Monthly Archives: January 2018

Japan 2012 in Pictures: November 3, Out and About near Shinjuku

When we last saw our intrepid heroes, they had just finished looking at various maps in Yoyogi, near Shinjuku. Today, we follow them as they explore small parts of that neighbourhood.

(Note: I found the ‘multiradical’ character finder super-helpful, especially as I seem to have lost my ability to draw kanji.)

First, we see their favourite little store of the day. It seemed to be a textbook store, but it also had a wide selection of little stationary:

This was an amazing little textbook store, with all kinds of stationary.
This was an amazing little textbook store, with all kinds of stationary.

There were various ‘No Smoking’ signs. This one seemed to be expressing itself in a somewhat counterproductive way. Near as I can tell, it says “Walk journey/carry out consume/smoke smoke prohibition stop/halt[1]…Shibuya ward Smoking Rules” (Note that ‘Ru-Ru’ in Katakana transliterates to ‘Rules’.):

This picture is somewhat unconvincing about the uncoolness of smoking.
This picture is somewhat unconvincing about the uncoolness of smoking.

We saw a number of these little signs embedded in the paving stones. This one seems to say ‘electricity‘:

We saw this little sign on the ground.  Near as we can tell, it says 'electricity'.
We saw this little sign on the ground. Near as we can tell, it says ‘electricity’.

This one seems to say ‘weak electricity‘, perhaps suggesting that you should not dig here?[2]:

Another strange sign embedded in the ground.  "Weak Electricity" and an arrow.
Another strange sign embedded in the ground. “Weak Electricity” and an arrow.
I liked the contrasting shapes of these buildings in the distance.
I liked the contrasting shapes of these buildings in the distance.

The warning sign on the arm seems to say:

Large black characters: “Enter mouth“, or “Entrance
(Note that the smaller red characters were difficult to read, this is my best guess):
Smaller red characters:
“Pa/Ba- beam/girderRe SeNSa- ??Middle!!”
Hand Wo(of)?Re?To Fu(Bu/Pu/Wa)Ga?Ri ???Come out

Perhaps something about a bar sensor, and cars may come out? (Or perhaps the standard warning, that the bar may move seemingly of its own accord, and bonk you unexpectedly?)

Note the warning sign on the arm.
Note the warning sign on the arm.

When we were there, there seemed to be some sort of election going on. Here is a selection of various campaign posters:

The one on the top seems to be a person called ‘NaGaTsuMa‘, with “The Democratic Party of Japan“, which apparently has had an interesting recent history.

Oddly, it mentions in the top right corner his birth year (1960) and month.

In the center of the poster, just to the left of his face: “Me, the fight I continue“, or “I continue the fight/I keep fighting.”
In red, it says: “one round/month/perfection in any event, day true second birth

Interestingly, his name is in Hiragana, not the more formal Kanji, I’m assuming so it’s easier to read. At the time of the election, he would have been 52, I’m not sure if that would make him young or old for running for office (as to why he would include his birth month on the poster). Also note the prominent but understated wedding ring.

The next poster down is ‘Hideko Murakami’ (not to be confused with Murakami), who apparently had her face cut/vandalized out of her political poster. It’s difficult to tell what her party was, but the text at the top of her poster says: “East Capital Metropolis/all/everything (Tokyo) deliberation party deliberation leader / Metropolis/all/everything deliberation leader politics/government investigate/mediate/harmonize leader senior

Suggesting she’s the senior leader, or a negotiator/mediator? (I can’t find anything on her in Google, to suggest why she would be a target of such specific vandalism.)

The other two signs seem relatively normal. Tamayo Marakawa seems reasonably famous.

The green sign has ‘DaKaRa oneself people/subjects party/faction“, or perhaps “So what if one’s self makes their own party”, perhaps referring to the party that had split off from the Liberal Democratic Party, and was currently in power.

There seemed to be an election going on.  This is a selection of campaign posters.
There seemed to be an election going on. This is a selection of campaign posters.
Another campaign poster.
Another campaign poster.

“What do you want?” A very bold statement, especially with the English being given equal treatment with the Japanese language. Direct translation: “MiNNaGa Laughing Face DeIRaReRu (of could to be) NiShiTaI (to do)”

The statement in black reads: “Me, I Act

The person seems to by Fumiaki Matsumoto. Note that the person making the poster helpfully spelled out his first name ‘FuMiAKi’, probably to help people vote.

An advertisement for a place to live.  Can't tell if it's a rental or purchase.
An advertisement for a place to live. Can’t tell if it’s a rental or purchase.

Stay tuned for next time, when our intrepid heroes visit the mythical Department Store ‘Tokyu Hands’!

