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Anne Crescini

Omata Master(おまたマスターになろうかな)

16年間日本語を勉強し続けてるから、いろんなことに気づきます。まず、「キノコ」と「海藻]を意味にする単語がありすぎ。「キノコ」は椎茸、舞茸、エリンギ、えのきなどがあって、「海藻」はのり、ひじき、わかめ、もずく、などがある。英語で[mushroom] と[seaweed]しかない。最近、アメリカのオシャレなスーパーで日本の椎茸を帰るようになった。混乱させないように、名前はそのまま、[Shiitake Mushroom]. うける。洋服を着る事に関しての単語もめんどくさいーーかぶる、着る、履く、着ける、する。英語で[wear]しかない。それと、アメリカにない概念も英語の単語もない。例えば、日本語の過労死。アメリカ人は働きすぎて死なないからさ。そこまで必死に働くようになったら、日本語から「過労死」を借りるかも。アメリカで一回も聞いたこともないけど、日本ではあまりにも多すぎるから、過労死は法律的認められている。単身赴任、微妙、本音、建前、失礼します、お腹を冷やすなどの日本語の表現は英語に訳せない。私の一番好きなのは、「つんどく」です。本をたくさん買って、結局読まないまま本棚に入れることは、私の大好きな旦那のリズの特徴です。今日、私は、1つの訳しにくい単語について書きたい。それは、「資格」です。「資格」とまったく同じようなニュアンスがある単語はない。辞書に調べるとqualificationsは出て来るけど、日常生活の中で全然言わない単語です。日本に来る前に人生に1回しか言ったことがなかったかも。

During my 16 years of studying Japanese, I am constantly having revelations about linguistic and cultural differences. For  example, take the words ‘mushroom’ and ‘seaweed.’ Those are the only words we have for that green stuff from the ocean and fungus that grows out of the ground, respectively. It seems, however, that the Japanese value both way more than we Americans do, as they have a zillion words for both mushrooms and seaweed, and they are horrified at the lack of vocabulary in English for such crucial food products as seaweed and mushrooms. Occasionally, if we want to specify a mushroom, we will just throw the Japanese in front, as in the case of ‘shiitake mushrooms.’ Along the same lines, it is way too much trouble to learn how to talk about getting dressed in Japanese, as you need a different verb for each item you wear, depending on how high or low it is on your body. Finally, if a certain concept doesn’t even exist in the culture where you live, you can be sure there is no word, either. Let’s talk about the word karoshi, which means death from overwork. English doesn’t even have a word for this because, well, people don’t usually work so hard that they die. If we ever get to that point, we will probably just borrow karoshi from the Japanese. I have never heard of one case of death from overwork in the U.S., yet in Japan it is actually a legally-recognized problem. We have no one word for tanshin funin, (to live apart from your family due to work), honne (your true feelings about something), tatemae (what you say you feel but you are actually lying), shitsurei shimasu (sorry for being selfish and leaving work before you), or onaka wo hiyasu (to make your belly cold). My all-time favorite one is tsundoku, which means to buy many books without ever reading them. This is definitely a word that English could use, don’t you think, Riz (of course I am not implying my husband does anything remotely similar to this.) Today, though, I want to focus on a term in Japanese that does kinda have a word in English, only it doesn’t really mean the same thing and we never use it–shikaku. This word can be translated as ‘qualification’ in English, but no, it is so much more to the Japanese.

日本人は資格が好きすぎてたまらん。小さい時から資格をたくさん得るように頑張る。いろんな習い事に行って、資格を取ろうとする。英検、算盤(アメリカで全然知られてないもの。古代のものだと思われて、現在まだ存在していることわかってない)、書道、空手、剣道。とにかく何級、何段まで行けるというのは楽しみみたい。大学でも、専門の資格が多い。学科によって色んな資格があるから、在学にしている間に取れたら、就活の時ためになる。大人になっても終わらんバイ。英語の勉強は英検からTOEICに重点を置くようになって、日本語の勉強だったら漢字検定。でも言語だけじゃないよ、マジ。パン、コーヒーコーディネーター、フラワーアレンジメント、ホームメイドクラフト、ベビーマッサジー、ベビー手話、アロマセラピー、ネイル、ヨガ。キノコマイスターの資格もあるらしい。キノコマイスターというのは、きのこの専門家ということです。こんなにキノコを大事にする日本だから、やっぱり、キノコマイスターが必要なんだ。一般の日本人にキノコの魅力を教える人物が大事やん。キノコ無知のアンちゃんもキノコマイスターに教わろうかな。

