造物も壊れる。人が移り変わるように、風景もまた絶え間なく変化する。そうした存在の絶望的な不安を慰める為にこそ、不変の聖所としての神社仏閣がかくも膨大な数築かれなければならなかったのではあるまいか
Which I would translate as
Much like humans die, buildings will crumble. Much like people change, the scenery will ceaselessly change. Surely to console that desperate existential dread, is that not why we must build temples and shrines in such huge numbers as eternal sacred spaces?
At what point does preservation become killing something and preserving it in amber? At what point does change destroy that which came before and make something completely new? I'm sure the people in the dying rural towns, both here and in Japan, would prefer there had been a bit less change, even if younger people are moving to those towns sometimes.

I haven't finished the essay, so I can't answer those questions. Question block
dorchadas: (Blue Rose)
Yesterday on Twitter, the Japanese Consulate in Chicago retweeted this link to a translation contest run by the Japanese Literature Publishing Project, and now I am troubled. It took me a long time to figure out, but translation is really what I want to do. Conveying knowledge between one language and another is like solving a puzzle where the reward is understanding. Some of my favorite times in Japan were when friends would visit and I'd interpret for them, and yeah, my Japanese is passable at best, but it's good enough that I can convey meaning. Just recently I was reading 電撃ピカチュウ to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd as she lay on the couch with her head on my lap and realized that this is my best life.

But I don't know if entering the contest is a good idea right now. The deadline is July 31, with 36 pages to translate. That's not an insurmountable barrier--right now I'm reading 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ and I could easily do 36 pages of that in eight weeks--but reading that also gives me a good example of where my translation abilities are right now, which is "good but not great." I don't often make a mistake that inverts the meaning of what I'm reading, but it does happen. Entering this contest would take a lot of effort I think would best be saved for other things, like studying for the JLPT. That, I think I have a better chance with.

I'll remember this for next year, though. This is the third contest, and though the first was in 2012, the second was last year. Maybe they're on track.

My sister has a job interview in Chicago today so we put her up last night. She's an incredibly considerate houseguest--worked around my usual morning schedule and accepted the food we had on hand--and I don't get to see her very often, so it was pretty nice. She's looking for a job in academy after veterinary private practice turned out not to her liking. I advised her to take the job in Iowa and use it to save a ton of money, but she pointed out that it would require living in Iowa. Fair.

My parents are coming into town tonight, but not until late, so after work [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, my sister, and I will probably play Mario Kart. Couch gaming isn't something I get to do much lately, especially not with more people. It'll be great.

Shut up, kid

2017-May-23, Tuesday 09:03
dorchadas: (Yui Studying)
Annoying male protagonists are the scourge of fiction.

So I'm reading the latest chapter of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ for today's tutoring session and get to a Romeo and Juliet-esque part where Sakutarō and Aki talk about how they want to get married. Aki points out that she's only 16, and that people think that they might change their minds. Sakutarō talks about how marriage is about being able to support themselves in society and does that mean that sick people who can't support themselves shouldn't be allowed to get married (だったら病気なんかで自立できない人たちは結婚しちゃいいけないのかってことになる), referencing something that happened to his grandfather. Aki sighs at Sakutarō's tendency to jump to the extremes of any argument, and then the annoyance starts:
「社会的に自立するってどういうことだと思う?」
彼女は少し考えて、「働いて自分でお金を稼ぐってことかな」
「お金を稼ぐってどういうこと?」
「さあ」

"What do you think it means to support yourself in society?
She thought for a little, "To work and earn money, I think."
"And what does 'to earn money' mean?"
"Well."
Everyone knows the Socratic method is the best way to endear your girlfriend to you.

He then goes on to say that money is the reward for various skills, which, okay, and then goes off into left field:
「それなら人を好きになる能力に恵まれている人間は、その能力を生かして人を好きになることで、お金をもらってなぜ悪い?」
「やっぱりみんなの役に立つことじゃないと、だめなんじゃないの」
「人を好きになること以上に、みんなの役に立つことがあるとは思えないけどな」
「こういう現実離れしたことを平気で言う人を、わたしは未来の夫にしようとしているんだわ」

"If that's the case, for humans who are blessed with the ability to love other people, why is it bad to earn money by making use of that ability?"
"If it's not useful to everyone, it's no good, right?"
"I don't think there's anything more useful than the ability to love."
"And I'm trying to make someone who calmly says such off-the-wall things my future husband."
Thus demonstrating that Aki has a reasonable grasp of economics, because the ability to love has a high supply and the demand for any particular person's ability to love is low. But that's not enough for Sakutarō, since this kicks off a page-long rant about what love means and how it's better for humanity to be wiped out by a meteor if it doesn't value the ability to love.

