A (not very) sarcastic conversation in Japanese

A: Yeah right, like there’s NO sarcasm in Japanese.
B: Yes, that’s right. There’s no such thing as sarcasm in Japanese.
A: Yeah, like NOBODY is sarcastic in ALL of Japan.
B: You can say that.
A: And that’s because you know EVERYBODY in Japan, right?
B: Well no, but Japanese doesn’t really have the capability for sarcasm. There isn’t even really a word for it in Japanese.”
A: Yeah, Japanese like totally can’t express even the CONCEPT of sarcasm.
B: Well, the closest thing I can think of is saying 「はい、はい」 to be dismissive instead of being agreeable.
A: And you know EVERYTHING about Japanese.
B: Are you trying to be sarcastic?
A: I dunno. I thought I was just speaking randomly in all caps for no reason.

You can translate this back into Japanese for fun times!

A (late) intro to the original 電車男

I was looking through my old blog for fun and ran into a post about 電車男. Though the post is over 2 years old and the height of 電車男’s popularity is long past, the original story (with some commentary) as it unfolded in the 2ch BBS is archived and still around for anybody to read for free (on a geocities account no less).

If you’re not familiar with the immensely popular 2ちゃんねる BBS, it’s basically an non-threaded forum where everybody posts anonymously. There are no “fancy” features like registration and passwords. You can put whatever name you want, so most times, you have no idea who is saying what. This and the crappy UI from the 90s makes for an experience I’d like to call “craptastic”. Fortunately, the archived version of the original content has been edited and neatly organized for us.

In this post, I’ll take a quick sneak peek of the beginning to introduce you to the story. Before you decide to read it for yourself, I should warn you that it’s full of internet slang that would probably be useless anywhere except… the internet. Ok then, let’s look at the first section!

Mission.1 めしどこかたのむ

731 名前:Mr.名無しさん 投稿日:04/03/14 21:25



It begins with a cryptic message from Nameless-san on a random thread in March 2004. It’s impossible to know what he’s talking about without the previous messages but we can discern that he betrayed something somehow (裏ぐる is apparently internet typo/slang for 裏切る). The commentator helpfully adds that it was just an “ordinary thread with nothing special” anyhow.


His first message saying he can’t say how he betrayed [whatever] because he has not talent in literature gets people wondering what happened. One person asks whether he got a girlfriend. He replies no but it’s a big chance. He’s obviously flustered because he then retracts his earlier statement and says he needs to calm down.

733 名前:Mr.名無しさん 投稿日:04/03/14 21:28


734 名前:Mr.名無しさん 投稿日:04/03/14 21:28


737 名前:Mr.名無しさん 投稿日:04/03/14 21:33


738 名前:Mr.名無しさん 投稿日:04/03/14 21:35

ごめん。よく考えたら大チャンスじゃなかった…_| ̄|○

Finally, somebody tells him to give all the details. キボン is internet slang for 希望.

739 名前:Mr.名無しさん 投稿日:04/03/14 21:36


  詳 細 キ ボ ン

Finally, he reluctantly agrees to write about what happened. Because he has been only 「ロムる」ing, meaning “Read-Only Member” or what we call a “lurker”, he asks that he not be laughed at.

740 名前:731 投稿日:04/03/14 21:38


At this point, he isn’t even known as 電車 and is writing as 731, the number of his first post (remember they’re all anonymous).
Here’s how the story begins.

749 名前:731 投稿日:04/03/14 21:55





766 名前:731 投稿日:04/03/14 22:23




772 名前:731 投稿日:04/03/14 22:37



もっと気の利いたこと言えよ俺。_| ̄|○

疲れた…_| ̄|○

Whew! And that’s how he first met the person we’ll only ever know as エルメス. I think that’s enough for now so I’ll end it here. But to sum up, at the end of the incident she asks him for his address and later sends him a thank-you gift for his braveness and chivalry. More importantly, the receipt for the delivery has her number on it! What will you do 電車?!!


I think it’s really cool that parts of the original threads are still available for free online especially since I believe there’s a book out as well. If you don’t mind weeding through internet slang and banter, I’m sure there’s a lot of good primary reading material here. Otherwise, be sure to check out the drama and/or movie. I haven’t watched the movie but the drama was pretty good. They sure did pick a nerdy guy for the main character.