Japanese people are totally crazy about shikaku. I am just going to use the Japanese word throughout this blog because I hate the work qualification, and it is way too long of a word to type anyway. From childhood, Japanese kids strive to get shikaku in everything–calligraphy, karate, kendo, English, abacus. Yes, I said abacus. I bet you thought that an abacus was extinct from the world, relegated to the annals of history, but in fact, kids all over Japan regularly use the abacus to do lightning-fast calculations. Any Japanese kid with an abacus will kick your kid’s butt in math any day of the week. It seems that the Japanese are always excited about the prospects of getting one level or one step higher on the shikaku ladder. In university, the shikaku fun continues, as students strive to get any and every shikaku to help them to obtain a better job. Then in adulthood, it intensifies once more, especially if you are a housewife or retired person. While there are many shikaku aimed at helping one gain full-time employment, I would like to focus on those obtained either for a hobby or part-time work. They are endless–the eiken English test of childhood is replaced by the drive to get a perfect 990 on the TOEIC test. But that is only the beginning. There are so many shikaku that I cannot even begin to list them all here–breadmaking, coffee coordinator (what does that mean, I wonder?), flower arrangement, craft making, baby massage (not kidding), baby sign language, aromatherapy, nail art, yoga. There is even a shikaku for mushroom master. I guess in a country that has so many kinds of mushrooms that a mushroom master to teach others about mushrooms is a must. That sentence could almost be a tongue twister…

アメリカではそんなに資格がような気がする。もちろん空手とか儒道とか日本の武道にあるけど、多分キノコマイスターまではない。私は知っている限り、語学の資格もそんなにない。子供の時、いろんなスポーツをしてたけど、資格を一つも取らんかった。もちろん仕事の採用とか昇進のために資格はあるけど、子供と主婦が取る資格は日本みたい絶対にないな。日本人はみんな、多分数えくれないほど証書がある。何とかの何かの何とかの級か段を証明するもの。アメリカのトロフィーみたいかな。アメリカはバリバリトロフィーが好き。けど、考えたら、殆どのトロフィーはスポーツ関係。もちろんピアノとかバイオリンとかあるけど。私は(自慢じゃないけど)バリバリスポーツが上手かったから実家の部屋に山ほどトロフィーがあった。数えきれないくらいあった。まあ実は24個だった。はは。数があまりにも多すぎて、日本に行った後(もちろん持って行けんかった)、お母さんは邪魔になっているトロフィーを捨てちゃった。残酷だ。とにかく、トロフィーは資格と違うものやね。トロフィーは何かのリーグか大会を優勝した時もらうものです。資格を得るため、相手と戦う必要はない。相手は自分だけです。自分と競争している。

It is just not the same in America. I mean, of course there are different belt rankings for martial arts, but I am pretty sure there are no mushroom masters. As far as I know, there are no real shikaku for language study either. When I was a kid, I played sports every day, all the time, and I was constantly on some kind of team in some kind of league. But I never got a shikaku for anything. Of course, those trying to get hired for a job or get a promotion will work hard to get the shikaku necessary for that job, but there are definitely not as many kids and housewives in America working their butts off for various shikaku. I have a feeling that almost all Japanese people have closets full of certificates for this or that shikaku, saying they have earned this or that rank or level for this or that shikaku. I guess it is a little like American trophies, or at least, how it used to be before everybody and their brother started getting one. Americans love trophies. But if you think about it, most trophies are given for sports. Every now and then there is one for piano or some other artistic something or other, but most trophies are for sports. I remember because I was such an incredible athlete (I am not really that arrogant), I had more trophies than I could count. Well, there were 24 actually, not that I am proud enough to count them or anything. I was proud of those trophies, but after I went to Japan, my mom couldn’t stand the trouble anymore and trashed them all. She warned me, but I was hoping she would at least keep my favorite. She is a meanie.

これから本当に書きたかったことを書きます。おしゃべりが好きなアメリカ人だから時間かかり過ぎ。申し訳ないバイ。先週、私は「おまた力講座」に行ってきた。えーと。。それは、いったいなんやろうと思ってるやろう?はは。私も、初めて友達から聞いた時、あまりにもびっくりすぎて笑いちゃった。「おまた」は、うん。そう。そこ。説明せんでいいよね。この口座のテーマはどんだけおまたが大事なのかということだった。冷え性(いつも手は氷みたいと言われる)と生理のトラブル(2年間私はなかった)は全部そっち(そっちっておまたのそこらんへん)からスタートするらしいから、「おまた力口座」に行って見ようかなと思った。ブログのネタもなるし。行った時に、とても細くて奇麗な女性の講師は私たちを歓迎してくれた。名詞を渡された時に、名前の上に「おまたマスター」という資格が書いてあった。多分これを読んでいる人誰でも笑いたくなるけど、講師は真面目に90分の口座をしてくれた。主に、生理の事。1番覚えて欲しいことは、3つあった。1)正常の生理は三日で終わる(私は5日)2)正常の生理は夜に出ない(私は出る)3)正常の生理は痛くない(私はそんなに痛くない)。でも1番ショックを受けたのは、生理をコントロルできるらしい。つまり、赤ちゃんのトイレのトレーニングと同じように、経血を全部トイレに出せる。そうできるようになったらナプキンは必要じゃなくなる。ええええ!!!!!!なんってこと?初耳やん。ナプキンはオーガニックじゃなかったらバリバリ悪いらしい。だから、トイレに出せるようになったら、良くないナプキンも必要ない。お金もかけんでいい。ワオー。講師は毎月そうしているみたい。

