Picture"Akamon" or Red Gate entrance to Teidai.
Weekly Title: 黄身と出会った 
I took quite a few liberties with the translation of the title this week.  It wasn't nearly as cut and dry of a meaning as week one was (and most won't be from here on out).  The Japanese title is called "Kimi to Deatta" which translates to "I Met You".  In English this is quite boring.  However, the play on words this week is in the Japanese word "Kimi" which means "You" (君), but also can mean "Egg Yolk"(黄身).  The kanji used in the title is the latter, which would change the literal translation to "I Met an Egg Yolk".  I considered keeping this literal translation, but I figured in the end that it would cause too much confusion.

As I fought with the title throughout the week, I tried to think of some sort of word play in English with "Yolk", like "I Met Youlk", which seemed even worse than my PERsimmON translation from week one.  So, in the end, I kept the play on the word "kimi" or "you", but ignoring the yolk part, I matched it with Higashide's character Nishikado Yuutaro, or "Yuu" for short.  I kept close to the intended meaning in Japanese "I Met You", but tried to spice it up a bit and ended with "Meeting Yuu for the First Time" .  Not very amusing, but then again, neither is "I Met an Egg Yolk"  :)

Episode Seven
"Flower Girls' School Student"
In the very opening of the episode, Tora is explaining the 10 quick years that have passed since the ending of episode six.  She mentions that Meiko is now a student at an all girls school, but when she says it in Japanese, she says, 花の女学生 (hana no jogakusei), or Flower Girls' School Student.  I racked my brain trying to think of some way to express this in English, but couldn't and omitted the flower part altogether in the translation.  Basically, adding "hana" (flower) before student is a very typical old-fashioned thing to call a female school student.  Nowadays, it would probably only be used jokingly if someone wanted to sound old-fashioned like something grandma would say.  I guess the closest it translates to is "brilliant" or "beautiful" like a flower.  Maybe because flowers bloom in the Spring and that's when school starts in Japan.  Also girls are blossoming into women during this time as well.  

In any case, it's pretty archaic now, and was really only used as a prefix for female students (middle school, high school, or college), but wouldn't be used to describe an elementary school girl or any kind of male student.  I've probably spent too long on this bit already, but I thought it was interesting and personally had no idea what it meant at first until I googled it in Japanese.    

お嬢様言葉 - Speaking Like a Daughter of a High-Class Family 
As you'll see happen a couple of times, Meiko and her best friends Tamiko and Sakurako enjoy pretending they are members of rich society on occasions.  We first see this as they are walking to class almost 6 minutes into the episode.  Instead of calling out something more typical like "Meiko, ohayo gozaimasu" (good morning Meiko), Sakurako asks her from behind "Gokigen ikaga?, Meiko-sama", which is just a super polite or honorific way of saying "genki desuka?" (How are you?).  On top of that, they address each other as the honorific "-sama" instead of they more typical "-san".  Meiko does a good job jumping into the role of aristocrat with her response (amazing she can be so quick on her toes with something like this, but so clueless in just about everything else, as we see throughout this week's episodes).  Anyway, they have a good laugh and go back to "ohayo" right after.  Perhaps for Americans, this would be like when we mimic British English to sound more high class or haughty.  

帝国大学 - Tokyo Imperial University
This is the name of the university that Nishikado-san attends (in Japanese, Teikoku Daigaku, or Teidai for short).  It was started by the Meiji government in 1877, and is now known as the University of Tokyo (Tokyo Daigaku). Throughout the episodes, you'll see it referred to as "Teidai" just as Tokyo Daigaku today is also abbreviated at "Todai".  It was the most prestigious public university back during Meiko's time period just as it is today.  

PictureAkamon at Todai today.
After World War II, the name was changed to Tokyo Daigaku when the former Imperial University System (which contained the top 7 public universities in Japan) was dissolved.  

PictureDefinitely some "moso moso" scotch eggs!
Episode Eight
擬態語 - Words mimicking things that aren't sounds.

One of my favorite things about the Japanese language are words that mimick sounds or feelings.  In Japanese, there are two distinct categories called Giongo(擬音語)and Gitaigo(擬態語).  Giongo is known as onomatopoeia in English.  Basically these are words that imitate sounds.  For example, in English we have animal sounds like Ribbit (frog) Woof (Dog), and Meow (Cat) just like Japanese use Gerogero, Wanwan, and Nya for the same animal sounds.  Other examples of English onomatopoeia would be like Crash!  Bang! Ding dong, etc.   In Japanese, some non-animal examples would be "zaza" (雨がザザ降る) which imitates the sound heavy rain makes, so "Ame ga zaza furu" means that It's raining heavily.  Actually, you hear one in the Gochisousan theme song by Yuzu.  Where I translated the like "As the raindrops fall one by one", the song lyrics are "Potsuri potsuri to machi no iru".  The "potsuri potsuri" part is a Giongo, describing the sound a drop of rain makes (like on a metal roof).  Even though the lyrics don't say "ame" (rain) or anything mentioning that rain is falling, it's implied with this Giongo.  There are literally hundreds of these, so I'll stop there for now. 

