Japanese author pha's thoughts on marriage and family

Here are some candid thoughts from Japanese author pha on marriage and family. First, the original Japanese taken from pha's blog followed by my unofficial translation.



Family is nothing more than one variety of communal living. Thinking that having kids is an absolute truth is suffocating. There’s no need to continue suffering thinking that these things like marriage and having a family are absolute. There are plenty of other paths people can take.

However, marriage and family are convenient and are a powerful system that comes with societal approval, so if you can use that to your advantage, why not? If that doesn’t pan out though it’s ok to bail.

As humans we have to make use of whatever we can to survive.

Not to say that I share the same perspectives as pha; I just thought that was interesting. Living in Japan I find that people here often think about marriage and family in ways that can be difficult to understand for Americans/Westerners, myself included. 

pha is the author of several books including 「持たない幸福論」 and 「ニートの歩き方」which I would like to read.


Crowdfunding campaign underway for Kayac’s LED skirt that lights up your thighs

This is an article published a week or so ago by tech writer Yukari Mitsuhashi (@yukari77 on Twitter) that I translated from Japanese for a news source called THE BRIDGE. They report on new tech, startups, etc. in Asia and particularly in Japan. Translating this article was a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to working together with everyone at THE BRIDGE! よろしくお願いします!

New menu translation gig!

Score! I got handed a menu a couple days ago for a high end 焼き肉 restaurant (the kind where you grill meat at your table, Korean style) in Kyoto, and I'll be translating it and re-designing it over the next few weeks, so I'll be posting updates on how that's going. So far its actually more difficult than I thought. Being a menu for a Korean style restaurant, there are a lot of Korean words which are written in katakana, so figuring out how to best translate them is a multi-step process of searching the word in Japanese, reading an explanation of what it means in Japanese, and thinking about how you'd say that in English in a way that would be both elegant and clear to someone looking at a menu. Here's one tasty example:


水菜 (pronounced mizuna) is a type of green that resembles arugula to me (but may or may not be completely unrelated). I'm not sure whether or not it's ok to just say "mizuna" in the English menu. I mean, I bet a chef would know what mizuna is, but your average person probably doesn't. If you put 水菜 in a dictionary it comes up either as "mizuna" or "potherb mustard," something I've never heard of in my life... so I went with "mizuna greens," it's simple and you can get an idea of what it is you're ordering, which is the most important thing in this case.

チョレギ is a Korean word, so I looked it up in Japanese and found that what it means is "lightly or briefly pickled/soaked." So I was thinking it had some kind of pickled aspect, but then I asked somebody who said no it's not pickled, but the dressing has vinegar... so now I'm not really sure what to call this salad. It may just end up being "Mizuna greens choregi salad." Yes, I realize the fastest solution would be for me to go to the restaurant and taste everything on the menu. That would be both awesome because free food, and not awesome because I don't eat stomachs and intestines and stuff like that.

One example of how not to blow up your brain.

As you probably know by now, the order of words in Japanese grammar is quite different from English, completely backwards even at times, so as translators we'll encounter bits like this pretty often that take a little effort to work out. Here's one line in particular that made me scratch my head:


This is a sentence pattern I see almost every day at work: "For more information, please refer to (article's name)," but this time it was the article's long and convoluted title that made me stop and think. Here's a breakdown of the main words we have here:

詳しくは「くわしくは」for details, more information...

関連「かんれん」relation, connection, relevance

投稿する「とうこうする」to submit, to post

ご参照「ごさんしょう」referring to, checking out

I find it helps to first find the essential pieces of the sentence, the verb and the D.O. or I.O. since in this case there's no subject. So the verb is 投稿する、and the D.O. is メトリック(we know that because it is immediately followed by を), and then the rest of that is just describing メトリック。Next step is to piece it together. Let's look at just the part in 「」, the title of the article.


This being a how-to article, it'd be natural to begin with the verb "posting" and follow that with the D.O. "metrics" so, "Posting metrics..." which metrics? 「ELB関連のメトリックを」"metrics connected/related/linked to ELB." This part 「AWSのCloudWatchのメトリックから」ends with から so we know it's saying "from (here)", and this part 「サービスメトリックに」ends with に so in this context it's saying "to (here)", so... the basic idea is "Posting (these) metrics from (here) to (here)." Once you've got that your work is pretty much done, just fill in the blanks.

"Posting metrics linked to ELB from AWS CloudWatch metrics to service metrics." Then, in the context of the full sentence:

For more information please refer to "Posting metrics linked to ELB from AWS CloudWatch metrics to service metrics." 

I find using pencil and paper is best for translating Japanese, because you can draw arrows all over the place to help yourself understand this is describing this, or this is the D.O. of this verb, etc. Anyway, hope somebody finds this informative!