Learning Japanese through booze

As much alcohol as I’ve been putting away recently, it seems only fitting that this most recent post revolve around the ol’ fire water. And Japanese, of course.

The alcohol in this particular case is chuhai, and while many people know what chuhai is, not many seem to know the origin of the word. Luckily, TAKARA brand Shochu Highball — a drier, less sweet cousin of the run-of-the-mill chuhai — has provided a mini history lesson right there on the side of the can. Enjoy.

チューハイの原点。

チューハイは戦後まもない昭和20年代の東京下町で「焼酎ハイボール」として生まれたといわれています。「ハイボール」とはお酒の炭酸割りのこと。焼酎を炭酸で割ったから「焼酎ハイボール」。これを短くして「酎ハイ」と呼ばれたのが語源のようです。東京下町の大衆酒場では今でも大人気の飲み物です。

The Origin of Chuhai.

It’s said that chuhai originated in the 1940s shortly after the war, in Tokyo’s Shitamachi area, as the “shochu highball.” “Highball” referred to alcohol mixed with carbonated water. Because the carbonated water had been mixed with shochu, the drink was known as a “shochu highball.” This was shortened to “chuhai,” which would seem to be the origin of the word. To this day, the drink remains popular in Tokyo’s Shitamachi watering holes.

Good stuff, huh? Good. Now get drankin’.

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Showing bread who’s boss

breadI’ve started to get a bit antsy regarding the — let’s face it — blandness of a lot of the food options here in Nippon.

I therefore decided to spice things up by getting medieval on the corner supermarket’s cheese demi-baguette, or チーズフランス (“Cheese France”) as the locals call it, by throwing some jalapeños on it and popping it into the old toaster oven — or “oven toaster” as it’s for whatever reason referred to in Japanese. Hrm…

In any case, my pimped-up bread rocked. Yup.

The passing of MJ and other weird shit

Yes, the demise of Michael Jackson is by now old news and has already been blogged into the ground. But I mention it here for the following reasons:

iThriller-I have been watching the original Thriller video pretty much every day for the past week, and it still rocks. I mean, it has dancing zombies in it for chrissake.

-Given how much the people here dig MJ, I started wondering if there was a Japanese- language subbed version of the Thriller video out there. Finally found this one here, but it’s like trying to watch a movie when no one in the theater will SHUT THE HELL UP, in that there’s a constant scrawl of “witty” comments that has been added to the vid by the uploader. I’ll say it for the record: Japanese internet culture sucks.

-I subsequently got to wondering if there were separate, Japanese-language lyrics for Thriller posted somewhere online. And I finally found these, which educate as well as entertain; gotta love it when “I’m gonna thrill ya tonight, ooh baby” is translated as 私は今夜、オーッ!赤ちゃん屋スリルつもり. That’s just nutty.

-In looking for the original Thriller video, I stumbled across the so-called “Indian Thriller,” a ripoff scene starring the suave gentleman in the picture above. The video itself is embedded below for your viewing displeasure.

p/s – Sorry for the dropoff in posting, folks. The workload has been taking its toll…

Novel ways of fighting organized crime

I passed by this poster in the station for a week or so before taking a good look at what it had to say … and then I was pulling out my cell phone and snapping a photo.

crimeIt’s a poster released by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police concerning 暴力団 (boryokudan), or the organized crime syndicate. It specifically concerns how best to 追放 (tsuiho), or drive them out. Three helpful suggestions are offered there on the bottom right:

Do not fear them
Hell, yeah! Stand your ground!

Do not give them money
Show those bastards who’s boss!

Do not employ their services
Uh…

Your police department at work, folks.
Feeling safer yet?