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5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

Mr. Pole

Mr. Oda invited me to a restaurant last week. After we arrived there, he asked me how
a new employee was working out. I answered, "Suki desu." (I like him.) But Mr. Oda
sniggered as if I had said something funny or strange. Was my answer inappropriate ?

Illustrations by Masako Ban

Most Japanese textbooks and dictionaries translate "like" as "suki." But "suki" is actually an emotional
expression that implies "love." "Ii desu" is the common way of saying "nice" or "good." Be carefulyou could imply
that you love someone in a romantic sense. ("Like" is not treated as verb in Japanese unless the word "desu" is

has two meanings : 1 and 2
Mr. Pole : I like this restaurant. (This restaurant is nice.)

1 When praising or admiring something. 1

Kono restaurant (praising) desu ne.
(this restaurant) (isn't it ?)
e.g., I like this coffee cup . ii
Mr. Oda : What are your "likes and dislikes" ?
(Is there anything in particular you like or don't like ?)

Kono coffee cup ii desu ne.
Nani ka suki/kirai arimasu ka.
(something) (Do you have ~?)
2 When referring to something you like very much. (See kanji at right)

Mr. Pole : I like sashimi,

e.g., I like classical music . suki 2 like
Sashimi ga (enjoy) desu ne.

Classic ga suki desu. and I especially love tuna.
"I love you = aishite imasu" as in the Toku ni maguro ga (preference) desu.
love movies. Japanese people rarely use this (especially) (tuna)
phrase in real life.
But I don't like cuttlefish that much...
(But I'm not crazy about cuttlefish.)
dai suki
Dislike ...
In order to say "dislike," there are two styles: Demo ika wa chotto...
(But) (cuttlefish)(don't like)
direct "kirai"
(See "Dislike")

indirect "chotto...," "amari suki-janai desu"

As "kirai" is a direct way of expressing dislike, this style is

often avoided. (Being too direct is considered arrogant.) Mr. Pole : Wow ! I like this plate. (This plate is nice.)
Instead, the indirect expressions below are common.
Waa! Kono utsuwa (praising) desu ne.
e.g., Do you like your work ? (Wow) (this plate, bowl) (isn't it ?)

"Well... I'm not that crazy about my work ..." I recently began collecting Japanese pottery.

... Ima, Nihon no yakimono o atsumete imasu.
shigoto wa chotto .... (now, recently) (pottery) (collecting)

Mr. Oda : Really? Oh,by the way,how is your newemployee?

By leaving a sentence vague and incomplete, "dislike" is
expressed very indirectly. This is a thoughtful expression used
when trying not to hurt someone's feelings. So
desu ka. Tokorode atarashii staff wa do
desu ka.
(by the way)(new)(staff, employee)(how is...?)
e.g., "I don't really care for my work." Mr. Pole : I like him. (He is a nice person.)
(praising) hito desu.
shigoto wa amari suki-janai desu. (person)

By avoiding the direct expression "kirai," this sentence still

shows "dislike," but leaves a softer impression. 1 2 3 4 5
ii suki dai suki ii ii

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

Combining(woman)and(child)," this
kanji originally had a meaning of "young women"
or "girls." As young women were considered
onna ko(domo)beautiful, the combined form was used to mean
woman child "to like," "good" and "beautiful."

: favorable, good
su(ki), ...zu(ki), kono(mi): fond of

likes and dislikes

I have no particular likes or dislikes.

su ki kira i
Suki/kirai wa toku ni arimasen.

free choice, to each his own

All people have their own preferences.

(often used negatively)
su ki zu ki

Sukizuki desu kara.

taste, preference

My taste and even my preferences differ

from my wife's.
kono mi

Tsuma to wa shumi mo konomi mo chigaimasu.

good reputation (criticism),acclaim

That new product has a good reputation,

doesn't it ?

Ano shinseehin wa kohyo
desu ne.

best chance, ideal

Today is a perfect (ideal) day for golf, isn't it ?

Kyo wa zekko no golf-biyori desu ne.
You can change golf to tennis, hiking etc.

Crazy about something Mr. Tada: You are good (at it).
although not very good at it.
Unskillful but euthusiastic.
heta no yoko-zuki Jo zu desu ne.
Mr. Pole :
Oh, no. I just enjoy it, even though
In Japan, to boast or to brag about something is not I'm not good at it.
appreciated. Therefore, even though one is skillful at a task,

and is praised for it, it is best to be humble. This phrase is
Iie, heta no yoko-zuki desu yo.
used to show enthusiasm about a hobby, etc.,even though
one lacks the skill. Mr. Tada: No, really. You are very good.

Iie, jozu desu yo.