To Aki's credit, she doesn't feed his ranting. But I can see why the English title--and apparently, the proposed Japanese title before the publisher convinced him to change it--for this book was Socrates in Love. Sakutarō's response to anything is engage in grand works of adolescent philosophy, but unlike Socrates he's lucky if his musings have any connection to anything in the real world. And Aki tolerates it, maybe even finds it endearing, but that doesn't make it fun for me to read.

Can I read a version of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ from Aki's perspective?
dorchadas: (Jealous)
Last night [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture and I were watching Revolutionary Girl Utena and I finally actually listened to what everyone is saying that gets translated as "End of the World."

So, until this point I'd always assumed that one aspect of Utena was the idea of "the world" as adolescence, and how when you're a teenager you fixate on a lot of things that seem like life and death at the time but aren't of any particular importance as you grow older. The duels are, in a way, their attempt to force some kind of structure on their lives--to create a framework where things make sense and the outcomes are known, while also being an example of the former. I mean, as of last night we got to episode 33 and no one has actually explained what the power to revolutionize the world even is or why everyone wants it so much.

The student council speech is incredibly melodramatic, as fits teenagers instilling meaning into their lives, but it does reveal something about what the power is:
卵の殻を破らねば、雛鳥は生まれずに死んでいく。我らが雛で、卵は世界だ。世界の殻を破らねば、我らは生まれずに死んでいく。世界の殻を破壊せよ。世界を革命するために
Translated as:
"If it cannot break out of its shell, the chick will die without ever being born. We are the chick. The world is our egg. If we don't crack the world's shell, we will die without ever truly being born. Smash the world's shell. FOR THE REVOLUTION OF THE WORLD!"
Basically, the power to revolutionize the world is the power to grow up into the kind of person they want to be, without being smashed into conformity and becoming a salaryman or OL endlessly riding trains and drinking with their bosses into the late hours. The End of the World is thus a source of wisdom for them because it represents the end of their constrained world and a rebirth into freedom.

But! As I said, last night I was listening and they don't say 世界の終わり (sekai no owari, "The End of the World") as I've just been assuming. They say 世界の果て (sekai no hate, "The Ends of the Earth"), meaning a physical distance rather than a temporal finality. This fits really well with the Utena movie, where the ultimate goal is to escape the academy where everyone is Jesus in Purgatory, and I suppose it still fits the above interpretation if adolescence is recast as a journey to complete rather than a prison to escape from. But I'm surprised I never realized this before now.
dorchadas: (Nyarlathotep)
So the American government decided to send a carrier group to the Korean peninsula as a show of force against Korean nuclear ambitions, which prompted the representatives of the Eternal Lich President to issue its own response.

And then an hour ago, I saw that [twitter.com profile] nhk_kokusai had tweeted this out:



Here's my translation:
Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga [Yoshihide] highlighted that, in relation to President Trump's deployment of the military toward North Korea and refusal to lift sanctions, while America and South Korea maintain their cooperation, [Japan] must be prepared in case an evacuation of Japanese citizens living on the Korean Peninsula becomes necessary.
So, they're at least admitting the possibility of another war. Remember when people assumed that our Dear Leader would be an isolationist who wouldn't go around starting wars, unlike that hawk Clinton? Those takes, as they say, did not age well.

At least Twitter will keep us entertained in the 20 minutes after the missiles launch.
dorchadas: (Equal time for Slime)
This post is partially inspired by the eternal complaining about "censorship" and localization, and partially by this article about Vagrant Story's localization.

One of my favorite games of all time is Chrono Trigger, and my favorite part of Chrono Trigger is the Kingdom of Zeal, where dreams come true. It's the lynchpin of the game, the only part that isn't inspired by a historical era, and the most overtly fantastical. The Enlightened live on a floating continent above the clouds and away from the ice age below, using their magic to create a post-scarcity society and leaving their Earthbound cousins without magic to fend for themselves on the ground. With the goal of surpassing even those limits and ensuring the eternal glory of the Kingdom of Zeal, they build a great machine.

In Japanese, this is just the 魔神器 (majinki, "Demonic vessel"), which is awful. For one, it gives the game away immediately and lets the player know that the Kingdom of Zeal is corrupted. For another, it's silly. No one thinks that they're evil, and the people in Zeal who mention the majinki talk about it as a means to attain greater power for helping Zeal, but with a name like that, how believable is that? Why would anyone name the machine designed to power their society the "demonic vessel"?

