How to Reproduce your Memory in Japanese Sign Language


Kazunori Nemoto
He was born in Fukushima Prefecture in 1993. He is currently working as a teacher at a special-needs school. In his spare time, he posts book recommendations in JSL on social media. He is known for his JSL expressions that beautifully reproduce mindscapes from written language.
Yutaka Kubosawa
He was born in Tokyo, 1991. Studied physical education at Nihon University and completed graduate studies at Kyoto University of Education. Currently, he works with deaf children at an NPO in Osaka. He enjoys helping children acquire JSL naturally, not only through communication, but also through playing with them to think from JSL.
Ai Minakawa
She was born Tokyo in 1993. After obtaining her nursing license and working at a special nursing home for the Deaf, she is currently working at Gallaudet University in the U.S., studying the intervention issues related to health disparities among Deaf community.She is also managing her YouTube channel to report the philosophical and ideological history related to Deaf Studies, which she studied in the master's program at the university.


This was the second time that I had been invited by Kazunori Nemoto to participate in a philosophical dialogue with some of his friends. The first time we discussed “Characteristics of Sign Language without Letters”. I had the privilege of asking everyone my questions as a Japanese Sign Language (JSL) learner. At that time, the online conferencing tool Zoom had a default setting that gave priority to the speaker, assuming that all the participants were spoken language speakers. Eventually, I realized that I had failed to record the entire discussion in sign language.

We met again two months after the first meeting. For me, with some regret for my previous mistake, but this time the topic was “how to reproduce your memory and the concept of time”.

We met in front of our respective computers on Sunday night in Japan time and Saturday morning in U.S. time, crossing the borders of the time zones between the U.S. and Japan. “It’s been a while,” smiled Kazunori Nemoto, Yutaka Kubosawa and Ai Minakawa at the screen. The three members of the same generation have known each other since university and recently started an online meeting to read academic books and discuss various topics. Kazunori Nemoto teaches at a special school in Fukushima, and Yutaka Kubosawa works in Osaka helping deaf children acquire JSL. Ai Minakawa is a researcher at Gallaudet University in the U.S., working on health disparities among deaf people. All three were born to deaf parents, grew up using JSL, and now work as professionals in education or health care.

I was concerned about how well I would be able to follow the high-level discussions with them in JSL. However, once the meeting began, the topics gradually became more interconnected. They expanded from their personal histories to language, Deaf culture, education, minority issues, and thoughts from JSL to JSL. One topic led seamlessly to another and then to the next, covering the space like one firework igniting the next. The discussion moved farther and farther away from the first topic, so quickly that it was hard for me to tell what the topic before the previous one was and where the current conversation began.

Finally, after the meeting, when I finished translating the recording from JSL into Japanese, I was able to grasp the full picture of the network that connected each discussion.

Now, based on the theme of “how to reproduce memory and the concept of time,” let’s imagine for a moment. If someone asked you to give a 30-minute presentation about your life so far, what kind of preparation would you do before the day of the event?

If I were you, I would start by writing down in my notebook the year I was born, then the time I was spent in nursery school, elementary school, junior high school, high school, and university. I would then add some episodes that I remember for each year. Since my childhood memories are vague in terms of what is earlier and what is later, I would choose only the most impressive memories that I could remember with certainty “when” they happened. I would also open my computer while checking the notes in my notebook, put them on PowerPoint slides, and use photos from that time so that the audience could follow my entire life chronologically. On the day of the event, I would read the oral manuscript and add additional information on stage. That’s how I would do the misstion, but is it the same way for people who think and express things in sign language?

The case of Kubozawa, Nemoto and Minakawa, who have always protected JSL as their language, was different. The following is a summary of our dialogues.

Memory in the mind has a three-dimensional structure. It consists of interconnected fragments of visual memories. Each visual memory can be searched in different ways, such as by keyword, place, and time promptly, so that only display the necessary memories are displayed in the mind. They only decide a short outline before the event. On the day of the presentation on stage, they develop the talk according to the interests of the audience. They reproduce each fragment of the memory image in sign language when they want to go into detail based on the topic. They mix the topics to be emphasized and the topics to be mentioned briefly, and thus presenting the whole story in a way that the audience can assimilate it.

In terms of preparation, Kubosawa simply recalls some memories and arranges them in his mind. Nemoto leaves a handwritten sketch in the circular structure on his note. Minakawa uses photographs and other materials to arrange the information in a PowerPoint. The only similarity with me was that Minakawa uses PowerPoint. Otherwise, my ways of remembering, recalling, and explaining memories were completely different.

The main difference between me, a Japanese speaker, and them, JSL signers, is that “explaining in chronological order” is not strictly required in JSL. They said that they can place the topic in space and explain it by going back and forth in chronological order, while reproducing each memory image according to the other people’s interest.

Interestingly, the topic of explaining memory led to many other topics in our dialogue. Sign language has its own way of explaining things in an easy to understand way, but none of them had ever been taught the effective way in JSL in school. Through essay writing classes, they know how to explain events in chronological order in Japanese. However, there are some differences from natural sign language. In terms of the range of words, the memory itself, the clues for recalling memories, and the way of explaining memories, the visual language has its own characteristics. There should be a way to present information that takes advantage of these characteristics.

They have understood how people view the world based on spoken language by translating Japanese texts into JSL. Now they are looking for a visually natural way to describe the world by translating the JSL into new JSL. For example, how can complex content be conveyed to others in a concise and understandable way in JSL? In developing the way how to present information effectively, they are trying to rethink the meaning what has been called “Deaf culture”.

As a minority in society, Deaf people have few opportunities to see the conversations in other homes. For example, they often do not know how to communicate with their parents about important life issues such as marriage. That is why time for thoughtful dialogue is so valuable.

Kubozawa, Nemoto, and Minakawa are carefully examining the various styles of communication—chatting with friends, giving important reports to parents, reading books, and explaining academic content at their respective workplaces—, and are still thinking today. They try to preserve the results of each case study by keeping each point in mind and discussing it further.

Here, as a Japanese speaker, I think, “What if…?” Now the number of visual media is increasing and the number of readers of written media is decreasing in Japan. What if people can learn more effective ways to communicate by understanding from JSL to Japanese? Even spoken language speakers should be able to see completely new possibilities from the philosophical dialogues in sign language.


Dialogue on June 12, 2022

Texts and subtitles: Saori Tanaka

Editor/writer. While working in public relations at a university, she writes and edits works on philosophy, science, and technology. She has a master degree in philosophy and a PhD degree in information science. She is the editor of Tetsugaku (Enjoyable Philosophy Magazine). She used to use home signs (gestural communications) as a child with her hard-of-hearing brother and began to learn JSL when she was a university student. Her recent books include “The New Anatomy of Time: Starting within the Space of Sign Language and Childbirth” and “Take a Walk to See Philosophers” both in Japanese.



(ST) OK, we will start the second meeting.

We have three guests today to join “Philosophy Dialogue in Japanese Sign Language”.