[1]In some ways, these repeated similar words remind me of the words around the ‘Utwig Planetary Engineering Tool’, or Ab’s commentary about the ancient weapon[3]. Also similar to many sci-fi novels’ ‘translations’ of alien languages, putting multiple words to represent one alien word, to show that their concepts are grouped differently than they are in English.

[2]Google seems to agree, for what it’s worth.

[3]It’s written in dozens of different languages, but they all translate to ‘Boom’.

Japan in Pictures 2012: November 3, More Map Reading While Exploring Near Shinjuku by Day

When we last saw our intrepid travelers, they had just finished decoding part of a map inside Shinjuku station. They decided it was time to go out and explore the neighbourhood[1].

As they ventured onto the back streets, away from the bustle of the station, one of the first things they noticed was maps that looked like this:

The first neighbourhood map we documented.
The first neighbourhood map we documented.

As you can see, this is a map showing where various commercial establishments are in the neighbourhood. (The specific neighbourhood seems to be between Minami Shinjuku and Yoyogi Stations.)

The green label on the top looks like it reads “ShiBuYa (ward in Tokyo) YoYoGi (neighbourhood in Shibuya ward) T-38-3 RD7″.

The large green label on the left reads: “MaChi Wo Mi ShiKu!!” or “Town/Neighbourhood (of) Beauty District”.

This would make sense, given the prominent advertisement for ‘Hair & Make & Photo Studio”. There seem to be a number of restaurants, such as the ‘YaKiToRi ToMaRiBa’ (or Yakitoi Haunt)

There are a number of things I can’t decipher, such as: “FuaMiRi- Ma-To”, and “(TeNTeN)”, which might be a cool bar with a difficult-to-search name, or perhaps an eyebrow salon.

“TeRuRuMoBaIRu”, possibly a mobile phone store, but also turned up this in a google search.

There’s also “SaNKuSa YoYoGi …” “Sankusa Yoyogi bundle opening store” But ‘Sankusa’ is in Katakana, meaning it’s a loan word from somewhere, Yoyogi is the neighbourhood, and the last three words seem to be describing it as some sort of store. If we were there, it would probably be easy to find out. 🙂

The last one is in the lower right corner: “DaNSu SuTaJhiO M&S Company”, which sounds like a Dance Studio! 🙂

The previous map and the next map were beside one another on the street, suggesting that they referred to the same or similar neighbourhoods. At the time, we had figured that these maps were some sort of neighbourhood directory, but I had thought that the one above was commercial, and the one below was residential.

A zoomed-in neighbourhood map.
A zoomed-in neighbourhood map.

At the top, in blue on white, it seems to say “INTa-NeTo”, beside a ‘DoKoNeTo’ ad, suggesting it’s an internet company ad. Beside it is a pointer to a QR code, which I will ignore, because QR codes are silly.

Looking at some random establishments, we see:

– “INSaITo”
– “MaGuNa” (The smaller characters are difficult to read, perhaps SuChiIToANa-?)
– “Yoyogi ZeMiNa-Ru”, “Yoyogi Seminars”? beside:
– “Yoyogi A-To GiyaRaRi-” Which seems to be ‘Yoyogi Art Gallery”
– Beside what looks like a large building titled “BaRo-Ru Yoyogi MaNShiyoN” or “(something) Mansion Yoyogi”, which has such establishments as:
– “TeNMa”
– “HeA-SuTaNO” (Perhaps ‘Suntan’ or spa?)
– …

And many others I can’t make out. How many can you find/translate?

This next map seemed somewhat the worse for wear:

This neighbourhood map seemed a little worse for wear.
This neighbourhood map seemed a little worse for wear.

I can’t make out too many words in this one, perhaps a ‘KuRi-Su’, there’s a JR station on the right side of the map, ‘SaSaNiTaWa-‘, and many others I can decipher even less about.

What can you figure out? I feel like this has helped me with a lot of Katakana practice (and Yoyogi-recognition practice), but I still have a long way to go. It’s also interesting to see how many different neighbourhoods that we had heard of were so accessible to each other, often just by walking at random.

Stay tuned for next time, when our intrepid travelers, now that they’re oriented themselves, start actually experiencing the city!

[1]Some of their explorations from that first day, related to the design of the city and various objects, were captured earlier in ‘Thoughts on Design in Japan‘.

Japan 2012 in Pictures: November 3, Reading the Shinjuku Station Area Map

As part of our preparation for going back to Japan (and now that I’ve finally organized all of my pictures), I’ll be revisiting our first trip there in 2012. Part of the goal is to help me re-learn Japanese, part is the fun memory lane trip.