It's possible to read it slightly differently, as 魔・神器 instead of 魔神・器, but that just means "evil sacred treasure," which isn't any better.

In English, the majinki was localized as the "Mammon Machine," which is a fantastic name. It's alliterative and slightly ominous, but doesn't immediately make you wonder why all these people are okay with a demonic vessel powering their society. The people in Kajar and Enhasa spend their time in magical research or idle dreaming in their utopia, fed by cornucopia machines and with magic to do all the work, and talk offhandedly about how the Mammon Machine will make their kingdom even greater, and it sounds a bit strange. And then you get to the Zeal Palace, and this music starts playing, and you know something is very wrong with the Kingdom of Zeal.

Schala Mammon Machine

Of course, the name "Mammon" already gives it away, but subtly. Mammon, the pursuit of wealth which is the root of all evil. The people of Zeal already had a utopia, where no one needed to work and everyone could spend their days in the manner of their choosing. It was a bit like Omelas, it's true. There's a quote about how the Queen conscripted a bunch of Earthbound to work on the Ocean Palace, though the man phrases it in an obvious euphemism for slavery:
"The Earthbound Ones are being allowed to work on the construction of the Palace. So they do have a purpose after all."
But it's not directly build on the suffering of others, just on social exclusion, which is at least marginally better than active oppression. The Kingdom of Zeal had everything they could want, but in their pride and greed they wanted more. So pushed on by their Queen, they reached out to the power slumbering beneath the ocean, and they built a machine to tap into that power to push them beyond their already lofty place. And because of it, they lost everything.

Magus post-Zeal

Much more evocative than the "demonic vessel." A localization isn't a literally translation, and it shouldn't be, because sometimes it adds something that the original was missing.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
Has it already been six years?

I wasn't affected at all by the Tōhoku earthquake, and neither really was anyone I knew personally. The worst that happened was an acquaintance in Tokyo at the time had to walk the twenty kilometers home in heels after the trains stopped running. In the western part of Japan, we weren't even affected by the power disruptions, because the different halves of Japan use different power standards due to buying equipment from different countries during the modernization of the Meiji Era.

I remember how others were affected, though. I still remember the Japanese word for "buried alive."

On Twitter earlier, I saw this photo of an advertisement of the Sony Building in Ginza.


It's all over Japanese news now, which gave me a clearer transcription of the Japanese, so now I can translate what it says:
3/11, every time that day comes, we think back on the things of that time. From the Great Tōhoku Earthquake, six years have quickly passed. Another such disaster will not happen again. We may think that way every year, but at some point, another disaster will certainly occur.

On that day, in Iwate Prefecture, Ōfunato City, the tsunami was observed at 16.7 meters (55.3 feet). If it came to the center of Ginza, it would be as high as this. Rather than imagine it, you can experience the height. But, rather than only knowing this height, action must change.

We, now, can prepare. We will retain the power of imagining for the victims of the disaster, and we can store up [their] wisdom. We will not forget that day. That is the greatest disaster prevention.
The last line is because it's a Yahoo advertisement, but it works best without that, I think.

頑張れ、日本。

Lyrics of the Fayth

2016-Dec-24, Saturday 22:36
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
So yesterday I was looking up the lyrics of the Hymn of the Fayth from Final Fantasy X, and after a bit of searching, I found a page that listed them as:
Ieyui (pray)
Nobomeno (savior)
Renmiri (dream)
Yojuyogo (child of prayer)
Hasatekanae (forever and ever)
Kutamae. (Grant us peace)
And I thought that can't be right, unless it's an invented language. Do I decided to look up 祈りの歌 (Inori no Uta, "The Song of Prayer"), the Hymn of the Fayth's Japanese title, and see if I could find more information on it that way.

The first page I looked at, I found this picture and looking at it, without reading any of the other text, suddenly everything made sense:

 photo AB95ECF9-E762-40B9-A30E-FA9FFE2C2FA8.jpg

Red and green added by me.

I always thought the words of the Hymn of the Fayth were nonsense, but apparently they're based on a syllable scramble! The song is sung from top to bottom, left to right, red part, then green part. That gives the lyrics above. But if you read it left to right, top to bottom, then it's actually Japanese and reads
Inore yo
Ebon-ju
Yume miyo
Inorigo
Hatenaku
Sakaetamae
Which translates to:
Pray to
Yu-Yevon
Dream of
The Fayth
Without ceasing
Make us prosper.
That's where the lyrics above came from from. Though the second two lines might also be addressed to the Fayth, telling them to dream.

Of course, all this is in the wiki article about the song, so I could have just looked there. But I didn't, and I'm happy I figured this out.

