Japanese Tidbits: 指


Just a little mid-week post here. Inspired by a conversation I had the other day, I figured it’s worth tossing out there.

指(ゆび) is often translated into English as “finger”. On the hand, the five fingers (or four fingers and a thumb if you’re one of those people) are:

親指(おやゆび), the thumb. Or, directly translated, the “parent finger”. Given that it’s the thickest (like a pudgy mom or dad), or perhaps the most useful finger, it makes sense that it’s the “parent”.

さし指(さしゆび), the pointer finger. Pretty much the same in Japanese, as 指す is “to point”. Sometimes it’s written as 指し指, but that looks weird, doesn’t it?

中指(なかゆび), the middle finger. Again, same. Traditionally, the middle finger doesn’t have any negative meaning associated with it like it does in America. But, recently, everyone understands what you mean when you do it angrily. It also has the meaning of “brother” in Japanese sign language, which can lead to laughs from people who don’t know in the rare case of seeing JSL.

On that note, in general, the 親指 can be thought of as the “father”, the さし指 as the “mother”, the 中指 as the “brother”, the 薬指 as the “sister”, and the 小指 as the “baby”.

Back onto those last two fingers, the 薬指(くすりゆび) is the ring finger or “medicine finger” in Japanese. While we think of the ring finger as the place where wedding rings go, that practice is a new one in Japan. The medicine finger actually gets its name from the fact that that finger has the most gentle touch (it’s harder to apply pressure with it) and doctors would traditionally dip their medicine finger into medicine and apply it that way.

Lastly, the 小指(こゆび) is the pinky finger in American English. But more widely, it’s the “little finger”, a name it shares with the direct translation of the Japanese. Also, it just makes sense. Who came up with “pinky” anyways.

Last but not least, and the reason I wrote this post, is the fact that if you ask a Japanese person how many fingers they have, they’ll answer…




That’s because the toes are also considered 指 in Japanese. 手の指 and 足の指. 合わせたら、20本がある。 In American English, we’d usually say we have 10 fingers and 10 toes. With that in mind, 指 is perhaps best translated as “digit”, though that sounds a little academic to me, personally.

Japan is not unique in this distinction either. Many other languages don’t distinguish between fingers and toes, which was actually a surprise to me. But hey, we learn something new every day.

Super last but not least, when referring to toes, while they are considered 指, the most common way that Japanese people talk about them are as the つま先(つまさき), all 5 toes on a foot together. When you grab your toes (such as in the “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” song), you’re usually grabbing your つま先. When discussing how to jump, つま先 often comes up as well. After all, we don’t really coordinate each toe. The focus is on the toes together.

Anywho, hope you enjoyed a little midweek Japanese tidbit. See you on Friday when I talk about what it means to get into the game industry.

Staff Change

staff change

Definitely not allowed to post any of this. But, yeah, this is what a staff change looks like. Minus the tears and feelings.


It’s that time of year again: time to say Goodbye. Continue reading

Oh, is it Friday again?

Hey y’all. It’s Friday again. Did you notice? TGIF and all that!

Just had the graduation ceremony for the elementary school today. I gave a little speech in front of everyone like every teacher did, except this time I was able to say something completely coherent. My road to Japanese fluency is… well, I’m not sure. I’m standing in a field somewhere. There are many roads ahead of me. Language, certainly, isn’t conducive to learning in a straight line.

This Tuesday I came down with 胃腸炎, which dictionaries tell me means “gastroenteritis” and symptoms tell me means pain and a high fever and vomit and diarrhea. I took vacation time to go home early because it’s hard to use sick leave in Japan. But I did get better. Still taking medicine, but I feel right as rain.

Speaking of Tuesday, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week the 1st and 2nd years (U.S. 7th and 8th graders) at the Junior High School played Shichikashuku II. The reception was super warm in spite of playing in a cold room on slow computers. By the end of Wednesday (we only got two days to play the game this year), most of the kids were asking for a copy of the game. They only managed to reach the end of Chapter 2, so there’s still a lot of game in front of them (the game is 6 chapters long + post-game content). Either I need to figure out how to write the game to a CD, or buy a lot of USB drives. 😛

Game’s not done, but it’s really close. I have 25 more English Gates to put in the game (maybe a few more?), a few tiny areas to finish, flavor text to add, and… well, I’ll just show a cutout from my word document:

Remainder Work

This is it. Almost done with version 1.00.

Anywho, this weekend two friends are coming down from Kobe for skiing and snowboarding, and well, there’s no snow. Well, not around here. Actually, I can still find a tiny mound in my neighborhood, but that’s not enough. We will definitely be able to snowboard this weekend, but it’ll be a drive.

So, that’s the past week. Next week on Thursday the school year ends. On Friday and Monday and Tuesday are various parties to say goodbye and good luck to all the leaving teachers. It’ll be sad.

OK, it’s 4:15. I gotta go. Party tonight. Pick friend up from the airport tomorrow morning.

See y’all space cowboys and cowgirls on the flipside.


It’s been so long since I’ve written something long-form and not about my current project. It’s hard to get back in that mindset though. It’ll happen, but a little more distance from my current project will help.

The game was a pretty good success. Aside from the fact that their time in class playing it was not nearly enough. But that’s where the USB gift will come in.

Shichikashuku II is more done than is necessary but less done than I’d like. There’s always something more to add. I guess that’s what happens when you make a sprawling world map first.

I’m finishing up the post-game content this week. I didn’t get time to put in the airship, not because it can’t be implemented, but because implementing it means I need to finish making the 3-4 areas you can only access with the airship. Could I implement it without those? Sure. But the game will feel less complete, ironically, even though it has more in it.

Next Sunday, I give the USBs with the game to the students. But, maybe not. If I feel like there’s still a little more work that needs going into it, I think I’ll do that.

Man, game delays suck. But it’s even worse being on this side of it.