Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What is in a name?

A recent constitutional around the neighborhood inspired me to snap some shots of local apartment buildings, or more precisely, the signs adorning local buildings. With addresses providing something short of a precise location, many apartment buildings have adopted names. While you might expect to find lots of "Nakanishi" or "Yamada" names, nothing shows what a classy and modern person you are like having an address with a bit of French or English thrown in for good measure. One building I lived in changed its name to "Orb du Mer", and another building I lived in dubbed itself "Sejeur Nangu" (although once run through the Japanese alphabet they were 'Oubu du Meru' and 'Seijyuru Nangu' respectively).

As in the states, the names can have precious little to do with what is actually around. The US is lousy with developments whose names are inspired by whatever natural surroundings were plowed under in order to litter the landscape with identical housing units. Thus "Beechwood Grove" has likely leveled out the grove and replaced the beechwood trees with those anorexic maple trees that never seem to grow and are buttressed by more supports than your average cathedral.

Let's take a look at some, starting with the obscure:

Rokko is clearly the area to those who have been reading the blog - EXA is...not in the dictionary

Definite points for succinctness, but minus points for total lack of imagination.

"Hill" is a popular word in these names. Forget that this isn't on any discernible hill, and what a box sought by Nazis has to do with anything is beyond me.

Let's move on to the French inspired:

Phonetically this is "Monarie Rokko" though no French-English dictionary could provide a clue as to what Monarie means (remember, this is from French, mashed into the limited phonetics of the Japanese syllabary, and reproduced into English so the spelling could be light-years off)

However, the place seemed reasonably full of tenants so this is clearly not of great concern.

moving on...

The tower of Rokko - nice! (it is rather taller than the surrounding buildings, so bonus points for accuracy)

This is "Taisei LaFoure Rokko". Taisei means successful life in Japanese
I tried a variety of spellings for "Foure" and the only thing that returned any result was "foirer" which means to go (and here I quote the dictionary ) "tits-up" (i.e. belly-up). I am sure this isn't correct, but I love to think that the translation of this is "Successful life the tits-up Rokko"

On second thought, this could be a mistake of the English "Foray" for a French word and given a "la" which would render it the only slightly-less inane "Successful life the incursion Rokko"

Clearly these people had a dictionary...Beautiful Life Rokko.

The architects of Japan don't rely only on the French, they do love them some Spanish as seen here:

Pretty House. Simple...and boring so let's keep moving into the realm of English, where the figurative wheels come flying off the bus.

Nothing says good living like pleasant English words crammed meaninglessly together.

"Kou-nan Veru Shiti Rokko" or more likely (but we are entering the realm of conjecture...oh hell, we are already deep in the backwoods of conjecture by this point) "Kou-nan Veil City Rokko" which does nothing for clarification on second thought.

Town Court Rokko - though given the lack of clarity in the pronunciation this could also be "Town Coat Rokko" (phonetically this is Taun Couto Rokko)

Here we have the optimistically named "New Sun Life Rokko"

This you can read, so I will simply explain that "Mansion" refers to apartments in Japan (and leave you to ponder why)

I can not explain the Lions, nor the lack of a possessive apostrophe, though perhaps it's best for the human occupants to not have Lions for landlords.

Again, you can read, so I will clarify that the "ekimae" at the end signifies that this is close to the train station - perhaps the source of prestige. Also, since prestige implies distinction, there is a grain of irony in this being prestige number 2.

And around the corner is a separate "prestige" titled apartment further diluting the meaning of prestige, although at least this one provides some "assurance"

you know, in case you were worried.

And last but not least

The WeLv buildings, so named because (and I quote from signage around the 4-building complex) "We Love, We Live". It looks like they just couldn't commit to that second vowel. (The Japanese pronunciation is "werubu"

This is just withing a four block radius of my house - more fantastic names abound and I will naturally post them as I came across them.

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