Chiyoda!: Friday

2016-Jul-22, Friday 23:29
dorchadas: (Chiyoda)
One benefit of staying in a ryokan is that you get both dinner and breakfast, so after sleeping in almost until the last minute, I was awakened by [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd with exactly enough time to make it to breakfast after a quick shower. And such a breakfast:


Get in my mouth.

We had to eat a bit quickly in order to make the ferry, and originally I thought we were going to miss the shuttle from the ryokan to the port and would have to walk. What was I thinking? This is Glorious Nippon, after all. They held the bus for us, loaded our luggage into it while we paid for the room, and then drove us down in time to catch the 8:25 ferry and the street car that was just leaving after that.

We didn't try to make the 9:40 bus after arriving at 9:35, so we popped into a 7-11 to withdraw cash and get snacks--I got a melon pan, om nom nom--and then up to the bus center, where we bought tickets and asked for the proper platform to board the bus. I thought it was eight, but I was misremembering. It was nine, like it's always been.

Also, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd accidentally bought us children's tickets instead of adult tickets and we were worried for a moment, but we were being silly. This is Japan, and the ticket counter exchanged them for free. They were actually the same price, so I'm not sure why the 北部 line even offers separate tickets.

On the bus, we learned that Pokemon Go had finally gone live in Japan, causing a frantic burst of activity as [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega captured every unclaimed gym in sight.

And then, we arrived in Chiyoda.


From the highway. That building with wings is the community center.

Kaminaka-san, Hattori-san, and Sunada-san were all waiting to meet us at the bus center, and after a round of hugs (hugs! In Japan!) we started on our short tour. First we went to the Geihoku Cultural Center, new since we lived here, that had exhibits about local folk crafts like weaving and rice growing, about kagura performance, and about the festival of Mibu no Hanadaue. Then we went to Mibu itself, walking down the shōtengai where the festival takes place and ending at Mibu Jinja, where we went for hatsumōde our last year in Japan.


Not as impressive now, without the snow and lanterns and crowds of people. I wish I had a picture of that night...

After that, we drove up to a viewpoint on top of a hill, and after a short walking path, we found our way to 壬生城跡 (Mibu shiroato, "the ruins of Mibu Castle"). I didn't see anything that looked remotely like a castle had ever been there, but there was a spectacular view:


Facing toward Ōsaka.

After that, we went to look at our old house, still pretty nice looking and still sitting next to the abandoned twin house next to it, and and then off to Chiyoda High School! Unfortunately, due to the Japanese policy of transferring teachers after only a few years, very few of the people that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd taught with were still there. There were a couple, though. Umeki-sensei, who teaches math, and Nishihara-sensei, who teaches science, and the school nurse were all there. We also ran into Koyama-san, mother of Kazu, who I wrote about in this post and who is now a high school student. We didn't talk for very long because Kaminaka-san had set us a schedule, but we looked around for a bit in the school and then continued on to the Yae-sogo Communtiy Center for lunch, where we were met by Nakamura-san, the other Hattori-san, and Bōno-san.

Lunch was amazing. They had remembered I liked sake a lot and brought two small bottles for me, one of local sake from Chiyoda and one from Saijō, where the sake festival is held every year in late August. We had conbini bentō and okonomiyaki, as well as dessert jello from somewhere. I got a grape and aloe jelly that tasted exactly like the drinks I used to get from vending machines. We chatted, and I did a lot of translating to and from Japanese, and there were only a couple times where I just brought the conversation to a halt because I couldn't think of how to express an idea. It was amazing. Why did we leave?

Oh yes. So [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd could go to school and fulfill her dreams. It's a good reason! And yet, when I'm here, walking around Chiyoda, speaking in Japanese in a way that I was very uncomfortable doing when I lived here the first time...

If I had moved here before knowing as much Japanese as I know now, I'd be conversationally fluent. But, well, there's nothing to do about that now. I just have to keep trying and keep studying.


また今度, I said as we left. "Until next time..."

And we will be back, someday. Sooner than five years.

After a three-hour meal, we had to catch the bus back to Hiroshima, so we took the taxi Kaminaka-San had chartered and packed away the hand-made pottery pieces he had made for each member of our group, including [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek, who wasn't there due to having not been in Hiroshima with us, and we got on the highway bus and started the trip back. After the trip, we walked to our hotel--not Hotel Active, sadly, because there was a weekend price spike that made it not worth staying in--but in Toyoko Inn on Heiwa-Ōdōri, which was further but not significantly so. We were scheduled to meet some old friends from our Japan days, who happened to all be here at the same time in a weird serendipity, and after we checked in that's what we set out to do, though [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega and [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat stayed behind because they were still incredibly full from lunch.

