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There’s a whole set of Little Daruma books in English in the library.  So cute and so very Japanese!  The Little Daruma series is written by Satoshi Kako.

Japanese can be so hard to translate!  The original text uses the word “hana” which means both “nose” and “flower”.  So how does the translator handle this?  By putting in a note, and using the Japanese word “hana” in the English text.

It’s a little clumsy, definitely.  But interesting.  It can lead English speaking kids to ponder, “Oh, in Japanese “nose” and “flower” sound the same!”

Words like “hana” and “hana”, “hashi” (chopsticks) and “hashi” (bridge) , “ame” (candy” and “ame” (rain) are pronounced slightly differently.  However, in real life, even Japanese people get confused.  Pronunciations vary from region to region–famously Osaka people pronounce the words the opposite of Tokyo people.

Anyhoo….

I have funny story.

Long ago, I was teaching a kids’ class at an English school.  The kids regularly received some sort of snack after the class.  One day, the regular teacher was absent and my manager took her place.

After the class, a little girl asked him, “Is there ame?”  And he said, “No, it is not raining.  It is sunny.”  She repeated, “IS THERE AME?”  And still he said, “No, it is not raining.”

I saved the day, “She is asking for candy.”

(Ame-rain   Ame-candy)

So yeah, this Japanese guy was confused.  So it definitely happens.  Don’t let Japanese people tell you otherwise!


Today is my son’s sixth grade graduation!  I’m a little nervous, little sad, little excited!