Monday, June 23, 2008


*Sigh* It's not a bee, it's a wasp. Bees make honey, wasps don't.

One of my occasional pleasures / study strategies is grappling with Japanese newspapers. (This should be taken literally to some extent: this place is still in the broadsheet era.)

The business section has little to interest me, likewise the sports section except in times of sumo. What I pray for every time I buy is some really bizarre or gruesome incident to read about. Earthquakes are pretty good, although unscheduled helicopter landings are also a favourite. The exaggerated perils of Chinese food provide some interesting vocabulary, as well as some nice examples of how to dress up your xenophobia as civic concern.

A few weeks ago, I was blessed with a rather nasty incident in Kyoto zoo. According to the newspaper, a zookeeper was found severely injured in the tiger enclosure and later died of his injuries. Of the two tigers present, suspicion fell on Victor, a male, because of conspicuous bloodstains around his mouth.

The article also made mention of an incident at the same zoo three years previously, involving the mauling of another of the hapless zookeepers by a "North Pole bear."

I was absolutely horrified: the Japanese have two words for polar bear. I was already familiar with shiro-kuma ("white bear"), but it turns out they also have hokkyoku-guma ("hokkyoku" meaning the North Pole.)

I think this rather unfair in light of the fact that the crocodiles and alligators both have to make do with the word wani. Adam and I used to devote a lot of energy to teaching students the difference between these, cheetahs and leopards, right and wrong, as well as other things.

The title of the post may give you some idea.

Labels: , ,

It was incredible how little students knew, or cared to know about animals. My least favorite description was always of the tanuki. Raccoon-dog. It is neither a raccoon or a dog. It is a tanuki, an animal unique to Japan. Own that shit.
Silence! Pigeon is bird of peace, kono gaijin.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on BlogShares