July 8, 2007

Nazonazo Uta: Japanese Counting Word Game Anime

Another random find from what's feeling more and more like the smartest kid's TV show in the world, Japanese publish broadcaster NHK's Pythagoras Switch.

With 5,000 kanji and 102 phonetic syllables, it's no surprise that spoken Japanese has a lot of homonyms. Which you might think would make it hard to teach a kid the language. It's different from homonyms in English, too, where you explain how the same word can mean both "strawberry jam" and "traffic jam". In Japanese, it's different words or characters that sound the same. Word riddles called nazonazo play off of these differences; unlike the jokes on Bazooka bubble gum, though, they don't always try to milk it for laughs.

Anyway, I hadn't given this any thought at all until I watched this little cartoon, Nazonazo Uta [riddle song] by Masami Kurihara with animation by Mio Ueda, which has all sorts of homonymic puns that turn into instructions for making the numbers 1-10. For example:

1st verse: banana no batoru = banana battle
2nd verse: banana no 'ba' toru = take the 'ba' out of 'banana' = nana = seven

I don't know that there's a big takeaway here, it was just interesting to notice how different cultures and languages teach kids differently. Unprofound? maybe. Nerdy? probably. Adorable animation? definitely. In for a penny, in for a pound; I geeked out a bit and put the full translation after the jump.

Nazonazo Uta: Itachi no Tanuki [youtube]

Nazonazo Uta: Itachi no Tanuki
music and lyrics: Kurihara Masumi
animation: Ueda Mio

Itachi no tanuki / Weasel's a badger
Kani no katori / Crab's catching a mosquito
Samma no manuki / Clueless sanma
O-hashi no o-hanashi / Story about chopsticks
Tamago toru tama / Egg-stealing cat
Furoku futoru / Magazine inserts fatten up
Banana no batoru / Banana battle
Hachimaki makitoru / Take off the headband
Kyuri no litoru / Little cucumber
Juusu no sutorou / Juice straw

Second verse
Itachi no ta nuki / Take the ta from Itachi = ichi = one
Kani no ka tori / Take the ka from kani = ni = two
Samma no ma nuki / Take the ma from sanma = san = three
O-hashi no o-ha nashi / O-hashi without the o-ha = shi = four
Tamago toru tama / Tamago minus tama = go = five
Furoku fu toru / Take the fu from furoku = roku = six
Banana no ba toru / Take the ba from banana = nana = seven
Hachimaki maki toru/ Take the maki from hachimaki = hachi = eight
Kyuuri no li toru / Take the ri from kyuri = kyuu = nine
Juusu no su torou / Let's take the su from juusu = juu = ten

1 Comment

On a totally-unrelated-except-for-the-Nippon-connection note, Benesse has blocked Shimajiro's classic potty training vid from YouTube. And just when our little sansei was starting to understand what "unko" means. Rats!

Google DT

Contact DT

Daddy Types is published by Greg Allen with the help of readers like you.
Got tips, advice, questions, and suggestions? Send them to:
greg [at] daddytypes [dot] com

Join the [eventual] Daddy Types mailing list!



copyright 2018 daddy types, llc.
no unauthorized commercial reuse.
privacy and terms of use
published using movable type