Friday, September 24, 2010
One day on the train, I overheard a child next to me having a
conversation with his mother. He said to her, "oka -
(Mom, let's do "shiritori"!) and, I wondered, "What?
'shiri (one's back side) and tori (take).' Butt-grabbing!?"
As I was trying to guess what this meant, the child said, "usagi
(rabbit)." Then, the mother said, "gi...ginkou (bank)." Then, the child
said, "uchi (house)," and the mother said, "chi...chi... chizu (map),"
and so on. They kept doing it until
the train stopped at the next
station. I wondered what they were doing.
shiritori is a Japanese word game in which players
must say a word beginning with the last sound of the
previous word, for example, "u-sa-gi → gi-n-ko-u → uchi
→ chi-zu...." The first player to say a word ending
with "N" loses the game. For example, "su-i-ka
(watermelon) → ka-gi (key) → ki-ri-n (giraffe)."
(In the first example, ginko - is pronounced ginkou in
Japanese. Therefore, the last syllable is "u.")