Thursday, April 16, 2009

Subaru & Suzuki, sumo, sushi, and such

Even if you think you don't, you know some Japanese. Really.

I recently wrote about karaoke -- a Japanese word and favorite pastime. That's just one example of a word in the English lexicon that comes from Japan.

I bet these names sound familiar: Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and Yamaha. These are just a few examples of Japanese automobile companies that are known throughout the world.

This Honda shop is just down the street from my apartment. When I tell my students that I drove a Honda Accord back home, they usually seem impressed. :)

Maybe you have a Casio calculator, a Canon camera, or a Toshiba TV. Yep, all Japanese.

Sumo (スも) wrestling, karate (空手) and judo (重度) are all Japanese words and very popular sports here. But sumo and karate have different pronounciations in English than they do in Japanese. In Japan, it's pronounced "smo" instead of "soo-mo." (So the "u" is silent.) Karate is actually pronounced "kah-dah-tay." I get funny looks here if I pronouce it the Americanized way of "ka-ra-dee."

Flashback to August when I went to a sumo wrestling match in the Kuji gym.

One of my favorite Japanese foods is sushi. In fact, I went out for sushi last night with Oliver and Julian, the new ALT in Kuji. Sushi (素足) is a Japanese word that English borrowed, as is wasabi (ワサビ), the super spicy green condiment that gives sushi a kick. Just a dab will do, believe me!

This was a fabulous sushi dinner I ate a while back. We're sitting on tatami (畳) mats, a traditional type of Japanese flooring. And I actually just learned a couple of nights ago that the name of this kind of Japanese paper window is called shouji (正二). Now we know. :) Oh, and the woman across from me is wearing a kimono (着物), another Japanese word we say in English.

Finally, the word futon (布団) is also Japanese. But in Japan, it refers to the traditional style of Japanese bedding -- a mattress you put on the (tatami mat) floor and sleep on at night, that can be folded and stored away during the day. The Western-style futon is a frame with a cushion, and can be used as a bed or a couch.

Interesting, huh? "Omoshiroi, ne?" Well, that's all for now. Sayonara!


Dawn said...

Wow, it's weird to know how much Japanese we speak without knowing it - it's the same with Spanish words like taco, nacho, fiesta, etc.

Lauren said...

That is weird how much japanese we use! I bet that is one of the fun things about living there. See how many words we use in America too!!
Love you

Wendy City said...

Look at you and your Japanese writing skills! I'm so impressed! : )

Jennifer said...

I guess I do know more Japanese than I orgininally thought. Cool!

I still want to learn more...hopefully in June. :)
I love you, Dana!