Kamikaze: the Owner's Manual--II

Hi Dan,

I was looking at your neat website and came across the section "Kamikaze: the owner's manual" wherein the pilot is told to recite to himself "yakyujoh" in preparation for takeoff. I quote: "Say in your mind: "Yah" [field], "Kyu" [ball], "Joh" [all right] as you breathe deeply. "

I have studied Japanese for 8 years and lived in Japan for 2. I have also worked as a translator. I was surprised to see the meaning someone has attached to the word "Joh." This is very obviously an incorrect translation pulled straight from a dictionary.

"Yakyujoh" means "Baseball field." "Yakyuu" (Two u's) is the Japanese word for Baseball ("field ball") and "Joh" (or "Jou" as it is most commonly written) connotes a space or an area set apart for stated use. It is a common suffix used to match English terms like "field" or "green" or "arena," etc.

"Jou" can, indeed, mean "all right," (and there are many homonyms in Japanese) but no Japanese person would ever use this combination of ideograms. This is like someone saying "Base [headquarters] ball [type of dance] field [agricultural area]" :) Here's some information from [the Japanese Baseball History website] that might explain the question, "why 'Baseball field?'":

"Even before the establishment of their first professional league in 1936, baseball had been played in Japan for over a half-century. Introduced by American teachers and professors in the 1870s, Japanese baseball evolved apart from the game played in the United States. Primarily used as a 'teaching' tool, baseball during those early years was played rigidly, as if it were a martial art through which players strengthened themselves physically and mentally." (Emphasis mine)

My guess is that the use of the term "Baseball field" was meant to bring the pilot's mind into a more focused state. I have met many Japanese Baseball players and they are very intense people, treating the game almost as a religion. Also I was on a Japanese city softball team for a while and wow, did they take it seriously.

Sorry for the long email; I hope this brings more light to the issue. I find it fascinating. And thank you for the effort you put into your website, and your thoughtful comments on soc.history.war.world-war-ii.

-- Marc Carson

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