Common Knowledge

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When I first moved to Japan, I was learning new stuff constantly (well, I guess I still am, but at least I have some base now.) I ran into trouble when I would find something I couldn’t read and then searched it out in the dictionary. Dictionaries are notoriously bad about informing us of frequency of use. Many English dictionaries will mark words as obsolete, but the remaining words – being the bulk of the dictionary – don’t get any additional notation. I realized very quickly that I new words which 90 percent of the population didn’t know; however, I couldn’t properly order a hamburger. So, it is important to figure out whether people will understand a word, and whether they will think it is odd, before committing it to memory.

On a similar front, I took place in tateboshi recently. When I was telling people about it, I was surprised at the number of people who had never heard of it. I have been hearing about it for a few years and was happy to get a chance.

Fishing net is strung around small pilings driven into the shallows off a beach. Contestants line up along one side. Many fish are thrown into the netted area. One side of the net is dropped and the contestants can run in and grab as many fish as they want. Yes, I said grab fish; we used our hands to catch them. Granted the fish normally live in deep water and breathe by moving through fresh water, so they are tired from sitting in small tanks; however, it can still be a little challenging.

They decided to throw a number of large buri (鰤・yellowtail) into the mix. These fish are up to a meter long and are a little pricy. One giant beast came flying in and I kept my eye on him until they let us in and I grabbed him in about three seconds. Later I returned to catch one aji (鯵・horse mackeral) and one octopus. When I returned home my neighbor helped me clean the beast and we parted it out to share with five households. I gave the two halves of the head to my favorite neighbors. I also gave away all the bones, which apparently make for good teriyaki. I kept one nice large section of sashimi for me and shared it with a special friend that night.

Anyhow, back to the common knowledge issue: my dictionaries contained no information about this event; however, the word tateboshi (建て干し網) refers to a type of casting net. I need to ask around some more, but I think it is kind of a special event and not so widespread. One friend who has never heard of it is from a fishing area. Since this is not really fishing, it would probably be frowned on by his whole community as a silly waste of time. So, we can learn things and experience things, but they aren’t always common…

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One Response to “Common Knowledge”

  1. Making Money… for Others « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] first event together was tateboshi (建干し) fishing, in which fish are caught by hand from inside a netted area. Most of my time […]

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