Continuing from the last time, when we talked about the relationship between sign language and texts, today’s theme is remembering events in the past, checking the memory, and reproducing it in JSL, as well as the concept of time.

I am so exciting!

To introduce yourself, could you please tell me about your work and what you are currently interested in?


Yutaka Kubosawa

(YK) I am Yutaka Kubosawa. My sign name is like this.

(ST) What is the origin of your sign name?

(YK) It comes from the shape of the mouth in pronunciation. The shape of the mouth when pronouncing the names, my name “Yutaka” and “Yukata (casual kimono)” is similar, right?

At first people who saw my name in wrong way said, “Yukata?”

(ST) That’s a cute mistake.

(YK) Then it spread. I think it’s easy to remember, please call me like this.

(AM) Can I ask you a question? When expressing your name in JSL is there a rule for the left and right front?

 (YK) You mean a dead person is better?

(AM) No, I think that would be a problem.


(ST) The right side should be at the bottom…

(YK) I’m left-handed, so it’s naturally like this.

(AM) Oh that’s why. I’m right-handed, easy to make mistake.

(YK) Please place your left side up.

(YK) I’ve never really cared about that…

(AM)You have to teach children properly.

(YK) Either way is fine, but I think this is the right way. I am currently working in Osaka, helping children to acquire JSL naturally while playing with them.

We are telling parents of deaf children not to worry, and providing information about the options for sign language, hearing aids, and cochlear implants. I work there every day.

(ST) It’s an NPO, right?

(YK) That’s right.

(ST) How many children are learning there?

(YK) Right now there are about 50 children from ages 0 to the 3rd grade, Starting from the youngest: 20, 20, and 10, so 50 kids.

(ST) 50!

(YK) Yes. Around 20 students in the 0–3-year-old-class, 20 in 3–6-year-old-class, 10 in elementary 1-3rd class. That’s the overall percentage. The number of children in third grade had decreased due to the pandemic, but now they’re all coming back.

I imagine that some issues are in 3rd grade. I’m planning to analyzing it, so I’m just guessing now. As children get older, their minds and bodies develop, their emotional conflicts also increase, and then many kids might be coming back to us. In total, about 50 kinds are joining.

This is my fifth year since I started this job. We plan to continue working together for the next five years.

Speaking too much, people can tell where my working place is. People are like “In Osaka, the place for kids, oh I see…”!

As for my interest, as I mentioned last time, there are language and developmental evaluations in Japanese, but there are no such tests or analysis that are tailored for JSL and deaf kids’ development. We are conducting a survey with various considerations.

Other interest is about our ability. Children’s behavior and movements all have meanings. They are not acting without any meaning.

In order to find out the meaning, we need to understand the background situation, the parents’ feelings, and the children’s own feelings.

How can we develop our ability to catch such things? The ability is necessary for every staff, every parents.

Is the only way just consults with the staff and parents? I want to know how we can improve our ability.

(ST) May I ask you a question? About you major at university, did you complete to study education and psychology?

(YK) There are twists and turns, but I was in the faculty of education, and my specialty was physical education. I did my teaching training at the same school as Minakawa.

After that, I went to graduate school, and studied sex education. Because within the scope of physical education, I can explain in detail about alcohol, drugs, the body, etc., but I wasn’t taught about sex education, so I wasn’t sure if I could teach it properly.

I continued my research and studies for another two years. When I entered grad school, I had a chance to go to a place for infants and toddlers, and it was interesting, and my interest shifted to them. That led to my current job.

I had a chance to see the representative who was an expert in psychology especially for infants and toddlers.

That was where she had started the place, and I had a chance to learn about psychology. I naturally increased my knowledge as she would talk about places and situations based on theories.

(ST) How does your original specialty in PE apply to your work?

(YK) In terms of sex education, every book says that it is necessary to take care of yourself from a young age, as a preliminary step to sex education.

Now we face hearing parents, so instead of being disappointed that their kids can’t hear, if they show love to their children and there’s nothing worry about being deaf, they can grow up with a sense of self-affirmation.

This will affect not only sex education later on, but also various outcomes of other education.

I think it has something to do with specialization.

In terms of PE, it may be connected to being able to smoothly teach kids how to move their bodies.

(ST) Your torso doesn’t shake so it’s easy to see your JSL.

(AM) Like a PE teacher?

(ST) Exactlly.

(ST) Thank you very much. Nemoto-san, please.


Kazunori Nemoto

(KN) I’m Kazunori Nemoto. I don’t have a sign name, everyone call me Nemoto. Nemoto is a rare surname in the Kanto region, but in Fukushima, where I live in the Tohoku region, there are many Nemoto.

On the other hand, in the Kanto region I’m the only one, so everyone calls me Nemoto.

(KN) I like ice cream.


(ST) What’s that?

(KN) We express ice cream like this in JSL. Kazunori’s K is finger-spelling like this, so I have a sign name like this, but no one uses this anymore!  So, Nemoto is fine.


(ST) Understood!

(KN) I’m currently in my 8th year of work as a teacher at a special needs school. After 7 years in Chiba, this is 1st year in Fukushima, like a shiny first year student. In total I’m 8 years old as a teacher.

What I’m interested in right now is to introduce Japanese books in JSL. It’s a kind of my hobby, reading Japanese books and translating them into sign language. I want to see how the translation looks like.

I enjoy it very much with trial and error.

I’m also thinking about translating from sign language to sign language, making it easier for everyone to see. I enjoy refining my expressions including space.

(ST) You have many followers on Twitter, don’t you?

(KN) Now I can post it occasionally. I’m having a hard time finding time to read books.

(ST) Because you are now in new environment after moving to your hometown?

 (KN) Well, I need to make adjustments in my family, It was easier to make time for myself in the past, but now it’s getting difficult.

(ST) I am sure everyone watching this video is looking forward to it. I hope everyone can wait for a while.

(KN) That’s all about myself.

(ST) Thank you. Minakawa-san, please.


Ai Minakawa

(AM) My name is Ai Minagawa.

Everyone calls me Minakawa. People often call me with my last name. I’m from Tokyo. Minakawa is rare in the Kanto deaf community.

My parents have same name, of course, but there aren’t many others. If someone has a same last name, people call me with my last name.

(KN) We all have rare last name.

(YK) There are some Kubosawa in Aomori.

(AM) My parents call me “Ai”. Literally, it’s a sign language for “AI (love)”. My close friends also call me “Ai”. I guess it’s up to each person.

As I grew up, I notice that people call me with my last name.

Like workplaces, formal places, it’s usually Minakawa.

People no longer calle me Ai, and it makes me sad sometime. I feel good if someone call me Ai.


(ST) You are now living in the U.S. right?

(AM) That’s right. It’s been four years.

(ST) Is there a sign name in American Sign Language (ASL)?

(AM) I try to spread Ai in JSL as it is.

ASL has a rule, if the spelling is less than four letters in alphabet, people usually use finger spelling. For example, this is “bank” in JSL. The English spelling is BANK, which is 4 letters, so people use the finger spelling in ASL.


