Thursday, February 19, 2015

mojibake (文字化け)

Mojibake is the word for gibberish text characters or garbled text.

The first part of the first paragraph in Wikipedia's article on mojibake states:

Mojibake (文字化け) (IPA: [mod͡ʑibake]; lit. "character transformation"), from the Japanese 文字 (moji) "character" + 化け (bake) "transform", is the garbled text that is the result of text being decoded using an unintended character encoding.[1] The result is a systematic replacement of symbols with completely unrelated ones, often from a different writing system

The article goes on to specify problems that come up when running Japanese software on an English OS. 

In Japanese, the phenomenon is, as mentioned, called mojibake 文字化け. It is often encountered by non-Japanese when attempting to run software written for the Japanese market.

I've found that this can be a serious issue with living in Japan.  I want English OS machines because, well, computers are hard enough for me to deal with in my own language.  But in setting up internet connections, there are invariably mojibake occurrences.  So far, good, smart, and nice people have helped me through them.  But they can be a frustration.

Someone posted a video on how to get rid of it in a Chrome situation.  I thought that was nice.  The things that people do!

And this person gives an anthropomorphic view of the concept of mojibake:


Thursday, February 12, 2015

一発屋(いっぱつや), or "One-Hit Wonder"

Some former students taught me this one.  When I checked a Japanese-English online dictionary, it defined いっぱつや as "one-shot gambler," but I don't think I've ever used that term.  Anyway, other friends here confirmed that it is in fact what we would call a "one-hit wonder," in English.

When I did a search on One-Hit Wonder lists, there certainly was no shortage.  This one, though, caught my attention,

the reason being that this list contained the song "Sukiyaki," a.k.a. "Ue o Muite Arukō" originally recorded by Kyū Sakamoto, released in 1961.  To tell the truth, although I've heard various versions of this song, I never knew who the original artist was until tonight.  I never knew that Selena and Utada Hikaru did covers too.  I never knew that it was one of the best-selling records of all time, upwards of 13 million.  The Wikipedia article says that the song went to number eighteen on the R&B charts; I'm amazed that Japan had an R&B chart in 1961!  Even more amazing to me is that the song reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts in  June 1963. . .I never knew that a Japanese-language song had entered the Top 40. . .And I never knew that the song's singer, Kyū Sakamoto, was a one-hit wonder, no disrespect intended to him or to any other one-hit wonders.  Show business sounds like a hard life, and the older I get, the more I respect people who hung in there to make a noise in this world.

The original version:


By the late singer Selena:

 Utada Hikaru's cover:

4pm's version, which was the first one that I remember ever hearing:

