The Kotoba Zamurai Archives

"Kotoba zamurai" articles are written to be "a non-systematic approach to learning unusual, but useful words." While these not-so-serious articles are written with the upper-beginner to intermediate in mind, even beginners should be able to get something out of them. If not, I may have wasted 15 minutes of your life... I will leave it up to you to take the chance.

Volume 1: Japanese Companies

This is the first in a series of 'kotoba zamurai' articles which are written to be 'a non-systematic approach to learning unusual, but useful words.' While these not-so-serious articles are written with the upper-beginner to intermediate in mind, even beginners should be able to get something out of them. If not, I may have wasted 15 minutes of your life... I will leave it up to you to take the chance.


Volume 1: Kanji for a few familiar brands

ご機嫌いかがでござるか? (go kigen ikaga de gozaru ka - How are you? (in Samurai-ish))

The following is a list of Japanese companies with a look at their kanji and some history. Most companies don't use their kanji much even in Japan, so the real-world usefulness of this article is negotiable. That being said, you will be a big hit at your next kanji party.

The order of the list is purely random. I assure you I don't own any stock or have any affiliation with any listed company [however, if you, the reader, work for any of these companies as an advertising consultant, send me 5 bucks and I will move your company to the top.]

さて、さっそくはじめましょうか

1) Toyota
Kanji: 豊田

2) Nissan
Kanji: 日産

3) Mitsubishi
Kanji: 三菱

4) Mazda
Kanji: 松田 Matsuda

5) Sony
Katakana: ・#92;ニー

6) Honda 
Kanji: 本田

7) Yamaha 
Katakana: ヤマハ [山葉 - but almost always written in katakana]

8) Fujitsu
Kanji: 富士通 fujitsuu

9) Suzuki
Kanji: 鈴木

10) Hitachi
Kanji: 日立

11) Panasonic / National
Kanji: 松下電器

There you have it. There are of course many other brands that would be interesting to look into. Should you find something or have something to add (or correct), please feel free to leave comments at the bottom and I will try to add them to this page.

さらば、友よ! [saraba, tomo yo! Goodbye, my friend]*

* like さようなら, さらば is used when you won't see someone again or for a long while. Of course, I hope to see you again soon, but it just sounds a lot cooler than またね...

Volume 2: Useless Questions for Today

In This Day and Age, Totally Useless Questions
Here are a few questions that once stirred the heart of every Japanese, but today are no longer in debate...

 

久方ぶりでござる。言葉侍でござる。(hisakataburi de gozaru - It has been a while. (in Samurai-ish) - The normal way is of course, (お)久しぶり (o)hisashiburi)

ご機嫌いかがでござるか? (go kigen ikaga de gozaru ka - How goes it with you? (in Samurai-ish))

The following few questions would never be expected to flow from a foreigner's mouth. Each question has some historical root in a debate that was hot in its time or something that was very popular then but is laughable at best today. Since we are dealing with historical debates/events, not all people will get the 'joke' right off. So choose your victims, I mean conversation partners, wisely.

さて、さっそくはじめましょうか


1) What to do with those pesky barbarians?!

開国か攘夷、どっちを応援しますか?
kaikoku ka joui, docchi o ouen shimasu ka?
"Open the country" or "out with the barbarians", which side are you rooting for?

This one requires a bit of history...

In 1603 徳川家康 Tokugawa Ieyasu through political and military maneuvering managed to unite the many han (autonomous regions within Japan ruled by 大名 daimyou) under his overseeing control. While each 大名 daimyou had control over their area, they all had to report to the 将軍 shougun (Tokugawa). Tokugawa drove out Christianity (by murdering them!), closed the country from foreign influence, and gave Japan 200 years or so of relative peace.

However by the mid 1800's the 徳川幕府 Tokugawa Bakufu (Tokugawa Shogunate) had lost much of its control over many of the hans especially the vehemently anti-Bakufu western Satsuma and Choshu clans. With peace being the norm for so long, samurai now had little to do but to work hand to mouth and seek causes for which to be employed. Seeing more and more foreign influence in Japan - especially after Commodore Perry's famous black ships - these 浪人 rounin began to use the slogan 「尊皇攘夷」 sonnou joui (revere the emperor and expel the barbarians) to get at the Bakufu for being so weak on keeping foreigners out of the country as well as other grievances.

