2016/11/01: Added a “Store” page where you can buy paperback or Kindle copies of articles from Cake’s Corner. Please help me out! The support is much appreciated!
2016/08/03: Greatly updated and expanded Recommended Reading page.
2016/07/19: Organized posts in better chronological order. Activated custom domain; changed URL to cakescorner.me
From Pimiko to Fimiko?
A history of Japanese writing before 1600
The history of Japanese writing is a relatively short but eventful one. In the span of only a couple of centuries the Japanese people went from having no writing system at all to having one of the richest and most complex. Fortunately, because Japanese writing is so young we know a great deal about its origins. The 807 AD work Kogojuui (“Gleanings from the ancient language”) stated in its preface that writing was not known to the Japanese people until Chinese script was imported via Korea. A 13th century commentary on Nihon Shoki, however, claimed that writing had existed in Japan since time immemorial, and the so-called “language of the gods” was supplanted by Chinese script. Debate raged on for centuries over which assertion was the correct one. There was a certain appeal to believing that the gods themselves had granted writing to the Japanese people, and so this belief came about long after everyone who knew the truth firsthand had died of old age.
For a couple years I wanted to make a historical fiction video game set in Persia in 1258. But by the time I finished the outline, I got so busy with other things that I never even started the actual game making part. And I have almost no free time now, so I figured that I might as well release the script and at least let you read it since you’ll never be able to play it.
The year after the Famicom came to the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System, the American video game industry finally started to heat up again. Here are all of their efforts.
Following the success of Super Mario Bros. in 1985/86, there was an explosion of games in the US, especially for the NES. Most of these, I must confess, were awful. But among the fields of thorns there were quite a few roses. These are the ones that almost made it into the bouquet, but had to be pruned off for the benefit of the fair recipient (that would be you).
A slime draws near! Command?
For this year’s Honorable Mention, let’s take a look at the grandfather of all Japanese RPGs. Dragon Quest, sometimes called “Japan’s national game” for its popularity, longstanding status as a classic, and its influence on the genre and industry.
After years of dreaming and wishing, I finally did it. God blessed me with the opportunity to go to Japan. This was my first time outside the US and it was, in a word, amazing. At the request of friends and family, I took many pictures. I also captured some short videos. Here they are for your viewing pleasure. Click an image to view the full-sized version. Page 1: Week one. Page 2: Week two. Page 3: Gallery.
Every legend has a beginning. Some are more humble than others, but what almost all of them have in common is starting with a very rough first draft. The Legend of Zelda, on the other hand, seemed to hatch fully grown. Of course, it was still a first draft in that it established rules and conventions that later entries built upon, but a surprising amount of its structure began here. It seems to have everything: an open world that emphasizes exploration and secret-finding, items such as the ocarina and boomerang, the main cast of characters, and the instantly recognizable theme music that we couldn’t imagine going along with any other game. Let’s take a look at what made this first entry in the long-running series so legendary.
My latest book has been published, just in time for Christmas shopping! Get yours today!
Volume II covers the first eleven chapters of Genesis (really it covers 2-11, but Volume I is included in this book so you get 1-11) in intricate detail. Pretty much any question you could have about these chapters is answered. For example, why did God use Adam’s rib? Because ribs are really good at growing back (Yes, really!) if they’re removed by a skilled surgeon (sources cited in book). For another example, how do we know that Abraham lived in northern and not southern Mesopotamia? Because many ancient cities in that area were named after his relatives (these sources also cited in book). Why did Noah build his ark to the proportions he did? Because a ship with those proportions is nearly impossible to capsize (Guess what? These sources are also in the book). In this commentary, myths and mistakes are dispelled by the truckload (most people believe Abraham lived in southern Mesopotamia); as well as misinterpretations. Does Genesis 2:4 say that the Earth was created in one day? Was this a contradiction? No, because “in-the-day-of-making” is a Hebrew figure of speech that just means “when” (The source for this is cited in the book too–what a deal!). Every answer I give in the commentary has been well-researched and is well-supported by the facts.
This commentary has been and continues to be a labor of love for me. I want to factually explain everything possible about the Bible so that Christians have a full understanding of scripture (and non-Christians; you can read the book too!). I have used almost 200 sources in just this book, and I predict that the next volume will have hundreds more because I want there to be no doubt about the Bible’s veracity. And I fully explore the meaning of each verse because I want people to have answers to questions that they perhaps never thought to ask before. What makes Genesis different from every other creation story? What is the importance of Tubal-Cain being a blacksmith, and what does it tell us about his people? Why did Noah get drunk off wine if he was a righteous man? Why did it take so long for the people to get to Shinar after the flood? Where is Shinar, anyway? All these questions and more are answered in this commentary! I hope you’re excited, because this book is 444 pages of learning, and learning is fun! I’ve even learned more from researching and writing this than I ever imagined.
So here’s what you need to know. I recommend that you buy a physical copy because if you do you’ll get a Kindle copy for free. Also, have a QR scanner app on your phone. There are codes inside that you can scan. Finally, you need to know just what a commentary is. “Commentary” just means that I am providing comments on the Bible verse-by-verse. Different commentary writers have different styles. Mine is meant to be a fully-comprehensive commentary. Thus, not every verse will follow the same formula–sometimes I will mention a scientific principle that will show why a verse is true (such as Adam’s rib mentioned earlier), sometimes I will show why a verse disproves a certain heresy (such as Genesis 1:1 disproving Gnosticism), and sometimes I will provide whatever facts or figures are relevant to the topic at hand. There is a ton of information packed into the Bible, and in response my commentary is packed with information explaining or defending it. Now, to be honest, there may be a couple of sections that you’ll find boring to read, but I think that the interesting parts are so interesting that they’ll more than make up for it. If any of the questions above strike your interest, I highly recommend that you read this book.
It’s available from Amazon for $11, and you’ll receive a Kindle copy (a $10 value) for free! What are you waiting for? Buy yours today!
Japanese media are often dismissed by westerners as simply being crazy, but this is often the case because of cultural references or allusions that non-Japanese persons simply cannot understand right off the bat. Even an outlandishly off-the-wall video game will appear more sensible once the player examines the origin of certain elements in the game–and that is exactly what I’m about to do. I’ll show you several instances of mythology and folklore in Japanese video games. These instances shall be put in three categories: First, a concept or figure from folklore or mythology that is mentioned by name but does not actually appear; Second, a figure or concept that appears but is not specifically identified as that figure or concept, and may be based off that figure rather than being the figure itself; and Third, an appearance of the figure or location itself, dramatized for use in that video game.
“Strike at the Root.” A political cartoon, by me.