Kanji in Context – Samurai – Racism – Evil Dead


Look whose evil now! This is a line from a musical called Evil Dead the Musical. You might know the horror movies, provided you are old enough. But did you know that there was a musical version of it also? Well, I didn’t. And I was rather surprised when I found out, under the most unlikely circumstances imaginable. I was typing a chapter, looking for an appropriate picture, and all of a sudden I saw it. It seemed to be quite a success, not only in Canada, it’s country of origin, but also abroad in Japan. Without further ado, I went to look for it over at Youtube, found it, and enjoyed an hour of laughter and fun.

But why should you care about this musical anyway? It is not even Japanese, and has nothing to do with Japanese. And what do Samurai have to do with either the deck or the musical? Well, everything and nothing. I started reading this fine book some weeks ago, when I finally decided to buy a Kindle Paperwhite, and this was one of the first books I have uploaded. During my being very sick, numerous times actually, I couldn’t sit up-front my PC to continue working on the Kanji in Context Workbook 2. Hence this long delay, and the time it has taken, to answer some of the request, for the 日本語総まとめN2 books. So sorry, but everyone who has asked for it, should have gotten it by now.

Where was I? Oh yes, Samurai. This one is a novel, written by the James Clavell, set in the era of 家康徳川、「いえやす とくがわ」 the 大名 「だいみょう」 of Edo in the year 1600. The story revolves around the main character, Captain Blackthorne, called by the Japanese 按針さん 「あんじん」 pilot, because the Japanese could not pronounce his real name. Blackthorne is an invented character, so are most of the events in the book, but the book is based on real events and real people. James Adams, who was the inspiration for the pilot, is one. He landed in Japan in the year 1600. Besides that, it is all historic fiction, but superbly written! And, must I mention, that it is also a very fun book, even if you only know a handful of Japanese words yourself?

For instance, at one point, just after arriving with his ship in 伊豆 「いず」, Blackthorne was brought to the house of the village chief 村さん. Mura, being only a peasant, and peasants having no rights or privileges other than paying their taxes, and providing food for the empire, has only his title. You know the word 村, don’t you? It means village. And since he is head of a village, his title was also his name, his only name. Only Samurai have had names, according to the book, and titles, and privileges, lands, and power. Now, after Blackthorne, who didn’t know any Japanese at all was brought to this mans house, he had to take a bath, and he also received a massage. Among the people present, was the wife of 村さん, who served Blackthorne.

A day later, Blackthorne wished to see her again, being told that she is onna. 女. That was, what she told him she was, a woman. When he pointed at her, asking for her name, which she didn’t understand, for she knew no English, he believed this was her name. Because she treated him so well, he started looking for her in the small house. He wasn’t able to find her, so he started shouting, 女、女、where is 女, I want to see 女! Hearing the 按針さん, 村さん came running, startled, not knowing what the pilot wanted. He, through an open 障子 「しょうじ」 a paper sliding door customary in ancient Japanese houses, saw some women squatting around a table. So the pilot pointed, and shouted 女, pointed at them, and 村さん got that he needed a woman.

I will tell no more, or otherwise I would spoil you. I just suggest you read this delightful book for yourself. This, and a book that is everything but funny, but also available for e-readers. It is called Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist This book was written by a superb author called Baye McNeil, he really is a master of words, and knows how to make a grown person cry, with his descriptions and the racism he had to face during his time in Japan. A must read, not only his book, but also his personal blogs, of which one is called Loco in Yokohama!

Which brings me back to James Clavell and his book once more. For what I found, even though just in my opinion, the reason for both the things that happened to the main character in Samurai, as well as the author of Hi, My name is Loco, is based on not knowing the language, the characters, the way of thinking, the proceedings, and the way of behaving in Japan. But the main culprit is the language barrier, or has been, in both cases. Now, this might seem bold, judging that all that has happened to Mr. Baye was only because his not knowing the language, but let me explain.

I do believe, that there is actual racism in Japan, and it would be stupid to believe or say otherwise. As would be to point at someone and say, you are just misinterpreting a situation, but this is what actually happens. A situation is misinterpreted, and no way of telling, is it because someone is foreign, and has different skin color that bad things happen? Or is it, that things happen to Japanese in the same way, and for the same reasons?

This can be found out, and thanks to the Internet, it can be found out very easily. Just find a random complaint, and google for it in Japanese, and see what Japanese people are talking about. Have they made the same experience as a foreigner? How and why do things happen the way they do? This is only possible, with a good command of the language, of course. And no one’s to be blamed for not thinking of “looking it up on the internet.” One thing seems to be evident, even from outside Japan, from all that I have read. Many things that are termed racist, are in fact exactly the same things happening to Japanese, but they wouldn’t tell anyone.

