‘love’, ‘peace’, ‘good fortune’ and ‘harmony’…
these are the famous kanji (chinese characters) here in canada. they show up on tattoos, postcards, greeting cards, and even on t-shirts. they’re usually written in beautiful calligraphy. i’ve been in canada for years now, and i see the same simple kanji again and again.
maybe that’s all that canadian people know about japan: beautiful calligraphy saying something “spiritual”. people in canada seem to think we japanese are very spiritual. those people usually love calligraphy. i studied calligraphy for years and i like it, but i got sick of having to practice the same, unnecessarily positive kanji over and over. how boring. why does calligraphy have to be so serious?
i’ve decided to make calligraphy more interesting. i want to introduce people in canada (and all over the world) to new kanji. also, i want to remind everyone that japanese people are not necessarily “spiritual”. i will be giving weekly lessons in “quasi calligraphy”: unusual kanji that might not be part of everyday life, but are more interesting than ‘love’, ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’ again and again and again. some of these kanji (phrases) are new to me, too. (i’m reading the dictionary to prepare).
so, let’s begin…
FIRST LESSON: 宇宙人
‘u-chuu’ means “space”, and ‘jin’ means “person”, so ‘uchuu-jin’ = “alien”.
as technology improves, we must prepare for the future. soon we’ll be able to go to mars on summer vacation to hang out with the martians. no matter what country you’re from, on mars you’re the “uchuu-jin”. i’m not sure, but i don’t think english is the common language on mars (revolution!). so even english speakers might need to be prepared to introduce themselves in other languages (maybe for the first time!). japanese is one possible language on mars.
so: to say “i am an alien” in japanese, you say: “watashi wa uchuu-jin desu”. and if you want to emphasize the fact that you are a good alien, you say, “watashi wa yoi uchuu-jin desu”.
you want them to know you’re on their side!
the martians will be relieved to find out that you’re a good “uchuu-jin”. they might want to know more about “uchuu-jin”. they might ask, “uchuu-jin wa sushi ga suki desuka?” (“do uchuu-jin like sushi?”).
you can say: “aho chau? sore wa nihon-jin desu yo. uchuu-jin wa me-puru shiroppu ga suki.” (“no, stupid! that’s japanese. uchuu-jin like maple syrup!”).
they might go on to ask: “uchuu-jin wa sumo ga tokui desuka? (“are uchuu-jin good at sumo?”)
you can quickily answer: “aho chau! sore wa nihon-jin desu yo! uchuu-jin wa ka-ringu ga tokui desu! (“no idiot! that’s japanese. uchuu-jin are good at curling!”).
there you go! you and the martian are best friends!
please practice the kanji you learned today. think carefully about every brushstroke, and imagine yourself as a true “uchuu-jin”. that way, you will capture the spirit of “uchuu-jin”.
see you next week.