Eventually the Satsuma and Choshu anti-Bakufu activists realized they needed the barbarian technology and couldn't, with their current strength, prevent the foreigners from doing what they did in other countries - colonization. So many dropped the 攘夷 slogan and replaced it with the seemingly opposite 開国. At least for 'now' let's open the country, learn from the barbarians and when we are strong enough we can expel them once and for all. Of course this never happened exactly according to plan.

開国 kaikoku - open the country; allow foreign access to Japan and Japanese access to foreign technology and knowledge
攘夷 joui - expel the barbarians; movement in the mid-1800's to remove all foreigners and their barbarian ways from Japan

It may be helpful to express your sincere desire for 開国 to win out since you are after all... a barbarian :)
どうか、開国を応援してくれ!
douka, kaikoku o ouen shite kure!
I beg you, please root for opening the country!


2) モガ・モボ - Modern Girl/Boy

At the turn of the century (last one, not this one!) モガ and モボ were used to describe young people who dressed in Western fashion, listened to Western music/dances, etc.

to a man in his 30s or 40s:
若いころ、モボでしたか?
wakai koro, mobo deshita kA?
When you were young were you one of those modern boys?

to a woman in her 30s or 40s:
若いころ、モガでしたか?
wakai koro, moga deshita kA?
When you were young were you one of those modern girls?

This may be rude to someone fairly old, so stick to those younger crowd (30-50 being recommended).


3) Disco Days

ハッスルしていますか?
hassuru shite imasu kA?
Are you doing the hustle?

The 「ハッスル」and 「フィーバー」 were of course slogans from the 70's. From time to time you hear of a disco revival - there are several disco musicians popular in Japan now for example - but the appeal from that era seems to have slipped away from public adoration.


4) Your sword, please...

廃刀令は不公平だと思いません?
haitourei wa fukouhei da to omoimasen?
Don't you think the law banning swords in public is unfair?

Returning to our little history lesson...

After the fall of the Tokugawa Bakufu(Tokugawa 慶喜 Yoshinobu abdicated power to the emperor at 二条城 nijoujou Nijo Castle in 1868 - if you are ever in Kyoto, by all means go to 二条城. You can see the actual room where one era gave way to another!) Japan went full force to modernize the country. One aspect of the 明治維新 meiji ishin Meiji Restoration (no, it wasn't about making chocolate) was to tear down the class structure that had been so central to Bakufu policy. The Samurai , farmer and merchant were at least in theory equals in the Meiji era. Perhaps as a way to enforce this, samurai no longer had the right to wear a sword in public. Also the law was to be upheld not by a samurai class but by officials of the new government. This law is called 廃刀令 haitourei

Perhaps patting your side sword hip with nostalgia while saying this will help give a greater voice to your struggle.


5) The essential Tamagocchi

昭和30年代の三種の神器は洗濯機、冷蔵庫とタマゴッチだっけ?
showa sanjuu nendai no sanshu no jingi wa sentakki, reizouko to tamagocchi dakke?
The 3 essential appliances of the Showa 30's era were a washing machine, refrigerator and... uhh tamagocchi, wasn't it?

A bit about the Emperor's toys 

The real 三種の神器 sanshu no jingi are the emperor's 3 sacred and somewhat legendary items: 1) mirror, 2) a sword and 3) a jewel.

昭和30年代 is from 1955-1965 and its 三種の神器 represent the 3 newly essential appliances afforded by the booming economy of that era. The 'real' 昭和30年代の三種の神器 were actually a 1) Refrigerator, 2) B/W TV and 3) Washing machine.

The tamagocchi was a big hit in the 90's. It was (I guess you can still buy them...) an electronic pet which required your constant attention day and night or else it died. It was shaped like an egg, hence the たまご

To read about the Showa 30 nendai no sanshu no jingi, (in Japanese) please click here.

Should you have something to add (or correct), please feel free to leave comments at the bottom and I will try to add them to this page.

さらば、友よ! [saraba, tomo yo! Goodbye, my friend]*

* like さようなら, さらば is used when you won't see someone again or for a long while. Of course, I hope to see you again soon, but it just sounds a lot cooler than またね...

