Know Your Picture Characters Entry #38

January 10th, 2011 by Wordsman

A. 飛鳥 B. 安土桃山 C. 古墳 D. 戦国 E. 南北朝 F. 弥生

C was a popular guess this week, and while everyone seemed to agree that it was something, no one could agree on what it was.  Theoman and Shirley both saw simplicity (why they thought that second character looked simple is a mystery to me), but they went in opposite directions.  Or rather, they went in the same direction–only one direction you can go on a history quiz, really–but Shirley went a few centuries further back.  TGCU, on the other hand, saw warriors.  And by now, if you are an experienced KYPC participant, you have probably already guessed what I am going to say: none of their answers was correct.  C is the Tomb or Kofun Period, famous for keyhole-shaped burial mounds which could get to be over 400 meters in length.

But Shirley did not stop there.  Her persistence in the face of (entirely understandable) ignorance was rewarded with the only correct identification of the week: E is the Northern and Southern Courts Period.  I like the idea of one character standing in the middle holding the two sides at arm’s length, but actually North and South are right next to each other, with the Imperial Court hanging out at the end (interesting that in Japanese one says “Southern and Northern” but in English, at least in some parts of the U.S., it sounds better to say “Northern and Southern.”)

A Fan was our lone iconoclast, refusing to be sucked in by the popularity of C.  Despite probably knowing more about the Azuchi-Momoyama period than any of the other participants, however, he was unable to correctly spot it.  The era of the three great unifiers (Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu) was B.  Its direct predecessor, the Warring States or Sengoku Period, was the most common guess this week; it was located at D (one of the fun things about the Japanese language is that you can’t be sure whether it refers to one country at war or many provinces).  And out on the edges we have two sets of kanji with obscure pronunciations that may have tripped up Theoman: A is (for?) Asuka, and F is Yayoi.

While they don’t do it quite as regularly as the ones from last time, at least half of these periods continue the trend of being named after places.  Asuka was the site of the capital before they decided to pack everything up and move about seventeen miles north to Nara.  Oda Nobunaga built a castle at Azuchi, and Hideyoshi built one at Momoyama.  The Yayoi Period is named for the neighborhood in Tokyo where artifacts from it were first found, much like you might name a dinosaur the Utahraptor or Koreaceratops.  You can even argue that the Northern and Southern Courts Era was named after places, though more accurately it referred to two competing bloodlines.

Now that the new year is upon us, I think we should do a quiz on naming the months.  Now, in modern Japanese, the month names are very boring: literally “month one,” “month two,” etc.  So we’re going to be working with the traditional names instead.  Here are the first six months of the year; pick whichever one you want.  Keep in mind (if you feel like it), that the traditional Japanese calendar is the lunisolar calendar, and therefore originally the first month started a handful of weeks later than ours does.  On modern calendars, however, which list both the old names and the new names, the old first month mutsuki is listed with January, and so forth.

A. 卯月 B. 如月 C. 皐月 D. 水無月 E. 睦月 F. 弥生

Posted in Know Your Picture Characters | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Dragon Says:

    I cannot help but notice that all of these month names end in the character for “moon” (look, I remembered a thing) except F. Therefore, I’m going to say that F is February, because nobody likes February, which therefore means that it doesn’t get a moon for some reason. Also, you might still be playing tricky alphabet games.

  2. TheomanZero Says:

    I recognize the character for “water” in D, so I’m saying that’s April, with its showers.

  3. Shirley Says:

    I dislike February intenseley and I’m not crazy about the way F looks, either. Also both F. and February are short (good thing, too). I’m not going to try to psych out the Machiavlian mind of W.W. so I’ll ignore the fact that February begins with the letter F.

    If the year started two weeks after our calender, April and May could be a lot alike weatherwise, and A. and B are similar. I don’t even care which is which.

    For what is so rare as a day in June? So June should be C. which is really an attractive character.

    Four out of six should improve my odds. It worked last time.

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