I'm in trouble now.

After three posts of trying to satisfy people with a photo of myself, now I appear to be a narcissist.
  • narcissist ナルシシスト
The problem with saying this word correctly in English is not using katakana-style pronunciation. In Japanese, it's like this: narushishisuto.
  • pronunciation - 発音
However, in English, the "sh" should be a "s". In your mouth, this is what should be happening.

When you say this, be careful to say the "cissist" part with "s" sounds, not "sh" sounds.

Some other cases where this same pronunciation matter comes up are: sister, policy, pronunciation, and symbol. Take care with any word containing "s".

So, to further demonstrate my narcissitic tendency, here's a photo of something I cooked recently! It's fried tofu and celery stir-fried in black-bean sauce (be careful about the "s" sound at the beginning of the name of this vegetable).
  • tendency - 偏向, 帰趨, テンデンシー, 風潮, 気運, 傾き, 動向, 傾向, 勢運, 勢い, 趨向,趨勢
If you have any good vegetarian recipes, I'd like to hear them. Send me email!



I've noticed an interesting phenomemon.
  •  phenomenon 象, 事相, 仮相, 事象, フェノメノン, 現象
When I post a picture to this blog, usually people don't have so many comments. However, when it's a picture of me, I get LOTS of comments.

Almost everyone has told me that the last picture was terrible. Someone said:
× Your front head is so much bigger than usual, and it's blue!
◯ Your forehead is so much bigger than usual, and it's blue!
  • forehead 額, お凸, 御凸, 前額部, 前額 (definition from Edict)
That's because there's a brain which is apparently useless for taking photos or choosing good ones behind it! No, actually it's because I took the photo myself at close distance with the bad camera in my iPhone.

Another group of people agreed that the photo was no good.

"Who's that?" one person even asked.

So they took turns taking my picture and then chose this photo. They said that looks like me.

Whew, that's a relief! Evil? Alien? Unfit for being in photos?



Someone asked me how to say 3日間の分 in English. Here's how:
3日間の分 = three day's worth
You can also say:
× a three-days supply of food
◯ a three-day supply of food
Don't use an "s" in "three-day" because usually in adjectives we use the singular form, not the plural form.

I like dark chocolate. Usually I eat an 86% cacao chocolate made by Meiji. Recently I learned that they started making a new one which is 95% cacao. That's strong chocolate! I've tried it now, and while it doesn't taste bad, it doesn't make a very good dessert. I don't really feel it's bitter, but it's just not sweet. I've eaten about six pieces of it, but I haven't really gotten used to it.
  • bitter - 苦い 
I usually ate three pieces of the 86% chocolate each day, but with this one, it's about all I can do to eat one piece a day.
  • That's about all I can do.
    私にできることはそのくらいです。(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
I still have four day's worth of chocolate.
I still have a four-day supply of chocolate
It will be a relief to finish this box so that I can back to a chocolate that's a little sweet.


「look」と「look like」の違い

The other day I started a Twitter account and put up a profile picture of myself.

Someone told me:
× You look like evil.
◯ You look evil.
Wow! "Evil" has so many possibilities in Japanese, according to Edict:
厄, 禍害, マレフィック, 厄難, 仇, 悪, イーブル, 邪, 邪悪, 凶, 悪弊, 不善
× For me, it looks like hard to learn so many kanji.
◯ For me, it looks hard to learn so many kanji.
◯ For me, it looks like it will be hard to learn so many kanji.
The rule is:
  • look + (adj)
  • look like + (n)
  • look like + (sentence)
So, how about that? See?! I'm not evil! Pale, yes. Too lazy to shave, yes. Evil, no.
  • pale complexion 《a ~》青白い顔色 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)



You probably know that I'm a vegetarian. Because of that, eating out in Tokyo is hard. Everywhere, dishes usually contain at least bonita soup base, if not bits of ham, soup stock made from chicken, or something else.
  • bonita soup base = だし
  •  soup stock 出汁 だし (from jmdict)
One type of place that I can often find something to eat at is macrobiotic restaurants.

Eijiro on the Web says this:
  • macrobiotic

    1. マクロビオティックの、長寿食{ちょうじゅ しょく}の、健康食{けんこう しょく}の、 自然食{しぜんしょく}
    2. 長寿{ちょう じゅ}の、長命{ちょうめい}の、寿命{じゅ みょう}を延ばす
  • macrobiotic diet

    長寿食{ちょうじゅ しょく}
There's more on macrobiotic diets here:
It's a shame that this restaurant in Tokyo made the effort to make this English brochure, but then didn't check the spelling in the headline well enough.
× What is macrobiotic cookign?
◯ What is macrobiotic cooking?
A simple spell-checker would have caught this mistake. Don't do the same thing in your writing!


Happy 2010! +「obvious」と「oblivious」の違い

On behalf of my neighbors, I'd like to wish you all a happy 2010.
  • on behalf of 為に ために
"But Renick," you might say, "it's May, not January 1st!"

You are right. It is obvious that it's no longer New Years. Since my neighbors seem to be oblivious of that fact, I'll go head and give you this second New Year's best wishes. They have had this decoration on their door since a bit before January 1st.
  • (definitions from Edict) 
  •  一目瞭然 (いちもくりょうぜん) (adj-na,n) apparent; obvious; very clear; 
  • 自明 (じめい) (adj-na,adj-no,n) obvious; self-evident; axiomatic; self-explanatory; (P); 
  • 分かり切った (わかりきった) obvious; undeniable; 
  • 明白 (めいはく) (adj-na,n) (uk) obvious; overt; plainly; frankly; (P); 
  • oblivious of 忘れがち 忘れ勝ち わすれがち (from jmdict)
Before, I thought they were just busy:
Then I thought maybe they were dead inside the apartment, but I've recently seen both a younger woman and an older woman enter the apartment. Since it is so easy to remove the decoration, it seems obvious that they just LOVE that decoration and the holiday spirit.

