Monday, 8 November 2010

Surfer King What is "Meriken"? (Translation of the Post on 5th Nov)

To Japanese readers, are you enjoying viewing the vibrant autumn colours in Japan?
It is the season of beautiful foliage in Japan now, and tourists love to visit foliage-viewing spots, such as Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture.

Here in Thailand, it is out of rainy season since 23rd October (unlike in Japan, the date of rainy season is already set on the calendar.  A weather man is not in charge!  In some years,  the end of rainy season comes before the day set on the calendar, or vice versa.  This year, it was a pretty good prediction.), and Buddhist monks can be seen, as usual, on the street for going about for alms.
The rainy season is considered to be a season of newborn lives thanks to a welcome rain, and monks are not allowed to go too far from temples for alms.  By monks walking around in the forest, many of the small newborn lives, such as insects and plants, die.

This is the Buddhist teaching, which is not so well known by Japanese, but it is a common religious belief of Thais.
There are a group of people who decide to enter the Buddhist temple to be a monk or a nun only in the rainy season.  They are instant and impermanent monks and nuns in the limited term.
Some Thai people fast on their favourite food (normally, give up drinking!) during the sacred rainy season for cultivating virtue.
That is a typical tradition of Thailand, where Buddhism is well penetrated into people's life, and it also speaks eloquently of the season.


Please forgive me to bring up a topic being out of season, but today, let's take a look at Japanese words used in Surfer King.

The word, which gives us the strongest impression in this song, must be "Me-me-me-me-merike-eeeen!" (Ame-eeeeee-rican!).
'American' is corrupted, over a long period of time, into 'Meriken' in Japanese language.  Have you ever come across an elderly person calls flour 'Meriken flour'?
This word was generally used before the Second World War, but after the war, it has hardly been used.  In modern days, it is used expressing a taste of nostalgia.
When comparing 'American' and 'Meriken', is it noticeable that the sound of two words relatively resemble?
In British accent, they sound even closer than in American accent.

As Mr. Shimura says in FAB BOOK, the lyrics of Surfer King does not mean so much.
Playing with words is one of its charms of this song.
He recommends the listeners to enjoy listening the song using your intuitive sense as it is the song expressing comfort and fun appealing to the ear.

Regardless an appeal to a sense of hearing, Mr. Shimura's lyrical world cannot be ignored as being so original and unique.  It is just like watching an American film an age ago, but not in too much western style - being mixed with an essence of Shora Era, so-called 'Japanese Western style'.
We can easily imagine a well-built blue-eyed white man, with smooth blond hair, walking on a beach holding a surf board in one hand.

This image is projected by and derived from the Katakana English words in the lyrics in my opinion.
Mr. Shimura insisted that "I am Japanese and the majority of the listeners are Japanese, too.  So, Japanese language should be the most adequate language to be used as a mean of communication.'".
He never abused trendy English words in his lyrics to make it sound 'cool'.
Because of 'a principle of worshiping imported articles' since Meiji Era, putting some English words in the lyrics sounds so cool to Japanese - no matter whether it makes some sense or not.

Even though there is such an easy trick, Mr. Shimura avoided to follow the way.
He might have thought that there is no point of being well received by young people using a cheating trick if a message cannot reach people's heart.

Therefore, the English words in the lyrics of Surfer King written in Katakana characters are the words which have been imported to and been settled down in Japan a long time ago, and they are used as common words.
Suddenly, a Yorkshire Terrier comes up for nothing, and the lyrics is full of a spirit of play along the melody with good rhythm.
This is the Fujifabric world!!

The tendency of usage of English words in the lyrics is more outstanding in the 1st and 2nd albums, but Surfer King in the 3rd album is also expressive from the linguistic point of view.

Enjoy listening to Surfer King !

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