Japanese Lesson # 2 – Floral Shoppe Part 2: Track Titles
On our last journey into the Vaporworld, we examined the text on the cover of the Floral Shoppe album, and through it we were introduced to a few concepts in the Japanese language: Katakana, Kanji, and the の particle. Today, we’re going to take things a step farther and update our knowledge by looking at the track names on the Floral Shoppe album. Let’s find out what all those mysterious characters mean, and learn a bit of Japanese while doing it!
Note: The track titles that I will be examining are from the classic 2011 release of the album. There have been a few other subsequent releases, but I believe that this original release contains the tracks that most people are familiar with, and so we will be using this as the basis for this article.
The current page for Floral Shoppe on the Beer on the Rug bandcamp contains fewer tracks. Although it will not be the version we will be consulting, this is the link you should visit if you want to support the artist:
1. ブート (buuto): Boot
Remember what we said about katakana? It’s one of the two syllabic alphabets in Japanese, and this one is mostly used for representing foreign loan words, for some names, and sometimes for emphasis. In this case, ブート is using katakana to represent a foreign word, the English word “boot”. Now, hold onto your swivel chair, because this isn’t the kind of boot you wear on your feet. Instead, this means, of course, the action of “booting a computer”.
While the word is indeed used in Japanese to refer to starting a computer, I haven’t seen it used a lot myself. Instead, 立ち上げる (たちあげる – tachiageru) seems to be used more often. This word uses two kanji: 立 (to stand up, rise) and 上 (up, above). Nevertheless, the term is idiomatic, combining 立つ and 上げる together, which are often seen as two separate words.
Macintosh Plus’s use of ブートhere is actually correct, since, despite being from English, this word takes up much less space than 立ち上げる, and is more likely to be used on things like computer boot screens. It is a more than appropriate way of beginning our trip into this album’s strange world.
2. リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー (りさふらんく420 / げんだいのこんぴゅー – risafuranku 420 / gendai no konpyuu): Lisa Frank 420 / Modern Computer
Easily the most recognizable song on the entire album, it also features the longest track name and, by extension, a valuable opportunity to learn some Japanese! Let’s dig into it.
By this point, we’re pretty much experts on katakana, aren’t we? Maybe we aren’t able to read the alphabet quite yet (I am currently working on an educational resource for JPT that will help readers learn how to read katakana – please keep your tabs open!) but at this point we at least know what it is. It is with katakana that this title begins, representing the name Lisa Frank, an American designer of colourful commercial images for children. The usage is entirely appropriate, since Lisa Frank isn’t a Japanese name, and would indeed be rendered using the katakana alphabet. The 420 part is a bit more mysterious – perhaps the implication here is that, after indulging in some 420 activities, the THC in your body will transform your vision of the world into something resembling a Lisa Frank illustration. I don’t know what recreational substances Macintosh Plus has been engaging with, but it must be some potent stuff.
The second part, after the slash mark, features more kanji. This time, the word is 現代 (げんだい – gendai) which means “the modern era”. コンピュー (konpyuu) is a strange word, since I don’t believe it’s used in Japanese. It is obviously meant to represent “computer” in katakana, but usually the katakana コンピュータ (konpyuuta) is used for that purpose. I’ve seen the titled translated as “modern computing” before, but unless コンピュー is some kind of slang or shortening I am not familiar with, I can’t see a reason the translation would be understood as “computing” and not simply “computer.”
Finally, the character between 現代 and コンピュー is, as you probably all remember, the notorious の particle. As we said last lesson, it’s meant to connect two nouns together. In this case, the の particle is giving us more information about the main noun, which is, as we said last time, always the last one. In this case, the main noun is コンピュー, computer. What kind of computer is it? It’s a 現代 (gendai) computer – a modern computer! It’s a little amusing, seeing that the kinds of computers usually featured in nostalgia-rich vaporwave imagery are from around the 80s and 90s – I suppose those old models were 現代 at some point!
3. 花の専門店 (はなのせんもんてン – hana no senmonten): Flower Specialty Store / Floral Shoppe
This is a cute one, and shows something of the subtle humour demonstrated by Macintosh Plus in this album. This title, as readers of the last article probably know, contains the kanji 専門店, which means “specialty store”. The first kanji is just 花 (hana) – flower. So, this track title is just yet another way of representing the album’s title – Floral Shoppe. Again, note the use of the の particle, providing us more information on the last noun. What kind of a 専門店 is it? It’s, of course, a 専門店 of 花 – a Shop of Flowers!