Volume 3: Letters to Kotoba Zamurai's Little Brother

Editor's Note: Please don't take this page too seriously. Kotoba Samurai is on thin ice as it is for giving his little brother time on the keyboard, but due to contractual obligations we must post this article. Our apologies in advance. ご注意:教育のレベルは低いんです。

Letters to Kotoba Zamurai's Little Brother

The Defender of what is right, the corrector of already correct Japanese, That's right, it's "Letters to Kotoba Zamurai's little brother" time!
正義の味方、すでに正しい日本語をさらに直す者、そうじゃ「言葉侍の弟さんにお手紙を」の時間だ!
seigi no mikata, sudeni tadashii nihongo o sara ni naosu mono, souja "kotobazamurai no otouto san ni otegami o" no jikan da!

LETTER TO KOTOBA ZAMURAI'S LITTLE BROTHER ・ その1

Dear Kotoba Zamurai's little brother,

HELP!! I am in dire need of advice. My wife keeps insisting our infant son should be called a "new" ji [Editor's note: it is actually 乳児 nyuu ji which is correct]. Since I want to use correct Japanese and stay away from mixing English I am sticking with "新児 shinji" which seems to be more Japanese-like [Editor's note: but it isn't. If you really want to use 新 try 新生児 shin sei ji for a newborn]. Am I going overboard?

Sincerely,
心配バカ

Answer: 心配バカさんへ,

心配するな! Your struggle is much appreciated. The "shinji-newji wars of '02" were fought over just such a topic. There are countless examples in Japanese where English words are katakana-ized when perfectly good Japanese words could be used instead. For example - 「カメラ」 (Camera) should of course be 「写真とる機械」 and 「テレビ」 (TV) should quite naturally be「無駄な時間を過ごすと分かっても、ばかばかしい番組を見たい機械」. So you see you are not alone in this battle.

One fellow started a "De-katakana-ize Japanese Society", but for some reason once he got a dictionary, his society attendance tumbled from the once lofty number of 1 to 0.

Even still, Keep up the good fight!
言葉侍の弟でした

 

Editor's Explanation

心配するな!
shinpai suru na!
Don't worry!
Adding な to the end of する makes the phrase negative. It is a bit casual so if you are beginner sticking with the normal way to negate (心配しないで) is much better. But the な method adds a bit of flavor
写真とる機械
shashin toru kikai
picture-taking-machine
Once again, our apologies! 写真取る機械 is NOT in current use in Japanese I'm afraid. Please use カメラ.

無駄な時間を過ごすと分かっても、
muda n jikan o sugosu to wakattemo,
waste-of-time-(direct object marker)-spend (time)-'to' question marker-understand-even,

ばかばかしい番組を見たい機械
bakabakashii bangumi o mitai kikai
stupid-programs-(subject marker)-want to see-machine

Yet again, we ask for forgiveness. 無駄の時間を過ごすと分かっても、ばかばかしい番組を見たい機械 is NOT in use. Nor has it even been to my knowledge. Please use テレビ.

 

LETTER TO KOTOBA ZAMURAI'S LITTLE BROTHER ・ その2

Dear Kotoba Zamurai's little brother,

I've got the basics down, but I want to speak 'cool' Japanese. Can you help?

Sincerely,
格好よくない奴

Answer: 格好よくない奴さんへ,

心配するな! Speaking 'cool' Japanese is easily done by interjecting endings like 「だぜ!」 or 「だよね!」 or saying 「萌え moe for "obsessed with" or 「よ!」 instead of 「こんにちは」

Take this common conversation as an example. Watch how I 'coolify' the words ever so slightly:

[Editor's Note: While the 'coolified' Japanese is somewhat in use, it is very casual and should be used only with close friends who know you are a henna gaijin; Actually it really shouldn't be used at all.]

