As many know if they follow my blogs, I also answer questions on other internet sites. A couple of days ago, someone asked me if I could give them some good user names in Japanese. One of the problems I thought of was that most of the ones that I knew were probably already in in use, so I made some up for them that were crazy, and they liked them. I told them to used “kurukupa” which means crazy, “shinjiraranai” which means “I can’t believe it,” “Yamaguchi” which means “Mountain Mouth” or “Okii Onaka” which means “Big Stomach.” I was just being silly and trying to come up with silly names that probably no one else would come up with. They really liked what I had to say. It began making me think of lots of crazy things that happened in Japan.
One funny thing the little Japanese/American group I hung out with used to do was in our pictures. In American pictures, young people have a tendency to put two fingers up and put it behind someone else’s head in a picture, and no one seems to want that done to their picture. In Japan, it isn’t two fingers. I have heard they quit doing this, but it was funny. If we wanted to say someone was crazy in Japan, we used our pointer finger and did the crazy sign at the side of our heads like we use in America, and while we were saying it, we would say, “kurkuru,” and we would finish it by holding all our fingers in an up position like we had a ball in our hand and say “Pa!” That meant “crazy!” If we took a picture, we put our hand behind someone’s head in that “Pa!” position, and that meant that person was crazy.It was all joking. I have heard they don’t do that so much anymore in Japan, but it was funny.
The name “Yamaguchi” came up from the American guys who were there the second semester I was there. There was a small group of American guys in a boarding house who went to the same university that I did. I learned a lot of things from these guys that the others didn’t, they they also learned from me. You see, I was the only American student who could carry on conversations in Japanese, and these guys wanted to know what I knew. They used to invite me over to their boarding house to study hoping they would learn something good. There was another American girl who followed them around they never invited to their boarding house who they wished would go away. They began calling her “Yamaguchi.” She thought it was a compliment because they had given her a name, but it wasn’t. She didn’t know what it meant. They thought she talked too much, so they were calling her “Mountain Mouth.” They thought they were very funny because they got to insult her without her knowing what they were saying. You see, I was learning about these guys things that the others didn’t know.
Everything was silly with these guys. One of them played the guitar. I never figured out if he wrote the song or if it was actually a Kentucky song, but it was silly He was from Kentucky, and he taught us all a really crazy song. This is how it went, “Sister Sue, short and stout, she didn’t grow up, but she grew out! Brother Gene, big and mean, got drunk last night, threw Mama down the stairs, but that’s alright, cause I don’t care. Well, the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home, and the young folks play on the floor. Well the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home. Keep them bad times away from my door!” One of these guys became a missionary in Japan and another one became a professor at Oklahoma Christian University. I don’t know what happened to all of them.
During that time, it was the third semester of the exchange program. The first semester of the exchange program, there had only been two guys from America at the university. One of them had come back as a professor at Ibaraki Junior College. I was friends with his wife, and we hung out sometimes. He made up a silly joke. In Japan, the kind of humor they like is puns. they like jokes with two meanings for one word. Around that time, the movie “Towering Inferno” had been playing. His joke was, “What did the people say as they were running out of the Towering Inferno?” The answer was, “Hi, hi, hi, hi!” “Hi” in Japanese is pronounced “he,” and is it translated as “fire,” so it sounded like someone was laughing when they told the answer, but they were actually yelling, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” and hearing, “he, he, he!” made everyone else laugh too. This guy ended up teaching at Abilene Christian University.
There was a Japanese guy that I hung out with. Once he gave me a Japanese name and a kanji, but I didn’t understand the meaning of the kanji (Chinese character) he gave me. Someone had to tell me later. The name he gave me was Reiko. There are two different kanjis for Reiko. I learned later the kanji he gave me meant, “pretty girl.” This guy spent all his time trying to make me laugh. I went back to the states for a couple of semesters, and then went back to Japan. He wrote to me when I was in America. He tried to be funny. He wrote letters on dried leaves from trees. He wrote letters on toilet paper. Anything silly he could think to do , he did. He told me he wanted me to think he was funnier than anyone else. He had me puzzled in many ways, but I liked him. He wrote to me in English, and I wrote to him in Japanese. This guy became a salary man in Japan and probably forgot English because he never liked speaking English. All the Japanese he spoke to me was one of the reasons I learned to speak Japanese.
I had a friend the first semester I went who is still in Japan who is American who married a Japanese girl, and I am still friends with both of them. I visited with them a couple of years ago in Japan. He was Mr. Lazy deluxe. He always wanted a nap. The word for a Japanese style bed is “futon.” He was always saying, “My futon is calling me!” The Japanese thought that was the funniest thing they ever heard. He made them all laugh. I actually met this guy back in America before we ever thought about Japan because of jokes.
You see, there was a group of guys who were making prank phone calls at the university. They were preacher’s sons and very nice guys, so none of the jokes they told were dirty jokes, just silly. They were calling a girl with the same name as mine and telling her jokes, and she would get mad and hang up on them. One evening, accidentally, they got me instead. I didn’t know who they were, and they didn’t know who I was, but I didn’t get mad and hang up like the other girl. I laughed at them. They all gave themselves silly names. They named themselves after cartoon characters like Peter Pan. I think they were all trying to tell me they hadn’t grown up yet even though they had. It became a nightly ritual for this group of guys to call me and tell me jokes, but I had no idea who they were. I just laughed at their silliness and enjoyed it. I would be down the hall from my room and my room make would call me and say, “Those guys are on the phone again!” My room mate got a kick out of them calling me too. Eventually, I met the guys and became friends with all of them. One of them went to Japan when I went and married one of the Japanese girls I hung out with, and he loves it when I tell people how we met. He is an English teacher/ missionary in Japan now. Another of the guys became a professor at a Christian university up north in America somewhere.
Needless to say, we spent a lot of time laughing. If I wracked my brain, I am sure I could find some more funny things that people did and said. I learned something important here in Korea when I first came here. There was a Korean guy always trying to make me laugh, and I got informed that that is the way Koreans flirt. If a guy likes a girl , he tires to make her laugh. There is a good possibility that was what was going on in Japan too. Everyone was making everyone laugh. We were college students.