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13 December 2009 @ 07:08 pm
I'm shick and tired of theshe motherfucking drunk shnakesh in thish...what wash I talking about?  
So last weekend was Suzugamine's bounenkai (忘年会, "year-forgetting gathering"), and they really went all-out. It was held at a ritzy hotel in Hiroshima down by the beach (with its own attached minimall, restaurant, reflecting pool inside with koi it in, the works) and a troupe of kagura performers came out from Shimane-ken (the next prefecture over) to perform dinner theater for us. After the beginning part, where we received candy from a guy dressed as an oni (and where I got my own personal handful of candy), the performers came out and started to do a performance of Yamata no Orochi (if you've played Okami, you don't need to click that link). This is the most popular kagura play of all, but I had never seen it performed before because it's quite complex to stage. Each of the heads is played by a separate actor, and there's a 15-20 minute sequence that involves them all twining in and around each other to make interesting shapes. It was really neat, and probably the best part of dinner as all the people at my table couldn't speak English and the range of topics we could talk about in Japanese was a bit limited. I did get asked if I ate sashimi, which was a bit odd considering that they had just seen me eat a big plate of it. I assume they were just trying to make conversation and picking a topic they figured I would actually understand.

Also, the main course was kobe beef, so that was cool.

One thing I've noticed that's different from Western European/North American countries here is that people's names have immediately obvious meanings. For example, there are people named things like Honor and Beauty (Masami), A Thousand Pictures of Beauty (Chiemi), A Thousand Springs (Chiharu), Second Son (Jiro), Summer's Child (Natsuko), Courage (Yuuki), Great Protector (Daisuke) and so on. Last names include Mountaintop (Yamasaki), Base of the Mountain (Yamamoto), Pond and Rice Field (Ikeda), Bamboo Field (Takeda), Main Rice Field (Honda), Eastern Mountain (Higashiyama), Western Village (Nishimura), and so on. These mostly came about the same way English family name for commoners did. As you can see, they picked some nearby notable geological feature or landmark. I just find it interesting because if you tried to do something similar in America, most people would think the name was ridiculous (with a few notable exceptions, like "Autumn"), even most of our names do have meaning, just not in English.

Random thoughts.
 
 
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meadowyravinemeadowyravine on December 15th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
Wow, that sounds like an awesome party! That's so cool that you're getting to experience so much variety of life in japan, it sounds so interesting.

Those names sound so pretty, and that is interesting that they have a different naming convention. Do they pun on people's names a lot the way we do when people have names with meaning in English?
dorchadasdorchadas on December 16th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
All the time, in media. Two examples that spring to mind:

1) The Japanese title of Speed Racer is "Mach 5 Go Go Go." Go is the main character's name (well, Gou, with a long o), Go is the Japanese word for 5, and there's also the English meaning.

2) The main character of Bleach is named 一護 (Ichigo), which they give as meaning "one who protects." However, he has bright red hair, and the most immediately obviously way to write "Ichigo" is 苺, which means "strawberry."