Normal 'lame' Conversation Super 'Coolified' Japanese
You: こんにちは、鈴木さん。お元気でしたか?
konnichi wa, suzuki san. O genki deshita ka?
hello-Mr. Suzuki-health-past up until now-(question marker)
Hello Mr. Suzuki. How have you been?
You: よ!スーさん。元気か?
yo! su-san. genki ka?
yo!-Su-healthy-question
Yo! Wazup Su?
Su-san: ああ、お蔭様で
aa, okagesama de...
Ah-thanks to you
Ah! Great, thanks.
Su-san: ああ、お蔭様で
aa, okagesama de...
Ah-thanks to you
Ah! Great, thanks.
You: 最近面白い映画とか見ましたか?
saikin omoshiroi eiga toka mimashitaka?
recently-interesting-movie-or similar-saw?
I have you seen any good movies recently?
You: 最近、超萌えーな映画見たかい?
saikin, chou moe- na eiga mita kai?
recently-like so-groovy-movie-saw
Like, have you seen a way cool flick recently?
Su-san: そうですね。最近歴史的な番組はテレビでみています。
sou desu ne. saikin rekishi teki na bangumi wa terebi de miteimasu.
That's right (said when thinking)-recently-historical-program-on TV-seeing
Well, recently I have been watching shows on historical subjects on TV.
Su-san: そうですね。最近歴史的な番組はテレビでみています。
sou desu ne. saikin rekishi teki na bangumi wa terebi de miteimasu.
That's right (said when thinking)-recently-historical-program-on TV-seeing
Well, recently I have been watching shows on historical subjects on TV.
You: いいですね。さすが教育的な鈴木さんですね。
ii desu ne. Sasuga kyouiku teki na suzuki san desu ne.
Good-it is-Just like you-educational-Suzuki-isn't it
Sounds neat. That's just like you to be so educated minded.
You: 実に萌えーだぜ!スーさんって、超頭いい奴な。
jitsu ni moe daze! susantte, chou atama ii yatsu na.
really-awesome-is emphatic-Su-san-as for-like so-head-good-fellow
That's like totally bogus man! Su, you Einstein you!
Su-san: まあ、それでは、ちょっと行かなければならないところがありますので。
maa, sore dewa, chotto ikanakereba naranai tokoro ga arimasu node.
Kind of-Well, then-little-have to go-place-(subject marker)-exists-therefore
Kind of. Well, I have something to tend to and must be going.
Su-san: まあ、それでは、ちょっと行かなければならないところがありますので。
maa, sore dewa, chotto ikanakereba naranai tokoro ga arimasu node.
Kind of-Well, then-little-have to go-place-(subject marker)-exists-therefore
Kind of. Well, I have something to tend to and must be going.
You: それじゃ、またね。
sore ja, mata ne.
Well then-again
See you, then.
You: バイならだぜ!
bai nara daze
Bye-ending of sayouNARA-is emphatic
Later dude.

So you see just by applying a few 'coolified' grammatical tricks, one can instantly become "Mr. Cool"

Just to be safe, don't use these words to your father-in-law,
言葉侍の弟でした

 

Editor's Explanation

萌え
moe
be overly fond of something
Popuralized by Internet chat rooms, message boards and the TV show 電車男 densha otoko, moe is used by otaku types but if you say it to the average Japanese, you may get a blank stare unless they watched densha otoko!
超・・・
chou
very
slang for とても - 超大きい chou ookii - very big
バイなら
bainara
Bye
Bye + Sayounara

 


 

LETTER TO KOTOBA ZAMURAI'S LITTLE BROTHER ・ その3

Dear Kotoba Zamurai's little brother,

I wanna be a ninja but I am against violence. What should I do?

Sincerely,
隠れ忍者

Answer: 隠れ忍者さんへ、

心配するな! This problem is actually more prevalent than normally reported. Look in your phone book for a local 非暴力忍者クラブ (look under 'hi'). Talking to others in a similar predicament is often helpful. Me, well, I appreciate a good slap on the wrist occasionally. Must be the samurai blood in me. Even still, I feel for your problem.

Anyway, to help give you practical advice here are a few common remedies:

Oh, and don't worry too much about training. By following my recommendations the chance of you actually needing any fighting skills is next to nothing.
言葉侍の弟でした

 

Editor's Explanation

隠れ忍者
kakure ninja
hidden ninja
Also see 隠れファン
非暴力忍者クラブ
hibouryoku ninja kurabu
Anti-Violence Ninja Club
I am not sure exactly what he is talking about. I looked through all the "hi's" and couldn't find a single reference to this club. Of course I do live in a small town...
やわらかい手裏剣
yawarakai shuriken
soft throwing star
I suppose this may exist. Go by your local Nerf store and see...
くのいち
kunoichi
Female Ninja
This is actually an interesting word. If you look at the kanji for woman and draw it out, you start with then the katakana and then finally (ku+no+ichi)