It’s a finger spelling so they don’t explain about the meaning. My name Ai is two letters, so people naturally use finger spelling, but I force them to use AI, JSL word.

This handshape doesn’t exist in ASL, so everyone gets a little awkward.

Ai in JSL has an image of patting someone’s head.

(YK) It also has an image of jewelries.

(AM) Yes, it’s interesting to discover these differences. Sorry, I talked too much about my name.

I’m working at Gallaudet University. It’s a university for deaf students. There are otheruniversities for deaf students, but the Gallaudet is the biggest one.

I graduated the master course last year, and now working here. I’m researching on the health and medical care for deaf, and disseminating information to meet the needs of deaf.

(ST) What was your specialty in Japan?

(AM) When I was in college, my specialty was nursing. I studied at St. Luke’s International University. I had a hard time to find a job at hospitals.

I decided to go to grad school, instead of doing nothing. At that time, I had a chance to work at a nursing home for deaf elderlies.

There are some elderly facilities for deaf in Japan. There is one in the Kanto region. They desperately needed a deaf nurse.

I commuted there about 3 days a week. I worked there for a while after graduating the grad school. I met many deaf people.

Some of them are in their 50s and 60s, like my parents, and some are in their 80s to 100s. I had never interacted with people of an older generation until that time.

I began to learn new JSL from elderly people in all over Japan. There are so many different types of “toilet” in JSL.

At first I could not get new words, but gradually I got used to them, and finally understood what they were saying. For example, about toilets, there are some types like strings, wiping, and washing hands.

(ST) Do the words differ depending on the region?

(AM) Well, I think the words depend on times, too. Today’s toilets are lever-type, but they used to use string-type. There are certainly regionally different JSL, thought.

(ST) It’s your fourth year in the US, right?

(AM) Yes, it’s been almost 5 years.

(ST) Are there any difference in life between the US and Japan?

(AM) When I first came to here, I could only understand about 10% of conversations in ASL. Since I was originally in a sign language environment, I thought I would fine in other sign languages.

When I actually came here, I only understood a few and couldn’t understand most of words. I had difficult time, and each time I asked what it means.

With the help of local people, I gradually got used to it, but it still doesn’t go smoothly.

There is no problem in JSL, of course, but In ASL, the amount that I can express is still limited.

Understanding what people express is still not yet perfect, Sometimes I have to guess what the meaning is.

(ST) You have to attend a class in ASL, so you need to learn ASL itself, right?

(AM) I don’t have an experience to study ASL as a major.

I only learned ASL at a vocabulary level when I was in Japan. I took a lecture of ASL, here at Gallaudet, but I noticed it’s faster to learn ASL by interacting with people.

I have a habit of recognizing everything with my eyes, since I was little. It’s more natural for me to learn other languages in conversations.

(KN) In terms of memorizing visually, is there any difference between memorizing Japanese sentences and ASL?

(AM) I see your point…

(KM) Japanese sentence and ASL are both different from JSL, I wonder if there’s a difference in looking at other person and reading books.

(AM) We have to practice writing Japanese texts and Kanji from elementary school. We both deaf and hearing kids have to do this. We can say it’s an acquisition by education. We can’t memorize Kanji at a glance. We need to practice repeatedly.

Putting right and left parts together in Kanji, and we have to keep writing them.

In sign language, putting some handshapes on the left and right together is similar to kanji.

The handshapes of “AI(love)” in JSL is a bit rare in ASL, the left part one exist for “island” but, the caressing motion with a right palm is rare.

The common handshapes exist in ASL, and their variations are differ from the ones in JSL. This handshape is common in ASL. This means sick, headache, bible or medicine.


Medicine is similar in JSL, but this handsape is not so common in JSL, so I was awkward at first, but gradually got used to it.

I started to recognize other common handshapes and movements and acquired the combinations.

It seems the same with Kanji, as we can memorize them by practicing combinations…

(KN) It’s the same! ?

(AM) There are similarities.

We can acquire sign language through people, but we must memorize Kanji by practicing ourselves.

(KN) Our feeling is different.

(ST) We can’t learn Kanji through conversations.

(AI) Right, for Kanji, we are forced to keep writing. It’s fun to learn ASL with curiosity through conversation, and gradually acquire new words.

(ST) Kubosawa-san, any question?

(YK) When you first attended a class at Gallaudet, it was all in ASL, right? Wasn’t it too tough to keep watching ASL for 90 minutes?

You must have started to understand at some point, what was it like? Is there any trigger?

(AM) At first, I didn’t really understand ASL at all, I was not good at English either, but as I read the English on the slides, I began to understand how it corresponds to ASL from the vocabulary and context, and sometimes I understood the words from reading mouth.

As I got used to it, I felt like ah-ha, it’s not something like I totally got it, but “ah-ha” moment came to me after about 3 weeks.

(ST) What? Only 3 weeks!?

(KN) Is it faster than you expected?

(ST) Yes, super fast!

(AM) Other deaf students also start understanding from 3 weeks to one month.

At that moment, the understanding level goes 30-40%, better than the 10% at first. At first it was hard for me to catch the info about homework, but I gradually understood the flow of class.

If I grasped the outline of the story, I could guess what the contents were. It’s really gradual. After about 3 weeks, I started to enjoy the class.

My understanding level improved quickly after that. I’m not sure if there is room for growth, I kept the level for now.

(ST) Do you understand all ASL class 100% now?

(AM) No, not yet, it starts from 10%, then it goes 30%, stagnated at 60%, and now it’s about 70%.

(KN) Do other deaf students grew up in the US understand 100%?

(AM) I guess so…

When we have a presentation time in front of everyone, students explain what they think relatively slow pace in order, but it’s really hard to follow the conversations between friends. Usually I’m not invited, but if I try to follow each group, may be I can…

Sorry, it was too long.

(ST) Do you have any theme that you are interested in?

(AM) Is it okay if I talk about the activity by three of us? We are currently translating the Japanese translation of an English article into JSL.

It’s a long paper, but we want to summarize it in JSL for about 2-3 minutes. We’re discussing how to make the long contents concise.

Shooting has become easier these days with laptops. It used to be difficult to set up all the heavy equipment. We can see various videos in sign language now.

We must keep some points in mind when recording sign language videos. As we checked earlier, the pointing position is important. If we are face-to-face, you can recognize what we point to.

If we are in 2D, we need to point at right angles. We have to check the positions in advance. Even if we decide, some may be reversed in the recorded video, so we must prepare to consider the swapping.

If we are face-to-face, we can see the front space easily, as all are located in 3D areas, but if we are in 2D some spatial expressions look differently, so we have to take it into account, too.

There is also a level of formal expressions from academic discussions to chatting with friends. It’s same as Japanese, but we don’t have previous research analyzing the level of formality in JSL. I am curious about that.

That was about the second point. Another issue is about the structure of arguments. Summarizing stories has several components, including inverse and forward conjunctions.

