Wednesday, October 18, 2006

my new my suits

Since I will be attending the RIDM film festival next month, my friend decided to buy me a present I could wear to the reception.

My friend's tailor from Hong Kong was going to be in town on business. If we went to his hotel, he could measure me, make the suit when he got home and then ship it to me in time for my trip. How would I like a new suits?

Lesson #1. In Japanese, every single word that doesn't end in the consonant "n", ends in a vowel. Every other word in the entire language ends in a vowel. This may clear up something you've wondered about for a long time... how come when the Japanese speak English they pronounce words like:

KATO= cat
DOGU= dog
KA= car
and the above example:
SUTSU= suits

This is all fine and not a problem once you get used to it. The problem comes when you start bringing the japanified words back into English without realizing it. "I bought a new suits". My brother-in-law thinks I sound like a non-native English speaker in my e-mails from time to time. He so funny.

Back to my new suits. We went to said hotel to get measured for my first my suits.

Lesson #2. The Japanese import tonnes of English words into their language. This should make speaking Japanese easy, right? No such luck. Before they put the words to use, they change the meaning so completely you can hardly recognize what the word was to begin with. Take the English word "my", as in the above example, my suits. "My" doesn't mean "my own" in Japanese. It means "one's own". It may sound subtle, but take a look at these examples:

Will you take my car? means: Will you take your own car? (ie, or will you take the company car?)

Do you have my room? means: Do you have your own room? (ie, or do you share a room with your sibling?)

Hey! That's not my drink! means: That's not just for you! (ie, it's for everyone to share.)

This then gives the grammatically-challenged my suits a meaning equivalent to the English phrase "order-made suit". When you've lived here long enough, it all starts to make sense and even begins to seem so much more simple and economical when speaking.

We're in the hotel room, and I am being measured for my first my suits by a lovely bloke from Hong Kong. He measures my neck, waist, chest and so on. Those who know me know that while I am fairly tall, I have a fairly small build and don't weigh all that much. According to the American height/ weight ratio I am underweight. Yet compared to the average Japanese guy, I have slight love handles and a way bigger butt and legs.

I bring this up because a lot of the trousers in Japan are "stove pipe" cut, which is quite fashionable if you have chopsticks for legs. I would have to buy XL just so my legs could fit into the most fashionably cut trousers, but then two of me could fit into the waist.

The tailor has finished taking my measurements. He's measured just about everything on my body, except one important part. No, not that. He hasn't measured the circumference of my legs. I know he has been lulled into a false sense of security by my small waist and the deceptively well-cut trousers I am wearing. I suggest he measure my legs, but he insists there is no need. I insist that, in fact, there is. He sighs and begins the big measure.

"Oh! You are kick boxer?!"

But no, sorry, I am not a kick boxer, and that is not muscle, but what amounts to fat.

"I put dart in pants or your leg no fit!"

Lesson #3. Beware of having your thighs measured by a Chinese guy in a Tokyo hotel room. It could very well ruin your day.


Anonymous said...

One of the best posts yet! Great story telling!

Ian Thomas Ash said...

Thanks, anonymous! (you wouldn't be married to my brother-in-law by any chance, would you?)

Anonymous said...

Probably, so does that mean that I am bias and don't count?

Ian Thomas Ash said...

No way, that means you count double! xxx