Being foreign, being adult, no one will tell anything, like if you were a child. So it is only observation, and learning, and following good examples, that one can be accepted and not being treated badly. Being able to learn, knowing the language, and following good role models, them being Japanese citizens, might help to interpret things differently. Because not everything, again, is racist. But there are many racist things going on, and they are going both ways. As the author of the superb book “Hi my name is Loco,” so rightfully says and has found out for himself.

Blackthorne, in the novel Shogun, makes the same experience. Him, being a foreigner, finding out how differently people treated him, once he could speak for himself, no need to rely on an interpreter, and being able to talk about things. If he wouldn’t have learned to adapt to social customs, he would have been dead at an instant. Samurai knows no mercy. But luckily, for when we are visiting Japan, with racist things being present, the chances of avoiding such situations, or dealing with it differently once found out, it might make the stay that much more enjoyable. And I personally feel a pity for all the people who have to face racism, or have had to face racism, because this is among the worst experiences a person can make, in a country that so fascinates many.

As I know, there is so much more to write about racism, I might pick it up again. Though not willing to do so, but as I might be confronted by it myself, it is worth to write about it in-depth once more, but on a later date. Now, I guess, from all the reading, I think you deserves one of two things. A break, to watch Evil Dead the Musical, and after watching, please move on to read some more.

Have you enjoyed this musical? Was it funny for you, too? Great! Then, here is the other thing I was talking about above, a deck! Yes, Kanji in Context, the full deck, it is done, and ready for you to download from my Dropbox account. On this occasion, I would like to thank Yumizuka Satsuki, for the suggestion of a different file-sharing platform. どうもありがとう! And now some words on this new deck, and the one thing I couldn’t do for all those waiting for this release of the second Workbook.

I thought that it would be a wise idea to upload two versions of the deck. One that contains only the chapters from the second Workbook, and one containing the whole deck, for those who haven’t downloaded part 1. But, unfortunately, Anki 2 wouldn’t let me do that. So I just uploaded the whole deck in the hopes that you find a way to import only those parts, that you actually need, and drop the rest.

Now to some details of this deck. It contains more pictures than the first deck, and some more definitions for some of the words, that I thought would need one. Again, in most cases, the authors of Kanji in Context did a very fine job in providing example sentences, to make clear the usage scenarios of a word, or words. But in some cases there was still a need for pictures to drive it home. One of them is a picture I created. And you should easily be able to recognize it, as it is perhaps the ugliest in the whole deck.

Be forewarned, that some sentences in this deck are very long, and that there are no readings provided for either the individual words, or the sentences. If you need furigana, you have to create them by yourself, just so you know. For all mistakes, in the definitions, or in the sentences, I am the sole person to blame for. And now, without further ado, here is what you have all been waiting for. The Kanji in Context deck, containing both workbooks, and all the sentences of both. You can download it from Dropbox and I hope that it will help you in your studies. For the thank you’s, or anything else that is weighing on your mind, complaints, rants, you name it, please consider leaving a comment.

4 responses to “Kanji in Context – Samurai – Racism – Evil Dead

  1. Thanks for the Kanji in Context deck. Im probably going to go through the words that are not in Core 6000. By the way, can you re-upload your Kanzen Master 3kyu spreadsheet to a Dropbox link as well? It seems that the file no longer exists that’s referred to in the original blog entry. Thanks!

  2. Hello!

    Following your request, I have dug up the spreadsheet, and uploaded it to Dropbox. You can download it by following this link

  3. I am sorry to hear about your N2 results. I also failed, but I was the opposite. Listening was the one strong grade I received lol. Anyways, keep up the good work! Speaking of racism in Japan, I went to an small art gallery in Osaka and started a conversation with the artist, an elderly woman. By the time we had finished talking, she had decided to open up and tell me that she literally hates white people but for some reason I am not loud or annoying so I have changed her way of viewing the world…uh…thanks I guess! lol. Hail to the king, baby.

  4. Hello!

    Thank you for sharing this little story. It somehow fits in the bigger picture I have of all things racism. (Which I will not discuss at this point of course.)

    Well, there is no shame in failing, as long as we know we have given our best. Of course a pass would have been nice, but even the fail has had a positive impact, at least it had for me. Next time we both will do better, and I bet it will be a pass. Or the third time, or the fourth, … yes I’ll hold my tongue already.

    Hail to the King’s Fistful of Broomsticks, Baby! :-))

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