One of the most difficult elements about learning Japanese is that often the grammar does not literally translate into English. One prime example of this is when someone looks as though they are being irritated by a loud noise. Whilst in English we would say that person finds it to be noisy, in Japanese you say that person literally looks noisy. Another similar example is that when someone departs on a trip you are not sad, but lonely for them. It was this grammar point that stopped me from getting my first 100% in a test, and has therefore lodged itself in my memory. Thus if ‘Anne’ leaves the country, does not phone, and makes no effort to get in touch, I now know that her mother is NOT sad, but is in fact lonely for her; always worth knowing.
This afternoon Richard and I went to go and see a Bunraku, a form of traditional Japanese theatre which utilises using puppets. Each of the main puppets is operated by three people: one for the feet; one for the left hand; and one for the right hand, body, and head. Training for each position takes approximately ten years (progressing from the feet to the head), and so it is quite a demanding profession to say the least. A mutual friend had arranged for us to go backstage and meet one of the more prominent puppeteers, and we were given a guided tour and even allowed to hold and ‘operate’ the (surprisingly heavy) puppets, which was a great honour. The performance itself was incredibly skilful, and the English audio translation that I was provided with was very helpful without being invasive. However, three hours was a tad long, and by the end of it my knees and lower back were crippled (again), but it was definitely worth it.