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Kanji is Fun, and Ninjas are Sympathetic

I went to a Christmas event recently where there was a gingerbread town on display. One of the gingerbread houses immediately stood out to me–it was a really well-made Japanese dojo, complete with koi pond, rock garden, and ninjas practicing with Pocky!

Whenever I read kanji, the English meaning comes to mind faster than the Japanese reading does, so when I read the kanji they’d drawn onto the piece, something seemed off.

Then I realized, once the Japanese reading hit me, that they’d come across a homonym and, unfortunately, used the wrong “dojo.”

Today’s Japanese vocabulary lesson: sympathy. Reading: dōjō. Kanji: 同情

Click for learning.

Also featured at the event was a Lucky Cat themed tree. It was awesome! (And the golden cat’s arm moved!) I love seeing Japanese stuff in America, it makes me feel like there’s a lot of love between our countries and that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside ♪


Hobonichi’s plainspoken new haramaki: “I am wearing this.”

Haramakis are  belly warmers, a Japanese wardrobe staple that was once tossed into the cultural bin of “underwear garments that only old people wear.” In 2001 Shigesato Itoi’s company reimagined them as cute apparel that you’re allowed (and encouraged) to wear over your clothes.

This year’s models have this very Itoi-sounding slogan:

Itoi probably didn’t write this, since it started out as English, but it fits inside his copy-closet like a glove. Last year I wrote up an extensive look at his copywriting work, if you want to see for yourself.

If you know a little Japanese you can order your own haramaki at the Hobonichi Store, along with other quirky keep-warm gear. I bought a haramaki a few years back and wear it under my sweater every winter; belly warmers really do work!

The limited edition Bouillon haramaki I snagged featured Itoi’s photogenic dog.

Update on Magazine Translations

Thanks to generous MOTHER fan Nabeneko-san, I’ve acquired magazine scans for a large handful of retro gaming magazines. These interviews with Itoi and other MOTHER staff were the bulk of my NaNoTraMo work, but I decided to wait on posting these until I managed to get images for the articles.

Lo and behold, after much scanning and organization, our Japanese hero sent me the files to accompany the translations. It will be time consuming, but I will now be able to slowly edit and upload all those magazine interviews I slaved over last fall. Apologies for the mysterious lack of follow-up.

To start it off, I’ve provided a special full-page article translated as-is for you to essentially read straight from the magazine. This is one of the earliest interviews for Earthbound 64, as it is the November 1996 issue of The 64Dream (significant because it was the first official issue of the magazine, and Earthbound 64 was supposed to be one of the first games available for the console). Even though the translation was already posted, the graphics are a lot of fun (or radical, should I say), so even if you had read the original text, I recommend skimming through it again because I also made some edits in the translation. I do not plan to continue full-page editing like this; I’ll cut out all the images and paste them into text posts as I had done previously.

Weekly Famitsu – September 16, 1994

This week’s issue covers the MOTHER 2 Pre-release Party attended by all staff involved in the game. This time the article is not an interview, but a description of the event.

Read more…

Weekly Famitsu – September 9, 1994

This week’s issue introduces the MOTHER 2 Times: a weekly section in the magazine that ran for eight consecutive weeks. Its main feature was the walkthrough, but also included such things as interviews, comics, and behind-the-scenes peeks. I don’t plan on including the game walkthroughs, but I’ll continue to post any particularly interesting sections.

This week’s issue highlights an interview with the two main programmers for MOTHER 2, Kouji Malta from APE and Satoru Iwata from HAL.

EDIT 2/14/2012: I’ve fixed a mistranslation about “freedom”, which refers to post-programming putzing, not post-ending gameplay (see left of Iwata’s photo). A big thank you to Ice Sage for pointing it out!

Read more…

MOTHER 1 Review by Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri

In the late 1980’s, before founding Game Freak and hitting the jackpot with his sensational product of grueling labor, Satoshi Tajiri was a freelance writer for gaming magazine Famicom Hisshou Hon. He ran a column in the magazine and covered the newly-released MOTHER in its October 20, 1989 issue. His review offers some interesting criticisms of the game.

Read more…

Status Update

Just a quick note that while most of my NaNoTraMo translations are done (all old magazine interviews about the MOTHER series), I’m going to hold off on posting them until I follow through with a lead I have on magazine scans. It’d be better to post the interviews along with article pictures from the beginning, instead of editing it after everyone has already read the article and tucked it away.


In the meantime, it’s always a pleasant treat when Itoi’s interviews and works are already translated into English. Here’s a blog entry of an American marketing professional who recently interviewed Itoi via mail. There’s some interesting insight into how Itoi chooses to run his company and website.


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