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
Vol. 2 ryo shu sho
When I was shopping and waiting in line at the cashier, I receive, dominion income, collect write, book, document
No, but you can be "ue-sama" too! In the past, the word "ue-
heard the clerk asking the customers "onamae wa?" (What's
sama" was used to address members of the upper classes, such
the name ? or Who should it be addressed to ?)
as Sho gun (samurai general). "ue-sama" is now in use only when

I expected them to give their own names, but instead they misappropriation,
Design : Masako Ban

issuing official receipts, replacing the actual name/com-pany name.

answered "ue-sama." Since then, I've realized the same embezzlement
It is said that this form of address will not disgrace the recipient, no o ryo

conversation is carried at other stores too, when customers usurpation receive
matter who he/she is. So, if you need an official receipt and the
are asking for official receipts. Do Japanese people have My business colleague embezzled company
clerk asks you "onamae wa? " you could answer "ue-sama."
Mr. Pole
another name beside their own ? property (money).

doryo wa kaisha no kane o oryo o shimashita

Official Receipt..........ryoshusho a shop

A receipt serves as a legal document. In Japanese companies, the accounting
department often requires a ryoshusho for reimbursement. A ryoshusho does
Mr. Pole : Please give me an official receipt.
official receipt

annual income
not itemize the details. (If you do not want your secretary or the accounting Because of the recession, my annual income
department to know exactly how many drinks you had, you could give them the clerk : What's the name? Who should it be addressed to? dropped drastically.
ryoshusho instead of the restaurant bill.) There are some places, however, which or
onamae wa ? oatena wa ?
refuse to write ue-sama (e.g., department stores). In that case, have your
fukeki de nenshu wa ohaba ni herimashita
name/company name ready. Mr. Pole : It's "company name." Write it to "name replacement."
company name or
name replacement
name / company name polite form of date (Heisei era ... started in 1989) desu de graft, bribe
"san" (Mr./Ms.) (See "large to small") (by means of) shu wai
clerk : How shall I fill out the items section? collect graft
That person was arrested for bribery.
Hese nen
nichi tadashigaki wa?

receipt Mr. Pole : .......................................
(ryoshusho) ano hito wa shuwai de tsukamarimashita
(ue) (sama) amount
Even if you do not specify the items you purchased, the clerk will

21,000 normally fill out the section on the receipt as below.

items e.g.,
e.g., oshokuji-dai.....meal expenses, oshina-dai.....merchandise expenses, bill, invoice
amount without expenses
consumption tax breakdown se kyu sho
Answers request demand document
(zenuki kingaku) (uchiwake) 1
2 3
sho ue-sama At the end of the month, I will pay the bill.
The amount above has been received.
ki no kingaku o ryo
20,000 getsumatsu ni sekyusho no shiharai o shimasu
(5%) 1,000 1-2-3
03-4567-8910 large to small rule
In other words, the "large" idea is expressed first
revenue stamp consumption tax name, address and telephone seal with smaller ideas following.Remember, this rule sho rui
(shu nyu
inshi) (sho
hizegaku) number of issuing party (inkan) applies to many situations in Japanese. document sort
for amounts over30,000 e.g., I left the document on a train.
full name:Oda Masanori
family name given name

Quiz / /
One of the three names on left is the most (last) (first) shorui o densha ni oki-wasuremashita
common last name in Japan.
Now, which one is it ?
where Nihon Kabushiki gaisha
you work: company name
Oda Masanori
family name given name written explanation,

The answer is "Suzuki." This last name is more common in east Japan, especially in Shizuoka address: instruction
Tokyo to Minato ku Azabu 1-2-3 River Apt. Oda Masanori setsu me sho
Prefecture (approximately one out of every 65 people). Believe it or not, in Hamamatsu,
prefecture area in pref. town house # person's name explanation clear document
Shizuoka Prefecture, approximately one out of every 20 is Suzuki-san! So if you are ever in (ward, city)
Hamamatsu and shout the name at a train station, at least a few Suzuki-san will turn around I learned it by reading the instructions.
and look at you. date: sen kyuhyaku kyuju kyu nen shi gatsu niju roku nichi getsuyobi
year month date day of the week
Top 3 most common last names : 1. (Suzuki) 2. (Sato) 3. (Tanaka) (year 1999) (April) (26th) (Monday) setsumesho o minagara oboemashita

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
Vol. 3
atama kao mimi hana me kuchi
There are many interesting expressions that use words for body parts, head face ear(s) nose eye(s) mouth
I was in a coffee shop the other day and overheard an and they are frequently used in daily conversation. Can you guess, for
Did all the expressions on the left make sense to you? Now, let's
interesting conversation between two young women at example, how many expressions use the word "eye(s)" ([me])? The
the next table. One of them asked the other, "So what is see if you can apply what you just learned to the phrases below.
answer is as many as 140! In this lesson, let us look at some useful
your boyfriend like?" Her friend replied, "Well, his face is expressions combining i-adjectives and body parts. The good news is, Education for children is a nagging problem to parents
wide and his head is soft, but his mouth is a little light."
What is this man really like? Soft head? Is there
you can create sophisticated expressions by using beginning-level in any country, isn't it ?
i-adjectives at below left. Mr. Pole, dont think so hard. If you look below,
Mr. Pole
something wrong with her boyfriend? to worry over
you will understand what this man is like. kodomo no kyoiku wa dono kuni no oya mo a problem desu ne
education for children any country parents also isn't it?

