Sunday, April 30, 2017

Never be bored again

Though it may seem like the very concept of life in Japan ought to be an endless source of entertainment and fascination in and of itself, expats do occasionally become bored. Want to know what we do when we get bored?

We directly translate the kanji that make up the names of places around the Tokyo metropolitan area into English, then assign them a North American state or province where they'd seem "at home." For example:

Akabane → 赤羽 (red+feather) → Red Feather, Wyoming

Akabane is a major station in Kita Ward, Tokyo. Its name is made of two kanji characters: 赤 (aka, meaning "red") and 羽 (hane, meaning "feather"). The -hane makes a euphonic change to -bane, making the full name easier to pronounce. And "Red Feather" sounds like the name of a town one might find in Wyoming.

Now that you've got the basic principle, let's do some more!

Ueno → 上野 (up field) → Upfield, New York

Nippori → 日暮里 (day living village) → Livingston, Vermont

Uguisudani → 鶯谷 (nightingale valley) → Warbler Valley, Virginia

Shinbashi → 新橋 (new bridge) → Newbridge, Connecticut

Saginuma → 鷺沼 (heron marsh) → Heron Marsh, Alberta, Canada

Jiyugaoka → 自由が丘 (freedom hill) → Liberty Hill, Texas

Roppongi → 六本木 (six pine trees) → Six Pines, Minnesota

Ochanomizu → 御茶ノ水 (tea water) → Teawater, Massachusetts

Occasionally, English isn't the best target language for this game. "Yokohama," for example, means "beach to the side," but good luck finding a town with a name like that in the US. The Spanish equivalent, however, seems much more believable:

Yokohama → 横浜 (side beach) → Playa al Lado, California

Akihabara → 秋葉原 (autumn leaf meadow) → Prado Otoñal, New Mexico

Or maybe French is more your bag(-uette).

Aoyama → 青山 (blue/green mountain) → Montbleu, Montana

Ikebukuro → 池袋 (pond bag) → Sac du Lac, Wisconsin


See? It's fun.

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