ichigatsu no ni-juu-san-nichi
Ushi no Toshi

While it's a little premature, I thought I should wish everyone a happy new year once more. Why? Because next Monday, January 26th, is the Lunar New Year by the old calendar. I only know this because the calendar at my girlfriend's apartment has the lunar dates in addition to the Gregorian.

Why have it at all, though? The lunar calendar was phased out of use back in the Meiji Period, as part of the government's modernization program. At the time, the old date system and names of the months were all removed from use, so it would be easier to synchronize schedules with foreign traders. Months are just numbers now, without names, and the Gregorian years are used just as freely as the Imperial.

But that's not all that's included in some calendars. By looking around and checking things, one can find the following:

The daily Chinese zodiac cycle,

The old Chinese numbering system for days, based on the five elemental signs and yin/yang,

The Buddhist "fortunate days" cycle,

Some other cycle involving numbers and colors which I do not yet understand,

Not to mention every holy period and special day of note under the old lunar calendar.

For the record, today's date (1/23/09) is Heisei Year 21, Shihasu/Shiwasu/Kitou/Bantou(multiple month names) the 28th. The zodiac sign for today is the Dragon. Under the Chinese dating system, today is tsuchinoe, Yang of Earth, or the fifth day of the elemental cycle. Today's color/number combination is Five-Yellow, whatever that part means. Finally, the fortune for the day is senpu which means the day starts off bad, but may get better. Seeing the dearth of material I have to work with this week, I can only see that last one as being appropriate.

So, now you know, and knowing is half the conundrum.

In Japan, every month is a different KitKat season. Just recently, I saw a new flavor up for sale, Cherry Blossom KitKats, which only appear on shelves in the early months of the year. There's really nothing special in that, since it appears every year. The interesting thing this time is that I saw it in a post office.

Anyone up for a candygram? Just 450 yen!

Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 New Arrival! Devil Survivor Atlus
4 Down from 1 Dissidia Final Fantasy Square Enix
9 New Arrival! Fallout 3 Bethesda
19 Down from 13 Pokémon Platinum Nintendo
21 Down from 6 White Knight Chronicle SCE
25 Down from 11 Phantasy Star ZERO Sega
36 Down from 27 Harvest Moon - To the Wind Bazaar Marvelous
38 Down from 26 Tales of Hearts (anime movie version) Bandai-Namco
40 Down from 33 Suikoden Tierkries Konami
43 Down from 38 Inazuma Eleven Level 5
46 Down from 36 Chrono Trigger Square Enix
47 Down from 37 Patapon 2 SCE

Just recently on Dengeki's main site, Crystal Defenders from Square Enix was announced for Wii's Virtual Console. For the price of 1000 Wii points, players can take up the defense of the sacred crystals, protecting them from hordes of ravenous monsters. While it doesn't look like much, there's one important thing to mention about this game -- it's a mobile phone franchise that's been on most of the local networks for almost two years now. By putting this one up as Wii-ware, S-E is showing that they're willing to provide their mobile phone content on more accessible platforms, which gives us some hope for other titles

Source: Dengeki Online

Many months ago, an ad for Silver Rain made its way to JP. At the time, I thought it was just another collectible card game. As things are a little slow this week, I decided to look it up on the game's website, and what I found was a different sort of thing altogether.

Silver Rain is described as a "table talk RPG," which, when all the introductory material has been read through, means that it's a card-based table-top RPG with a strong focus on storytelling and character interaction. There is a sample character creation sheet online, as well as a game template for a basic adventure (an encounter with two quarreling monsters).

The story style seems to be something out of contemporary manga. The general character type is high school or college student, with spaces in the character sheet for interests, sports, and part-time jobs as well as more RPG-ish things like fighting style, stat points, or skillsets. There's mention of things like familiars or servant-spirits, and all in all a lot of variety.

The story behind the game follows the usual "otherworld insanity bursting into the real world" plot found in many manga, so if you're a fan, this one might be interesting. There's a sample adventure available (link is way down at the end of the page, next to the vampire-looking guy), but be forewarned, this one requires a really high Japanese reading level. The gist of it, however, is that your characters get to battle the Living Dead at a high school event. Zombie schoolgirls, anyone?

Source: Silver Rain HP

In swag news, the upcoming release of Advent Children : Complete heralds other, more expensive goodies for the FF connoisseur. Most expensive of the lot is the special "Cloud Black" HDD 160mb PlayStation 3. Starting April 16, this can be yours for the low price of 49,980 yen (as of this Thursday, $550.72)

Source: Dengeki Online

In minor news, Gust's Atelier Annie has had its release date changed from January 29th to "sometime in March." Details are a little hazy, but from what I can make out it has something to do with the little dolls that come with the game's premium package not being available in time. While I'm a little disappointed (this is one of my A-list items), at least it frees up my budget a little for the next two months.

