It's about time...

Good morning everyone!

It's looking like it's going to be a gray day out there today. We can expect some rain overnight and then to continue most of tomorrow before turning back to mostly sunny for the rest of the week. Tomorrow is looking at a high of 19C and the rest of the week will see highs in the low 20s.

The season for sakura-flavored treats in Japan may be over for the year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of other new yummy treats to try out there — like the McShake Kiwi that will be on sale from McDonald’s Japan starting April 26 this week.

While there have been numerous McShake flavors offered over the years, this is the first kiwi-flavored shake that McDonald’s Japan has come out with, and they’ve used fully-ripe kiwis from Ehime Prefecture located on the island of Shikoku.

Ehime is the largest kiwi producing prefecture in Japan, and they’ve used only select kiwi fruits with high sugar content to make the shake, so you can be sure that you’re in for  a sweet treat!

They’ve actually started offering the shake in Ehime starting April 21, ahead of the rest of the country so if you're in or off to Ehime you can try it before the rest of us...

They’ve also shared on their news release page some images from the TV commercial set to start airing very soon.

▼ Mmmm… that kiwi smoothness looks delectable!

The McShake Kiwi will be available at McDonald’s locations across Japan starting April 26 until mid-May at a price of 120 yen for a small cup and 200 yen for a medium-sized cup.

The tangy flavor of kiwi should make for a refreshing shake, and combined with the lovely green color, the McShake Kiwi should be a delightful way to quench your thirst as the weather becomes warmer. But it's too early! I still haven't had a chance to try the Cherry Pie drink at Starbucks yet! Ha ha! I'd better go to Starbucks today on the way home from work and then I'll go to McDonald's tomorrow...I'll let you know later this week which one is worth actually trying out.

Have a great day!

Are you a virgin-killer?

Good morning everyone!

Well, will it rain on Wednesday? It still looks like it will, but who knows? They are still saying that we can expect highs all week around 20C or so and mostly nice weather will last till the middle of the week.

Have you heard of the 'virgin-killing sweater'? Apparently, it's so sexy and revealing that if a virgin guy sees a woman wearing one, he'll die from a heart attack. Although, when I saw the pictures, I would guess that it would probably work on fathers if they saw their daughters wearing these sweaters too. Roughly two months after discovering the “virgin-killing sweater,” Japan’s fascination with the revealing garment is as strong as ever. Helping to extend its time in the spotlight are the numerous cosplayers and models, of both genders, who have taken to sharing photos of themselves wearing the sweater, which have been met with much appreciation from those who didn’t collapse and die from the excitement of so much exposed flesh.

▼ Popular model Jun Amaki wearing the virgin-killing sweater

But while the virgin-killing sweater has struck a chord with Japanese fans of fashion and/or breasts, the earliest example came from China, and had to be ordered through Chinese online marketplace Taobao. But, fear not those of us who are living in Japan!  Japanese novelty retailer Village Vanguard  recently let Japanese shoppers know that it would begin selling Taobao’s virgin-killing sweater through its online shop.

▼ The virgin-killing sweater, as seen on Village Vanguard’s website

Priced at 5,000 yen, Village Vanguard’s virgin-killing sweater isn’t prohibitively expensive, but the bigger question was whether or not the minimal coverage of the sweater might lead to limited sales-everyone knows Japanese women are too shy for that sweater, right? Wrong! That turned out to not be a problem at all, though. Word came that Village Vanguard would be selling the sweater on March 23, and on the very next day, March 24, the online store’s stock was already sold out.

Not wanting to leave its customers’ fashion needs unfulfilled, Village Vanguard says it will be restocking the sweaters. As such, shoppers can’t currently place an order for the item through Village Vanguard’ site, but they can request an email notification of when new shipments come. There’s no indication of when said shipments will come in, but considering how quickly the first batch sold out, interested shoppers who are timid about placing an order once the restock becomes available may be left without one of the bold sweaters once again-and this time in a variety of colors, you know, just in case you wanted to wear those sweaters every day...I might get one for myself...ha ha!

Have a great day!

Details about the Emperor's abdication decided on

Good morning everyone!

There's still no real change expected in the weather over the next little while. We can expect mostly sunny weather to continue till Wednesday, when they are calling for a chance of rain. Highs for the whole week will continue to be in the low 20s.