Of course, we have these components in JSL, but the order for easy understanding in JSL might differ from the one for hearing people in spoken Japanese.

We are discussing the structure of the argument in spoken and sign language and found some points.

We cannot make it public yet, but I enjoy the process of discussions.

(ST) That’s super interesting!

Everyone’s self-introductions were so interesting, and the time flew so fast!


Letter-like function in Sign Language

(ST) We talked about the letters in sign language in the last dialogue. When some expressions are different between two people, you usually imagine the image the other may have and some symbolic words appear during the discussions, which look like letters.

You said while playing basketball, an instructor told you to keep both shoulders and head steady, and the body movements ended up a small symbolic expression.

The big movement for instruction gradually changed to a small word by fingers.  It was interesting that the change for easy expressions in JSL might be similar to the written language for spoken language.


(KN) I remember that was an example I said, but now I was impressed by the similarity. Do you remember?

(AM) I think it was a topic after I left.

(ST) I hope my understanding is correct…

(KN) It’s true that what I said is close to the letter.

(ST) You said the triangle expression is like a symbol, as everyone can understand it at a glance.

Another example is a form of key like this coined during your reading session.

The process of creating new expressions was interesting.


How to recollect memories: Yutaka Kubosawa’s case


I was also surprised that you can recall the past from some fragments of memory as if you replay a movie. I thought that was something hearing people don’t have, but when I was writing the minutes last time without any recording,

I could see the memory footage was playing in mind, just like you said. If I try to recall my audio memories, I can only hear what I understood.

In JSL, I could recall it with even the parts that I didn’t fully understand.

(KN) Isn’t it just you? How about other hearing people…?

(ST) It might have something to do with training sign language skills.

You might be able to memorize all scene, facial expressions, and body movements in JSL.

For me, it’s difficult to memorize all sounds that have nothing to do with language.

Well, here is today’s topic. Imagine you were asked to give a 30-minute lecture, including how you grew up and what you studied.

What would you do the day before the lecture to organize your memories?

(YK) Hmm.  I wouldn’t prepare much.

(ST) That’s amazing! You don’t need to prepare anything?

(YK) Writing down or drawing down is difficult, so I would close my eyes, try to see the memories, compare with other memories, and find something that would fit well.

Pulling out my memory drawer to find photos, locations of elementary, middle, and high schools, etc… 

They come out naturally, so I’d choose the best ones from the contents. I can see the flow of time over some period, so it’s like looking at all memories in order from the age of baby to university.

I recall my memories when I was in the preschool class, from ages 0 to 6, and chose one.

Depending on the audience at lecture, I’d decide what I should mention the story before and after the chosen memory.

If the audience is the parents raising 0-year-old children, I’ll explain about the same time in detail, as much detail as I can remember, and then briefly summarize the rest.

If the audience is middle or high school students, I’ll explain the experience of the same age.

I’ll highlight some of my memories based on the audience.

(ST) You can be adjusted on the stage.

(YK) Yes. I’ll decide on overall content based on key points.

I have an outline no matter how old the audience is, but I can adjust where to emphasize based on the people I talk. I will explain it impromptu in JSL. The story is not always organized well.

My story always ends differently; sometimes, it ends organized, and sometimes in a mess.

(ST) Are your memories like images with motion?

(YK) They are like videos and photographs.

(ST) When you recall something, is there any trigger? Are they linked with each time?

(YK) The words in JSL may be the key. For example, “oral education” brings a list of memories. The oral education is linked with fun memories for me, so I have no conflicts.

After talking about that, I’ll add how some other deaf people feel conflicted.

There are various topics in my mind for explanation. The parents are often interested in oral education for Japanese acquisition. I’ll search my memory by the keyword “Japanese acquisition”.

I can remember some, but they are not like videos if “Japanese” is the keyword. I remember some red circles to mark postpositional particles in a sentence, so I’d explain how a teacher taught me the importance of postpositional particles in elementary school.

Another example is that JSL is easier to understand Japanese. I remember playing with words like “I’m looking for Karuta(playing card)” or “Karuta is looking for me” in JSL, to check the grammar of Japanese sentences.

I often tell parents about my experience of Japanese acquisition in JSL and how JSL is crucial in early childhood.

That’s how I explain based on keywords that fit the guests. The memories in high school are about how to study, baseball, and home tutors with JSL skills, and how I met Nemoto when we were university students.

I’ll pick up one from those prepared memories by playing the memory footage fast-forward and then explain them on the stage.



Haw to recollect memories: Kazunori Nemoto’s case

(ST) I see… How about Nemoto-san?

(KN) Well, I’m also close to what Kubosawa said. In JSL, my memories are scattered in circle. Texts are either in vertical or horizontal, right? My memories in JSL are not like that but scattered.

When I talk, I condense the scattered memories into a smaller space. It’s like a circle, not vertical or horizontal.

If I want to keep some record, I’ll sketch them on paper. It’s not written vertically or horizontally; it’s a memo, so to speak.

I keep them in a memo as they are and don’t write them down vertically or horizontally.

(ST) You don’t arrange them in time order? 

(KN) No. Ah, if there is an order,

I’ll explain my memories in order in JSL. I can express the flow of events smoothly with my hands, which is good enough.

I guess Kubosawa and Minakawa are the same as me. In JSL, if the flow is interrupted, sometimes it gets a bit strange, so as a better expression, I’ll structure the order in JSL.

(ST) Can you express the temporal order when you display memories like a picture?

(KN) I can repeat it if it needs to be clarified. I’ll see the other’s eyes, refer to the same point in the space, and connect it to the current topic to add lacking information. We can express no chronological order.

I see. You can utilize the whole space… Can you use the space behind yourself ?

 (KN) I can use the space behind myself.

(YK) Isn’t the past story mainly in the upper space of your dominant hand? Not in your behind.


(KN)It’s a bit deeper area above your dominant hand. You can’t see it if it’s right behind you!

(AM) Unless you have a very wide field of view like a horse!


(KN) There is a limit! Up to this point!


(ST) Understood. Right here for the past events.


(KN) Yes. I have to check the other’s facial expressions to see we can communicate smoothly. If their face is like not fully understood, I’ll return to the reference point and recreate the flow.

I’ll judge whether or not to reproduce a story based on the other’s understanding, so there’s no need to write it down in advance; just develop the story at the place based on my sketch.

When I introduce Japanese books, I’ll do the same way.

(ST) Is there a temporal order in your memories?

(KN) Not really, but if I talk the same story, the time length will be almost the same.  I have a general sense of time when I’m talking.

When I try some takes for recording, it will fit in around 3 minutes. I don’t know why.


How to recollect memories: AI Minakawa’s case

(ST) How about Minakawa-san?

(AM) Recollect memories and explaining them are two separate tasks for me… I need something to trigger my recall, such as drawings, photographs, and texts.

Sometimes, some words trigger and draw memories from my mind, and I let them expand. It’s the same thing when I talk.