i-adjectives For answers to fill in the

boxes, check with i-adjectives
on the left that have corres-
ponding numbers.
If you keep saying such things, you will be ridiculed
for being old-fashioned .
1 12
nice old-
bright ; smart ; sharp to be proud of
good ii sonna-koto o itte-iru to fashioned to waraware-masu yo

1 good hana ga
10 high such things keep saying will be ridiculed I tell you
atama ga

2 15 bad
warui fool ; not smart to be flirtatious; to like women
Ah You know a variety of people. You must have a
2 bad
e! 11 long wide circle of acquaintances .

atama ga hana no shita ga

3 ss
furui have a wide circle

There are many other expressions that

old-fashioned iro-iro na hito o shitte-imasu ne of acquaintances desu ne

have similar meanings, but this one is
t a s ecret. That m

humorous and less offensive compared

variety of people know
4 9
hurtful 3 old to others. It applies to men.
atama ga
painful itai

h e knows a l o t
What ? You already know about it! You are

to worry over a problem

hard quick-eared , aren't you?
5 13
katai atama ga
4 painful eye(s)
g ou


e? mo sono hanashi o shitte-imasu ka desu ne
inflexible ; stubborn

have an expert eye for

6 soft already that story know
lu r




5 12 good
atama ga

me ga


spacious th
n' is Being told the same thing over and over, I am quite embarrassed .
7 a fle
wide hiroi flexible ; receptive to new things ec

th le in
h i s thinking, bu be ashamed to hear

6 soft itsumo onaji-koto o iwarete desu
atama ga mouth kuchi always same matter being told
fast hayai By adding "desu" to these expressions,
you can make a sentence. can keep a secret ; closed-mouthed

That person keeps secrets , so please don't worry.

e.g., Mr. Pole is smart.
tall Pole-san wa atama ga ii desu ear(s)
10 mimi 13 hard
high takai kuchi ga
ano hito wa desu kara anshin o shite-kudasai
quick-eared ; have sharp ears cannot keep a secret that person please relax
11 long
mimi ga
8 fast

kuchi ga
14 light
He is a good person, but has a bad mouth .
have a wide circle of acquaintances be ashamed to hear have a sharp tongue ; have a bad mouth
has a bad mouth
14 light ii hito nandesu ga desu
karui 7 wide 9 painful 15 bad
kao ga mimi ga kuchi ga good person ...but

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

minds??? 5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
Vol. 4 ki kokoro ude koshi ashi
Several friends of mine have commented on me, Good guess, Mr. Pole. It is a sibling of the body part-i-adjective mind heart arm(s) waist feet; leg(s)
saying, ki ga o
i desu ne(You have many minds.), combos. This time, I would like to bring your attention to
but I have no idea what they mean. I think Im not expressions combining [ki] (mind) and [kokoro] (heart), with Did all the expressions on the left make sense to you? Now,
Design : Masako Ban

supposed to take these words literally because Im i-adjectives. These two words are staples for combination forms lets see if you can apply what you have just learned to the
not aware of more than one mind in my head, of in everyday conversation, with ki combining with more than 120
Mr. Odas wife is strong-willed (aggressive) but generous.
course! My guess is, the phrase is really something
like those body part and i-adjective combinations you
wordsincluding not only i-adjectives, but verbsand kokoro with
more than 40 words. Presented here are the more common of
strong-willed generous
Mr. Pole talked about in our previous class (May 10). Am I such expressions, along with three more body part-related ones. Oda-san no oku-san wa desu ga desu
Oda-sans wife


i-adjectives mind
t? Did


10 good

Generally speaking, short-tempered people suffer a loss.

ha th ippan-teki ni
hito wa son o shimasu

early hasty; impatient e
generally suffer a loss

1 15

y mean
fast hayai
ki ga
1 fast heart kokoro
A plan for winter vacation already? You must be impatient.
2 14 heavy

omoi in no mood to; feeling reluctant generous impatient

mo fuyu-yasumi no kekaku desu ka desu ne

ki ga
2 heavy 11 wide already winter vacation plan
kokoro ga

I w
3 short

a s c ap
short-tempered; impatient narrow-minded
I have to give (them) my refusal today. Im reluctant.

4 long ki ga
3 short 12 narrow
nagai kokoro ga ...

r i c io
in no mood to
kyo-ju ni kotowaranakereba-narimasen desu
patient; easy-going within today must decline/refuse




? Fickle? Well, p
ki ga
4 long arm(s) ude
Your husband is good at cooking. I envy you.
6 weak
skilled; good at

go-shujin wa ryori no desu ne urayamashi desu
5 small
ki ga 13 good ones husband meal; cooking I envy you.
young ude ga

weak-willed; timid
le Uncooked foods, particularly in rainy season, go bad fast.