A government advisory panel finalized Friday its proposals on Emperor Akihito's abdication including one-off legislation enabling the 83-year-old to become the first living emperor to relinquish the throne in around 200 years.

Reflecting the proposal and an agreement reached last month by Diet members, the government will craft a bill applying only to the present emperor and submit it to the parliament possibly as early as May 19 so it can be passed during the current Diet session through June 18.

The government plans to allow the emperor to abdicate on the day the law enters into force, within three years after it is promulgated, the sources said. Crown Prince Naruhito, 57, will succeed to the Chrysanthemum throne.

The government has already started negotiations behind the scenes with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior collation partner Komeito as well as the main opposition Democratic Party, showing them the outline of the bill, mirroring the government's aim to have the bill passed in a smooth manner by forming a prior consensus.

Debate under the government-commissioned panel began last October, two months after the emperor, citing his age, signaled his wish to relinquish and hand over the throne to the crown prince.

The panel suggested using the title of "joko" for Emperor Akihito after his abdication. "Joko" is an abbreviation of "daijo tenno," a title that was given in the past to an abdicated emperor.

For the 82-year-old empress, the panel suggested creating a new title, "jokogo," which means "wife of joko."

The panel also recommended the emperor give up all of his duties conducted as a symbol of the state but suggested the continued use of "heika," which means "Your Majesty" as their honorific title. It also proposed the establishment of a new office to support the couple.

With regard to concerns over a possible dual power structure between a retired emperor and reigning emperor, the panel judged it is appropriate for the present emperor to hand over all of his duties to his son.

Regarding the title of Prince Akishino, the second son of the imperial couple, the council did not see the need for a new one, as it has been used and widely accepted for nearly 30 years.

However, it indicated some options, such as "koshi denka," "Akishinonomiya Koshi Denka" or "Koshi Akishinonomiya Denka." "Koshi" means the one who is first in line to the throne and "denka" stands for "highness." The 51-year-old will become the first in line to the throne after the crown prince ascends to the throne.

In light of his new role, the report suggested a threefold increase in the annual budget allocation for the private expenses of Prince Akishino. Currently, 30.5 million yen ($279,000) is allocated to him based on the Imperial Economy Law.

Against the backdrop of a decline in the number of imperial family members, the report highlighted the need to take measures to reverse the trend but did not suggest any concrete steps.

How to legalize the emperor's abdication has been debated by the six-member panel chaired by Takashi Imai, honorary chairman of the Japan Business Federation, as only posthumous succession is allowed currently, as the Imperial House Law lacks a provision regarding abdication and only allows succession following the death of an emperor.

While the timing of the abdication has not been formally decided, the government is considering December 2018, apparently having in mind the emperor's 85th birthday on Dec. 23 that year, government sources have said.

Have a great day!

These new sauces might blow my diet...

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be another nice day out there, in fact-up until Wednesday, we can expect mostly sunny skies and daytime highs in the low 20s. Wednesday is looking like it might rain and then it'll turn nice again for Thursday.

McDonald’s has been catering to the local market in Japan with a number of exclusive menu items over the years, with customers lining up for limited-edition delights like Full Moon Cheese Tsukimi Burgers and sakura cherry blossom-flavoured McFlurries.

Last year, McDonald’s even offered up an 18-karat gold nugget prize to Chicken McNugget customers and introduced a yellow-suited character called the “Phantom Nugget Thief” as part of the campaign. This year. the Nugget Thief is back again, and now he’s brought his son along for the festivities, with the two joining forces to promote a new “parent-and-child” sauce set featuring the traditional Japanese flavours of wasabi and teriyaki.

Check out the “Phantom Nugget Thief” and his son, “Tiny Phantom Nugget Thief” promoting the new sauce set:

The Otona Wasabi Mayo (Adult Wasabi Mayo) sauce is said to contain the invigorating taste of Japanese horseradish, mellowed out with a slight sweetness thanks to the addition of mayonnaise. While there’s a slight kick to the sauce that adults will love, it’s mild enough to be enjoyed by children too.

