木曜日, 1月 13, 2005

Inkan & Debate Updates

    So there are 2 kinds of inkan (also called hanko): 実印 (jitsuin) and 認印 (mitomein). The larger one that I had made in Taiwan is suitable for a jitsuin. This is the official inkan that you can register at the yakusho (city hall) and use subsequently to prove you are who you say you are. It may be required for very official documents, for example when you buy a house. The jitsuin is NOT for everyday use, however, so you need a smaller one, a mitomein, for more mundane things like receiving packages in the mail or stamping your attendance book. I haven't seen enough of other people's inkan to verify this, but I'm guessing that the jitsuin has your full name, and the mitomein is an "abbrieviated" version for which any part of your name is okay. Correct me if I'm wrong about this. I was surprised when the woman in the shop in Taiwan asked me if I wanted my FULL name on the inkan, because if I chose kanji for my last name too it would be really long and it wouldn't fit on a regular hanko. Now I kind of wish I had made a full-name version, although any kanji I picked for my last name would be utterly fanciful ateji . There are a few choices I like for my last name, but I've never ventured to proclaim them publicly because they just seem a bit silly.
    In Japan they don't seem to mind if you have totally different kanji on your jitsuin and mitomein. It doesn't matter. On the other hand, if you're a foreigner with a middle name, you'd better make sure your middle name is printed exactly the same way on all your paperwork or on none of it, or you'll have hell to pay. Likewise if you're a foreigner with a mistake on your original passport, you need to go with the passport version on all your paperwork. They aren't flexible when it comes to the naming options of other countries, but they're surprisingly flexible with their own. Another instance of this is the fact that although the kanji you can choose for your newborn child are limited by law, you can still choose to have those kanji pronounced any way you want. It's interesting that flexibility with how-many-ways-can-you-write-your-name differs from country to country.
    Debate is going well. The students and teachers seem into it. The ESS club also decided (independantly of me) they want to do debates this year.
   Here is a sampling of topics proposed by students in my class this morning- these are the ones I selected, so next week they have to vote and narrow it down to one topic per class-

(First half of the class - 20 students - proposed these topics)

1) Do we need P.E.?
2) Should this high school have us come by 8:30?
3) Should all high school students wear uniforms?
4) Should we get married?
5) Should we run laps? (Note: my school is particularly strict about only one thing, and that is 周回走, running laps around the school grounds. It's not optional and it's required regardless of the weather. The students hate it.)
6) Should we have homework during summer vacation?
7) Do we need Luminarie?
8) Should we use mobile phones?
9) Should we do club activities on the holidays?

(Second half of the class)

1) Nattto is delicious. Agree or disagree?
2) English is necessary. Agree or disagree?
3) Music is better than art, yes or no.
4) Do we need weather reports?
5) Do we need TV?
6) Should we make children believe in Santa Claus?
7) Should we eat fish or meat?
8) Does Nobita need Doraemon?
9) Is Ultraman a hero or not?
10) Should we eat bread or rice for breakfast?

The bread or rice debate is really tired and I wonder it hasn't been beaten to death by now, but some of the other things they talked about I didn't realize were such hot topics. The subject of whether I am very cute or not is apparently under debate -at least, one student wrote that down as a suggested topic. But no way will I let them choose that one. Then there is Ultraman. One student was asking (in Japanese, but I was listening) does Ultraman have a good sense of justice, because sometimes don't you feel sorry for his enemies?


  • At 2:25 午後, Blogger Matt said…

    What's Luminarie?

    I think the real question is not "should we eat rice or bread", but "shouldn't we toast the bread first, if we're going to be all Western?"

    Having no middle name and no abbreviation of my given name, I hardly ever have paperwork problems. I can kind of understand the laxity when it comes to inkan, though. In theory, it shouldn't matter what's on there, even a picture of a pineapple or something, as long as that image, whatever it is, is registered to you at the post-office. I don't think they are that free about it, but "one person = one image, and it doesn't matter exactly what the kanji in the image are" makes sense to me.

