Greets faithful fans of Joe,
Long ago, when I first asked Joe to teach me some Japanese words, so I too could skeeve on the girls he was chasing, he gave me one of his ‘Joe-looks’ and promptly started smashing my hands with his fists. He screamed out “Hidari!” then brought his fist hard down on my right hand, then followed closely with a shrill “Migi!” as he slapped the living shit out of my left. The puzzled expression on my face was soon mimicked on his.
“Waitaminute!”, he exclaimed. “That was backward.”
“Joe, I don’t-”
My left hand was quickly slapped, pimp-style. “Hidari!”, he screamed at me.
And thus my lessons in Japanese began. Continuing from his first unique language seminar of slapping me, most of Joe’s lessons involved him expounding on the attitude of speaking the Japanese language. He would ramble on about how all gaijin are taught a far too feminine manner of speaking. Joe looked me in the eye and said, “I ain’t gonna let that happen to you. You’re gonna learn my method.” The methodology he would develop shoulda been called simply: How to be a Badass in Japanese.
Joe mentioned recently on my last trip to Japan that he is filled with regret over teaching me in this manner. I’ve probably done nothing but embarrass him with my finely trained Japanese gutter-mouth in too many formal business meetings now. Still, it’s his own damn fault.
I will give him credit though. Often Joe would have moments of real insight. Especially when we were eating food. Joe could teach you one hell of a lesson over a meal. Something about it would always click. With this in mind, I kept the portable recorder burning one night in Ginza as we dined on Oden. Out of that recording, we got this little gem animated. “Kokoro” is perhaps the most important Japanese word I’ve ever learned. To know one single word that surmises the entire philosophy of how my animation studio is run is a powerful thing. When you watch this mini episode, you will (probably) learn the true meaning of the word. I encourage each of you to run your life with Kokoro burning hot in your heart.
PS : Here are some fun link things from Genki Japan that while probably not as effective as Joe slapping you on the inverse hand and screaming “Migi! Hidari!”, might still be instructional.