8 many ki ga
6 weak
oi lower back
koshi easy to go bad
mi s t a k

toku ni tsuyu no nama-mono wa desu

young at heart especially rainy season uncooked food
9 strong e slow to act
tsuyoi me
7 young In job interviews at Japanese companies, you are sometimes
ki ga ...!!tonfm
oIrtahw koshi ga
14 heavy
asked to describe the strengths and weaknesses in your
10 13
character. Take stock of yourself and try filling in the boxes
good i capricious; fickle in the following sentence with expressions from this and the

feet; Vol. 3 lesson that best fit your character.
ki ga
8 many
11 wide leg(s) ashi My main strength is , but my main weakness is .
strong-willed; aggressive
For answers to fill in the boxes, perishable; easy to go bad desu ga chosho wa
watashi no tansho wa desu
12 check with i-adjectives on the left
semai 9 strong fast
my weakness(es) strength(s)
ki ga that have corresponding numbers. ashi ga
With cooperation from Akiko E. Yasukawa

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

lucky day (calendar wise) unlucky day (calendar wise)

"tsuno" 5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

Bride has (h
(peace of mind)

A friend showed me a photo from his wedding In Edo era (1603-1868), women of samurai families used hair
ceremony in which his wife was in a beautiful grease of the type still used by todays sumo wrestlers. The an: peace of mind
kimono. She was also wearing a headdress, trouble with the grease was that, whenever they went out, it would yasu(i): cheap
Design : Masako Ban

gather dust. So they came up with the idea of wrapping white silk
and I was intrigued by its interesting shape.
Oh, that, the friend said. Its called tsuno fabric around their heads to keep the dust off. It eventually evolved Buying cheap and
wasting money/Penny
yasumono- gai no zeni ushinai wise and pound
kakushi (), a horn cover. Horns on a into the headdress you saw in the photo. Interestingly, by the time cheep goods buying money lose
brides head? But he wasnt joking. Japanese it came to be worn by brides and be called tsunokakushi, the
Mr. Pole people often associate horns with devils, but covering had a new meaning: It was worn to hidesymbolicallythe I bought it because it was cheap, but it broke straight away.
why did horns also come to be associated with brides horns, or her selfishness or ego. It reflected the belief that
the bride should hide such horns in the presence of her in-laws, to yasukatta node kaimashita ga, suguni kowaremashita
brides, of all people?
was cheap so bought soon was broken
convince them she could live with them harmoniously.
Suppose you are invited to a wedding ... Onomatopoeia Penny wise and pound foolish, I suppose.

What to wear yasumono-gai no zeni ushinai desu ne
(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f)
The usual wedding attire for male guests is a black or dark suit and
white tie. Women, on the other hand, are allowed a little more flexibility
hot fura fura gabu gabu giri giri doki doki kara kara butsu: Buddha
and can wear either a fomal dress or kimono. The width of the kimono
sleeves differs depending on the wearers status: For married women,
relieved dizzy;
gulp barely (space,
time, deadline, etc.)
hotoke: Buddha
they reach to the hip, whereas single womens sleeves are wide enough
to hang down to their calves. Mr. Pole is talking about the wedding reception he attended yesterday:
There is a limlt to ones
hotoke no kao mo sando You can only pray to Buddha
Gifts On the day of the wedding, I got lost (took the wrong road). Buddha face three times
The wedding gift is usually money, and there are rules dictating how
you present it. Get a goshu gi-bukuro () envelope designed for kekkon-shiki no hi michi o machigaemashita If I fail this time, it will all be over.
the purpose and available at convenience stores. Write your name in the wedding ceremony road made a mistake
lower half on the front and insert the money in crisp, new bills
But I just made it on time. kondo shippai shitara oshimai desu
(shinsatsu = ). When you arrive at the wedding, offer it to the this time if it is a failure be all over; the end
person at the reception desk, bow and say, omedeto-gozaimasu 1
demo barely de maniaimashita Our president is patient, but there is a limit to anyones
(Congratulations.). Make sure you put in an odd number (kisu = ) of
but was on time patience.
bills, because it is believed there is a jinx in an even number (gusu =
), which can be divided into two and spell the couples separation. An I was nervous giving a speech.
exception is two bills. Nine bills are also thought of as bad luck. 2 nervous shacho wa ki ga nagai desu ga, hotoke no kao mo sando desu
speech wa shimashita company president patient
Speecheswhat you can expect
Once the reception starts, expect to sit through a long series of You ought to be careful.
When it was over, I was relieved.
speeches by guests chosen by the newlyweds. Speeches are part of the

ki o tsuketaho ga i desu ne
wedding formalities and their content is often stilted. relieved
owatta toki wa to shimashita had better take care
Return Gifts (hikidemono = when finished
When the wedding reception is over, you are given a large paper bag o k
After the speech, I was extremely thirsty. tsun Doing something in a
containing a thank-you gift from the newlyweds. It is not good manners
4 bone-dry superficial way, forgetting
to open it at the wedding. Return gifts are typically cooking utensils, hotoke tsukutte tamashi irezu the most important part.
speech no ato nodo ga deshita (Lit. Making a Buddha
serving dishes orif you get luckya gift catalog and voucher. Kitchen Buddha make soul not giving
after the speech throat statue, but failing to give
items are so common that some Japanese homes end up with a large Answers
collection of them. So, I gulped down some sake. Despite all efforts (on the document), the main point is missing.

