This whole entry started when I saw this word in the dictionary:
Meaning: going to France
I was thinking to myself that this is weird. Why would Japanese have a special specific word for 'going to France'? I love France and my name (Michel) is French but isn't such a word too specific?
I mean, if we have a word for 'going to France', why not have a word for like...'visiting a shrine', or better yet 'visiting a shrine in winter'! or if we are going all out, why not have a word for 'visiting a shrine NAKED in winter'!
But OH WAIT! Japanese DOES have a word for that...
Meaning: visiting a shrine naked in winter
OK, so Japanese has some very specific words targeted to very specific situations <cough>, but why France? I asked around and found out that it's not only France. There are quite a few specific words for going/visiting other countries. Here is the list I have now:
Meaning: going to USA; going to America
Meaning: going to Europe
Meaning: going to Britain
Meaning: going to Russia
Meaning: going to Italy
Meaning: going to Germany
Meaning: going to Spain
And just when you get used to the whole "TO-something" you get this unexpected turn:
Meaning: going to China
Meaning: going to Taiwan
Meaning: going to South Korea
Meaning: going to North Korea
For a short explanation about how those words were formed just know that each county has a katakana name (katakana is the syllabic script used in Japanese to write foreign vocabulary, including foreign country names) but Japanese also has a way of writing the county names using Chinese characters (Kanji) and so, those words up there are a combination of one Chinese character meaning to transit or to visit and a second Chinese character that symbolizes the specific country.
There is one more word related to this long entry. How about visiting Japan? right? wrong.
Japanese people don't visit Japan, they live there, you are the one coming to visit and that is why the word is:
Meaning: arrival in Japan; coming to Japan; visit to Japan
In this case the first Chinese character's meaning is "come" and the second is "Japan".
Opening up a dictionary can sometime be time consuming.