Thursday, December 19, 2013

Continuation: What's that word again?

Looks like we've fallen into a really hard search challenge.  Excellent!  It's been a while since we've all been quite as stumped as we are with this one.  

From the comments, it looks like people are on the right track... you just haven't found quite the right words to rephrase the question.  


Today's challenge: 
1.  What's the Japanese term for a publisher taking a writer out of their life and secreting them away in a hotel until they've completed writing the book that they're obligated to write?  
As you know, once you have the specific term for a complex idea, it's much easier to do subsequent searches

I'll give the answer tomorrow, but we'll continue this for just a bit more to let folks have a bit more time to work on it! 

Search on!  


  1. []

    Japanese prints

    [japan writers association]

    [Japanese writers obligations]

    2. Giri and the problems of obligation in Japan

    [japanese book writer confinement cultural practice]



    Japanese duty, obligation there found Japanese values.

    The term that I found and I believe it is not the correct is Hikikomori. Maybe this lead to better answer.

  2. I will add to Ramon's and yet I still have more work to do. Ramon we are heading in the same direction. Hikkormori I see as being an individual now typically young that is housebound at his own free will. Giri lead me to pursue this line of thought..

    Query [ japanese publishers authors laws obligations]
    Query [ japanese law of obligation]

    " Obligations (saiken from the perspective of the obligee, saimu from the perspective of the obligor) are one of the key components of Japanese civil law. Unlike property rights, the content of obligations may be freely determined by the parties."

  3. I think I got it !

    Yesterday when I admitted to being skunked I was not showing enough GANBARU : "to commit oneself fully to a task and to bring that task to an end

    After trying off and on most of the stuff that others tried on Wednesday and getting nowhere I quit.

    This morning in a flash of genius I tried SEARCH for
    [Japanese culture perseverance] where there are lots of hits for GANBARU and its conjugations

    WIKIPEDIA: Ganbaru (??? lit., stand firm?), also romanized as gambaru, is a ubiquitous Japanese word which roughly means to slog on tenaciously through tough times.[1]
    The word Ganbaru is often translated to mean "doing one’s best", but in practice, it means doing more than one's best.[2] The word emphasizes "working with perseverance"[3] or "toughing it out."[4]
    Ganbaru means "to commit oneself fully to a task and to bring that task to an end."[5] It can be translated to mean persistence, tenacity, doggedness and hard work. The term has a unique importance in Japanese culture.[6] To stand firm to try your best Japanese language lesson:

    I am convinced now that this is pretty close


    1. my quibble would be that if an author possessed GANBARU the action of a publisher to sequester a dawdling writer would be unnecessary…
      converging parallel paradox -
      Finn, Finn, finish
      Ganbatte kudasai
      cultural behaviors can be hard to quantify and describe… let alone search.

    2. Love this. Alas, not quite right. Keep at it!

  4. kuchiguruma = cajolery or kakuri suru = box off, shut out, quarantine, isolate?
    was the use of the Murasaki Shikibu print image only incidental? smile>eyes closed>exhale> boketto (Glas wen)
    Yamato kotoba

    (link for Ramón - Hershey>Mexico>China Golden Monkey)

    1. I'm glad you recognized it as Lady Murasaki. It wasn't quite incidental or accidental... She was the first real novelist of Japan, and as such, is a great representative for all authors. Although, so far as I know, she predates publishing houses, and therefore was never "canned goods" by the publisher!

  5. Hikikomori is essentially a socially inept shut in, so that wouldn't be right by itself.

    I've been using my crappy Japanese to try to ferret the term out but that hasn't been going as well as I hoped. I think I have a guess though.