Anyways, I have finally gotten around to what I really want to talk about today. Sorry for being such a long-winded American. Last week, I went to this class called in Japanese omata jikara. I know it sounds kinda crude, but the only way I can think to translate it into English is ‘crotch power.’ I know, I know. You are cringing, and just dying to know just exactly what a Crotch Power class entailed. I was the same way when I first heard about it. I couldn’t stop laughing. Actually, for the sake of this blog, let’s ditch crotch and just keep the Japanese and call it omata. Anyways, generally speaking, it was about just how important the health of that area of the body is for women. The instructor talked about how many of the problems that women have, from cold hands and feet to various menstrual problems, come from there. I have both cold hands and menstrual problems, and I thought it would be great blog material, so I decided to give it a try. When my friends and I arrived, we were met by a beautiful, slim woman who would be our instructor for the day. She gave us her card, and there it was above her name–she is the omata (crotch) master. I am sure that anyone reading this wants to burst out laughing at that, and I did too, but the instructor actually gave a very serious, informative 90-minute lecture, including practical exercises. Her main theme was menstruation, and there were three points that she really wanted to drive home to us. 1) a healthy period only lasts 3 days  2) a healthy period doesn’t flow at night  3) a healthy period is not painful. Although with the exception of the pain one I miserably fail the 3-point test, that is not the thing that was the most shocking to me. The teacher said that we actually have the power to control the blood flow during our periods, much like how one would toilet train a child. She said that after conscious training, most women can expel the majority of the menstrual blood into the toilet, thus eliminating the need for constant thick sanitary napkins that are so full of chemicals that they are not good women anyway. WHAAAAATTTTTTTTT!!!?????? She said that she has almost eliminated the need for napkins, and only uses tiny organic panty liners.

色んなことを習った。まず、骨盤、子宮はどんだけ小さいかってびっくりした。バリバリビッグベビーはその小さいところから出るって不思議やなあ。それと、生理の間に運動しないほうがいいこともう聞いた。生理の間に疲れやすいから、休んだほうがいい。それを絶対に無視するけど面白かった。食事のことも、睡眠時間のことも、全部おまたの調子と関係していることを知らんかった。最後に、おまたのパワーアップ運動を教えてもらった。前のブログに書いたけど、私の骨盤は産後からずっと開いたままらしいから、引き締め運動はためになるなと思った。最後の運動で、マーチングをしなから、「肛門!肛門!」を言わせられた。2つ気づいたこと。まず、「肛門!肛門」を言いながらのマーチングがバリバリきつい。次ぎ、日本人はアメリカ人より、「肛門」という単語は日常会話に出てくる回数はバリバリ多い。以上。

I learned many things. First, I learned just how small the pelvis and uterus and that whole woman’s area is. It it barely bigger than a fist (she showed us an actual model bought on Amazon), and yet, a big baby is somehow formed, nourished and birthed from that small area. Amazing. I also learned that a women gets tired during her period and needs to rest, so exercise is a bad idea. Umm, I think I will ignore that one. I learned how important that nutrition and sleep are to a women’s health. Last, I learned some exercises to help strengthen that area of my body, which is good, since, as I wrote in a previous blog that apparently my pelvis has been open since childbirth, exercises to help close it are nice. For the last exercise, the instructor had us march in place, lifting our knees to the opposite elbow all the while shouting, anus! anus! Geez, it sounds much worse in English than in Japanese, almost like I am saying a bad word. If you can think of a better one, please let me know. Anyway, here is where I will tell you the final two things I learned. First, shouting anus! anus! while marching in place for 60-seconds is quite a workout. Second, the Japanese use the word anus much more in daily conversation than Americans do.

「おまた力講座] に行ってよかった。90分の口座と運動は3500円だった。ちょっと高すぎと思うけど、このブログのため、いくらでも出す。名前は結構、刺激的なんやけど、先生は真面目で優しく役立つことをたくさん教えてくれた。間違いなく知識が増えた。何よりも、大好きな友達と話ながら、楽しい経験をした。それは本当に計り知れない価値がある。もし「おまた力講座] に行きたかったら、「ジャパンおまたパワー協会」があるそうです。講師から聞いたのは、アメリカに「おまたマスター」一人しかいないみたい。その一人は、日本人です。私は初アメリカ人のおまたマスターになろうかな。

I am glad I went to the Omata Power seminar. It was 90-minutes long and cost 3500 yen, or about $35. I thought it was a little on the pricey side, but I will spend whatever for this blog. The name of the the seminar is quite shocking, but both the instructor, and what she taught, were serious and helpful. Without a doubt, I know more now than I did before that class, and that makes it worth it. But more than anything, I had a great experience talking and laughing and learning with my best friends, and that is something you cannot put a value on. Finally, if you are interested in this course, you can contact the Japan Omata Power Association. It seems that there is only one Omata Master in the U.S. and she is Japanese. Hmm.. maybe I will jump on the shikaku bandwagon and become the first foreign Omata Master…

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