Some time ago, I was listening to a rakugo story called “Gamano Abura” (蝦蟇の油 がまのあぶら) and came across a word that I did not understand.
The word was “manteika” (マンテイカ).
It made no sense whatsoever to me.
I looked up the word in my beloved rakugo dictionary (yes, there is such a thing!) and finally found out the meaning!
Of course, I didn’t understand it because it was a Portuguese word that meant “butter” (manteiga).
But in Japan, manteika meant fat from inoshishi (猪 いのしし; Japanese wild boars) or pigs, and it was used as an ointment for medical purposes.
You may not be aware of how crucial Portugal was to Japan as these two countries are literally located on the opposite sides of the word- the west end of Europe and Far East.
In 1543, the Portuguese arrived in Japan and became the first westerners to land on the country of the rising sun (some theory says it was actually 1541). They even introduced us to… guns.
Soon after in 1549, the Spanish missionaries followed and brought Christianity to Japan. Therefore, Portugal and Spain became our first portals to the western world. As Portugal was under the Spanish rule between 1581 and 1640, they were sort of under the same umbrella back then.
Naturally, the Japanese language was influenced by Portuguese/ Spanish from very early on.
“Tempura” was originally a Portuguese word as well. It was from “tempero”. The Portuguese introduced the deep frying technique to Japan, so tempura was originally NOT a Japanese dish.
Here are other Portuguese words that have become Japanese, which we still use today:
Buranko (ブランコ; from balanço) = swing
Furasuko (フラスコ; from frasco) = flask (for experiment)
Jouro (じょうろ; from jarro) = watering can
Kappa (かっぱ; from capa) = rain jacket
Karuta (カルタ; from carta) = a kind of Japanese card game
Konpeitou (こんぺいとう 金平糖; from confeito) = Japanese sweets as in the photo below
Koppu (コップ; from copo) = cup
Miira (ミイラ; from mirra) = mummy (as in an Egyptian mummy, not a British mummy 😉 )
Hi all, Eishi here! Hope everything is well with you all, my beloved readers!
I’ve been busy preparing for the online rakugo workshop over the last few days, but I’m finally back to blogging 🙂
In another article, I talked about the influence of a completely unexpected language on Japanese.
Here is even more fascinating trivia (at least to me) about an expression used to describe a certain social class during the Edo period (1603- 1868).
I am aware that many of my readers are Japanologists, who often know about Japanese language, culture, and history more than I do, but do you know which social class during the Edo period was called “nihonzashi” (二本差し にほんざし)?
This literally means “two swords”, so yes it’s pretty easy, it was the samurai class.
But how about “ryanko” (りゃんこ)?
Which social class did this expression mean?
Here is a hint for you.
”Ryan” (りゃん) is the Japanese transliteration of a Chinese word “liǎng” (両).
“Ko” is “個” in kanji character.
So… “Ryanko” (両個 りゃんこ) as a whole means “two pieces”…
Yep, you got it right.
This also means the samurai warriors!
It was often used by everyday people to describe samurai warriors in a slightly derogatory way, and it often appears in rakugo.
So far, I’ve talked about the influence of Lao and Chinese on the Japanese language, but I will talk about the Portuguese influence on my native language!
Make sure to do at least one thing that excites you today!
As some of you may know, I was just about to partner up with the Asia New Zealand Foundation and start visiting Auckland high schools to deliver rakugo workshops before “Rona” hit New Zealand.
Just as many of my friends in the performing arts industry, I lost literally ALL the opportunities due to the situation the world is facing right now.
Including this partnership.
So I thought.
But, I was completely wrong!!!
A few days ago, I received an e-mail from them, asking me if I would be interested in delivering online workshops for housebound high school students!!!
Of course, I said yes!!!
Thank you so much, Asian New Zealand Foundation!!! You are AMAZING!!!
Here’s the proof 🙂
But there was an issue, though. I didn’t have a filming space…
I would’ve gone to a studio or a creative space somewhere to film learning resources, but I don’t have that luxury at the moment. I don’t have much privacy, either, as my kids are roaming all over the place… literally.
So I decided to make a part of the master bedroom into my semi-permanent recording space and named it the “Rakugo Rebel Studio”!!!
To block noises from the little cacophony artists, the “studio” will be barricaded with bed mattresses and futon as sound barriers during recordings.
We have decided to keep it until the new world begins i.e. Rona leaves us alone (my apology if your name happen to be Rona).
I will use this space to film the learning resources and possibly do live streaming sessions. Maybe I will film some YouTube videos, too!
Let’s keep on doing what we can for a better world!!!