Source: Dengeki Online


This may have been covered before, but if it has I don't remember the answer. I'm a Japanese major who likes video games so it seems like translating video games from Japanese to English would be a sensible job choice. I'm wondering what sort of qualifications one needs for a job like that. Obviously I would need to be fluent in Japanese (and English) and I'm getting an undergraduate degree eventually but what else? I know a lot of translators have special knowledge in fields like law, science, and technology, but what does a video game translator need to study (besides playing video games of course)?


Well, I'm not sure what the exact requirements may be, but I would strongly recommend you take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). More specifically, take the JLPT at level 2, since that seems to be a regular requirement for things like Japanese-language masters degree programs. In any case, passing the JLPT at that level would prove your ability over the language, and look really good on the resume. A few courses of creative writing might help as well, since game translation amounts to fiction writing much of the time.

Also on a completely unrelated subject, how rural is rural Japan? When I was in Okazaki, Japan last summer, a teacher who had come from Tokyo said her first impression of Okazaki was that it was the countryside. I was really suprised because to me Okazaki is a large city (though granted not as big as Tokyo). So is there a such thing as coutryside in Japan and where is it. My guess is in Hokkaido but I don't know because I've never been there.




Ever hear the one about how, after you live in New York a while, you forget there's more to the US than just the city? The same thing applies to living in Tokyo. As far as the average Tokyo or Osaka denizen is concerned, if it's not inside their combined metropolitan areas, then it's countryside. There is a good deal of countryside in Japan, however, especially once you get away from the Kansai and Kanto regions.

Anyway, good to hear from you again! It's been a while.

Godzilla, a tree? That's not like you!

I say, Sir Gaijin, good tidings be with you!

More linguistic queries I am hoping you can answer, starting with the word 'koi.' I know this means 'come here' but as I saw in the song title 'Koi no Hassha' it also seems to have an amorous meaning. How many meanings does 'koi' have?


Koi can be either of two nouns, or a fairly rude command version of the verb "to come," which is what you were thinking of. The two nouns are 1) love, and 2) Japanese carp. I'll let you guess which one was more likely to be used in a song title.

I've heard father as both 'otou' and 'chichiue'. I've heard mother as 'okaa' and 'hahaue'. Are these simply different ways of saying the same thing, or is there a deeper meaning to the different words used?


The symbol for father can be pronounced chichi or tou, though the latter is almost always said with the honorifics attached, i.e. otousan. The symbol for mother can be haha or kaa, usually okaasan. Adding the -ue suffix makes them very formal, which means I have rarely seen those used outside of medieval-style fantasy dialogue. So in RPGs, they're pretty common.

Am I imagining things, or does the kanji for 'human' ('ningen') use the character for 'darkness' ('yami')?


You're imagining things. Those two kanji have the same radical (mon), but the part in the middle is different.

I've heard 'ide' and 'oide', plus a couple of other words for summoning such as 'kuchi,' but I've only heard 'deimasei' once in Shining Force III. Is 'deima' actually an invoking of a spirit, or is it something completely different?


I really have no idea. Are you sure you got the spelling right? In any case, if it's something that rare, it's most likely an old, old variant from some random dialect of Japanese that was used for local flavor.

I'm probably missing something obvious, but how would one declare 'I'm going to __'? I can't figure out what word should be used to indicate travel


Well, you would probably say "___ ni ikimasu." If you wanted to be more formal, you could substitute "mairimasu" instead, but it would probably just sound odd to everyone else. Even though Japanese has a progressive tense, don't assume that they always use it the same way as English does.

Good to hear from you again, though I dare say you're slipping when it comes to letter titles. You used this exact same title last October!

Well, as I said, it was a slow week for Japan-only gaming news. There was lots of stuff on games that will most likely get international releases, but little in the way of newly announced titles or rare swag. C'est la vie, shikata nai, and all that. I hope everyone has had a good week. According to my girlfriend's calendar, sometime this week is daikan, which means "Great Cold." On the old lunar calendar, that's supposed to be the coldest day of the year. Traditionally, it's the 20th of January, which was nice and sunny and 50 degrees Fahrenheit the entire morning. Every day since then has been cold and cloudy and rainy, so I think the calendar missed the mark a little bit this year. We're expecting snow this weekend. Yay.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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