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Amparo Bertram

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05:33 pm: Geography, the quick version
For those wondering where I am in relation to the earthquakes that hit Niigata...or even just where I am in general...I put together a simple map with some landmarks.



Niigata Prefecture is in the northern part of Honshu on the Sea of Japan side. The town I lived in as an ALT 5 years ago is Matsudai, which is right in the general vicinity of the earthquakes (just slightly southwest).

Where I am living now, Moriyama, is on the shore of Lake Biwa, just northeast of Kyoto. This whole region goes by the name "Kansai" (essentially "the West") in contrast to Tokyo, which is in a region called "Kantou" ("the East"). Kansai, and in particular Osaka, has its own dialect that sounds quite different from "normal" (Tokyo) Japanese, once you have an ear for it.

wednesday_10_00, who is mentioned here regularly, lives in Chiba, the red dot near Tokyo. melf42, my other JET friend, lives in Hiroshima Prefecture--quite a bit inland from the capital city.

Comments

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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:October 26th, 2004 03:46 am (UTC)
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! I have my own dot...? <feels irrationally happy> Wait, why does Nagasaki have a dot? Was it all just a coincidence, was your map...pre-dotted!?

I have issues with your map. I don't like the way Japan's standing up so straight. How can it be slashy with Greece? It's not very geographically accurate.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 26th, 2004 04:05 am (UTC)
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Was it all just a coincidence, was your map...pre-dotted!?

I had to use red instead of black for the cities that would otherwise have gotten lost in the coastline. ^_^;

You should have seen how huge the picture was to begin with. I had to shave off a bunch of little islands to make it smaller. Imagine how big the picture would be if I had it on a slant the way it's supposed to be... (Japanese maps never run north-south anyway, so if anything I'm being true to tradition. :-P)
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:October 26th, 2004 05:01 am (UTC)
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I'm being confusing again...-_-;; (I make sense in my own head, really I do...)

I meant, why was Nagasaki on the map at all...just because it's a Japanese city people might know? Or is there some significance to it? And, in a completely unrelated question, what's the signifcance of the starred cities?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 26th, 2004 01:34 pm (UTC)
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I meant, why was Nagasaki on the map at all...just because it's a Japanese city people might know?

That...plus Kyushu was looking lonely without any dots. I felt really sorry for Shikoku, but I honestly couldn't think of any landmarks there.

And, in a completely unrelated question, what's the signifcance of the starred cities?

Those are the Really Big Cities. But then the star got to be hard to use, particularly near the coastline, so I stopped with those four.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:October 26th, 2004 05:25 pm (UTC)
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That...plus Kyushu was looking lonely without any dots. I felt really sorry for Shikoku, but I honestly couldn't think of any landmarks there.
...Naruto? (Not that that would mean anything to most people.)

Those are the Really Big Cities. But then the star got to be hard to use, particularly near the coastline, so I stopped with those four.
I see. I was trying to figure out if they were capitals, but then Hiroshima was a normal dot, and...well. (Not that Kyoto and Osaka would really be considered "capitals" anyway...)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 28th, 2004 02:53 am (UTC)
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Shikoku no longer feels so left out.
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:October 26th, 2004 06:57 am (UTC)
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Cool, thanks for the map!! I've been trying to locate the towns of some of my Japanese LJ correspondents since the earthquake, but I really wasn't sure where a lot of people were. I feel more informed now. :-)

I didn't know you were in the Kansai region. Do you find that it influences the Japanese you speak? (For a while when I lived in England, I was starting to pick up a Yorkshire accent from friends even though I was living in Oxford. My English friends said it sounded pretty funny, because I had a mix of British and American consonants and vowels. ^-^)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 26th, 2004 01:45 pm (UTC)
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Do you find that it influences the Japanese you speak?

A) I don't speak often enough to be influenced much. Since I'm an English teacher, I'm expected to use English with the students at all times, and generally with the other English teachers as well. Since I rarely speak to anyone else, unless I absolutely have to, I don't get a lot of speaking practice.

