Tuesday, April 1, 2008

演 - PERFORMING Enka Songs Wets My Eyes Straightaway

Readings & Meanings:


to act, to perform a play

Common Usage:







That actress's acting is really great.

There's only 5 minutes until the curtain!


San-zui again, the three droplets of 水.

寅 alone is the kanji for the Chinese astrological sign of the Tiger. This is a borrowed meaning. The original pictograph shows an arrow (矢) being grasped by two hands (picture 田 as being a picture of two hands, one on the left and one on the right). The hands were straightening the arrow. The idea: STRAIGHT. Then someone put a roof on top and the sense became to act "straight up" indoors: ACT WITH DISCRETION.

I'm not sure how water fits in with acting. The STRAIGHTEN or stretch idea survives in this kanji, if you think about the strange positions kabuki actors have to gesticulate themselves into.

Bonus: 演歌

Enka (演歌) is a Japanese genre of song. It's traditional in one sense, in that it doesn't follow current pop modes, and yet it's not completely Japanese in origin. That is to say, the genre got its start in a fusion of Western melodies and traditional Japanese structures of music. I guess you could call it as Japanese as ramen noodles, though; through syncretism, Japan has managed to create, time and again, completely new forms.

Recently, an American got pretty popular for being the first black Enka singer. See immediately below. The Japanese タレント seem quite amazed.

Since it goes slowly and uses pretty easy words, Enka is great way to study Japanese. Much better than listening to J-Pop, since most J-Pop singers sing as if they are speaking English--and in some cases they are, far too much.

According to Wikipedia, the "Queen of Enka" during Enka's heyday (Showa era) was Hibari Misora. The video below might be a nice, gentle way to ease yourself into the style.



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