Allow me to introduce Tony and Scott, two wild and crazy Canadians living in Osaka. They were in town to record songs for a kids’ show. One of the songs was Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree. Tony kept singing Christmas Tree instead. After the 4th or 5th take, he got rather frustrated and said quite clearly and directly into the mic, “F*ck!” Everyone in the control room seemed to understand but we were cool about it.
Later during a break, Tony told us studies have been done that show just how powerful that word is. In pain studies, people who said it loud and proud felt less pain than people who didn’t. Then he wondered if there are any words in Japanese that have the same power. Nobody could think of one. Scott suggested that maybe that has to do with the high value traditionally put on stoicism in the face of adversity.
“Right, ” said I. “Can you imagine a Samurai plunging his dagger into his belly and yelling, ‘F*ck! That hurts!'”
“No,” said Scott. “He just leans forward and patiently waits for his pal to chop his head off.”
“Unless this happens,” said I. “Tony, you idiot! You missed! F*ck!”
And Scott replaced his missing scalp with a leftover lettuce leaf.