It is hard to explain

… but I will try. Today was a long day. I didn’t work this weekend so I had a ton of email to try to read. Plus at the end of the day I had a rather culturally frustrating meeting that did not go as I had wished. I rode the train home, stopped at the grocery, hopped on the subway and headed home for a simple dinner at home and maybe more email, a video, or working on my journal. As I was exiting the station, I noticed a poster with modern art that read, to the best of my knowledge, “pecan” and “currie” in Japanese. How strange, I thought, what kind of modern art show (not contemporary art – just modern between the wars kind of stuff) would have that title? “Pecan and currie” just didn’t make any sense to me at all.

Of course, all this was in Japanese. It was written

ペカソ

and

クレ

So all my Japanese reading friends are probably thinking, “fool!” Anyway, the characters above are in katakana, and they are used to represent foreign words. Some characters also look rather the same. For example, can you quickly tell the difference between ソ and ン? To the trained eye, you can. The first character has a stroke that goes from the top and down to the left. Think of a brush. The second character has a brush stroke from the lower left to the upper right. Kind of like a check mark. That subtle difference is the difference between the sound “so” and “n”. That’s right. So I read the ソ as “n” when it was really or “so.” Which, as you can see, changes the reading from a nut, to well, Pekaso. Obviously that is Picasso (who one could argue was kind of a nut as well but I would probably disagree). Maybe the modern art thing is making more sense. But what about “currie?” The characters are “ku” and “re” – kure. Remembering the spelling of currie, it is actually カレ in Japanese, or “ka” and “re.” So “kure” obviously becomes Klee with the whole “r” and “l” conundrum. Picasso and Klee – sounds like a pretty good show. Maybe I can get pecan currie if I go to the show!

I guess I was just hungry. I hope that my little tale gives you a taste of the opportunity for major misunderstandings here!

As for this weekend, I went up to Tokyo to get away. I had a nice time – it is always good to see friends. Tomo got back from a trip to the States, so he had some nice booty for me. Try to find deodorant here in Japan. It doesn’t exist! People don’t stink (generally). It is remarkable.