Some words triggered memories and I’ll try to make them visible for other people, by thinking what angles or materials can be good enough to show my memories, and try to create a visible shape.

I have some rules to recall memories. I don’t remember everything literally, but If I prepare short words, pictures, photos, and videos, I can recall memories. 

(ST) If the trigger is a word, what is it like?

(AM) Well, for example, “elementary school” brings too many memories and it’s hard to narrow it down.  “Oral education” spots memories from ages 0 to elementary school.

I’ll take a block for a certain period out of my memories. I’ll explain about them by adding other related memories. I’ll explain them all together but leave out the unrelated memories in between.

(ST) Do you remember chronologically, like 0, 1, and 2 years old?

I don’t remember in exact order, but in random. I have to connect the pieces. In my case, places and memories are connected; The place of elementary school leads a memory of when I was playing with monkey bars. My hearing friend called me, but I couldn’t hear.

The place brings me back an event I was playing like that.

(ST) Place and memory are linked. Not time?

(AM) Time also triggers memories, but yes, a place leads some memories. Sometimes, conversations with others also bring me back to a past event.

(KN) There may be a strong link between place and time. We have to talk to other people. Even if we decide the order of what we talk in advance, we cannot explain along the same flow as we have to answer questions on the day …

Even if we decide on a 20-minute content, it will take longer if we get many questions.

We just have to decide some main points and then expand the story during the dialogue with others, and arrange the structure to fit in time.


Time in Memories

(ST) What’s curious is that I understand you all have video-like memories, but it seems like everyone has “when” label to each memory.

(KN) Oh, It’s not about the time when explaining things, it’s about the time in your memory?

(AM) When searching for books in a library, you can choose a search method, right? If you search a book by title, it will appear in Japanese alphabetical order.

Is there any other way?

 (YK) You can use a book number.

(AM) Yes, numbers, too. There are various search methods for searching books. Same as memories, too.

The order sorted by time, place, and companions you were with.

My mother has been with me all the time, so there were too many memories sorted by mother. If I specify “station” as a location, I can narrow them down.


(ST) I see!

(AM) If I use “the first grade”, I can narrow them down again.

(ST) Can you recognize this is the memory in the first grade?

(YK) I can see it briefly. (KN) I can see the age later.

(AM) Right, the age is coming last. I can recall memories whom I was with and where I was.

I can see “when” last if it was around first grade.

(KN) Didn’t you tell us that you remember things sorted by date, Kubosawa?

(YK) My memories are like self-centered ones.

As for place, for example, I remember being hospitalized. I was feeling unwell with purple spots. My body was swollen. I can see that was the time in preschool in the end.

I may not have memories in chronological order.

There is a network of places and people; the same experiences connect elementary and junior high schools.

In “oral education,” I remember the place at elementary and junior high schools where I took the training.

I have clear memories of sitting across a teacher in the classroom after school. Those were when I was in preschool and elementary school. I’ll pick up a certain period when I need to explain my experience.

Memories are in a three-dimensional structure with depth rather than a chronological order. Each memory links to the other, and the entire system feels like “time.”

As Nemoto said, it’s like 3D. I can’t tell what’s earlier and later or what’s past in the future. It’s a three-dimensional shape like this.

After reviewing the whole memory, I’ll notice “when” and explain that chronologically.


(ST) The strongest image of memory is “place” for all of you?

How to arrange memories for explanation

(KN) In spoken language, do you need to say “When I was 1st grade” first?

(ST) The chronological order of childhood memories I saw and heard is ambiguous.

(KN) When you explain how you grew up, is it necessary to say, “When I was 1st grade”?

(ST) Yes, we have to say like “when I was in lower grades” and “when I was in upper grades.”

I have memories of specific times, but the ones when I was little were quite vague to specify “when.”

As you perceive the world visually, your memory is first associated with the place, and if you think about when it was, you can see it’s first grade or kindergarten. That may be hard for hearing people.

(AM) When I give a talk in front of many people, I might talk chronologically because it conveys the message better. If there is no audience, I speak without being restricted by time.

Memories exist in a three-dimensional structure, but when explaining them, others can’t see them.

When I try to make it easier to understand as a technique of expression by arranging memories extracted from space in time order, I’ll still be restricted by the historical order of time. I believe we can talk more freely.

I tend to adopt hearing people’s way and try it by thinking I should talk chronologically. We could express the order more freely and naturally.

(KN) I also express the temporal order more loosely. When translating Japanese texts, deciding whether to clearly “when” for chronological expression or to use natural JSL expressions was difficult.

(YK) It’s challenging to balance, right?

(KN) If we have someone to talk to, we can use  natural conversation style, but with no audience, we have to consider how we translate and explain it carefully in chronological order.

If we try expressions that can be understood by most people rather than by everyone, we’ll adopt the chronological order.

We can use a more relaxed back-and-forth style if we have someone to talk to. The latter style is closer to the sign language I use in my daily life.

 I feel comfortable expressing like that, but when translating from Japanese, I can’t see the other people.

I have to do a one-way expression, so I have to try not to make any mistake in the order. It’s a quite tough and challenging task.

(ST) Do you mean the explanation in chronological order is different from the original JSL expression?

(KN) Well, it’s different from the sign language that I use in my everyday conversation. I’m unsure if I can call it a learning level, but the movements different.

(YK) The explanation considered absent people and the dialogue are different styles.

(AM) I suppose hearing people learn this explanation skill by practicing the chronological order when writing essays at elementary school after experiencing conversations in spoken Japanese.

In the case of sign language, the deaf community does not have such a place for the practice.

Even in deaf schools, students don’t have such a formal practice, so we have just started the discussion.

(KN) We are really late!

(AM) If we do this right, I believe the next generation will follow the step.

(ST) How about the sign language when presenting an essay at deaf school?

(YK) I used sign language with speech.

(ST) Do you have to explain all in chronological order?

(YK) The format is already fixed, and we just have to use signed Japanese to fit the texts.

(KN) It’s like speaking the Japanese texts out loud with signed Japanese.

(YK) It’s like, “On October 4th, we had the sports day today and what was the fun part was…”

If I see this now, it’s a kind of disappointing.

(ST) That is not everyone’s usual sign language at all…

(AM) Students must present the exact contents of written texts in the order, and they are not allowed to add anything on the stage, right?

(KN) There’s an unspoken rule. It’s not good to look someone in the eye and develop the story’s structure.

(KN) When I finished, I found everyone applauded me.

(YK) Whether we understood or not, we kept a straight face and applauded!

(ST) That’s a linear explanation, which should be influenced by spoken language education.

(AM) I was forced to follow the formality in order. When I give a talk in sign language now, I’d decide on just some topics.

If it is difficult for the other person to follow, I’ll change the angle, expand the story, and omit unnecessary parts. I’ll judge where I should emphasize and decide on improvising flow.

(YK) Sometimes, I just talked about only one thing, and then realized time was almost over.

(AM) I know. Running out of time.

