Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Aptly named Japanese cities: Fukuoka

The man on the right of the sinkhole was overheard shouting down to his trapped companion: "Fuck!! You OK?"



Robin Smith said...

Didn't they have a nuclear reactor have a nuclear explosion there recently? Releasing deadly radiation across the whole world? Killing thousands?

Curtis said...


No, Fukushima is in northern Honshu, and Fukuoka is on Kyushu. About as far apart culturally/linguistically as Cornwall and Edinburgh.

It's quite unfortunate that the Chinese word for luck, 福, was pronounced quite similarly to "fuck" for most of the past millenium. In the imperialist language enforced by the ruling communists it is now just pronounced "foo".

Cantonese, the language spoken in Hong Kong, is a conservative type of modern Chinese close to Middle Chinese (spoken say 500-1700AD), so that word is still pronounced like a Geordie might say "fuck" today. This lends itself to some gems such as "fuck that" (which means "luck arrives").

This is relevant to the Japanese example because Japan imported Chinese vocabulary during the period where Middle Chinese was spoken, hence this combination of sounds is common in Japanese place names. As Japanese cannot end syllables on consonants other than n, "fuk" becames "fuku". However, Japanese does not really have an F, unless you only listen to well-meaning 19th century missionaries, so in reality it is pronounced more closely to "hooker" than "fuck you".

Mike W said...

Did you wonder where the London, Cross Rail boring machine, they forgot to switch off, ended up?

Mark Wadsworth said...

C, ta for additional info!

MW, haha well spotted!

Frank Davis said...

The sinkhole appeared just west of Hakata station in Fukuoka. As it happens I stayed in a hotel near Hakata station 10 years ago, and used to walk westward from there to a conference centre near the harbour. So I've probably walked over the spot where the sinkhole appeared.

Funnily enough, I took a lot of interest in the streets of Fukuoka. It had some amazing manhole covers. Some of them were multicoloured works of art.