4. ライブラリ (raiburari) – Library
If you’ve been following everything so far, this title should be easy enough. Again, Macintosh Plus uses katakana to represent a foreign loan word. The word ライブラリ isn’t used too frequently in Japan. When it is used, it’s usally used in the sense of “a collection of works”, as in a software library – which, come to think of it, may have been what Macintosh Plus was intending when naming these tracks. As for the actual physical place where you go to look at books, in Japan they say 図書館 (としょかん – toshokan).
5. 地理 (ちり – chiri) – Geography
Maybe when you go to the library, you’re compelled to visit the geography section? I’m not entirely sure what motivation Mactintosh Plus had for the naming of this track, but it is one of the two tracks on this album named after academic subjects – we’ll get to the second soon enough. Perhaps the names are simply meant to go along with the library theme, or evoke an image of retro educational resources? In any case, the artist’s intention was probably far more poetic than logical. There is something about the abstract ideal of attaining knowledge, of dedicating oneself to study and bettering the state of society, moving toward a looming ideal of ultimate happiness and satisfaction for everyone on the planet, that aligns with a certain utopian strain in vaporwave.
6. ECCOと悪寒ダイビング (ECCOとおかんダイビング – ECCO to okan daibingu): ECCO and Chills Diving
I assume that ECCO in this track is a nod to Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1, another formative album in the vaporwave genre, which is itself a reference to the 1992 game Ecco the Dolphin developed for the Sega Genesis (also known as the Mega Drive, as seen in the giant text reading “MEGA” on the front of the album cover). 悪寒 (おかん–okan) is a word refering to “chills” and “shakes” – more specifically, the chills that go along with being sick. Literally, the two kanji 悪 and 寒 mean “bad” and “cold.” ダイビング is just a katakana representation of the English word “diving.” 悪寒 is noun, so it doesn’t make much sense to just press it up against ダイビング without an accompanying particle. I suspect Macintosh Plus’s intention was to say “chill diving”, with chill acting as an adjective. In that case, 冷たいダイビング (つめたいダイビング – tsumetai daibingu), or “cold diving”, may have been a better translation, but the text is nevertheless very charming just the way it is, imperfections and all.
One more note: We’ve already learned about the の particle, but Macintosh Plus uses another particle here to link two nouns together. Can you tell which one it is? It’s the と (to) particle, of course! It’s pronounced like the little wiggling little things on your feet that help you keep upright. The と particle is a lot like the English conjunction “and”. So in this case, Macintosh Plus is mentioning two seperate subjects: ECCO and (と) 悪寒ダイビング. So free up some storage space, please, and make a mental folder for our second particle – と! We are sure to see it again in a future lesson.
7. 数学 (すうがく – suugaku): Mathematics
This is another easy one to understand. Like the track “地理”, this track title refers to an academic subject, in this case mathematics. Perhaps its another subject that you have an interest in, during your visit to the library? The two kanji used here are 数 (number) and 学 (study). 学 (gaku) is a common kanji that you’ll see a lot, especially if you’re in high school or university. It’s simply tagged onto the end of a word to indicate that it is “the study of” a thing. For example, 文学 (ぶんがく – bungaku) is the study of literature, and 哲学 (てつがく – tetsugaku) is the study of philosophy. Our current subject of study, however, is of Mactintosh Plus’s album Floral Shoppe, so let’s continue onto the last track title.
8. 待機 (たいき– taiki): Standing By
This is the last track on the original 2011 release and also has a simple title, comprised of two kanji representing a single word – 待機 or, in English, “Standing By”. I assume the meaning Macintosh Plus was going for was in the sense of radio or television programs interrupting their broadcast in order to present the audience with a message – as in, “we are experiencing technical difficulties. Please Stand by.” That would suggest the ending of Floral Shoppe to be marked by a certain technical interruption, with the intention being that the regular programing will soon be resumed. But of course, in the case of this album, that program is never resumed, and the album comes to a full stop. It’s a bit of a creepy way to end an album, if that was indeed what Macintosh Plus was intending with this last track name. Nevertheless, the sentiment fits into the atmosphere of the Vaporworld perfectly – the warmth and comfort of recorded human culture is shut off, leaving you alone in the silence of a mysterious, dark, and threatening reality.
That’s it! We’ve looked at the entire Floral Shoppe album! I hope this journey into the Vaporworld has been informative and interesting to you, and I hope you’ve picked up a little Japanese on the way, as well. Next time on Japanese Through Vaporwave, I will be taking a look at some of the music of one of the most notorious user of Japanese text in the Vaporworld – the mysterious, and always mystical, t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者. See you next time!
Please stand by…