(YK) After talking about two topics, I realized that I forgot to talk about related issue, and while I was adding the missing point carefully, I found myself running out of time.

(KN) I just got an idea. The hearing people write an essay and then read it aloud, right? In JSL, we need to translate the first JSL expressing along with written essays into new JSL.

Recomposing the first version expressed in mind from the written essay and then express the same contents again. That’s a translation. We need to consider how we can express the contents carefully.

It’s like hearing people brush up on the vocal expression for reading an essay.

Like hearing people presenting at essay contest, we need to improve JSL expressions.

I wish I had a chance to discuss with friends to find a clear way of presentation.

The teachers at elementary, junior high, and high school are all hearing people and didn’t tell me what to do. I didn’t know what to do either, so I just followed the teachers’ instructions.

We have just started such a discussion now. We are excited, and our knowledge is building up.

(YK) It’s really finally. Deaf school teachers don’t know how, whether they are hearing or deaf.

It might be only deaf teachers at a private school in Tokyo.

(NK) If we show the expressions translated from JSL to JSL, I believe hearing people can see the brief idea, even if they don’t understand the whole meaning. I always try to create the translation to be clear enough for everyone.

It might be different from “Japanese Sign Language,” so to speak.

The JSL has a form. It’s hard to explain, but this one is designed to be clear enough for everyone. I want to discuss this with you all next time.


Telling first what people want to know


(AM) This may be off the topic. There is a document format for research cooperation in Japanese with purpose, schedule, fee, and request contents.


When I explain to deaf subjects in sign language, they first ask how much the fee is…

As for the binding period, they ask, “two weeks, one week, one month?” 

I’ll try to agree on money, as they want to know most, and then explain the research purpose. They are like, “no problem!”

Hearing people should need to follow the formality. It would not be polite if they explained about money first.

If I ask deaf subjects, I can say, “I can give you 2,000 yen, so please help!” I know there is a formality, and it might be rude too, but I can explain first what people want to know.

I’m not saying we can change the order in sign language. We can be flexible, explaining things in order the other wants to know.

(YK) It’s difficult to say why financial information comes first. Whether they don’t have enough social experience or they are deaf. Some people often say, “It’s a deaf culture!” but I doubt it. 

It’s not about the social experience in hearing society. There is a manner in deaf society, too. I still doubt if other deaf people say that we need the money information first as it’s our manner. We have to see how it’ll be building up.

Can we use the same document style as hearing society, or it’s better to change the order to show money topic at the beginning?  Is it polite enough?

We need to take time to discuss about those points.

(ST) I want to know that too!

(YK) It’s about research, right?

(KN) In JSL, we use bullet points “・” instead of numbers like 1, 2, 3.

Even if we provide the money topic at first, we can still show the other information with bullet points.

Some people concern money first. It may not be like a manner.

While hearing people use numbering in order, we use bullet points with no specific order.

(ST) The bullet points in a space.

(NK) That’s right. We don’ care about the order.

(YK) When I prepare a document for our research team, I always use bullet points.

Numbering items in order is important in hearing society, but I don’t use the style.

The information in bullets corresponds to the one in numbering, but the order has no restrictions. 

If someone told me you need to put a number at the beginning of each line, I don’t know what that’s for. People even say it’s a manner. What is the difference between paragraph numbers and bullet points?

Hearing people can memorize the items quickly when counting up each item with the numbering. We don’t adopt the numbering style but use five fingers.



(KN) Right! With the five fingers, we don’t add numbers. I just realized that!

(AM) We can freely change the order, too.

(YK) The five-fingers style corresponds to the bullet points.

As Minakawa says, this style allows us to freely change the order. It makes sense that I prefer to use bullet points in documents, and it’s based on how I think as a deaf.

(KN) We need to discuss the manner. We’ve never done that yet.

(YK) People often end the story by saying that “it’s a deaf culture.”

I want to discuss this more deeply by comparing each style among hearing, English, and deaf societies.


The meaning with non-manual makers


(AM) Another example people often explain about deaf culture.

Suppose a hearing boy asks a deaf girl out. When the girls replied, “Let’s stay friends…,” the boy misunderstood and expected that he could go out with her.

Some people say we don’t have such an expression in deaf society, but that’s not true. We do have the expression in JSL.

We can say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go out with you,” with non-manual markers. It’s not the translated form word by word from Japanese, so the whole meaning in JSL will be lost if hearing people miss the corresponding NMM expressions.

There are such expressions in JSL, but if hearing people don’t know them they tend to think deaf people are rude as they cannot grasp the whole meaning.

(ST) I can see the facial expressions differentiate the meaning.

(AM) For Deaf people, it’s not so polite to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t date go out with you.”

 (YK) Really? If we don’t like the person, can’t we say, “I can’t”?

(AM) Of course we can, but we also have euphemisms. There are variations.

Only expressions that hearing people can understand as a symbol tends to be recognized.

We may have to explain about the JSL euphemisms for hearing people.

Is that too much for us?

 (YK) The same thing often applies to deaf people, too. Some deaf assume that we don’t have euphemisms in JSL as their brains are washed by hearing people.

If I explain the variations, they say, ” Oh, that’s true!”

If I ask how we can distinguish the three patterns, “stay friends,” “want to see you again,” and “never see you again,”

We can think of many patterns. Like “I’m sorry, I’m dating someone else,” “Please wait for a while,” and “I can’t see you again.” We have such subtle variations in expressions.

Deaf people must first understand that we have a wide range of expressions in JSL.


Drama script is not helpful

(AM)Another funny story is that we dressed up in formal wear to go see my parents. 

We wanted to tell them that we want to get married. We’d seen similar scenes in dramas and knew Japanese expressions like, “We are dating on the premise of marriage”.

We’d never seen the same scene in JSL, as each deaf family is separate and apart.

My husband said, “I’m thinking of marrying Ai,” which confused my father!

“What do you mean?” My father said. “You want to marry my daughter, but You may have to cancel it?”

There should be a more polite and straightforward way, but we didn’t know that.

(ST) What is the right way?

(KN) We can express various ways.

(YK) Only people with high proficiency in Japanese may understand if we say, “I’m thinking of marrying someone.” The generation like our parents would probably get confused.

(AM) I would say, “I want to marry him.”

(KN) Right.

(YK) They should congratulate us if we went to see them and talk about the plan for marriage, so I’d just try to answer their questions.

I once told my father that I had someone I want you to meet.

He was like, “Marriage!?” We arranged the schedule, and then I came home with her.  We just chatted for a while, and I didn’t mention marriage.

(KN) “Now Preparing” may be a good way to start the conversation.

 If you want to explain your will to marry someone, you need to add more information. For example, telling you’re saving money and preparing everything, they will see it’s real.

You have to explain the process, not just one word.

(ST) For those of you who are preparing for marriage, if your partner’s parents are deaf, please consult with us in advance!

We don’t have a chance to attend lectures about the whole process of marriage.

The other day, I gave a talk on marriage to hearing people, but

I wasn’t used to explaining the topic in JSL, so I was a bit uncomfortable.