 

Editor's Final Apology
While accuracy in reporting is our number one objective, pulling people's leg may occasionally trump accomplishing our number one objective. It kind of depends on our mood and the position of the moon. Still, as they say in Japanese - there is no excuse - 申し訳ございませんでした。

Volume 4: Kanji Form Categories

Kotoba zamurai articles are written to be a non-systematic approach to learning unusual, but useful words. While these not-so-serious articles are written with the upper-beginner to intermediate in mind, even beginners should be able to get something out of them. If not, I may have wasted 15 minutes of your life... I will leave it up to you to take the chance.


Volume 4: Kanji Form Categories

六書: What is it? Today we will look at how etymology of kanji are categorized. That is, there are 6 ways the ancient Chinese used to explain how each kanji is put together. Some kanji may have more than one way. These 6 categories are called 六書 pronounced りくしょ (not ろく)

Why am I reading this? Well, probably because you have nothing better to do. But other than the obvious, knowing what these are can be very helpful when using a Japanese kanji dictionary since it will probably explain the kanji's origin.


象形 しょうけい
Kanji that look like (or originally was supposed to look like) the object it represents

EXAMPLES:
sun - originally somewhat round with a dot in the middle - not sure what the dot was for (if you know please post a comment below)
moon, month
mountain - a mountain ridge
tree - a tree with low hanging branches
person - a person with no arms doing a split
child - a child needs a hug


指事 しじ
These are kanji whose meaning is somewhat abstract and is expressed as a kind of code.

EXAMPLES:
up, above - the small line is above ground level
heaven - the biggest line is above the man on earth
book - made from a tree (木)


会意 かいい
This is where 2 characters are put together to create a new meaning.

EXAMPLES:
ratio, compare - two people(人)
watch, care for - hand (手) and (目)
(mountain) pass - 山 (mountain), 上 (up) and 下 (down). This is a 和製漢字, for more click here


形声 けいせい
These are kanji with 2 parts usually one for the pronunciation and one for the meaning.

EXAMPLES:
河 river - sound: 可 (permission) + meaning 水 (water - the three strokes on the left)
問 ask - sound: 門 (gate) + meaning: 口 (mouth)
枯 wither (as in a plant) - sound 古 (old) + meaning 木 (tree) & 古 (old)


転注 てんちゅう
These are kanji that have the original meanings changed (転) to new meanings.

EXAMPLES:
The common example (at least in dictionaries that I consulted!) is the in 音楽 (music) originally only dealt with music, but since listening to music is pleasurable, 楽 also took on that meaning -> 楽しい


仮借 かしゃ
These are kanji where the meaning is totally ignored. They are borrowed only for their sound.

This can also be called 当て字, ateji - which are kanji used usually for the pronunciation (but can rarely also have meaning like 倶楽部 for Club [together+fun+group = ku ra bu])

Examples of foreign words:
亜米利加
あめりか - America
亜細亜 アジア - Asia

Examples where a new meaning developed
もと「むぎ」の意味の「来」は、「ライ」という音から「くる」という意味に使われるようになりました。

「来」 kuru/rai (to come) originally meant "barley."The pronunciation 「らい」 was kept but the meaning was dropped and replaced with "to come"

*In both cases, the original meaning of each kanji is ignored and only the sound is used. With 転注 ten chuu, the original meaning is changed not totally ignored.

Note: I believe I have a handle on these last two forms (転注・仮借) but I should consult a few big kanji dictionaries to make sure. If you see something wrong or have anything to add, please leave a comment! - Thanks

Volume 5: The Great いらず Collection

'Kotoba zamurai' articles are written to be 'a non-systematic approach to learning unusual, but useful words.' While these not-so-serious articles are written with the upper-beginner to intermediate in mind, even beginners should be able to get something out of them. If not, I may have wasted 15 minutes of your life... I will leave it up to you to take the chance.


Volume 5: The Great いらず Collection

The Great いらず Collection
On a Kitty-chan theme

Today we will look at a few set or idiomatic phrases using いらず don't need.

