Friday, 12 August 2011

All aboard please..please...please...oh F#### it!

More train passengers in Hokkaido will soon be getting my dulcet tones....

I did another in my occasional side-gig of narration jobs. I get these sometimes because my step-dad bullied me into speaking proper, and there aren't so many nice English gels in Sapporo with plummy Home Counties voices.

So at 9.30 am I was at the JR Hokkaido head office at Soen Station (in a Harry Potter kind-of-a-way you go beyond the work-a-day ticket area, through the glass doors and into the plushness that is corporate Japan).

And once there I checked over the script from the translation company one more time. Eight or nine pages, shouldn't be too hard. Short in-train announcements for services between Sapporo and Kushiro and Obihiro. Lists of station stops, refrain from smoking, use your mobiles near an old man with a pacemaker...that kind of thing.
Easy. I thought. 1 hour recording. Then checking. 90 minutes. Tops.

How wrong can you be....

So I'm in the JR Hokkaido recording studio, surrounded by old posters, cassette tapes, left-over primping stuff from the days when it was used by JR presenter women doing the train cancellation news on local TV.
All going well - the usual slips that can be easily redone in seconds...inserted "the" in front of New Chitose Airport, made some of my "Thankyou"s too chirpy and friendly. All ok.

Then the JR guy and the translation company guy realise the lists of station names (We will be making brief stops at.....etc etc etc) had different intonations. And they wanted ALL of them to be the same. All of them to end UP. Not "Tomamu". But "TomaMU!" some overly cheerful Canadian farm girl.
So we had to do all the introduction announcements again. And again. And....oh FUCK.
I can say that. It's my blog.
It was a long haul. Thanks to the guys and the engineer was hard. I've been in Japan too long and know the correct pronunciation to do this easily. I can't be a gaijin anymore.

Anyway. Two hours later all done. Hopefully. I dream they will find another slipped word ending and call me back in to be an extra peppy gaijin and make every place name sound like a Canadian question.
Used to have a friend who did that: everything she said ended on a higher note. She was an excellent kids teacher cos it all sounded like a kids Tv presenter.The kids were mesmerized.


Anyway. Came back to the classroom in sweltering Sapporo...another day of 31 Celsius was actually becoming a humongous 33 point something...awful.
Did three classes back at the classroom, and then went to the gym - because they have air conditioning...and then home.

My turn to do dinner. I'd looked up a good recipe for corn fritters as somebody gave me 3 fresh corns. But with Okaasan's teeth we didn't think she could manage a corn on the cob. So I de-cobbed the corn and made fritters. Got another huge yellow tomato from the garden for the soup and rice ready....called everyone together.

"No, I'm not eating"...Okaasan spake. Didn't even look away from the TV in her room as she said it either. I'd been right there in the kitchen behind her for the past 40 minutes cooking. The kitchen is 2 meters the other side of big glass doors. She could have told me...could have, should have...never does. It is so frustrating to literally sweat over something special for her - I'd actually prefer the corn on the cob with butter - and then she doesn't want to eat because she ate something in the convenience store earlier.

So Yujiro and I had dinner a deux. And I had to make all the fritters because I'd already made the batter...


Or should that be GrrrrrrrrrrRRR!??


  1. And now I know why the inntonation of announcements in JR trains in Tokyo annoy me so much! I figured it was just somebody who didn't know Japanese (like the woman who did the recording for the museum audio guide I translated, the Japanese guy I worked with on the translation had a horrible time trying to get her to pronounce things "properly!) but it is JR guys trying for a "foreignized" version of Japanese! Sigh!!

  2. now you know.
    I guess they would say that foreigners will only recognise Japanese words said in a "foreign" way...whatever that is...but it was strange, and it isn't what local people would say to a foreign visitor at all....HiroSHIMA! ToKYyo! OkiNAwa!.....Toront...Shidonknee.....


  3. I feel your frustration.

    Before the Nagano Olympics I and another guy were given a rush job of translating all the road signs in the prefecture, because they were all going to be renewed. Or something. We stayed up all night doing them, only to have our PERFECT English corrected by some high-up old git who thought he knew better, and that crap was printed on all the signs. Sigh. Dunno why they didn't just ask him to do it in the first place if they weren't going to believe two native speakers.