learning

日本語はちょっと難しい、ね

Fancy shoes

It’s easy to make hideous mistakes when you are learning Japanese. Switch a vowel or add an extra syllable and you’re innocent remark has quickly turned unseemly. Here’s two examples.

A few months back, my sister-in-law, who loves shoes, was visiting. The expression on her face made it clear that what I thought was a complement had come out terribly wrong.

「けつはきれいです」 Ketsu wa kirei desu.

What I meant to say was, “I like your shoes.” 「靴はきれいです」Kutsu wa kirei desu. Unfortunately, ketsu means “ass.”

Another time, finishing ceramics class,  I cheerfully told my father-in-law, 「お触りました」Osawarimashita.

What I meant to say was, “I am done.” 「終わりました」Owarimashita. Both in-laws and my husband stared at me, and I realized I did it again. Fortunately, father-in-law has a sense of humor, and demonstrated “osawarimashita” (“touch” or “grope,” made strangely formal by the addition of “o”) by pinching my ass.

As I stumble my way learning Japanese, I am fortunate to have such a welcoming (and forgiving) family.

Nearly Asian, RIP

If you spend as much time online as me, some of your closest friends are online only. Every day you visit their blog, read about their adventures, and feel that you are learning something about another person who in some ways shares your city or world.

Without any notice, right after the new year started, Nearly Asian, my favorite foreign blogger in Tokyo, disappeared. When I click my bookmark, I get a Blogger page in Japanese saying that it’s now private and can only be accessed by those who email him. Of course I don’t have his email. In fact, his was the only blog I followed that accepted *no* comments.

What are his newest obsessions? Does he still post daily? Will I never hear more strange stories from him?

For those of you who don’t know Nearly Asian, he described himself as a 20-something, half-Japanese creative professional living in trendy Shimokitazawa. His daily stories included his office, Tokyo events, and biking. But mostly they revolved around his obsessions with the older office lady, the flight attendant, and the other hapa he met biking.

Most peculiar were two contradictory threads. Nearly Asian was an avowed chikan. A chikan is someone who commits a crime by inappropriately touching women in crowded trains. His most over-the-top post involved his story of joining the crowds on Emperor’s Day, and, unhhhh, to put it more modestly than he did, leaving his fluids on a woman’s back. That she didn’t immediately call the cops, or punch him, raised issues of credibility, yet somehow the sheer perversion of the story had me even more hooked than ever.

The contradictory occasional theme was that he’s a born-again Christian. Ah, one of *the* three most popular American stereotypes held by Asians (that we are all fat, smell bad, and are religious freaks). Every time he brought it up, I was nauseated, but at the same time, it added to the perversion of his persona.

So why did the blog disappear? Did his mother/cousin/co-worker/bike crush learn his identity and read his blog? If anyone knows, please leave a comment (or email me directly). I also wonder if I may have met Nearly Asian in person a year ago through mutual friends.

Is anyone else suffering from the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of an internet friend?