Sometimes I genuinely believe that Japanese exists only so as to leave me in a constant state of bemused rage. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the names of train stations, few of which are easy to remember, and most of which are at least four or five syllables longer than they need to be; if I wanted to be surrounded be unpronounceable place names then I would have moved to Wales! Sometimes these names are so ridiculously similar that it is impossible to assume that it is anything but a deliberate prank at the expense of foreigners, case in point: Iidabashi and Itabashi. One of these stations (Itabashi) is on the Saikyo line that I take to the theatre every morning, whereas the other (Iidabashi) is quite near to Yuko’s house, and in a different country to the theatre. Unaware that these two stations were entirely separate entries, the shortcut that I thought I had fashioned this morning, turned out to be anything but, leaving me once again cursing the over complexity and simultaneous laziness of Japanese nomenclature.
I decided that it was probably best to buy an English language version of ‘Cymbeline’, so that I would at least have a clue as to what on Earth was going on, and I am so glad that I did. Characters that I thought were drunk were actually just fatigued, the Queen was more of a Lady Macbeth type character than the light comic relief I supposed her to be, and Pisano wasn’t a village idiot, but was actually the protagonist’s (Posthumus Leonatus) servant. All of which points to a certain interpretation of the text by the actors, as well as to the gaping insufficiencies in my Japanese.