Choosing the date
desukara osake o nomimashita (e) sekkaku tsukutta noni yoten ga nuketeimasu
There are six fortune designations given in a continuous cycle in the therefore sake drank

traditional Japanese calendar, which is based on traditional Chinese 3 (a) make efforts made though main is missing
fortune-telling. One designation, taian (), is regarded as most Today, I have a hangover.
4 (f)
I felt dizzy. A statue of Buddha with no soul, right ?
desirable for weddings, while butsumetsu (), on the other hand, is (c)

to be avoided. Because of this, when a taian falls on a weekend, dizzy (b)
shimashita kyo wa futsuka-yoi desu
hotoke tsukutte tamashi irezu desu ne
wedding halls, hotels and shrines everywhere are booked out. Few today hangover With cooperation from Akiko E. Yasukawa

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

weather forecast

oa lly stor m y
ea r
5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
Vol.6 ten ki yo ho

After a meeting at work, a colleague told me kyo wa Yes, there are many more. The weather-related words you
are desu kara ki o tsuketa-ho ga i desu yo (Today are talking about are often used when greeting others. This may be heavy storm
is really stormy, so you should be careful.) But it the case in other languages as well. There are special words for [show unrestrained emotion and get angry with
Design : Masako Ban

looked nice and sunny outside, so I said, i tenki desu each of the four seasons (shiki), especially autumn (aki) (about 100 everybody]
yo (Its sunny). My colleague laughed at me. words), then winter (fuyu) , summer (natsu) and spring (haru). But The company president was very angry yesterday.
Afterward, I found out the word o are doesnt you can also use weather-related words and phrases to say things
necessarily refer to the weather. Are there any other indirectly. Some of these metaphorical phrases can be used tactfully kino o are deshita
Mr. Pole weather-related words that can be used to mean to avoid mentioning something unpleasant, such as a bad mood or an yesterday president
something completely different? argument.

Weather greetings
A bolt out of the blue Tomorrow will take care of itself. tekiatsu [low atmospheric pressure / bad mood]

Japanese frequently comment on the weather as a way of greeting each other. Mr. Mori is in a bad mood now, so youd better be careful.
se ten no heki-reki ashita wa ashita no kaze ga fuku
When you meet a colleague in the elevator or on the street, try greeting them blue sky old Chinese word tomorrow wind blow
meaning lightning ima Mori-san wate kiatsudesu kara ki o tsuketa-ho ga i desu yo
by commenting on the weather. You will often hear these phrases in the
elevator. It dispels those uncomfortable silences as the floors flash by. now so had better be careful I tell you
in the elevator
For example, if someone says : All you need to say in reply is: Mr. Mori : It is humid today, isnt it?
Its a nice day, isnt it? Yes, it is. 1 lightning strikes

is humid kaminari ga ochimasu

kyo wa desu ne [be severely scolded]
today isnt it
i tenki desu ne so desu ne He was severely scolded again.
Dont contradict them. ...I dont think so. / No, its not a nice day. Mr. Pole : 2
Yes, it is.
This is not really a conversation but more of a greeting! mata kaminari ga ochimashita
Mr. Mori : By the way, Mr. Taki resigned yesterday. again
Lets practice ...fill in the numbered boxes using these i-adjectives:
warm particle
humid hot cool cold so ieba kino Taki-san kaisha o yamemashita yo The ground becomes firm after rain.

by the way
emphasizing the person
company quit [Calm comes after a storm. / An argument
atatakai attakai ame futte ji katamaru
mushiatsui atsui suzushi samui clears away bad feelings between people.]
(polite form) (friendly form) Mr. Pole : What? I had no idea.
After all, the argument cleared the air, didnt it?
Its i-adjective .
ee zen-zen shirimasendeshita
i-adjective desu what? not at all didnt know kekkyoku ame futte ji katamarudeshita ne
e.g., mushiatsui desu after all
Its humid today, isnt it? Its a bolt out of the blue. Oh, no. Im in trouble.
A bolt out of the blue
kyo wa mushiatsui desu ne desu uwa komatta na the difference between clouds and mud
today Oh, no. Im in trouble... unde no sa [great difference]
It was i-adjective .
Mr. Mori : You will be all right. Dont worry.
There is a big difference between the first rank and the 10th.
first omit : i then add : katta
1 10
e.g., mushiatsu i katta desu daijobu desu yo shimpai-shinaide
ichi-i to ju-i dewa unde no sadesu
It was humid yesterday, wasnt it? No problem. Dont worry! first rank
You know, tomorrow will take care of itself.
kino wa mushiatsu katta desu ne 5

yesterday Tomorrow will take care of itself particle
re a dense fog over 20 kilometers long
Its getting i-adjective . gori muchu [be at a loss; be utterly bewildered]
giving information
first omit : i then add : kunarimashita
Answers We are at a loss over this matter.
e.g., mushiatsu
i kunarimashita

