Sunday, November 13, 2005

New Japanese Word

On the HONYAKU mailing list for J-E translators, someone recently asked why the Japanese island 硫黄島 is written "Iwojima" in English. I bet some of you can guess the reason why (I am looking at you, Matt and Azuma), and that wasn't what caught my interest. The conversation went on to if Japanese ever called Mount Fuji "Fujiyama," as misguided gaijin sometimes do. That in turn led to the Wikipedia page for Mt. Fuji, and that's where I learned a great new Japanese phrase: "Fujiyama geisha," the Japan that is misunderstood by the West. I never heard it used in Japan, though there were many instances where it could have been:

"Kill Bill? That movie was so full of Fujiyama geisha nonsense!"

And whaddayaknow, there are restaurants called "Fujiyama" and "Geisha" in New York City. There is even one called "Geisha House" in LA--Ashton Kutcher is an investor.


IbaDaiRon said...

Ever hear Funk Fujiyama by Kome Kome Club?

amida said...

No, but it sounds awesome.

language said...

And to tie in with your later Ian Buruma post, here's a Buruma article in which he uses the phrase!

amida said...

Thanks for the link, Mr. Hat!
I know Buruma wrote a book called Occidentalism--haven't read it but I think it is on a similar topic.