電車男 is one of those perfect nerd fantasies where the main character meets a beautiful women in a chance encounter and through luck and perseverance ends up 「ゲットする」ing the girl. What makes this story special is that it was originally told on an internet forum and with input from regular netizens along the way. Plus, it’s real as far as I know. I think we’re all curious about what エルメス looks like!

In addition, the time and effort people put into cheering 電車 on is very touching. The graphics are simply amazing as well! Who says you need fancy features like image uploads or BB code?!

Let me know what’s going on now!

Japan is a country where everybody goes from one crazy fad to the next such as ヨン様 (ugh…), Hard Gay, and 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱. 電車男 was certainly a media phenomenon in its day spawning a book, movie, drama, manga, and even appearing in theater.

I haven’t been in Japan in over a year and I’m a bit out of touch so please let me know about any new fads going on!

And then… (scroll… scroll… scroll…) …never mind

Japanese blogs are good reading practice if you can find some interesting ones.
Most share some unique characteristics.
I don’t know who wrote the rules of Japanese blogging…
…but you have to use the “Enter” key a lot.
The writing tends to be kind of aimless as well.
I think celebrity blogs are probably the biggest in Japan.
If you’re an attractive celebrity who also happens to be an オタク geek like しょこたん, you’re bound to get a huge following of fantasizing geeks.
It’s like the ultimate fantasy.
Sometimes, I wish I was a hot, geeky celebrity. Then my blog would be popular.
But I don’t want geeky, fantasizing fans. Yuck! \(≧≦)/
Oh yeah, don’t forget to use lots of cute smileys.
Here’s another one:
( ^ー゚)bグッ! All right! (Pat myself on the back!)
There’s one more crucial aspect to writing a Japanese blog…

Frickin’ make you scroll forever to see what comes next!!!
It’s supposed to build suspense but it’s…
SO ANNOYING! \(*><)/
I enjoy a number of Japanese blogs like うまのホネ.
For instance, one of her posts is about strategies for milking herself reserves for the baby so that she can drink alcohol.
That’s my kind of wife!
Another one I enjoy is by yet another hot, (kinda) geeky celebrity: 眞鍋かをり.
You can tell she’s geeky from the following excerpt:


That won’t make any sense unless you’ve read Slam Dunk, which I think is one of the first steps to becoming a geek.
Of course, I have read all 31 volumes. <(`ー´)>
Those are supposed to be arms tucked smugly behind my head, in case you didn’t get it.
This next blog is so popular, they made a drama of it and a PSP game: 鬼嫁日記.
13 millions hits on the counter! (゜_゜;)
It’s very funny but has lots of scrolling. (;´ヘ`) はぁ~
Tell me your favorite Japanese blogs in the comments!
Next time, I’ll try writing a real Japanese blog post in real Japanese!

Mo’ Moe!

「秋葉」 used to be Tokyo’s biggest electronic district. I say, “used to” because it has been steadily turning into something shadier over the years.

「秋葉」(short for 「秋葉原」) is pretty much a geek’s paradise. There are all sorts of games and electronic stores including the massive 「ヨドバシカメラ」, which was newly built not too long ago.

Well, it turns out that there are two different categories of geeks: the technology geek and the creepy geek. 秋葉 used to be for the technology geeks, guys who were into gadgets, software, and hardware. But it turns out many geeks have interests in another realm, which I can only describe as “shady”.

I go through 秋葉 everyday on my commute but I decided to take my commuter’s pass, go over there on a weekend, and actually look around and explore the neighborhood. What I found out was that probably about half of the businesses there now cater to the “dark side” of the geek population.

First of all, there were mountains of porn. What looked like perfectly normal stores would suddenly have a whole floor for porn. Some stores had a whole floor just for animated porn. Scratch that, some stores were for animated porn! You can’t find this kind of selection for this type of stuff anywhere else in the world. (Incidentally, just to be clear, I didn’t actually look around or purchase anything. In fact, I didn’t even go inside, I could pretty much tell what it was from the staircase. Just to be clear.)

Besides the monumental amount of porn, 秋葉 is increasingly turning more fetish-like. I can’t explain this any better than saying one word: 「萌え」. 「萌え」 is kind of like “ubuntu” in that it represents a whole concept and therefore doesn’t have any specific definition. The similarity totally ends there though. Let’s see what we can find out about this word on the net.

