kannazuki no misoka
Butsuzen Kekkon

In the north ward of Kumamoto City, there's a small neighborhood dedicated to Buddhist temples of the Nichiren sect. It's been there for centuries, having first been established by Kato Kiyomasa, a hero of the Sengoku Period best known in the West through Koei-Tecmo's Samurai Warriors series (or for you Pokémaniacs out there, Pokémon Conquest). In this modern age, attendance and general knowledge of the Buddhist temples has fallen sharply, so the families of Honmyoji started an annual festival called Tera Fes to raise awareness and promote their little slice of Japanese culture. This year, the theme was Hell. Shinto doesn't really do much with the afterlife or the prospects of punishment in the next world, so that's something the Buddhist faiths have the market on in Japanese culture. There was a Halloween air to the entire thing, with a haunted house, attendees and visitors in costume, and lots of candy. Nozomi and I also got to do a bit of dressing up, though our part in this year's festival had nothing to do with Halloween or the Buddhist hells.

Yes, we had a wedding. Though we were officially married last year, we did it at the Kumamoto city hall without any pomp or ceremony. Why have it at Tera Fes? Well, there's a bit of story there. I attended the first festival three years ago, turning down some other options for that weekend because I'd promised some of my students who have family connections to Honmyoji. Because I happened to stay in town that weekend instead of going up to the mountains or down to the sea, I was in the right cafe at the right time to meet Nozomi, who herself had some odd coincidences which led her to that time and place. In all seriousness, if I hadn't gone to Tera Fes that weekend, it's overwhelmingly likely we would never have met. Nozomi and I went to the second Tera Fes together, and were always open about how amazing it was that we'd met at all, and one of my student moms thought this was oh-so-romantic. This mom, Mrs. Kanai, happens to be the wife of a Nichiren priest whose father is the head of one of the temples in Honmyoji. Mrs. Kanai also happens to be on the Tera Fest planning committee. Back in July when they were planning this year's festival, she was reminded of our story, and decided to work the romantic angle.

So, literally the day before Nozomi and I were to leave for our summer vacation in the US, Mrs. Kanai asked us if we'd like to have a complementary wedding this fall. We said yes, of course, without any idea of how big an event this would end up being. Apparently at some point, Mrs. Kanai had an interview with a news reporter, who'd expressed doubts about the feasibility of crowd-sourcing an entire wedding. In his opinion, it simply couldn't be done. She took it as a challenge.

How much does a wedding like this cost? Honestly, I do not know. We got the venue for free, obviously, and Mr. Kanai served as the officiating priest. That was all we were expecting at the beginning. But then Mrs. Kanai kept getting more and more people in on the project. She got this wonderful hairdresser named Ayumi who's done work for professional modeling agencies across Kyushu, as well as the creative talent of Mr. Goro Itou, a world-famous hair designer Ayumi-san knew. We got free rentals for the wedding kimono and hakama (my outfit), as well as full professional kimono-fitting and cosmetics services, all of which would normally run into the thousands of dollars. We had a locally famous singer perform, and a free wedding cake as well. Between my students, Nozomi's homeroom class, and various interested bystanders, we had over a hundred people in attendance, plus coverage by two or three newspapers and several TV stations. All Nozomi and I paid in the end was about thirty dollars for a pair of tabi, the moccasin-like toe-socks, because Ms. Ogou the kimono fitter had to go out of her way to find a pair that would come close to fitting me properly (though I still had to be sewn into them so they wouldn't flop around).

A lot of thanks go out to all the people who made this possible, including many, many people whom I never met. For the photos, I'd have to thank my student Kurumi Kanai, daughter of the priest and my personal camera girl for the event. I figured that, what with all the cameras around, I could afford to risk having a fourth-grader photo-blog it for me. She managed to get some good shots, to my happy surprise. What do you all think?

In last week's Famitsu, Imageepoch introduced the world to Stella Glow, the company's tenth anniversary effort. Silly me, I ended up not buying that issue for budget reasons, safe in the knowledge that the art assets and screenshots would show up on the Famitsu website within a few days — which as of now has not happened. So I'm stuck with these pictures, and nothing else:

From what I've been able to pick up from the Japanese news sites, the story goes like this. Hilda, the Witch of Destruction (and sheer-fronted outfits), has decided to live up to her title and destroy the world. She does this by singing a strange song that causes everything nearby to crystalize. Opposing her, we have the hero, Alt. He's a member of the 9th Royal Knights Division, and apparently he has some sort of plot-induced amnesia thing going on. His best friend is Lisette, the young Witch of Water, and somewhere near the start of the story the two of them rescue Popo, the equally young Witch of Wind. There are two other witches left unaccounted for, it seems, but their unique song-magics are apparently necessary if Hilda's crystal-crazy spree is to be stopped.