The Wanpaku Teriyaki Mayo (Naughty Teriyaki Mayo) sauce is a combination of creamy mayonnaise and rich, sweet teriyaki flavours. It’s said to be a familiar taste for local customers, as Japanese dishes like shogayaki (grilled pork and ginger) are often served with a mix of soy sauce and mayonnaise toppings.

The new sauce set will be available with any Chicken McNugget purchase during the campaign period, but as an extra special treat, McDonald’s will be selling 15-piece boxes with the two sauces for 390 yen, which is 30 percent cheaper than the usual retail price.

The two new sauces will only be available for a short time, from 26 April to 16 May, which also covers the Golden Week holiday period in Japan; a prime time for parents and children to be enjoying meals together while out and about on short trips around the country. Or for bored English teachers to kill time...between these nuggets and the Cherry Pie Frappuccino at Starbucks, I might weigh 90kgs by the time Golden Week is finished...ha ha!

Have a great day!

Now, that's a mouthful...

Good morning everyone,

There's no real change in the forecast-we're going to continue to see daytime highs hover in the low 20s and a mix of sun and clouds over the next few days.

What exactly is a kanji reading anyway? If you’ve studied Japanese then you know that most kanji have at least two readings: the Chinese reading and the Japanese reading. Take the kanji for “to eat” for instance (食). Its Chinese reading is shoku (which comes from shi in Chinese), and its Japanese reading is taberu (which is how you say “to eat” in Japanese).

But would something like, say, kuchi ni ireru (“to put in your mouth”) be a reading for that kanji? Probably not; that’s just a definition of the kanji, not a reading for it. That’d be like reading the abbreviation “etc.” as “there are other similar things but I’d rather not list them” instead of just “et cetera.”

The reason I’m going into all of this linguistic babble is because separating readings of kanji from definitions of kanji can sometimes be kind of hard. In fact, considering the tens of thousands of kanji in existence, it’s too hard a job for me, and I’ve decided to defer the responsibility to one of the most trusted sources for all things kanji: the Morohashi Daikanwa Jiten, a twelve-plus volume behemoth of a dictionary that contains over 50,000 kanji.

So with all that out of the way, today we’re counting down the top five kanji with the longest readings. If the Morohashi dictionary says it’s a reading, then we’re going to take their word for it, because they have a heck of a lot more experience working with weird and obscure kanji than we ever will.

So let’s get to it! Starting off with…

Honorable Mention: The urban myths

The way that the Morohashi dictionary “confirms” a reading for a kanji is via the index volume (yes, the index is an entire volume… sometimes more, depending on the edition). If the kanji’s reading is in the “Japanese reading” index, then I say it’s fair game to label it a “reading.”

My library’s 15-volume Morohashi. The third and second volumes from the
right are indexes, and the last one is a supplementary volume for MOAR KANJI!

We would be remiss not to at least mention some of the kanji with absurdly long readings that come up in these online conversations, despite them not technically being “readings” by most accounts.

One such mythological kanji is this 17-syllable one: tora ga hito wo
kamou to suru unarigoe (“the growl of a tiger about to bite a person”).

But unfortunately that reading isn’t in the “reading index.” The index’s reading
for this kanji is tora no unarigoe (“growl of a tiger”), only eight syllables.

The mythological reading does show up in the kanji’s definition proper though,
so we classify it as a “definition” instead of a “reading.”

Another kanji discussed in whispers, the 15-syllable: kyuu ni tobidashite hito wo
odorokaseru koe
(“the voice of jumping out suddenly and surprising someone”).

Again, that’s a definition and not a “reading,” but I love how this kanji’s two halves
(“gate” on the left, “person” hiding on the right) come together for its meaning.

And one last thing before we go into the real list, it should go without saying that all of these are extremely rare kanji, and probably no Japanese person you show them to would be able to read them, unless they were some sort of historical kanji otaku.

#5. Walking funny

All right, so we’re out of the land of kanji tall-tales and back into the super-serious world of the Morohashi readings index.

Although there is one problem: there was a four-way tie between the next kanji on the list, as all of them have 12 syllables. So to divvy them up, I had to do apply a bit of kanji-science.