Its getting humid, isnt it? 1 2 3
seten no heki-reki
mushiatsui so desu ne kono ken wa gori muchudesu
this matter
ashita wa ashita no kaze ga fuku yo
mushiatsu kunarimashita ne With cooperation from Akiko E. Yasukawa

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

tsumaranai mono teki

(boring gift) ? 5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

Vol. 7
-ic; -li; -al; -like; -ish; -ly

I have been receiving a lot of gifts of cans You are correct. Its an expression of humility to say tsumaranai mono desu
e.g., general(ly) ...
of beer, towels and seaweed from ga when offering a gift, no matter how expensive the item. The phrase has been used ippan-teki
Japanese acquaintances recently. Its too so often it does not mean much any more. Japanese companies pay bonuses in early e.g.,

early for Christmas, and too late for my summer and toward the end of the year, and people purchase and send gifts from It is a generally-held opinion.
+ noun
Design : Masako Ban

birthday. In the hope of finding out what it department stores around these times. These gifts are called ochu genmidyear gift teki na
was all about, I called up one of the and ose boyear-end gift. The gifts are sent to people to whom one feels indebted or to ippan-teki na iken desu
clients, and are intended to express gratitude and appreciation. Department stores cash in opinion
senders and thanked him, but he only said e.g.,

Mr. Pole tsumaranai mono desu ga. Surely he on the two seasons by setting up special gift areas. Each season, the media report the sales It is in general use.
did not mean to say that he had sent me a figures as an indicator of the current state of the economy. Last year, the average Japanese + sentence
teki ni
sent a gift worth 4,200 to each of four recipients. ippan-teki ni fukyu o shite-imasu
Summer gift
Mr. Pole calls a courier service about the delivery notice left on the door:
ochugen (from middle of June to middle of July) It is general.
Mr. Pole : I received a delivery slip.
Winter gift osebo (from middle of November to end of December) 1 teki desu
received ippan-teki desu
Typical seasonal gift items have long been beer, cooking oil and seaweed (nori), and people did not fuzai-hyo o
bother much about the recipients needs. But department stores now offer a variety of items so Clerk : Your name and customer number please.
shu kan-teki subjective(ly)
customers can select something the recipients would actually enjoy.
When you receive a gift, remember to thank the sender the next time you talk to the person, no onamae, okyaku-sama bango o dozo
matter how late it seems. It is also a good idea to kyakkan-teki objective(ly)
Next day, he shows his secretary the gift he has received:
send thank-you cards. When you say thank you, it Thank you for (the gift) the other day.
Mr. Pole : I received so much (of gift) from a business associate.
is not particularly necessary to mention what the gori-teki rational(ly)
gift was. All you have to say is: senjitsu wa arigato-gozaimashita 2 3
from (polite form)
konnani torihiki-saki
]takkyu bin is the courier service that delivers items anywhere in Japan within two days.
[ this much business associate koka-teki effective(ly)
You may find a slip left in your mailbox or at your door to let you know a delivery person called in What kind of things do you usually receive (for ochugen)?
your absence. Just call the number on it, and you will be able to receive it within the day. 4 zentai-teki whole(~lly)
Grammar notes [receiver] receives something from [giver] futsu donna-mono o
usually what kind of things
hite-teki negative(ly)
Secretary : Lets see. Generally, its beer or nori or things like that.

... ... ...... kote-teki affirmative(ly)
wa ni kara o moraimasu
so desu ne...ippan-teki ni... toka...nori...desu ne
receiver giver something receive Lets see. generally see teki see below
(on) average
Use: ni or kara, if receiving from person / kara, if receiving from an organization. Mr. Pole calls up the sender to thank him.
Polite forms of receive vary as follows: Mr. Pole : I received (the gift) yesterday. Thank you very much. specialized
giver when receiving a gift when receiving a document, receive
fax, letter, etc. kino
arigato -gozaimashita traditional(ly)
Sender : Oh, no, please dont mention it.
ronri-teki logical(ly)
superior or customer
itadakimasu ouketori-itashimasu
iie, tondemonai desu
modest form of Dont mention it. shakai-teki social(ly)

friend, family, To break uncomfortable silences while you are searching for words, seshin-teki spiritual(ly)
ones equal or junior moraimasu uketorimasu use toka as a filler as follows: /mental(ly)
toka... (toka)... hoken-teki conservative(ly)
Before a meal, say, itadakimasu to show your appreciation to nature, to God and Friend: What kind of food do you like?
to the person who cooked the meal or is treating you to it. kyo ryoku-teki cooperative(ly)
Mr. Pole: Lets see...I like fish...meat...and so on.