The other type I mentioned is Gitaigo (mimetic words), which are words that imitate actions but don't relate to any sound.  I think it's kind of hard for English speakers to understand since I don't think we use them really.  But in Japanese, there are tons of examples.  Perhaps the most famous for westerners would be "Pika...pika...Pikachu!"  :)  The "Pika" is a Gitaigo for a flash of light (such as lightning, or the flash on a camera).  Japanese would use it like "Ima, pika to hikatta"(今ピカッと光った)which means "Just now, the lightning flashed over there!"  So when you hear "Pika...Pika...Pikachu" it means that like Pikachu is flashing or charging up!  (be careful because pika pika also means "spic and span" or really clean!)  

Anyway, the point I was getting at is that around a minute into the episode, Meiko uses the word "moso moso" to describe the feeling of the dryness of the meat and egg yolk in the Scotch Egg (I translated this as "isn't it a bit dry?")  She doesn't say dry, but implies it with the word "moso moso"  It's kinda like the feeling you get when you get a mouthful of dry mashed potatoes.  Your mouth is full and the food is dry, so it's kinda like a stuffiness feeling.  That's "moso moso".  It's funny because in the next like she uses "toron" which is a word similar to ooze maybe in English.  When you hear "toron" you immediately get an image of something dripping or oozing out.  Meiko says that she wished the egg yolk oozed out when you cut the scotch egg in half, which as we find out later, is exactly what Nishikado-san helps Daigo accomplish to make a perfect dish.  These words, while they don't sound like anything, immediately conjure up an image when you hear it.  That's Gitaigo!  

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of these words in Japanese and often create issues in translating because there are many feelings/sounds that Japanese have words for that in English we only describe and don't have specific words to convey the meaning.  Personally, I think it's a really fun part of the Japanese language and will often impress native speakers if you can use them correctly :)

PS - For those of us who grew up on video games in the 80's, Pac-man also comes from Giongo.  The word "Pac" would probably be closely translated to "chomp" in English.  It definitely describes the character well!

Picture"Kapinosu" advertisment in Gochisousan.
Sunopika or Kapinosu? - スノピカか?カピノスか?
At the 10 minutes mark, when the girls are looking at the advice magazine, you'll clearly see a black and white ad on the back page.  If you read the Katakana on the top it reads スノピカ (SU-NO-PI-KA).  At least that's how you would read it today in Japanese.  However, during this time, even Katakana was written from right to left, so in actuality, the advertisement is for a product called カピノス (KA-PI-NO-SU).  So, that made me wonder, what kind of ad is it for?  I figured that NHK wouldn't be able to display a real ad without copyrights, so I wondered what kind of ad they were copying.  I looked around a bit and came to the conclusion that it's for none other than the famous Japanese drink Calpis.

PictureA real Calpis ad from back then.
Compare the ad on the back of the magazine Meiko is holding to a real ad for Calpis here on the left.  The typefont even matches for both (you can compare because both have 3 of the same Katakana characters: カ、ピ、and ス).  Also, the era fits in perfectly.  The company Calpis was founded in Taisho 8 (1919) while the year this scene take place in the drama is Taisho 11 (1922).  

PictureCalpis today.
If you read the old ad today, you would read the product as being called "SU-PI-RU-KA" since today Katakana is read left to right.  But at that time, even Katakana was still read from right to left, which would spell out the name KA-RU-PI-SU (aka Calpis).  Of course, since NHK couldn't show a real Calpis ad from back then without having to pay Calpis royalties, they made an ad similar in style and changed the name from "Karupisu" to "Kapinosu"  Those clever folks at NHK!!  



11/22/2013 7:47am

Keep these coming they are informative but more so very interesting.

12/04/2013 10:24pm

Thank you for these commentaries!! The japanese language is wonderful, and very interesting.. I should really start learning the language ^^

01/09/2014 6:39am

I have a suggestion for your blog.
Add a status page for the progress of your work with the subtitles. This will lessen the "When is the next subs coming out?" which can become a frequent question after a while.

01/10/2014 11:51am

Are you planning to continue this project?

04/27/2014 8:41pm

We really the works you did. This was an excellent drama and the subs your team did is excellent too. Please keep subbing and I will inform many people as possible to come to this site to support as well.



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