Language and Memory


(YK) Even to the marriage life!

I asked you the first question about the memory as I imagined there might be some rules how you organize your memories based on natural sign language, which you have been discussing about the structure.

For example, as JSL needs information in spatial, facial, and body movement for linguistic expressions, I thought you might be able to memorize and organize all the required information in advance.

For example, this is a book titled “Through the Language Glass.”


Through the Language Glass: Why The World Looks Different In Other Languages

(KN) That’s a thick book with a small cover. I gave up on reading it as it seemed time-consuming.

(ST) Yes. The author mentions some speakers of minority language.

They don’t have the vocabulary to distinguish between left and right. Instead, they use north, south, east, and west, so they can always memorize the directions. 

When they have to explain past event, they can tell which direction they were headed. It means that how events should be expressed in a language and how they are memorized are related.

According to the author, the difference between languages is what kind of information each language forces the speakers to express.

Each speaker’s memory seems to be organized in the same way how each language is systematized.

As for spoken language, I believe we have a rule to write texts chronologically, so we have to extract “when” each memory is.

In sign language, chronological expressions are not so strictly required.

You can use space to express it independently of the time series. As Minakawa-san said, there are various ways to search memories, including keywords, time, and location, which allow you to retrieve memories freely.

That’s probably different from spoken language, and I found it very interesting.

(KN) I didn’t understand the relationship between the story in the book and what Minakawa said.

(AM) When you express snow, there are Konayuki(powdery snow), Yuki(snow), and Hubuki(blizzard snow) in Japanese.

There are only three at most, while there are various ways of snowing. There might be other types of snow since it’s a long-shaped island, but I can think of three as I grew up in Tokyo.

Although there are more variations as phenomena, we divide them into three categories. In northern countries, there are many more words to express snow.

It means that depending on your linguistic world, you can express various descriptions of snow that reflect reality.

(KN) You mean people remember a different kind of snow.

(AM) Right. If you were in Tokyo, we have only three. I hope I explain that correctly. 

(KN) Also, I need help understanding something about ordering things.

(YK) What she said was about the rules in Japanese. We are required to explain things in chronological order in Japanese,

When Japanese speakers recall a memory, they are forced to describe “when” it happened.

According to our discussions, there is no such restriction to arrange our memories in chronological order in JSL.

For example, if we express JSL in the same way as Japanese, we should keep the memories in a line spatially, like kindergarten, elementary school, and high school.

We can freely arrange memories in a space in JSL, and we don’t have to explain them in chronological order, so we are free from time.

That’s why she was impressed by the differences between JSL and spoken Japanese.


(ST) Thank you for translating what I talked into clear JSL!

(KN) I see… Something new is being created now.


(AM) Language has a range to show condensed phenomena. The languages of the northern region have a variety of vocabulary for snow…there is also a variety of vocabulary in sign language.  I can’t really explain it well. I’ll leave it to you to conclude.

(ST) That’s really true. This book also begins with color.

If you have a large color vocabulary, you’ll also remember many kinds of colors, and if you have a small vocabulary, you’ll remember fewer colors. That’s what the author said.

It means how we see and how we remember the world might differ depending on the language.

(AM) When you see “yuki(snow)” and the other hears the word, they don’t spot the range of what you saw. You have to leave it to the other’s imagination.

We can share the same image if you can explain the specific scope of “snow” visually. There are diverse languages, and there could be differences between sign and spoken languages.

(ST) Do we still have time?

[everyone is thinking]


From Sign Language to Sign Language

(KN) Hmm, I can’t put my thoughts together yet, but the accumulation of spoken language is outstanding as the social and historical trend up until now.

When translating some of them into JSL, I feel like I am seeing some words that never existed before. It’s like what I can express right now has never been seen before. as it’s not part of the history of sign language.

The same thing may also happen in Japanese (during the translation process). It’s like what I see is entirely new beyond the accumulation of history or experience.

I can’t even judge if that’s correct or not. I’ve experienced such phenomena quite some time.

(ST) That’s why your JSL translations are so popular!

(YK) True.

(KN) I don’t know that by myself.

(AM) Until now, deaf people have argued here and there, but  they have been overlooked because people didn’t even know their existence. We didn’t even have a chance to see them as a video.

As for Japanese, people have recorded them as texts so that we can check the accumulated knowledge. The accumulation of sign language is still little.

That’s why communication between deaf people is so important, and it also would be a great chance to see the discussions on video.

The new idea will be spread if you can present and discuss it with everyone.

For example, a famous Japanese dictionary, “Kojien,” has 600,000 vocabularies. The ones in a JSL dictionary are about 2 to 3,000.

It’s not that there aren’t that many JSL words; there are more in our real world. Only those that are compatible with Japanese are listed there.

The words in JSL will not be listed unless there are no corresponding expressions in Japanese. This significant difference reflects the possibility of compatibility with Japanese.

Many words have been still overlooked. If we can provide a chance for people to see our discussion, some people may adopt useful ideas, and it’ll lead them spread in the world.

(ST) As you mentioned earlier, you are reading an English paper and trying to translate it into JSL based on it’s Japanese translation. That’s also a wonderful way.

(YK) I want to talk about one thing at my working place.


Creating Names in Sign Language

(YK) I once created JSL names with children for the past Ultraman characters. They proposed various names based on physical characteristics, so we discussed further by looking at each picture.

I wanted to use play elements as the original name is all katakana, like Ultraman, Zero, and Tiga;  It’s hard to express in finger spelling of JSL.

I told the children to think of the name in sign language. We can create the sign names from the characteristics of the eyes, body patterns, muscles, and poses.

We made some original sign names by discussing together. This game was more popular than I expected. When I asked them about the most impressive activity in the past year, their answer was this game. Honestly, I’d thought it was a failure.

There were some conflicts during the discussion, so I was surprised that they enjoyed the time. It seemed refreshing for them to create sign names independent from Japanese.

The other day, a child also asked me to create sign name who didn’t have one. I told them we usually have sign names, so you should make one.

They came up with some names, and they were gradually starting to think from JSL, which made me happy. I am waiting for their progress right now.

(ST) It should be a great start to develop their JSL skill.

(YK) Regarding the girls’ character, Pretty Cure, I have limits.

They all look the same, including colors, so I don’t know what to do.

(KN)How about to tell the difference between red, bright red, and light red…

(YK) We succeeded in making many kinds of sign names for Ultraman, so it’s a bit disappointing. If we create ones for Pretty Cure only by colors. We’ll check hairstyles and discuss further.

There are also detailed names of flowers and birds in Japanese and English.

Some deaf people may be able to teach that in JSL, but we don’t know the words in JSL. We’ve started to checking the characteristics of flowers and trying to express them in JSL.

(ST) Can you also use JSL to create the names of flowers which Japanese names you don’t know?

(YK) Even for the one which has a proper Japanese name, they just say “hana (flower)” in JSL and stop thinking.