... ... ...
1 2 3 4 5 kakuitsu-teki stereotypical(ly)
uketorimashita kara itadakimashita moraimasu itadakimashita etto...sakana toka...niku toka...desu

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

oro - goro

g l yin g a b o ut 8
-ic; -li; -al; -like;
5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
Vol. -ish; -ally; -ly

Are you going anywhere over the summer vacation? I Working people usually take a summer holiday only for three to four
e.g., specific(ally)...
asked a Japanese friend, and he said, Its been a long days, often from Aug. 13 to 15, a period called obon. Since this is a very gutai-teki
time since I last took a vacation, so I just want to lie about short holiday, vacationers tend to concentrate at tourist spots (kanko-chi). e.g.,

at home (goro-goro shimasu). Another friend of mine Because of this, trains are in a state of sushi-zume (jam-packed), and (This is) the specific content.

Design : Masako Ban

told me he was planning on visiting his parents home major highways are jammed (ju - tai) as long as 100 kilometers. What + noun
teki na
(jikka) with his wife, but that he was heavy-hearted (ki ga happens to typical vacation goers is, when they return to work, they are gutai-teki na naiyo- desu
omoi) and didnt look that happy. I dont see why my exhausted from taking a vacation! This is why many Japanese say they e.g.,

Mr. Pole Japanese friends dont seem that excited when the would rather stay home and just goro-goro shimasu, or lie about and Summarize in specific points.
summer vacation is coming. relax in a lazy manner. + sentence
teki ni
gutai-teki ni matomete-kudasai
obon .........Buddhist festival of the dead (Aug. 13-15)
Mr. Pole and a friend are talking about their summer vacation plans.
Mr. Pole : Im thinking of reserving a room at a Japanese inn tomorrow.
please wrap up

I think that is very specific.

During the obon, many people return to their parents home or the home where 1
they were born and visit the family grave to offer incense, flowers and fruit. Im thinking of reserving teki dato omoimasu
ashita ryokan no
Married women are responsible for taking tomorrow inn think hijo-ni gutai-teki da to omoimasu
ro s h i m asu very
their children to their parents-in-law. With
- It is probably already booked to the full. tenke- -teki
Friend :
gifts to present to parents and relatives and g
n or o typical(ly)
a long travel home, it is typically an

expensive visit for the returning family. For mo- ippai desu yo taisho- -teki opposite(ly)

many, such expenses are itai shuppi, or already full /by contrast
painful cost. Do you want to know the best spot? It is business districts. rakkan-teki optimistic(ally)
Grammar notes 3
a secret spot

o oshiemasho- ka
office-gai desu hikaku-teki relative(ly)

When you describe your will; decision: Let me tell you business district /diametric(ally)

less certain more certain Restaurants and trains are empty. kihon-teki basic(ally)

Im thinking of _ . I plan to_ . I will _ . kokusai-teki international(ly)
restaurant mo densha mo desu
volitional form + to omoimasu dictionary form + tsumori desu masu -form also train also
e.g., Im thinking of going. e.g., I plan to go. e.g., I will go.
ke-kaku-teki deliberate(ly)
Mr. Pole : How about tourist spots? /premeditated(ly)

- to omoimasu cho- ki-teki in the long run
iko iku-tsumori desu iki-masu kanko- chi wa do- desu ka
tourist resort How about...?
maybe, perhaps probably tanki-teki for the short term

......... ..... ... ... Friend : Trains are jam-packed, cars move only at a snails pace,
ta.........bun..... ta...bun... tabun 5
6 sekkyoku-teki spontaneous(ly)

If you are very uncertain, stretch the vowels as you pronounce the word. densha wa
kuruma wa
drive at a snails pace /aggressive(ly)
train car sho- kyoku-teki passive(ly)
secret spot/good spot known jam-packed whatever you do, you have to wait in a long line.
anaba to few people sushi-zume
kompon-teki fundamental(ly)
long line
empty (applies to rooms, long line nani o suru nimo
bunka-teki cultural(ly)
cho-da no retsu

gara-gara shops, trains and so on)
That is the typical summer vacation.
drive at a snails pace lie about ko- i-teki favorable(-bly)

noro-noro unten goro-goro shimasu kore ga tenke- -teki na natsu-yasumi desu /friendly
this is typical summer vacation kagaku-teki scientific(ally)

1 2 3 4 5 Mr. Pole : Mmmm.... I think I will just lie about at home.
yoyaku o shiyo- to omoimasu tabun anaba gara-gara sushi-zume gendai-teki contemporary(-ily)
..... 8

lie about /modernistic(ally)
6 7 8
- unnnnnn uchi de
noro-noro unten cho-da no retsu goro-goro shiyo
at home With cooperation from Akiko E. Yasukawa

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Help 5-
Vol. 9
Last night, there was an earthquake (jishin). It was Japan suffers many earthquakes. Back in January 1995, Hanshin
really scary, so I called a friend to say tetsudatte daishinsai (the Great Hanshin Earthquake) caused 6,430 deaths and some
(Help). But he said nani o? (What with?)! Why did victims are still suffering the aftereffects. If you notice an earthquake, make isoga ba maware
he say such a cruel thing? A few minutes after the More haste, less speed. (When in a hurry, you make a detour.)
Design : Masako Ban

sure to put out all fires and gas flames, then open your windows and/or
earthquake, there was a news flash on television that doors. This will secure an escape route in case the house or apartment block
said where I live was shindo 3. What does that sonae areba urei nashi
itself starts leaning.
mean? Be prepared. (If prepared, there is no anxiety.)
Mr. Pole
yudan taiteki
Emotional expressions
earthquake jishin ......... finally / at last / after all + sentence
Never let down your guard. (Feeling secure is a great enemy.)