On the development side of things, the game's producer is Hideyuki Mizutani (Fate/EXTRA, Luminous Arc, etc.), while the director is Dai Okai, who worked on Okami and 7th Dragon 2020-II. Hopefully this means that Stella Glow will end up better than the last few Imageepoch games. As of now there does not seem to be a projected release date, but we'll let you all know when it arrives. Hopefully there will be some actual screenshots by then.

Source: Famitsu Online
10/20 ~ 10/26 10/13 ~ 10/19 10/6 ~ 10/12 9/29 ~ 10/5 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 1 1 1 New Arrival! Monster Hunter 4G Capcom
5 * * * New Arrival! Tales of the World: Reve Unitia Bandai-Namco
8 3 3 3 Down from 4 Youkai Watch 2 Level-5
9 * * * New Arrival! Super Hero Generation Bandai-Namco
10 * * * New Arrival! Super Hero Generation Bandai-Namco
11 4 * * New Arrival! Chaos Rings III: Prequel Trilogy Square Enix
12 5 4 2 New Arrival! Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX Square Enix
15 8 13 16 Down from 12 Dragon Quest X Square Enix
22 15 9 4 New Arrival! Kinki no Magna Marvelous
25 21 22 27 Up from 27 Taiko no Tatsujin - Don & Katsu's Excellent Adventure Bandai-Namco
26 18 23 25 Down from 23 Youkai Watch Level-5
Off-list 20 14 10 Down from 2 Sen no Kiseki II Falcom
Off-list 22 18 13 Down from 3 Sen no Kiseki II Falcom
Off-list 28 Off 30 Down from 28 Toukiden - Age of Demons Extreme Konami
Off-list 30 19 7 New Arrival! Ar no Surge Plus Gust
Off-list Off 28 9 New Arrival! Ciel no Surge Offline Gust
Off-list Off 30 23 Down from 8 Dungeon Travelers 2 AquaPlus
Off-list Off Off 6 New Arrival! Kingdom Hearts Starter Pack - HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix Square Enix
Off-list Off Off 8 New Arrival! *ω* (Omega) Quintet Compile Heart

The Hero Bank 2 series is based around prize-fighting and pro wrestling. With a theme like that, there have to be some major heels to serve as the object of antagonism. So who is bad enough to take on our two junior-high baby-faces this time around? As it turns out, Hero Bank 2 has a whole stable of heels, arriving from Parts Unknown to play out an invasion storyline. From the video below, it looks like they aren't on the card, much less a part of the main event, and it even seems like they might be legit, without any sense of kayfabe. And if that's the case, then the heroes will need a lot of straight-shooting to win the day. So let's meet the Shichifukujin.

Japanese culture afficionados might recognize the term "Shichifukujin" as the name of a group of seven deities of luck, fortune, and prosperity. Variations on this group appear all over manga and anime. In Hero Bank 2, this group is a little different. The "fuku" in the name, for example, is not the usual kanji for "good fortune." Instead, it's been swapped out for the kanji for "clothing." So they're not the Seven Lucky Gods, but instead the Seven Costumed Gods, more or less. Judging from the way they act, they may be aiming for that third fuku homophone, the one that's incorporated into the word for "world conquest." It's no more a stretch than the rest of the game, at least. I know at least two manga series that make use of the same wordplay.

Anyway, Hero Bank 2 is going to arrive at a store near me on November 27th. I guess I should try the first one sometime, eventually.

Source: Famitsu Online

In other news, the release date for Makaijin Trillion has been pushed back to sometime next year. That's really all we can say, because there's been no real information on this game since last spring. I had to scour the Compile Heart website to find anything else to include here, so have some more character art.

Last March, we took a look at Zeabolos, a Dark Lord who lost badly in a battle against Trillion, only to have his soul bound to a strange girl's grimoire. Now he must rally his various friends and family, including six ladies representing six major sins. The three characters above haven't been mentioned on here before now. On the left is Elma, little sister to Zeabolos and Felgor (Sin of Sloth). Weak and sickly by demonic standards, she mainly hangs out in the castle — though I'm betting she can really swing that torch-stand she's carrying. Keeping Elma company is Cerberus. Once a proud guardian of Hell's gates, this doggy's encounter with Trillion left him spent, which is why he's now Elma's little lap-dog. Hopefully he'll regain some of his dignity later on. Finally, we have Astaroth, Zeabolos' big brother and Dark Lord of Melancholy. His daughters are Ruche (Pride) and Perpell (Gluttony), and somehow he survived the initial battle with Trillion while his brother and liege did not. Maybe there's nothing to that, but the way that the blurb on the CH page is written... (elipses and all).