We rejoin our intrepid travelers in Tokyo, by Shinjuku station. As they prepare to exit the station, they consult the map:

YOU ARE HERE: A closeup of the area around Shinjuku Station, our favourite Tokyo train station.
YOU ARE HERE: A closeup of the area around Shinjuku Station, our favourite Tokyo train station.

Just above the ‘YOU ARE HERE’ (literal translation ‘present located-in ground/earth‘[1]), you can see:

‘E 27’, the Shinjuku Station on the Toei Oedo line.

Note the two kanji which represent ‘Shinjuku‘[2], which would be useful for us to recognize later, which are also present on the next two captions going up:

‘JR Shinjuku Bldg’, literal translation ‘JR Shinjuku BiRu’. Until now, I had no idea that ‘BiRu’ was the transliteration of ‘Building’[3].

Moving on to ‘Shinjuku Southern Terrace’ (literal translation ‘Shinjuku SeZeN TeRaSu'[4], which you get to through the ‘Southern Terrace Entrance’ (‘SeZeN TeRaSu Opening‘). Note that the last character is not the Katakana ‘Ro’, it is instead the Kanji ‘KuChi‘, for opening[5].

Moving clockwise, we see the ‘East Japan Railway Company Head Office’, or ‘JR East Sun origin main company BiRu’.

(Those of you who play Mahjong will likely recognize ‘East’ here. Also note that the second character in ‘Japan’ (‘origin’) takes a different meaning (‘main’) in ‘Company Head Office’.)

Moving along, we see the ‘Yoyogi 2 Post Office’ or ‘For generations old trees 2 Post Office

(I likewise learned ‘2’, or ‘Ni’ in this context from playing Mahjong. Note also that the ‘yoyo’ in ‘Yoyogi’ is an alternate of ‘daidai’, which presumably someone who grew up in Japan would know, but is perhaps non-trivial to someone trying to translate it.)

The ‘Odakyu Southern Tower’ ‘Small Rice Field Hurry SeZeN TaWa-‘ seems to be part of the home of the Odakyu Electric Railway. (I’m not sure of the exact etymology of ‘Odakyu’. My best guess is above.)

Continuing clockwise, we see our first name entirely in Katakana, the ‘Hotel Century Southern Tower’, or ‘HoTeRu SeNChiyuRi- SeZen TaWa’.

We then see an ‘Exit’ sign, or ‘Exit Opening’.

This takes us to one of the places that we stayed in Tokyo, the ‘Hotel Sunroute Plaze Shinjuku’ ‘HoTeRu SeNRu-To PuRaZe Shinjuku’, which shall forever be near and dear to our hearts. 🙂

This is right next to the ‘Shinjuku Maynds Tower’ ‘Shinjuku MaINZu TaWa-‘, which seems to be a 34-story office building.

Shibuya‘ ‘reluctant valley ?’ is surprisingly difficult to translate, as for some reason the handwriting recognition didn’t recognize the third character ‘district

Moving down to the bottom, in red, you will see one of the most important set of words to recognize in Japan: ‘Black UDoN Mountain Food‘. (The operative words here are ‘Udon’ noodles and the Kanji for ‘Food’. 🙂 )

The last one that I want to translate here is in the lower left-hand corner, in red: ‘Shinjuku SeNE- BiRu 1F’ ‘FueSuTei BaRu GoRuFu’ ‘Shinjuku WING Store‘. This seems to say (to me) that there’s something on the first floor of this building, perhaps a bar and grill and store?

Katakana is often difficult to de-transliterate, as you often have no idea which language the words are loaned from. Perhaps someone in the comments can answer!

Next time, our intrepid heroes pause to ponder the immensity of Shinjuku station, where the large number of train tracks is just one part of a huge complex:

The Area around Shinjuku Station, our favourite Tokyo train station.
The Area around Shinjuku Station, our favourite Tokyo train station.

…and then continue on their journey. Stay tuned!

[1]Many thanks to the KanjuVG Project and Ben Bullock: They were able to detect my poor drawings of kanji symbols on the first attempt, and their first suggestion was correct three out of three times (for the third symbol, I had to tell the program to ignore my stroke order)! If you’re going to be working a lot with Kanji, it’s worth learning the rules for stroke order.

[2]Interestingly, ‘Shinjuku’ means ‘New Juku’, or ‘New Lodge‘. Knowing this meaning of ‘Shin’ was to be helpful later.

[3]Not to be confused with ‘Bi-Ru-‘, or ‘Beer’.

[4]In these transliterations, I’m using a Katakana chart, and capitalizing the first letter of each syllable (including the syllable ‘N’, sometimes pronounced ‘M’ by our teacher).

[5]Interestingly, this is one of the few words I remembered from my 8 months of Mandarin back in the day, although only the meaning, not how to pronounce it.