Since August 8th 2007, I have been residing in Japan.  I was in Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture for a year.   In September 2008 I moved to Saroma Town, Hokkaido, which is Palmer, Alaska’s sister city.  This is a blog created to chronicle my time in this country.  My main goal is to keep track of the really interesting things that happen here and make observations whenever I have ones that aren’t negative or pointless.  I originally planned to update the blog in English weekly, and in Japanese more frequently but the time required to update in two languages that frequently just doesn’t exist.

Photos of my life as an Assistant Language Teacher and Coordinator for International Relations in Saroma Town, Hokkaido Prefecture can be found at my pbase site or my smugmug site.

The title of this here blog is a pun of sorts. My name is Sean. The shamisen is a traditional three stringed Japanese instrument (the name, incidentally, meaning ‘three strings’). If you replace the ‘sha’ in ‘shamisen’ with my name, Sean, it sounds nearly the same. That is because then articulatory quality of the [n] assimilates to the place of articulation of the [m]. That is, it assimilates from a alveolar nasal to a bilabial nasal when it precedes a bilabial nasal. This can be represented formally via this phonological rule: /n/ → [m] / _ /m/. Basically, it ends up sounding pretty much exactly the same. If you wanted to reinterpret the meaning of seanmisen, I suppose it would mean ‘Sean stringed instrument’ or ‘Sean flavor line’ if you wanted to be very literal with the meaning of the characters. People have called me “seanmisen” before and I didn’t mind the moniker. The domain name was untaken, so here this site is. The title graphic is a visual play on the pun, following the rules (top to bottom, and left to right) for writing kanji , the complex Chinese characters the Japanese use as part of their writing system, to replace 三, the first character of shamisen, with Sean. The remaining syllables/characters are represented by their traditional Kanji. I figured it was a good compromise between the English and Japanese faces of the page. I also couldn’t figure out how to make WordPress dynamically change the image in response to the language the page was being viewed in. So yeah, Seanmisen. I sorta like it.




このブログのタイトルは語呂合わせですね。僕の名前はショーンですが、英語で発音すると「シャン」のように聞こえます。その「シャン」を三味線の「しゃ」と入れ替えると、同じような発音になります。また、英語でいえば、「シャンミセン」と「シャミセン」はあまり違いがありません。その「ン」と「ミ」の鼻濁音は一つの音になります。だから、”seanmisen” とつづっても、発音は三味線になります。僕も大学の頃、日本語講座を一緒にとっていた同級生によくseanmisenと言われたので、日本の生活を始めた時にこれだ!と思い、seanmisenにしました。

3 replies on “about”

Hi Sean!

I stumbled across you blog while researching info about Saroma town in preparation for our upcoming Saroma Festival: Celebrating Palmer’s Japanese sister city scheduled for Sunday, April 3rd. Wondered if you would mind if I snagged some info and possibly some pictures from your sight and/or presentation? I am working on an article write up for Make a Scene at the moment. We should stay in touch as I plan. I will be talking to the Mayor about extending an invite to the Mayor of Saroma. Thanks!


Hi Mel, It’s nice to receive your comment. Feel free to use any of the information or photos here, just please give me credit when you do. If you’d like to email me at my gmail address, that would be fine, or any comments posted to this site will also find their way to that address. Let me know if there is anything else you might need as far as images or information. Not everything is on my blog and of course I can gather information or photos firsthand if need be. Thanks again, and keep me posted. -Sean

Hi Sean, I was following Japancatnetwork and came across the sad news of the passing of Toby…googled a bit and saw your “An Elegy for Toby”, I hope more people can know about him, would you mind if I share your piece on my fb? Thanks, and take care.

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