The last time we visited our favorite sushi joint (Circle Sushi in Sandy Springs, GA, in case you’re wondering), they were playing a DVD on the hi-def TV that included a seemingly endless sequence of clever Rube Goldberg-like machines, whose only goal, apparently, was to reveal a message written in katakana.
Fascinated, we asked our waitress what the message meant. She translated it as “pitagora suichi.” She knew the second word translated “switch” (as in, an electrical or mechanical switch), but she mistakenly thought the first word was onomatopoeia for the sound a marble made rolling on its track.
Actually, a little internet research reveals that the phrase actually means “Pythagoras Switch.” This refers to a Pythagorean Device, or what Americans would call a Rube Goldberg machine. (Pythagoras is, of course, the ancient Greek mathematician.)
Finally, Pitagora Suichi is actually a Japanese children’s program, something like Sesame Street, whose show segments are bracketed by these short videos of Pythagoras Devices. Cool! Here’s a sample: