The Japanese words for “space” could change your view of the world

When you are the first person to arrive in a meeting room, do you think of it as being empty or full? If you were raised in the West, a meeting room is made for people to meet. Therefore, if there are no people in that room, then of course it must be empty. As [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:27:06+00:00January 22nd, 2018|Japanese language, Language, Words|0 Comments

Burton Watson, noted translator, remembered

Burton Watson, the foremost translator of Chinese classics and poetry into English and my co-translator of the anthology of Japanese poetry “From the Country of Eight Islands” (1981), died on April 1 in a hospital in Chiba. He was 91 years old. I knew Watson since the early 1970s, so allow me to call him [...]

There’s A Japanese Word For People Who Buy More Books Than They Can Actually Read

Book hoarding is a well-documented habit. In fact, most literary types are pretty proud of the practice, steadfast in their desire to stuff shelves to maximum capacity. They’re not looking to stop hoarding, because parting with pieces of carefully curated piles is hard and stopping yourself from buying the next Strand staff pick is even [...]

By |2017-04-24T11:37:39+00:00April 24th, 2017|Japanese language, Language|1 Comment

In Japan, the Ainu language is largely unknown and unloved, but linguists are fascinated by its mysteries

"Most Japanese, consciously or unconsciously, feel that the Ainu people do not exist," Tomomi Sato told me. Sato is an authority on the Ainu language at the University of Hokkaido. "The Ainu people do not have any meaning." The public school curriculum mainly ignores Ainu, except to say it's a language that used to be [...]

New font lets anyone learn Japanese

A U.K. company named Johnson Banks has come with an ingenious way to include English pronunciation in Japanese katakana characters. The company has dubbed this new font cleverly as "Phonetikana," where each katakana character featured a few English letters to help English speakers say the word properly. The company started incorporating the new font in [...]

By |2015-10-27T00:30:03+00:00October 27th, 2015|Fonts, Japanese language, Katakana|0 Comments