Thursday, July 23, 2015


In my day to day life, the word Galápagos mostly comes up in reference to pre-iPhone cells that a person had to flip open (flip-phones), which are called ガラケイ(garakei), a compound of ガラパゴス (Galapagos, as in the Galápagos Islands) and ケータイ (keitai, or cell phones).  Generally, it seems like people use the term to denote old-fashioned, cheaper and less-than-cool phones, but this article from Forbes nicely explains some of the complexities implied.

Monthly bills for smart phones in Japan take a bit of a bite; I'm lucky if I pay less than 7000 yen per month, and I use my iPhone considerably less than most of my friends.  I like the article's parallel between Japan the island-nation and the island of Galápagos, even though it kind of scares me to think of things in such a way.  My favorite part of the article is its coining of the phrase "the spiderweb of death" to illustrate a cracked iPhone/smart phone screen.

Galápagos is also used in ガラパゴス化 (Garapagosu-ka, or the Galápagos syndrome) which, according to Wikipedia, "is a term of Japanese origin, which refers to an isolated development branch of a globally available product. . .a reference to similar phenomena Charles Darwin encountered in the Galápagos Islands, with its isolated flora and fauna, originally coined to refer to Japanese 3G mobile phones, which had developed a large number of specialized features and dominated Japan, but were unsuccessful abroad."  (see  

Monday, July 13, 2015

かまちょ (kamacho)

My students taught me this a few days ago, although I can't recall the context in which it came up.  This word, usually written in hiragana, is a fusing of the verb 構う (かまう、kamau, which means to take care of someone or something), and  ちょだい (chodai, or please).  Therefore 構うちょだい (kamau chodai) expresses the sentiment "please take care of me," or something to that effect.  My students inferred that the word portrays someone who doesn't like to be alone.  In other words, a somewhat needy person, someone who wants to be cared for.

There is a song entitled 「かまちょ」,  not really the kind of music I usually listen to, but anyway here it is:

The other result that consistently comes up is the You Tube channel of a young woman who goes by the name せりまかこ (Seri Kamacho, or Serika for short).  Her channel can be found at

and this is one of the videos on her channel

Friday, July 3, 2015

アイアイ傘 (love umbrella)

Although a phonetic translation of  アイアイ傘 (ai ai gasa) might suggest "love love umbrella," as ai (愛) means love, a kanji writing of the term is 相合傘, which does not use the character  愛.  Enter 相合傘 into a translator (such as can be found at and a definition will come up along the lines of "Umbrella under which a couple of man and woman walk close together."

I learned this from one of the Japanese teachers of English at a school where I  teach.  He had on the previous day seen a couple of our students, one male and one female, sharing an umbrella.  He was good-naturedly teasing them as he used the anecdote to teach me this phrase.  

When I checked for what kind of images this term would procure on the internet, I came across this picture:

And I thought to  myself, Wait a minute, isn't that Yoona from SNSD (aka Girls' Generation, the megapopular Kpop group)?  I clicked to go to the webpage, at

and I realized that yes, it was her and her co-star from the drama Love Rain. I saw it sometime last year, and I recall that the yellow umbrella was an important device for the bonding of two main characters.  I don't know if there's an equivalent phrase in the Korean language, but I'll ask some of my Korean friends and/or students.

In the realm of Japanese media, it seems that there's a song called  アイアイ傘 performed by a boy-duet, テゴマス (Tegomass).  The original video was hard to find; the links seem to be largely disabled or deleted, perhaps a decision by their record label.   All I could find was this handheld camera video of a TV screen.


It's not the kind of music I generally listen to, but there were some karaoke covers which I found impressive for the singing.



Reiwa , 令和, a new era

Reiwa , 令和 , is the name of the era just begun as Emperor Akihito abdicated to his son, Naruhito on May 1, 2019. It has stirred some cont...