The tabe・nomihōdai was at Sōgo, not Mitsukoshi like we originally expected it would be, so it took a bit longer to get there than we thought it would. Not too long, though, and once we made our way through Sōgo to the special beer garden elevator and went up, we had a couple hours of drinks and food with friends. The food wasn't that great, but I got some nice use out of the bottle of sake that it didn't seem like anyone else was drinking from, and a lovely time talking to people I hadn't seen in years. And some Japanese practice with an acquaintance, though I think because of the beer, she forgot that I'm not that great and just launched into full native speed and I followed along as best as I could.

At ten they threw everyone out. Some people were going on to a bar called Koba and originally I was planning on joining them, but on the walk there I started getting more and more twitchy in a way that told me that it was time to go back to the hotel. So I said my goodbyes, walked back to the hotel with a friend, and read until [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd came back and then went to bed.

Steps taken: 14050.

Note: If you're interested in more about Chiyoda, I did a whole blog series about it here.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
As part of the LARP I'm taking part in, I'm playing a descendant of Izanagi, and since I already know some Japanese, I took it on myself to translate some important game speeches into Japanese for my character to recite. One of them I wrote myself, in a mishmash of modern and classical Japanese that would probably look awful to anyone who knows either version of the language, but another I translated from text provided to me and it brought to mind some of the choices translators have to make.

The whole text might be spoilers (for any other participants who read this), but here's a line where I had to make some decisions:
Should I break this oath may all my victories become as ashes in my mouth
And here is the Japanese I came up with:
宣誓を破ると勝利が遺骨になるようにで
Sensei wo yaburu to shouri ga ikotsu ni naru you ni de
The first part is fairly straightfoward--"To break an oath," but the と there after the statement indicates a natural consequence. Like, 雨が降ると濡れる--"If it rains, [you'll] get wet." It's a situation where the second part is an obvious result of the first part with no question. If you turn off the light, it gets dark. If I break an oath, my victories will become as ashes.

The second part I took a couple liberties. I'm not entirely sure how to express hopes and wishes in Japanese. " といいです" is the way in normal conversation--the same と as above, implying that if X happens it will be good--but that just a set phrase that's the equivalent of "I hope that [something positive]" and doesn't apply here. I ended up choosing a phrase from the wishes offered at shrines. "ように" is the way that ema usually end with, and so here it's implying the speaker's own desire. Not only is this a natural consequence, it's what the speaker wants as part of their devotion to fulfilling the oath.

Also, the usual word for ash is just 灰 (hai), meaning ash from a fire or cigarette or something similar, but I went with a different nuance. 遺骨 are specifically the ashes of the dead after the body has been cremated, so I wanted to imply here that breaking the oath would have a cost in lives. The victories turning to ash is literally others dying because of the oathbreaker.

I'm taking this to my Japanese tutor later today, so we'll see what she thinks of it. But I'm pretty proud of at least that part!
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
Like I mentioned, I've been reading 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ and I'm pretty sure that it's helped me identify one of the problems I'm having in trying to learn Japanese--I compartmentalize too much. I have a tendency to want to look every word up I don't know, so I stop when I find something, make a note on the PDF I have of the book with the word and its reading and pronunciation, then go back to the text. But it means that sometimes I'm reading whole sentences, and sometimes I'm reading it one word at a time, which makes it pretty hard to draw meaning from it.

What I really need to do is to read everything through once first, not look anything up, and see how much I understand. Then read it through and note down all the words I don't know, then read it through again with the notes in case I can't remember something.

On the plus side, I've noticed that reading actual written Japanese is helping some vocab stick in my head because I have context for it. It's like how I'll always remember that アライグマ literally means "washing bear," which means "raccoon," because of Kazu trying to explain it with "洗濯ぐま" ("laundry bear").

As for the actual book, I'm enjoying it. I started off feeling like it was being crassly manipulative, but once it moved past the opening frame of sadness and taking someone's ashes far away and went back to the meet cute, it got better. Though it's pretty heavy-handed:
にもかかわらず少女の髪からは、シャンプーというかリンスというか、ほんのり甘い匂いが漂ってきた。

Translation:
But in spite of [walking with a distance between them], from the girl's hair the sweet scent of shampoo and condition hung faintly in the air.
Later, then come around a turn in the path and find a field of hydrangeas, and Aki turns to Sakutarō with sparkles in her eyes and exclaims how much she loves hydrangeas and asks him if he wants to go to hanami together. I can almost see the sweatdrop on his face when he says yes. But it's definitely good practice!

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