B) Even if I did speak more, I'd be afraid to try using Kansai-ben. For one thing, the listener would get an odd impression. Kansai-ben/Osaka-ben has some stereotypes about it (example: anyone from Osaka is supposed to be a natural comedian), and a foreigner speaking it would throw the listener for a loop. (My cousin lived near Osaka and wrote email to me using Osaka-ben...when I told this to a Japanese person who had known him previously, she said, "Ah, my image of him as being cool has just crumbled!") For another thing, the changes that make up the dialect are not just vocabulary and pronunciation, they extend as far as different verb conjugations. I'd never be able to keep it all straight in my head at the speed required for speaking.
[User Picture]
From:nitasee
Date:October 26th, 2004 09:48 am (UTC)
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With the damage that earthquake did, I figured you'd mention it if effected you. Thankfully it didn't.

I'm glad you posted the map. It an idea where you are in relation to what I know (very little) about Japan's geography. Just to show my ignorance, I've heard of the Kantou and Kansai regions but never was clear where they were. Thanks for the explaination.

I've heard about the Osaka dialect being quite different. My understanding is that it's truly a dialect not just an accent in that even many of the words are different. (-han instead of -san is the example I've often heard.) How true is that? Was it hard for you, as a foreigner, to pick it up?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 26th, 2004 02:03 pm (UTC)
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My understanding is that it's truly a dialect not just an accent in that even many of the words are different.

They are. There are simple vocabulary substitutions--for example, honma in place of hontou, or ooki ni in place of arigatou. (Some of these words, like metcha instead of totemo, catch on and become popular nationwide.) When insulting someone, a Kansai-ben speaker will always use aho or doaho instead of the usual baka.

The intonation pattern is different...though it's really tough to explain without a live demonstration. Kansai-ben is also more nasal, helped by the fact that the sentence ending da changes into ya, and there is an extra sentence-ender nen )that I have absolutely no clue how to use properly).

Verb conjugations are also different. The negative is especially noticable. Where a Tokyo person would say dekinai, a Kansai-ben speaker will say dekehen or even you dekin. Then there's an extra -haru verb ending that I believe is keigo (polite). Where a Tokyo person might say Sensei ga iimashita/osshatta, a Kansai-ben person would say Sensei ga iihatta. (...I think. I'm still not entirely sure about this one. Keigo is a really huge weak point for me.)

Then there's the wa at the ends of sentences. In regular Tokyo Japanese, this is used mainly by women as emphasis...though you do occasionally hear guys say it in limited circumstances. In Kansai, though, guys say wa at the ends of sentences all the time. It's really weird to hear; if you don't do it exactly right, it would be a big flashing signal that you're gay.

Was it hard for you, as a foreigner, to pick it up?

The -haru ending stumped me for a while. Most of the other things I had read in manga often enough that hearing it every day is more like "cool...people really do talk like that..." than confusing.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:October 27th, 2004 07:54 am (UTC)
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Then there's an extra -haru verb ending that I believe is keigo (polite). Where a Tokyo person might say Sensei ga iimashita/osshatta, a Kansai-ben person would say Sensei ga iihatta. (...I think. I'm still not entirely sure about this one. Keigo is a really huge weak point for me.)
Is this 言い張る? Or different?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 27th, 2004 02:18 pm (UTC)
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I don't know if there's a kanji for it, but it can be tacked on the end of any verb. So you can get kiharu for kimasu and iharu for imasu and so on.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:October 27th, 2004 05:15 pm (UTC)
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...Guess it's different then. I haven't ever noticed that ending before (other than iiharu, I mean). But we all know how observant I am. -_-;
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:October 27th, 2004 08:56 pm (UTC)
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It's used in the novel I'm reading right now...but I don't think I've ever noticed it before. (Maybe Heiji doesn't use a lot of keigo?) And it may also be that Kansai-ben/Osaka-ben characters are written by Kantou authors, so they may be shaky on the particulars themselves.
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