 And this is a reprinting of a list of other versions, as written on Wikipedia:
  • In 1963, Brazilian vocal music Trio Esperança, then child singers, released a cover of the song in Portuguese, called "Olhando para o céu" ("Looking at the sky"), on their debut album "Nós somos sucesso" ("We are successful"). The lyrics in Portuguese were written by Romeo Nunes.
  • In 1963, the Dutch-based Indonesian duo Blue Diamonds recorded the first evident English-language rendering of "Ue O Muite Aruko", featuring lyrics written by Decca Records executive Martin Stellman of Belgium: in the Netherlands the Blue Diamonds' English-language version of "Sukiyaki" charted in tandem with the Kyu Sakomoto original and two versions of the Dutch rendering subtitled "In Yokohama" (see below) with a #13 peak. Blue Diamonds' English rendering of "Sukiyaki" was overlooked in release in both the UK and the US.
  • In 1963 a Dutch rendering subtitled "In Yokohama" was recorded by Wanda [de Fretes]; the title was also used for an instrumental version by Tony Vos (nl). Charting in tandem with the Blue Diamonds English-language remake (see above) and the Kyu Sakomoto original version, these versions reached #13 in the Netherlands.
  • In 1963, Blue Diamonds (see above) reached #2 in Germany with a German-language cover of "Sukiyaki".
  • In 1963, The Ventures did a gentle instrumental cover of the song on its album release "Let's Go!"
  • In 1963, Canadian singers Claude Valade and Margot Lefebvre recorded a French version, "Sous une pluie d'étoiles" ("Under a shower of stars").
  • In 1964 Lucille Starr introduced the English rendering of "Sukiyaki" by lyricist Buzz Cason on her album The French Song: this version would be a 1966 single release by Jewel Akens as "My First Lonely Night" (see below).
  • In 1965, the Hong Kong-based band The Fabulous Echoes (later known as Society of Seven) recorded the song.
  • In 1965, Czech singer Josef Zíma recorded Czech version of the song named "Bílá vrána" ("White crow")
  • In 1966, US soul singer Jewel Akens released the song as "My First Lonely Night" as part of his double A-side single "Mama, Take Your Daughter Back"/"My First Lonely Night" on ERA records. The track had debuted on Akens' 1964 album The Birds and the Bees with its earliest recording being by Lucille Starr in 1964 (see above). This is probably the nearest translation to the original; although not a literal translation, it tells a similar story of a lonely man walking through the night, after losing his love.
  • In 1967, the Ginny Tiu Revue recorded this on their self-titled first album.
  • In 1975, the Hawaii-based duet Cecilio & Kapono recorded a markedly different English-language version in their album Elua released on Columbia Records.
  • In 1981, Hong Kong singer Teresa Carpio covered this song in Cantonese.
  • In 1982, a Brazilian humour-punk group Joelho De Porco recorded a cover version for the double album Saqueando A Cidade.
  • In 1983, a collaborative album by Peter Metro & Captain Sinbad with Little John, called Sinbad & The Metric System included "Water Jelly" on the Taxi Riddim by Peter Metro. The melody was adapted to reggae and it featured new lyrics in Spanish and English.[15]
  • In 1983, Finnish singer Riki Sorsa recorded the song with original Japanese lyrics as "Sukiyaki (Ue O Muite Aruko)".
  • In 1989, Selena recorded a Latin-influenced cover.
  • In 1989, Hong Kong singer Anita Mui covered this song in Cantonese.
  • In 1993, rapper Snoop Dogg used the theme from the song for his song "Lodi Dodi" on the album Doggystyle.
  • In 1995, a reggae version by Sayoko both in English and Japanese featuring Beanie Man.
  • In 1995, Jackie and the Cedrics recorded a surf version, "Sukiyaki Stomp", as the B-side of "Scalpin' Party", with "Justine" as the third song on the 7" vinyl EP. They also performed the song as part of their live set, including when they appeared in NYC in 1999.
  • In 1996, Brazilian axé singer Daniela Mercury recorded "Sukiyaki" with its original Japanese-language lyrics. The song was released outside Brazil only, as an international bonus track on her 1996 studio album Feijão com Arroz.
  • In 1996, freestyle trio The Cover Girls recorded a version for their album Satisfy.
  • The Haitian band Boukman Eksperyans used the melody in the track "Sevelan/Sukiyaki" on their 1998 album Revolution.
  • In 1999, Utada Hikaru covered as live recorded from the album, First Love
  • In 2000, solo violinist Diana Yukawa recorded "Sukiyaki" on her best-selling debut album (known as Elegy in the UK and La Campanella in Japan). Yukawa also performed "Sukiyaki" various times on the mountainside where her father, Akihisa Yukawa, died in the Japan Airlines Flight 123 crash with Sakamoto.
  • In 2000, Big Daddy released a smooth retro version which appeared in their compilation album, The Best of Big Daddy (the song had originally appeared on the Japanese release of their 1991 album Cutting Their Own Groove).
  • In the Philippines, Aiza Seguerra and Sir Johannes Mines covered the song in 2013 for the album Eastwood.
  • In 2008, interpreted by Hiromi Uehara and her group Sonic Bloom in the album Beyond Standard
  • In 2012, Sweet Sister Pain released a cover featuring Japanese lyrics on their album The Seven Seas of Blood and Honey.
  • In the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Suntory beverage company released several versions of a television commercial featuring many famous Japanese singers and Tommy Lee Jones each doing part of the song, followed by the title caption "ue wo muite arukou," or, roughly, "let's walk with our heads up."[16]
  • In 2013, Missy Elliott protégée Sharaya J sampled a portion of the original tune, alongside A Taste of Honey's version, for her single "BANJI".[17]
  • In 2013, an Oxford duo SweetnSour Swing recorded and released a special single "Sukiyaki", dedicated to British jazz musician Kenny Ball.
  • In 2014, during his Japanese tour, Olly Murs performed the song in English named "Look at the Sky", featuring lyrics written by Yoko Ono.[18]
 And finally, this is a link to a nice write-up of what the song meant, in the context of its time:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Yamato Nadeshiko

According to the Wikipedia entry on "Yamato Nadeshiko":

Yamato nadeshiko (やまとなでしこ or 大和撫子) is a Japanese term meaning the "personification of an idealized Japanese woman", or "the epitome of pure, feminine beauty".[2] It is a floral metaphor, combining the words Yamato, an ancient name for Japan, and nadeshiko, a delicate frilled pink carnation called Dianthus superbus, whose kanji translate into English as "caressable child" (or "wide-eyed barley").
The term "Yamato nadeshiko" is often used referring to a girl or shy young woman[6] and, in a contemporary context, nostalgically of women with "good" traits which are perceived as being increasingly rare. However, Nadeshiko Japan is also widely used as the name for the Japanese national women's football team.

For a certain  generation of people, the term is synonymous with a certain Fuji television drama.  It's about a flight attendant who grew up extremely poor, the result of which is that she's resolved to marry a rich man.  It's also about a talented but timid math scholar who has given up his career goals to take over the family fish market when his father dies.  The two characters meet, of course, and they love an hate each other.  There are other characters; although some of them are kind of iffy during the series, they pretty much all turn out to be likeable (to me).  This is a link to, where you can see it:

The theme song is "Everything" by Misia, who has been called (by some of my students) Japan's greatest soul singer.  Below is a video and compilation of some scenes from the show:

Note:  Yamato Nadeshiko is not to be confused with another drama, Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge, which I've never scene but which comes up high on Google and other search engine results.

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