Let’s take a look at that word for “to eat” again: 食べる. It’s pronounced taberu, but the second and third characters are just phonetic hiragana. The kanji itself at the very beginning is only pronounced ta. So technically this kanji would not be a 3-syllable kanji (taberu), it would only be a 1-styllable kanji (ta),

I applied that same reasoning to the four-way tie. If these kanji were to actually be written out, based on conventions from other kanji, some of them would technically be fewer syllables. So let’s take a look at this first one, which is listed as 12 syllables but if actually written out would probably be only 8 syllables.

This character’s reading is arukikata ga tadashikunai (“the way of walking is not correct”). Seems like an accurate representation of that meaning to me.

Going on convention, that tadashikunai part of the reading is usually written like this: 正しくない. The last four characters are just phonetic hiragana, so if this kanji were ever actually written (not that that would probably ever happen, but if it did!), then we’d have to imagine the same thing would happen here, marking it down by four syllables.

So while Morohashi says that this kanji’s reading is 12 syllables long, and we will accept that without question, we will mark it down as the “shortest” of the 12-syllable kanji.

#4. Rocks and fire

While the last kanji on our list got docked by four syllables, these next two only get a small one-syllable loss. They’re still 12-syllables each, but we’ll mark them as just beneath the “pure” 12-syllable ones.

Say hello to ishi wo funde mizu wo wataru
(“step on stones and cross over water”).

The wataru part of that reading is usually written like this: 渡る. The last character there is just phonetic hiragana, so if one were to for some reason have an inkling to actually write this kanji, we’d imagine the same would happen here, technically docking the kanji’s reading by one syllable.

Again, I love this kanji’s composition: “rock” on the left, “water” on the right.
If you’re ever writing about stepping stones in Japanese, please use this!

Next us up is shiba wo taite ten wo matsuru
(“burn firewood and worship heaven/the sky”).

Same reasoning here, the final ru in matsuru would probably be hiragana.
Don’t really get why the top part is “this” and bottom is “indicate” though.

#3. Eternal illness

And now we finally get to the “pure” 12-syllable kanji, the one where – even if you were a crazy person and actually wrote it out – the entire reading would probably be contained in the single kanji.

Ironically enough the “pure” one is this sickly fellow: hisashiku naoranai
(“illness that hasn’t gotten better for a long time”).

Yamai (“illness”), the last part of that kanji’s long reading, is typically just written by itself (病) with no hiragana after it. So we’d have to imagine the same reasoning would be applied here as well, making this one super-dense kanji.

Yet again, these kanji with long readings have some really elegant components
to them: the outer part here means “sickness” and the inner means “hard.”

#2. A satisfyingly disgusting sound

The final two items on our list are also a tie at 13 syllables each. And since both of them would probably have their full readings contained within the single kanji if they were written out, we had to go with a different tie-breaker: alternative readings.

And for one of the 13-syllable kanji, if it were actually read aloud, it might have one syallable dropped, bringing it down to 12 syllables. Let’s take a look at it:

Hone to kawa to ga hanareru oto (“the sound of bone separating from skin”).
That second to isn’t 100-percent necessary, and neither is imagining that sound.

The top half likely means “abundant/plenty” and the bottom means “stone.”
Well, we were bound to run into one that didn’t make sense sooner or later!

And the kanji with the longest reading is…

1. An offering to the kanji gods

Here we are, the kanji with the longest reading according to the Morohashi dictionary. This is the other 13-syllable kanji, but unlike other tie-breakers where we’ve had to dock syllables from kanji, this one could potentially get an extra syllable depending on how it’s read, potentially bringing it up to a whopping 14 syllables.

The king of long kanji: matsuri no sonaemono no kazari
(“decoration on an offering at a festival”).

Here is the kanji’s entry in the reading index, but…

…the definition is a bit different than the reading: matsuri no sonaemono no
(“an offering of food at a festival”). The last word is one syllable longer!

So while we’re still marking this one down as 13 syllables, the extra syllable in the definition gives it the number-one spot as a tie-breaker. In fact, we’ll go ahead and say that if you were ever to actually encounter this kanji, being able to recall either reading would be more than impressive enough.

And not only that, but there’s the fact that the right-side half of this kanji means “bean,” so the reading that refers more specifically to a “food offering” does make sense!

So there you have it, the top five kanji with the longest readings. Are there any kanji with long readings that you struggle to remember?

Have a great day!