The -ず ending is another way to negate verbs. So いらず = いらない (don't need)

Just the Facts Ma'am

1) 猫いらず - rat poison; lit. don't need a cat;

2) 医者いらず - aloe plant; lit. don't need a doctor

3) 水いらず - just family; lit. water not entered

Help me Rhonda

1) 猫いらず - rat poison; lit. don't need a cat;

What are cats good for other than catching rats? But now that we have rat poison no one will ever need another cat again! At least that is what we would conclude if we only had this phrase as a gauge for what Japanese think of cats.

Example:
失業中のキティちゃんは絶望した。なぜなら、猫いらずは猫のえさより安いからだ。
An out of work Hello Kitty is depressed. The reason: rat poison is cheaper than cat food.


2) 医者いらず - aloe plant; lit. don't need a doctor

Hey, it is much cheaper than a medical school degree!

This is specifically a nickname for the 木立アロエ plant. Since I don't know much about plants, here is a link with a picture.

Example: [Warning: a little disturbing for those fans of Hello Kitty...]
「医者要らず?そのとおりよ。」とキティちゃんは思いながら、飼い主帰るまで爪を研ぎました
"Don't need a doctor? Sure, that's right", thought Hello Kitty as she sharpened her claws and awaited her master.


3) 水いらず - just family; lit. water not entered

Unlike the first two, this いらず actually has a different kanji. It is 入らず which means "to not enter." The other いらず IS 要らず which means "not needed."

Water, here, means something in the way 邪魔物. So having 'no obstacles in the way' lets families relax and enjoy being by themselves.

Variation:
夫婦水入らず just a husband and wife

Example:
東京破壊してから、ゴジラはキティちゃんに向かって、「水入らずでいいですね。」といいました。
Having destroyed Tokyo, Godzilla turned to Hello Kitty and said, "It's nice to be finally alone."

Volume 6: You may be Watching too Many Jidai Geki IF...

'Kotoba zamurai' articles are written to be 'a non-systematic approach to learning unusual, but useful words.' While these not-so-serious articles are written with the upper-beginner to intermediate in mind, even beginners should be able to get something out of them. If not, I may have wasted 15 minutes of your life... I will leave it up to you to take the chance.


Volume 6: You may be watching too many Jidai Geki IF...

Find out once and for all if you are a 時代劇 junkie!
(don't know what jidai geki is? see bottom!)

You may be watching too many Jidai Geki IF...

10) You answer the phone with, "何者だ? nanimono da?"


9) You enter your friend's house with a sword drawn saying, "御用だ goyou da"


8) You have more than one Mifune Toshiro poster on a single stretch of wall. (One per wall is acceptable)


7) You say "すまん suman" when someone hands you a drink.


6) You catch yourself answering your boss with a "はっ、殿、仰せの通りに致します ha, tono, oose no toori ni itashimasu"


5) Sitting 正座 seiza no longer puts your legs asleep


4) You find pale faced women who play the shamisen attractive


3) You confuse a 招待状 shoutaijou with a 果たし状 hatashijou with terrible consequences...


2) You own a sword that costs more than your car


AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST...

1) Your insurance policy covers, '切腹 seppuku'


Ok, if you are not a Jidai Geki junkie, you will need some explanation:

A 時代劇 ji dai geki literally means 'period drama' but is a movie or television program set usually in the Edo period and involves samurai!

You may be watching too many Jidai Geki IF...

10) You answer the phone with, "何者だ? nanimono da?"
- nani mono da is often heard when a guard hears some movement and asks, "Who's there?!"

9) You enter your friend's house with a sword drawn saying, "御用だ goyou da"
- 御用だ go you da is often heard by 奉行所 bugyousho (the Edo period police) as they approach a bad guy. Goyou literally means 'honorific (official) business' but kind of means, "You're under arrest, Bub"

8) You have more than one Mifune Toshiro poster on your wall. (One is acceptable)
- Mifune Toshiro http://www.answers.com/Toshiro%20Mifune was one of the greatest jidai actors who stared in numerous Samurai films including many Kurosawa flicks. You can also see him in the 1980 TV mini-series Shogun.

7) You say "すまん suman" when someone hands you a drink.
- すまん is short for すまない or the more recognizable すみません. It has a rough feel and used by men. It literally means "not finished" or "not satisfied."