Why not, I suppose? Maybe having a festive attitude all year is good for you.
  • festive 祝祭{しゅく さい}の、祭日{さいじつ}の、お祝いの (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
Be careful about the slight difference in spelling between these two words. Even though they look similar, the meanings are really different.

And happy 2010!


"アニバーサリー" のスペリングを教えてください

Here is a simple mistake I hear all too often.

X "What spell "アニバーサリー?""
O "How do you spell アニバーサリー?

This week we are celebrating our 3rd year anniversary. Yeah!!! Nick and I would like to thank all of you who have chosen to study with us. We are looking forward to teaching you the next three.

There more kanji characters out there than I will ever know. Mastering kanji (especially writing them correctly) seems like an insurmountable task. English on the other hand has only twenty-six letters in the alphabet. One would assume that writing English correctly is easy right? Let's put that t-h-e-o-r-y to a test. I have chosen 12 random words (some easy as cake, some painfully challenging). For each one I have written the Japanese translation and its phonetic sound in English. Your task is to simply chose the correct spelling. Ready?

1. 外国人--fɔ'ːrər--フォーリナー
A. foreigner
B. foreinger
C. foreinner

2. 千年間◆始まりから終わりまでが1000年である場合を指すことが多い--mile'niəm
A. milenium
B. millenium
C. millennium

ジョニー さん
A. Johnny-san
B. Jhonny-san
C. Jonny-san

4. アニバーサリー, æ`nivə'ːrsəri
A. annivarsary
B. aniversary
C. anniversary

5. 物理学者、自然科学者, フィズィスィスト, fi'zisist,

Albert Einstein was a
A. physisist
B. phycicist
C. physicist

6. 百科事典, エンサイクロペディア, ensa`ikləpi'ːdiə
A. encyclopedia
B. encyclopedea
C. encyclopidea

7. 疲れ、疲労、けん怠感, ファティーグ, fəti'ːg
A. fatigae
B. fetigae
C. fatigue

8. 地中海の、地中海沿岸の、地中海人種の、陸地に囲まれた
A. Meditteranean
B. Medeeterranean
C. Mediterranean

9. 不器用な、ぎこちない、不格好な、ぶざまな, 間が悪い、ばつの悪い、きまりが悪い、気まずい、場違いの、落ち着かない, 扱いにくい、やりにくい、厄介{やっかい}な, ɔ'ːkwərd,
A. okward
B. aokward
C. awkward

10. 痰唾, fle'm
A. phlem
B. phlegm
C. flemm

11. 素晴らしい、すごい、最高の、見事な、いけてる,
A. awesome
B. awsome
C. owsome

12. 時々、たまに(は)、ちょくちょく、時たま、時折、折に触れて◆40%くらいの頻度, əke'iʒənəli
A. ocasionaly
B. ocassionally
C. occasionally

If you get
all 12 correctly, I owe you a cup 'a koffii!

Useful vocabulary
Insurmountable- 打ち勝つことができない、克服{こくふく}できない、乗り越えられない



I've been enjoying a bit of time off during Golden Week. On Sunday, I went to Superdeluxe in Roppongi on Sunday to see free improvisation.
  •  improvisation 【名】(definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • インプロビゼーション、即興{そっきょう}、アドリブ、即席{そくせき}(に作った もの)、行き当たりばったりでやること◆【略】improv
This show had a lot of performers, including two drummers, one percussionist, two reed players, and one tuba player. Sometimes all of them played together, and sometimes they played in smaller ensembles.
  • ensemble (definition from Eijiro on the Web)〈フランス語〉《音楽》アンサンブル、合唱曲{がっしょうきょく}、合奏曲{がっそう きょく}、合唱団{がっしょうだん}、合奏 団{がっそうだん}◆比較的小規模の編成で、メンバーがそれぞれ同等の働きをするものを指す
For me, the most interesting part was a duet between one sax player and one drummer.

I've gotten more interested in improvised music and gotten less interested in rock as I get older.

"Get" means "become", but it must be used with an adjective.
× I've got a saleswoman.
◯ I've become a saleswoman.
Now I'm getting sleepy. Good night!


Hello! I'm not dead!

I've just been burning the candle at both ends on lots of other work!
  • burn the candle at both ends (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
    昼も夜も忙しい生活{せいかつ}をする、朝から晩まで忙しく動き回る、無理{むり}なことをして体力{たいりょく}[精力{せいりょく}]を使い果たす◆【直訳】ろうそくの 両端に火をつける
    ・I will have to burn the candle at both ends to finish this by the deadline. : これを締め切りまでに終わらせるためには、朝早くから夜遅くまで働かなければならないだろう。
    ・You cannot burn the candle at both ends. : 同時に逆のことをすることはできない。
One thing that I've just started is a Twitter account. Sometimes I want to say something brief about a mistake.
  • brief 手短い, 束の間, 簡にして要を得た, ブリーフ (definition from Edict)
× Other times, I want to level up my Japanese.
◯ Other times, I want to improve my Japanese.

For more on the mistake above, see this post:
I figure that Twitter is a good place to do both. You can follow my Twitter account here:
I'll have a Golden Week post tomorrow!