Travel expands one’s horizons … and one’s vocabulary


Holidaying in Japan can be quite the educational exercise, and it often requires no more than switching on the telly and tuning into the morning news. (A good habit to have whilst getting dressed for another day of sightseeing, if only to learn what the weather will be like.) In the course of the viewing, one tends to pick up certain words that keep being repeated due to their increased relevance at a particular moment in time.

For example, I was in the country during the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the pervasive coverage of Japan’s performance in Sochi led me to learn a new word: senshu (選手), in this context used as an occupational honorific after competing athletes’ names (e.g., Hanyū-senshu). A rather severe raft of snowstorms also took place during that period, frequent news reports of which added another word to my arsenal: ōyuki (大雪), referring to heavy snow.

I’ve just returned from my 12th holiday in Japan, accompanied not merely by bags of socially obligatory omiyage and a rather bad head cold probably caught from a fellow commuter on the train somewhere, but by yet another fresh item for my linguistic catalogue: jikidaitōryō (次期大統領), meaning “president-elect”.

I don’t think I need even mention the chap whose dominance of news reports during my stay has drilled this new word into my head. (^_^)

I wonder if they’d let him ride THIS train

So Darkness Inoue wasn’t allowed to board the shinkansen. Sad.

Perhaps he should have a go at this train instead.

One more for the Tōhoku sightseeing list

I’m heading south and west for my next visit to Japan, but I’ve already begun to sketch out future plans for the north-east – a region I’ve only been to a couple of times in the last few years. I’ll see if I can squeeze in this rather interesting-looking manga museum, which until today I didn’t even know existed (and probably never would have if I hadn’t come across an article about it in the Asahi Shimbun).

Home is where the Titans are

26Mar15 023 Japan Kyushu Nagasaki Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship Island

As I was working on a post about my 2015 day trip to Gunkanjima, I remembered something that the guide shared in jest as we were gazing upon the sad remains of that abandoned mining colony. Not her exact words – probably very far from her exact words, in fact (I’m both translating and trying to recall a year-old anecdote) – but it was something to this effect:

They shot scenes for the Attack on Titan movie on this island. Of course, an old auntie like me wouldn’t know much about that sort of thing … it’s only cool young folk like her [gesturing to a younger guide] who are into that stuff!

Moral of the day: when part of a tour group, it sometimes pays to switch off the company-issued English audio guide now and then. You don’t know how old that canned recording is, and you never know when the live Japanese commentary might include a few juicy references to recent pop-culture phenomena. (^_^)

New pictures of the refurbished EVA-themed 500-series bullet train

Kyodo News recently posted a video on YouTube with new exterior and interior shots of the EVA-themed 500-series shinkansen train that was announced back in July.

The Asahi Shimbun also has their own coverage here.

As I wrote in one of my previous posts, the 500 series is a rather old shinkansen model, but the new livery and refreshed interiors are a great way of giving this ageing train a new lease on life.

Anyway … less talk, more pictures. Hop over to those videos and learn more about this new – or old-made-new-again – high-speed train.

Coming soon to a JR station near you – the EVA train makes an appearance


The 500 series shinkansen is pretty old as far as high-speed Japanese trains go – I’ve travelled on this type before and wasn’t particularly impressed.

But man, it’s amazing what a new paint job can do.

For more on the original announcement of this special shinkansen service, click here.

Giant mecha in bullet train form – or is it the other way around?


An interesting bit of news, courtesy of a well-informed chap in a Japanese railway forum I happen to be a member of: JR West are breathing new life into their ageing 500 series shinkansen fleet by giving it an Eva-themed makeover.

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