    Some stuff I've tried
    [出版社 小説家が締め切りに遅れる時]
    [小説家が締め切りに遅れる時 ホテル]
    The second search led me to this =
    The term Kanjime comes up, which refers to "Canning." I can't be sure if they're talking about canning the way we do in terms of canning a project (ending it.) So I did another search
    This led me to the following =
    Again, my Japanese is bad so I couldn't read the page so well, but in the last paragraph I think it says something like the practice stared with movie companies, but not just movie companies, but other industries like publishing also were practicing "Kanjime" a lot. So I looked up ”カンジメ” on

    The result
    The crazy part here is that if you check out the Japanese - English option you will only get the definition for "Canning" as it refers to fruit and preservation.

    But if you read the Japanese definition there is clearly a second definition. The crappy google translation is as follows:
    "placing the state to confine people to a certain place, and refused to negotiate with the external. "- I want to to the hotel novelist"

    So I am going to place my bets on "Kanjime" for the time being.

  6. Whoops, sorry. The term is Kandzume (カンヅメ)not Kanjime (カンジメ). I've been squinting at the screen too long.

    1. Enusan looks like you have found our answer. Knowing that Wiki is a good starting point for solving our challenges I looked into "kanzume";
      Query [Practice of kanzume in japan for writers] and from SERP first results was and quote

      "It was refurbished and opened as a hotel in 1954 and soon the literati began to gravitate towards the “hotel on the hill”. Its proximity to Jinbōchō, where many publishers were based, made it a popular spot for editors to house their writers away from distractions so that they could finish their novels, a practice known as kanzume (canning).

      Yasanuri Kawabata spent time writing at the hotel, and one of Japan’s most esteemed writers, Yukio Mishima, completed his last few novels here.

      Today, the hotel is still an occasional hangout for the city’s writers, journalists, and scholars. It retains a dusty old-world charm, with wood-trim, antique furniture, and writing desks in the older bedrooms.

      It is also the only hotel in Tokyo that circulates oxygen and negative ions into its rooms, which is believed to boost concentration (and also sounds like the perfect antidote to both jet-lag and writers’ block)."

      Is this practice still done? We'll see. I'm not done yet.
      Well done Enusan!

    2. a 2nd confirmation using your leads:
      " A key point is that these officials worked full time, in the same room, with strong urgings from Ministry leaders to produce a workable draft in a short period of time-the conditions Japanese call kanzume (literally, "canned," suggesting being bottled up under great heat and pressure)"
      from the U of Michigan:
      p.290 [⌘-F kanzume]
      well honed query, RM & translations Enusan.

    3. I don't see what makes the leap from this…
      Hilltop Hotel
      hope this isn't the result of being "canned/kanzume"
      Yukio Mishima
      contacts pay LMV

    4. Enusan, Thanks for posting your solution! YOU were the first (BreadmanTalking was just shortly after you posted your solution here). I got confused because he posted his on the blogpost from 12/18/13 while you posted yours here on the 12/19/13 post. But you both solved it! Excellent excellent excellent work.

  7. I just got the answer by email and Enusan is apparently right, or close to, with their word Kan(d)zume (カンヅメ), meaning "canned".

    Yesterday, I tried my chance as soon as I read the challenge, because I found it both immensely interesting as a topic and easy as a challenge. Well, after 10 o 15 minutes of trying my best at using Japanese translations and several approaches, I couldn't find the word.

    Five minutes after starting the search I was already thinking of asking a colleague of mine, a Portuguese writer, who has been several times to Japan and has friends there. I guessed they might be able to answer her. On the other hand, I was interesting in knowing how the other search researchers would find the term, so I waited. After more than a day without any definite answer, I finally asked my friend. She was thrilled with the concept, too, although she suspected, as an inquisitive and intelligent person, that it might be an urban myth. I assured her it was most likely not.

    My friend's friends gave another rendition of the word that could be transliterated as Kan(d)zume: かんづめ.

    So I Google translated both author and writer so as to search some page containing both one of the forms of Kan(d)zume and one of the possible translations for writer or author.