6) You catch yourself answering your boss with a "はっ、殿、仰せの通りに致します ha, tono, oose no toori ni itashimasu"
- はっ、殿、仰せの通りに致します
- ha, tono, oose no toori ni itashimasu
- Yes, my Lord, It shall be done as you wish!
- はっ is a quick, blunt 「はい」 and is often heard by samurai speaking to their superiors.
- 殿 tono - lord
- 仰せの通り oose no toori - lit. just as you spoke
- に致します ni itashimasu - to do... (致します is a polite form of する)

5) Sitting 正座 seiza no longer puts your legs asleep
- 正座 seiza - lit. correct sitting; to sit on your heels with your legs straight under you and your back straight.

4) You find pale faced women who play the shamisen attractive
- geisha

3) You confuse a 招待状 shoutaijou with a 果たし状 hatashijou with terrible consequences...
- 招待状 shoutaijou - in invitation (to a party)
- 果たし状 hatashijou - a letter or challenge (to a duel)

2) You own a sword that costs more than your car

1) Your insurance policy covers, '切腹 seppuku'
- 切腹 seppuku or 腹切り harakiri - 'nuff said

Oh, lastly and I don't know if it is true but apparantly George Lucas got the word “Jedi” from Jidai (Geki)

Volume 7: Number Units 数の単位

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Kotoba Zamurai
Kotoba zamurai articles are written to be a non-systematic approach to learning unusual, but useful words. While these not-so-serious articles are written with the upper-beginner to intermediate in mind, even beginners should be able to get something out of them. If not, I may have wasted 15 minutes of your life... I will leave it up to you to take the chance.

Volume 7: Number names 数の単位

I'm sure you know 一 (ichi 1) and you have probably heard of 兆 (chou 1,000,000,000,000), but have you ever heard of 無量大数?

無量大数 originated in an ancient Japanese book on math and numbers in 1632. It originally meant 1088, and while there are still people who hold to that meaning, most moderns (apparently) take it to mean 1068.

Honestly, anything above 1 may not be extremely useful, but just in case you find yourself counting particles of anti-matter or the amount the government spends on square-widgets-for-round-holes, here is a chart to help:

1 ichi
10 juu
100 hyaku
1,000 sen
10,000 man
100,000,000 oku
1,000,000,000,000 chou
1016 kei
1020 gai
1024 jo
1028 jou
1032 kou
1036 kan
1040 sei
1044 sai
1048 goku
1052 恒河沙 gougasha
1056 阿僧祇 asougi
1060 那由他 nayuta
1064 不可思議 fukashigi
1068 無量大数 muryoutaisuu

不可思議 is also used to mean 'really 不思議' = mysterious; incomprehensible

不可思議な現象 fukashigi no genshou - a mysterious phenomenon
不可思議なる宇宙 fukashigi naru uchuu - the unfathomable universe

For more information on 無量大数, see here. And for a fuller table of numbers including fractions, see here.

Volume 8: Two by Two, Here We Go!

Kotoba Zamurai
Kotoba zamurai articles are written to be a non-systematic approach to learning unusual, but useful words. While these not-so-serious articles are written with the upper-beginner to intermediate in mind, even beginners should be able to get something out of them. If not, I may have wasted 15 minutes of your life... I will leave it up to you to take the chance.

Volume 8: "Counting by Twos" or "Two by Two, Quoth the Octopus"

Last time, we looked at big numbers. This time we will look at small numbers becoming big numbers.

In a perfect world, everything would be counted with even numbers. Everyone would have two eyes, four mouths, and eight hundred and eighty-eight pieces of chocolate to fit in the four mouths.

Here is a helpful diddy for counting those chocolates by twos:

ni (2), shi (4), ro (6) no ha (8) no to (10)

Or if you want to be cute, let's ask the help of a purple octopus:

Here we have an octopus (tako) making sounds (chuu chuu)

「ちゅうちゅうたこかいな」
chuu chuu tako kai na

You may think this means something like, "(Chuuchuu) Are you an octopus?"

But the かいな apparently is 腕 (arm--normally "ude" but "kaina" is another reading). So we hear the sound of the octopus and talk about the octopus and his arms in order to count to ten--all quite natural and logical.

"huh?" you say?