Why is a painkiller called “Eve”?

In Japanese, that name has the same pronunciation as the first two syllables of “ibuprofen”, which is what it is

So, not because it is especially designed for women as I thought. Took me an unbelievably long time to work that one out- sorry if it is obvious to everyone else in Japan!

Why does NHK call the Korean language “hangul”?

…ハングル being, properly, only the name of the Korean alphabet.

 “There is no politically neutral way of describing the Korean language in Japanese, and NHK feared criticism from South-leaning Koreans if it described the language as Chosen-go… or from North-leaning Koreans if it called it Kankoku-go…” Read the rest of this entry »

Why do many yakiniku restaurants boast of their tripe?

Horumon (ホルモン) being the sign that proudly displays the posibility of grilling lungs.

“Yakiniku cuisine was invented by Zainichi Koreans shortly after the war, initially as a way of making the internal organs of cows more appetizing at a time when widespread poverty meant that most people could not afford more expensive kinds of meat”  Read the rest of this entry »

Why does cucumber sushi have the special name “kappa maki”?

A kappa is a strange and interesting Japanese monster that really likes cucumbers (“maki” just means “wrap”). This also explains why some of my students think it is funny that foreigners use that name in English, I think, as it is a quite idiomatic nickname that has become standard.

Why are the Japanese names for North and South Korea so different?

Kita Chosen (北朝鮮) is supposed to be just a geographical name, and therefore to save giving the North Korean government the same legitimacy as the “Country of Koreans” (韓国 – Kankoku) in the South

Why is barber almost always written as two words?

Often with capitals to make the division even clearer – “Bar Ber”. The only possible suggestion my imagination offers is that they used to have the word on the turning red and white pole things so that half of it appeared at one time, and that eventually transferred to the normal shop fronts??

Sorry about the lack of recent posts

This was due to a general slump in interest about Japan linked to really getting into reading and writing about TEFL teaching (www.tefl.net/alexcase), followed by something really odd happening to my WordPress dashboard just when I wanted to start posting again. Anyone know what is up with WordPress? Yet another example of even them not understanding what having both categories and tags is supposed to achieve?