    [ かんづめ | カンヅメ ライター | 著者 | 筆者 | 作家 ] is automatically changed to [ かんづめ | 缶詰 ライター | 著者 | 筆者 | 作家 ], changing the second kana Kan(d)zume to its Kanji form:

    The first result is the Wikipedia article, which actually confirms the hypothesis:

    Here's the relevant part, automatically translated by Google:

    The representation of canned [ Edit ]

    Referred to as "canning", that you confine a long time behind closed doors by force the people. It is a representation that is likened to the canned As is cramped, but is written as "canned" in katakana usually. [ citation needed ] This, it was expresses as "canned" Hook in "packed in cans of food" and "tucking in a room of the inn the writer," and since the origin of the word in the first place.
    That the editor is allowed to stay in the mid to force such a room of inns and hotels, the writers run from place to place from reminders of the original, to concentrate on writing in the absence of worldly thoughts.
    Of the gang put up some sort of request activists that such crowd and is, or confined in the room the person responsible for the issue, negotiated with or surrounding the residence or office, it is intended swallowed a request by force .
    That the multiplayer is pushed into the narrow space.
    In the "last resort" of editors, 1. Means commonly used in the publishing world today. Since there is that it has a bitter experience in the past, "canned Watching also to eat also hate" and writer and columnist also that not a few. [ citation needed ]

    If I'm interpreting it right, the word is usually written, in this sense, in katakana, as カンヅメ (the way Enusan wrote, not the way I was told). Citation needed for this, though.

    Note that the whole thing has the same note "citation needed".

    Finally, I searched for "last resort" together with "canned" as they are written on that Wikipedia article ( [ カンヅメ 伝家の宝刀 ] ), but to no avail. :(

    So now I'm not convinced that this is not an urban myth…

    1. Glad to see some confirmation!

      I'm relatively certain that this isn't an urban myth.

      This page, for example, ( is titled, "What is 'Being Canned in a Hotel?'" and shows a bunch of manga assistants being Kandzume'd. And here is a column where the author talks about their personal experience of being "canned"

      For a while I wasn't finding anything involving "authors" though. Just script writers, mangaka and assistants, and other production types.

      After trolling through the search results for カンヅメ again I ran across this Yahoo Answers page

      It's interesting because one of the replies says that 缶詰 is incorrect usage for this particular situation, and 館詰 is correct. Both of these words are homophones. 館詰 feels almost like a pun, because the "Kan" in this case basically means building and is the same "Kan" that is used in words like "Ryokan" which is a traditional Japanese resthouse. The nonstandard form also doesn't show up as a valid word in The term also breaks google translate, which seems to think the reading is "museum justified."

      So I did a search for 「小説家を館詰」(Canning authors using the nonstadard form of "can") and started getting much more relevant results, including this advertisement for hotels where one room is advertised as being "useful for Kandzume (館詰) of authors due to i's proximity to publishers." (find "滞在や館詰に使われる)

      I also tried "examples of Kandzume" (館詰の例)but that got me nowhere.

  8. After reading Enusan's answer:

    In industry jargon the relationship of an author to her or his publishing house is termed kakoikomi (literally, enclosure) or senzoku (exclusive). This reflects the authors’ supposed sense of obligation or loyalty to the publishing house for being chosen to have their work published in its literary magazine, and for their editors’ assistance. The “enclosure” is sometimes literal. For example, an author who has been assigned to write a novel is often isolated in a hotel paid for by the publishing company, a practice known as kanzume (literally, being canned or bottled). The ostensible reason for this is to allow the author to concentrate, but an equally important factor is to prevent the author from prioritizing other ongoing projects for different publishing companies (Hanada 44) or being contacted and perhaps lured by other publishing companies. Authors under kanzume are also accessible to their editors at all times, creating a unique environment of isolation yet intimacy.

    See also: Dictionary of Japanese Slang and Colloquialisms [] in Google Books
    Kanzume: "Get stuck (be locked up) somewhere; hole up (somewhere to get some work done)"

    1. Nice find, Hans. That's in Books too, and is an excellent resource for this kind of question.