Source: Compile Heart

When last we saw Legend of Legacy, that new game from Furyu with so many SaGa veterans behind it, there was one style choice that really popped out — namely, the way the backgrounds just jumped up out of nowhere as the player wandered around. Turns out, there's an entire system in-game dedicated to cartography, as this short video shows:

Next we have some combat screens, and I have to say that the format is giving me flashbacks to the SaGa DS remakes. There's something else interesting at work, though. If you look at the two-part screenshots below, you can see in the touch screen section a rainbow-hued diagram that changes between the three example shots. There appears to be a sort of field element system at work, with characters and enemies harnessing the powers of the spirits to manipulate the battlefield for better bonuses or penalties.

Legend of Legacy is still on track for a late January release, and I'm looking forward to it.

Source: Famitsu Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Elminage Ibun: Ame-no-mihashira Kai Starfish 11.13.14
Pokémon Alpha Sapphire / Omega Ruby The Pokémon Co. 11.22.14
Dragon Age: Inquisition Electronic Arts 11.27.14
Phantasy Star Nova Sega 11.27.14
Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Knight of Fafnir Atlus 11.27.14
Hero Bank 2 Sega 11.27.14
Source: Dengeki Online

Square Enix has a new teaser site up here, but it's nothing special so far. There's just a countdown clock (which should run out next Friday at 1PM, Japan time), and the caption "The legend is revived" written out in Japanese. That's the exact verb used, revived. Not "returns," but the actual Japanese verb for "to come back from the dead." What this means is anyone's guess. One of the news guys over at Famitsu has made the claim that it obviously means the Yokohama high-speed legend, Racing Lagoon, but he was obviously having a laugh. The teaser page is giving us absolutely nothing to go on besides that quote, so who knows? The racing RPG may be making a return. My money would be on anything else, though.

Source: Dengeki Online
Nihongo wo shaberimasen ka?

Hey Gaijin-san,

I recently started teaching and this question came to mind when I saw your column. When you teach your class, do you speak English, Japanese, or a mix of both?



Over the years, this has really depended on where I was working and whom I was working with. At the big eikaiwa companies, there are specific policies against the use of Japanese in the classroom, but the students are often college-age or older and (in theory) have sufficient background in English to manage. Those companies are also a common gateway for foreigners to enter the country, and many of their employees are both new to Japan and so inexperienced with the Japanese language that it would really just get in the way. In an ALT setting, a lot depends on how the school decides to use you. Some schools might use an ALT only as a living classroom aid, useful only for parroting the material, while others may have the ALT teaching full classes. Obviously, there would be a lot of Japanese use required for that second scenario.

For me, the amount of Japanese I use varies by class. With my chibikko classes (ages 2 or 3), I don't use Japanese at all with the kids, though I will with the moms. Those little kids are barely verbal in Japanese, if at all, and the classes are all based on songs and vocabulary cards anyway. With my elementary school kids, I do use a fair amount of Japanese, because there's a lot of conceptual stuff involved with grammar that is hard to get across in a 55-minute class, and I cannot depend on the kids figuring it out on their own. I know most of the relevant grammar terms in Japanese by this point, though there are occasions where I know those terms better than the kids and their parents, because the Japanese education system doesn't teach the basics of grammar that rigorously. In any case, kids of that age group tend to work better if they have some idea of where the lesson is going. If I can tell them at the very beginning (in Japanese) what we'll be doing that day, it saves me a lot of effort later on. And of course, sometimes I need to chew someone out, and that doesn't work too well if they don't understand what I'm saying.

Lessons with students from junior-high and up tend to work differently, with longer stretches of English-only interspersed with short bursts of explanation in Japanese. A lot of the work there involves helping the students understand and contextualize what they've learned in school, though I'm proud to say that my handful of junior-high students are doing well above their grade level at this point. Finally, I have one lesson a week with this group of older ladies, where we ditched any meaningful lesson plans long ago in favor of talking points and vocabulary themes for the week. In that class, I often have to take something that's been said (in Japanese) and convert it into the basis of a fifteen-minute lesson fragment in English.

Anyhoo, thanks for being the first person to send a letter in... well, it's been a long time and let's leave it at that. Sorry to take so long to reply, but I just had to save it up for the seventh anniversary column.

I've got a Halloween party tomorrow afternoon, but I'm using the same costume as last year. It's hard for me to find costumes in this country that fit me right, and it's not like I didn't already have my fill of dressing up this month.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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