We can grasp the visual image of each flower and express it in JSL. They’re not interested in flowers and end up with the same signs. There are many kinds of flowers, so I believe they can improve the ability to observe things in detail by thinking in JSL. 


Creating Technical Terms in JSL

(AM) When I was working at the nursing home, there were many kinds of medicines, like oral medicines, ointments, intravenous drips, and injections.

Each one has a name. I memorized the names in katakana, but if I express them in finger-spell, it’s time-consuming. There are the most types in oral medicine, so if I say “oral medicine 1, xxx” in JSL, other staff can spot the specific name easily. 

If I say, “Intravenous drip, xxx”, they will see which one I am talking about. We were creating our own sign language that everyone can understand at the place.

We don’t have to make each name correspond exactly to Japanese. Even if the name is the same, the form may be different, such as an intravenous drip or an oral medication, so a hearing person would guess from what the patient currently uses.

We can understand which one directly from JSL as we express intravenous drip at first. There are various way both in JSL and spoken Japanese, so there are no better or worse languages.

(ST) I think the advantage of sign language is that you can express with your own body.

(YK) We can take advantage of the characteristics of sign language to think better in each situation, but there are also many clear and beautiful words in Japanese. They are the equivalent in that sense.

(KN) There are far more records in Japanese than in JSL. We have to work harder to create more.

(AM) We need to increase our accumulation in JSL.

(ST) What fields have a high priority in education or occupation?

(AM) You mean in specialized fields. In the IT field, there are many katakana words, so some groups are discussing those JSL expressions.

The career choices for deaf people are expanding, and the translation efforts have begun in various specialized fields. It may not be wide-spreading now, but they slowly accumulate in each area.

(KN) I believe philosophy is the one.  What we want most are the words of philosophy, which is a base of everything to grow.

At first, Plato and Aristotle started to dialogue half-naked. The knowledge has accumulated for a long time, which makes me jealous. 

(ST) I would like to see that, too.

(KN) Philosophical dialogue half-naked… No, that doesn’t sound nice.

(AM&YK) You mean getting together at some bathhouse?

(KN) I mean, if we get together and have a 24-hour dialogue, small things make a big difference.

(ST) We need more time.

(YK) We need the time to think.

For example, it takes too much time to learn Japanese. That absorbs the power to think and mental strength. In JSL, we can take time and keep feeling, and we just have to increase our knowledge.

(KN) We need the time to get together.

(ST) A place, too.

(KN) We have to earn a living, so it’s quite hard.

(ST) We have to decide what we want to do most.

(KN) If we could get rid of everything, we could do more.

(AM) Without any job, if we could lock ourselves in some basement, focus on discussions, and find ourselves a year later on the ground, we should generate ideas one after another.

(YK) Like Urashima Taro. After we had fun at Ryugu Castle, we go back to Japan’s hearing society. We can not find any deaf, which makes us shocked. That’s how the story ends.

We need that kind of joke. We can create new ideas from jokes.  It would be nice to see those conversations on video.

We can laugh with other deaf. Now, some deaf comedies and movies are popular. Thanks to IT technology, those activities are finally spreading.

As we mentioned earlier about philosophy, everyone needs the experience to think in JSL from JSL. People are often satisfied after translating from Japanese to JSL. 

What’s essential is the experience of translating JSL to JSL.


Time for thinking deeply in JSL

(KN)We need time to think not only for having fun but also with patience. Many deaf people have never experienced the joy of creating new idea from such time.

(YK) That isn’t easy.

(ST) Can’t you have the time at a deaf school?

(YK, KN, AM) No.

(ST) Can’t you have time for creating new JSL or having dialogue among friends?

(KN)There is a lot of pressure from society, and we need to follow what teachers say.

Most teachers are healing. We have to agree with what the teachers say. We want to think what we talked with friends was correct, but if it was different from what teachers say, we have to follow the teachers.

Our thoughts won’t disappear, they still exist, but it just left out without being discussed further.

While we continue to follow what the teachers say, our potential idea are kept hidden. Then, we graduate from high school and start to live a chaotic life in a society.

(YK) It’s difficult to wait. There is a timetable at school, and we get the habit of following it. When we grow up, we won’t be able to wait anymore, so we have to wait.

At work, we staff members wait while children are thinking. When they’re concentrating, their eyes look different, so we wait until we can make eye contact before speaking.

They are spinning ideas in mind, so if you ignore them and move on, you will hurry them and interrupt the flow of thoughts. Some kids are faster thinking, some are slower, but there’s no such place we can all wait for each child.

(ST) Philosophy…

(KN) We could wait in the philosophy class if there is a place where we can all sit in a circle and do philosophy.

(ST) Philosophy could be a good starting point.

(NK) You should do it!

(YK) You should spread the word about philosophy.

(ST) We are just having a philosophy dialogue today.

(AM) I am grateful that this place has been a good chance for us.

(ST) I was interested in the difference between sign and spoken languages, so all the stories were fascinating. I’ll check the records and try to summarize them.

(KN) Is the recording fine?

(ST) I believe so!


From JSL to Japanese

(ST) Please check my translation carefully later. There should be some parts that I don’t understand…

(AM) It’s your unique skill to create Japanese texts fitting to the discussions in JSL. Translating into the same content should be a skill to extract from whole Japanese words.

(YK) Many people translate JSL from the beginning based on each expression. In such a case, the whole meaning ends up completely different.

Your translations are not word-based, but flow seamlessly. The text is Japanese, but the meaning is same as the original JSL.

Since it continues as a sentence, the rhythm of JSL remains. The meaning seems to be taken as a whole and translated into dynamic Japanese. That’s my impression.

(ST) I am feeling a bit of pressure…

(KN) It’s strange as it gives me vivid image, unlike what I’ve ever read.  It’s like a sentence in which I can quickly create an image. I felt something is different when I saw your translation before.

It was different from other translations. The same contents we talked were there in the text. I was shocked in a good way, of course.

(AM) “How can you do that?”, sort of thing.

(ST) I wonder what’s the difference… I may have imagined who is reading.

(KN) It’s like texts you are watching together with the imagined readers. Such texts should be a strength and an outcome of doing philosophy.

 You’re creating texts based on the essence of original meaning. Rather than the essence, an object viewed with readers.

You weren’t changing the meaning from your view but creating texts from the sense that can be shared with others, which surprised me a lot.

(ST) It will be nice if I can create translation so that the readers can have the same image.

To the sentence the reader can get the same image as the person who express it.

I am not sure if I can do the same thing this time…

(YK) You’ve never be so cautious. We may have let you try hard to reach ones everyone can have same image!

(KN) That’s not good. Let’s stop praising her now.

(ST) Let’s keep in touch. Thank you very much!


YouTube Videos

⚫︎No.1 Self-introduction

⚫︎No.2 How to Recollect Memories

⚫︎No.3 How to Arrange Memories for Explanation–6I

⚫︎No.4 From Sign Language to Sign Language

この投稿文は次の言語で読めます: Japanese