(If you want to learn more about 「萌え」, you can also check out the Japanese wikipedia entry on 「萌え」. It’s so extensive, it’s practically a research paper.)


(from はてな)

「なぜか萌え=メイドさん」 Ahh yes, the maids. As a fellow male, I just cannot understand the attraction of maids. I mean, these maid costumes completely cover the body with layers and layers of clothing. Yawn. And yet 秋葉 has totally been taken over by maid cafes, called 「メード喫茶」, for reasons beyond my comprehension. Let’s take a look at this list of maid cafes. CURE MAID CAFE in 秋葉原、ひよこ家 in 秋葉原、Cafe Mai:lish… 秋葉原、Cos-Cha hmm… 秋葉原? 秋葉原 isn’t even that big a place but I bet the list doesn’t even come close to covering all the maid cafes in 秋葉原.

Cuter without the maid costume?
(from Cafe Mai:lish)

Worse, the maids have started branching into other industries such as 萌バーガー, a burger shop and even a hair salon called moesham. (Notice the use of 「萌え」 in both store names)

The 萌え phenomenon and 2ちゃんねる* have spawned a new class of vocabulary. My favorite is 「ツンデレ」, which comes from 「ツンツン」 and 「デレデレ」. I love it because, Yahoo, of all the places, has the funniest definition ever.

ツンデレ (つんでれ)

(from Yahoo!辞書)

Basically, 「ツンデレ」 characterizes a common manga/anime female character who is aloof and cold (ツンツン) but becomes all lovey-dovey (デレデレ) when she is alone with the boy she likes. The definition above explains it much better though. The last sentence is the best because it’s worded so seriously and yet is a total smackdown on the オタク nerds who have no real chance with such a girl.

I’ve actually heard rumors of 「ツンデレ・カフェ」. Apparently there was a 「ツンデレ・イベント」 this March. I guess the maids are rude when you walk in and nice when you leave? Hmm… might be the next big thing.


I’m going to conclude here, now that I’ve managed to brilliantly turn this into a language lesson. So I’ll just put this into the “Vocabulary” category and end yet another educational post. (What? You didn’t realize that the whole point of this post was to explore the exciting Japanese language?) I’m not entirely sure if it is appropriate for the “Culture” category though.


*2ちゃんねる is basically the most poorly designed BBS in the history of the world. I mean, I tried using it once but had to stop because the user interface induced me into a temporary coma. The popularity of this website is yet another mystery I’ll never understand.

Going to Hanami

Well, spring has arrived and the cherry blossoms have started blooming. The bloom this years has been quite late so it looks like this weekend is going to be the time to go see them. (At least for us Tokyo denizens) So let’s take a look at some expressions and vocabulary you might find useful for this time of year.

花見 – Hanami
Well, the first key word to remember is 花見(はなみ) which is the tradition of going out to parks or whatnot to see the cherry blossoms called 桜(さくら). The cherry blossoms bloom only once a year so this is quite an event.

– Go to see cherry blossom.

You may be aware that 花見 is not just about taking a stroll in the park. It usually involves grabbing a spot to gather, chat, and drink alcohol. Famous parks like 上野公園(うえのこうえん) get so crowded this time of year that people often head out very early in the morning to grab a good spot for their group. Since the beginning of April is when most companies hire new graduates, the new hires are sometimes given the task of grabbing and holding a good spot for the rest of the employees should the company decided to do 花見. As an event, you can also “do” 花見 as seen below. In fact, either going or doing is acceptable.

– Do Hanami.

Like many other festivals and traditions, you can also decide to attach the honorific 「お」 to the front of 「花見」 to get 「お花見」.

– Let’s go to Hanami!

– Want to do Hanami!

While people usually go see 桜 during the day, other also like to go see them during the night in the backdrop of city lights called 「夜桜」(よざくら)

– Cherry blossoms are very pretty at night.

You might want to check whether the cherry blossoms are actually blooming at the park you’re heading to by checking out a site like this one.

  1. つぼみ – buds
  2. 咲き始め(さきはじめ) – staring to bloom
  3. N分咲き – degree of bloom ranging from 1 (least) to 9 (most)
  4. 満開(まんかい) – full bloom

Personally, I’m thinking of checking out 井の頭公園. Apparently you can walk there from 吉祥寺, which is a cool little town for shopping accessible from the JR中央線. Why? Because this site lists it with the maximum 5 hearts as a romantic date spot!