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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)

2007年 8月 5日
Column #330

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora majan). Two significant new websites have emerged to serve English-speaking devotees of Japanese majan. Yakitori Online ( is based in Italy, although the site's lingua franca is English. It's a surprisingly lively discussion forum where the sole topic is Japanese majan. Reach Mahjong ( is based in Japan, and is the brainchild of Jenn Barr and Garthe Nelson, gaijin who live in Japan and have actually (believe it!) become pro players there. I'm so jealous.

Jenn Barr

Reach Mahjong features irregular columns by Jenn, Garthe, and, Gemma. The columns link readers to a forum where the column topics may be discussed. The hot topic of the moment is terminology.

Jenn teaches the Japanese game to other expats, and in doing so she's had to grapple with the question of terminology. Should Japanese majan terms be used? Or should new English terms be created, so as not to overwhelm beginners? Obviously, I too had to grapple with this question in writing columns about the Japanese game. The answer I came to differs from Jenn's.

When I write a column about the Japanese game, I assume that my audience consists of Japanophiles (people who are enthusiastic about Japanese culture - not just people who want to learn mah-jongg of the Japanese persuasion). In my view, this audience is not only capable of adapting Japanese terms, but even desires to learn them. My mentor for the Japanese game, Ricky Shiraishi, is a native Japanese speaker; he was never exposed to English-language mah-jongg literature or terms. So he never tries to come up with English versions for majan terms. All the computer and video game majan programs I played when I was studying the game are in Japanese. So it has always seemed natural to me that, when writing or talking about the Japanese game, I'd use Japanese terms. And I'd explain them when necessary.

If you make up new terms, then those who learn from you will be ill equipped to play with Japanese speaking players, or with people who learned from someone other than you. I created my FAQ 6 to help players deal with the confusing variety of terms used by different authors. Jenn's terms are now among those covered in my little "mah-jongg Rosetta Stone."


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