  • At 4:14 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Luminarie is Kobe's annual winter light display, created in memory of the victims of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

    Try this link for pictures (you can click on the thumbnails to get more pictures)


    I went last year and this year. I'm not sure if I'll go or not next year (provided I'm still around). Knowing Japan, I'm sure you can imagine how impossibly crowded it is. You have to wait in line for about an hour (and it's December, and FREEZING) before they let you in to see the lights. Once in, the procession of pedestrians moves slowly as everyone takes the requisite photos. Still, it's a nice tradition. The light displays are different every year--this year there was a lot of green. Another good thing about it is that it's free. People from nearby cities like Osaka and Kyoto seem to go more often than actual Kobeites. It gives them an excuse to make the trip to Kobe.

  • At 4:24 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    I'd like to have a picture of a pineapple for my next inkan (笑).

    Yeah, the "bread" thing. When I used to ask my students what they ate for breakfast (I don't ask anymore, since I no longer care) they would inevitably reply "bread", which of course brings to my mind the image of a plain slice of white bread. I think that's a difference in the meaning between the Japanese word for bread and the English, though. Their word パン is broader, and can include both toast and pastries. Our word "bread" is narrow, and doesn't include toast. My students know the word "toast" if I use it, but they don't think to use it themselves--it doesn't occur to them that they need to, since they think "bread" can mean toast or a pastry.

  • At 8:10 午後, Blogger Matt said…

    Heh, yeah. I remember when I first arrived and I would be like "what did you have for lunch?" and they'd say "bread." I thought that was pretty spartan, but then I learnt that they were using it to mean "any product that contains bread, including but not limited to chocolate-filled bread and gigantic overflowing ham-cutlet-and-salad sandwiches".

  • At 9:38 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    "What did you have for breakfast?"
    "What did you have for lunch?"

    Funny, I've never heard anyone say they have "bread" for dinner--but I do sometimes, if I'm busy and stop at a bakery while I'm out.

  • At 8:58 午後, Blogger dadsweb said…

    How's the kanken study going? I got my hagaki from the kanken org today. In the end I decided just to sit 三級 this time. I think I'm pretty much ready, although no doubt my mind will go blank on some easy kanji on the day...

  • At 1:27 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    My studying isn't going so well. You sound confident. I don't think I have enough time. If I don't pass, I'll just take it again in June.

  • At 5:07 午後, Blogger dadsweb said…

    Which sections are you having trouble with? The previous exams are usually a pretty good guide. If you are clearing 140 on them, you should get something similar on the exam. I was initially worried I would be penalised for my rather mishapen kanji, but they don't seem to be too strict as long as the strokes are connected in the right places and spike when they are suppose to spike. I find the reading, compound composition and radical sections relatively easy and struggle a little with the pick the wrong kanji from the sentence and writing sections. In general I think they try to make it a fairly easy exam, ie they don't go out of their way to give you obscure compounds or yojijukugo. The exam itself is quite fun - definately more fun than a trip to the dentist. Also they do give you a copy of the answers when you finish, so you know straight away how you have done, unlike the Japanese proficiency exam for which you never see the answers and don't get your results until months afterwards

  • At 9:48 午前, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    I'm very pro-kanken, and don't worry, I'll keep trying! But I'm not clearing anything like 140 on the pre-tests. I made some progress on the yojijukugo and taigigo after studying them, and I can pass the reading section (though not perfectly), but I still draw a blank on the other sections and if I guess the right answer, I almost feel like it's a kind of fluke. There are a lot of (2-character) compounds covered on the 3-kyuu, and I just didn't have time to study all of them...words like nitrogen and smallpox vaccine, not to mention words for more abstract concepts. If I'm as hopeless on the actual test as I fear, there's a kanken correspondence course I'm thinking of taking...it's a little expensive but it might give me that extra help. It's a 10-month course that takes you from 4-kyuu to 2-kyuu in gradual steps--so you should be able to pass 2-kyuu by the end of it.

  • At 4:06 午後, Blogger dadsweb said…

    Good luck for tomorrow!



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