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Friday, September 16, 2011

Craning necks

This Japanese-era building in Fengyuan (Fēng​yuán) 豐原 was originally the head office of a local textile company. It was idle for quite some time until a few years ago, when someone converted it into a Western-style restaurant called Zion. Unfortunately, Zion didn't last as long as Jerusalem has, and now it appears to be in the process of being turned into a Japanese restaurant, appropriate considering the site's history. Before this place officially opens for business, however, somebody should point out to the owners that 丸田 is pronounced as "Maruta" まるた, and not as まみた, I mean まぬた, sorry I mean to say...actually, I don't what the hell this sign actually says. It probably won't matter, anyway - most Taiwanese will just assume the name is "Want'ien" (wántián).

From Thursday's edition of Japan Today comes this article:

"A pair of red-crowned cranes 丹頂『タンチョウ』 from Japan were flown to Taiwan on Wednesday in the country’s first ever export of the endangered bird, zoo officials said.

The birds, named 'Big' and 'Kika', were transported to T'aipei (Tái​běi) 台北 from Kushiro 釧路, northern Japan.

They will be quarantined for 21 days before the nine-year-old male bird, 'Big', which is used to human contact, is introduced to the public on October 30, T'aipei Zoo (Mù​zhà Dòng​wù​yuán) 木柵動物園 said.

There are about 1,000 of the birds - one of the world’s largest cranes - in Japan.

Biologists estimate that 1,600 others live in the wild or in captivity in Siberia, China, Mongolia and Korea."

The local media here is playing up the angle of the cranes 丹頂鶴 being given by Japan to Taiwan in gratitude for the financial assistance provided by the Taiwanese people in the aftermath of the March 11 triple disasters 東日本大震災. The reality is that this was in the planning stages well before the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns that have wreaked so much death, destruction and dislocation in Japan's Tōhoku region 東北地方. Still, it does make for a nice story.

UPDATE: One of my students, DJ, has pointed out (via Facebook) that the hiragana 平仮名 written on the sign in the photograph above is actually read as "Mawita". Wi is rendered as ゐ in hiragana, and as ヰ in the katakana 片仮名 script. As this Wikipedia article ( notes, wi is seldom encountered in modern Japanese. I certainly don't recall ever seeing it when I was learning kana 仮名 all those years ago.

In any event, the sign should read まるた. So there.

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