October 11th, 2007

demons

Tama, shinobu!

We've spent most of our day dealing with Hyakunin Isshu. The DS version of it is totally awesome. You get to play against Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu! How awesome is that? You get to play against three other people, but those two are the only ones I remember from our Japanese literature class. But I remember Fujiwara no Sadaie because his name keeps popping up as the inventor of Hyakunin Isshu, and the guy who plays him in the game is awesome. (I really maybe should check a thesaurus for words other than "awesome"...)

It's great, because when you play, you go to Shigureden, which I think is the virtual place they created for the purpose of this game, and there's a folding screen with classical Japanese style paintings on it. One of the paintings will come off the screen and become a real person (live action video!), who plays Hyakunin Isshu with you. And there's lots of pretty Japanese background patterns, and old Japanese style music, like you hear in stuff like HaruToki.

We only did the actual game once--we spent most of our time learning the poems, because you have to have done the learning game with each poem in order to go back and look at the poem, which is what we need to do for Lagoon Engine. But the learning games are awesome. See, there are a bunch of cards laid out with the second half of a bunch of tanka. Someone reads out the first half of a tanka, and you have to be the first one to find the card with the second half of that poem. So the DS game gives you a bunch of mnemonic devices combining the first few syllables of the first half with some syllables from the second half. Usually it's the first syllables of the second half, but sometimes it's not.

One of my favorite mnemonic devices is "Tama shinobu," because while it literally translates to "Tama sneaks in," it could be loosely translated to "Tama is a ninja!" (Tama is a common cat name.) And they give you a picture to help you remember the mnemonic device, and this one has a cat backed up against a wall as he sneaks in to steal a fish.

Anyway, we're a little obsessed with this game right now, so we're very sad that no one around here will ever want to play it with us. So all you Japanophile types who are into classical Japanese literature, get this game so maybe someday we can play it together! (It's called Touch de Tanoshimu Hyakunin Isshu: DS Shigureden.) Also, if any of you Utah people run across the Japanese professors, let them know about it! The American ones and Watabe-sensei the Younger seem like they'd be very interested.

And maybe someday we can play it with Masakazu Morita, who said in an interview once that he likes Classical Japanese so much that he can read the Tale of Genji without a modern translation. That's kind of unexpected, based on every character we've seen him play ever.

What's not so fun, though, is going through and trying to match everything to the cards in Lagoon Engine. Maybe by the time volume 7 comes out, we'll have all the poems memorized......

Today I'm thankful for awesome Hyakunin Isshu games, getting to play Hyakunin Isshu against famous Japanese poets, ninja kitties, Japanese literature classes, and Classical Japanese classes.