shindo is the seismic intensity (level of the earthquake). After the quake, There are three ways to say finally in Japanese.
All of them imply the images of effort, difficulty and trouble.
television and radio announce shingenchi (the seismic center), and how Mr. Pole: Im used to it, so there is nothing to worry about.
big it was in the scale called shindo. yatto ...... longing; waiting

shindo-ichi / 1... slight earthquake (bishin) e.g., Finally, its done. narete-imasu node shimpai naidesu
felt by people who are static when one has been looking forward to the event yatto dekimashita used to so dont worry
shindo-ni / 2... light earthquake ( ke-shin) to-to- ...... with emotion (happy, upset, etc); often used in negative form
felt by many people; doors shake slightly Friend:

e.g., After all (finally), I wasnt able to do it. Do not let down your guard.
shindo-san / 3... minor earthquake (jakushin) desu yo
a clattering sound is heard; hanging objects move
when one feels upset about not being able to do it to- to- dekimasendeshita
shindo-yon / 4... medium earthquake (chu-shin) tsuini...... Stressing the result at the moment of finding it out Mr. Pole fails to do as advised.
felt by people while walking; cups and glasses fall from shelves (used when one was not sure what the result would be) Friend: See, just as I expected.
shindo-go / 5... violent earthquake ( kyo-shin) walls crack; gravestones fall
e.g., At last, I did it.

shindo-roku / 6... disastrous earthquake ( resshin) landslides; houses collapse when one was unsure if it would be completed tsuini dekimashita
hora yappari
shindo-nana / 7... severe earthquake ( gekishin) cracks in the ground, fault look I thought so
At the scene of a fire in Mr. Poles neighborhood
(bo- sai no hi) .... Disaster Prevention Day Victim: 1
On Sept. 1, 1923, a severe earthquake occurred in the Kanto- region (Kanto- Its much faster to go this way (short cut).
Mr. Pole:
Help !
daishinsai = Great Kanto Earthquake), causing approximately 90,000 deaths.
Since then, Sept. 1 has been Disaster Prevention Day. If you go to stores Mr. Pole: The fire engine still has not come ... its taking a long time. kocchi no ho- ga zutto chikamichi desu yo
around this time, you will find special sections for disaster prevention goods ....... this way more shortest way; short cut
(e.g., dried biscuits, emergency provisions, drinking water, flashlights, first- sho- bo-sha ..... osoi desu ne su
fire engine late isn't it ? ke Friend: No, even if its a roundabout way, its safer to take
aid kits). Many households in Japan keep these items handy, so you should te the way we know better.
make sure you have them too, just in case. Oh, it finally arrived.

-ie, to- mawari demo kakujitsuse- no takai ho- ga anzen desu
(kinkyu- denwa).....Emergency Telephone (All public pay phones have a finally
red botton for you to push to make a free call to 110 and 119.)
a kimashita no round about way even reliable safer
Oh came Answers
Average number of dispatched vehicles ill ... byo- ki 20 minutes after fire fighting started
... 6.6 ambulances a minute; one fire engine a minute
1 2

accident ... jiko Finally, the fire has been put out. When in a hurry, make a detour
Ambulance .......... (kyu- kyu-sha) Phone: 119 fire .... kaji
Mr. Pole: desu yo
Fire Department .. (sho-bo- sho) Phone: 119 thief ... dorobo-
Police .................. (ke-satsu)
Phone: 110 lost items ...wasuremono hi ga kiemashita ne
fire ga ... emphasis on fire
Mr. Pole: You are always perfectly prepared.
longing yatto
Usage note Fireman: After all, the fire has been put out. 3

sasuga itsumo jumbi wa kampeki desu ne
in case of any danger or emergency tasukete always preparation perfection
Help when you need a hand with something tetsudatte
hi ga kiemashita ne
e.g., A) "Help" when your cooking pan catches fire 4 Friend:
If prepared, there is no anxiety.

feeling relieved after all the efforts desu yo
B) "Help" when your job keeps you up all night to-to-
C) "Help" when you are molested on a crowded train TV Reporter: At last, the fire was put out. (in live broadcast) Answers
D) "Help" when you have an urgent errand to take care of 5
1 2 3
yudan-taiteki isogaba maware sonae areba urei nashi
Answers hi ga kiemashita
A) tasukete B) tetsudatte C ) tasukete D) tetsudatte
stressing that the fire was finally put out
With cooperation from Akiko E. Yasukawa

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun


rayama kindness; obligation;
debt of gratitude

The other day, I saw a middle-aged lady drop a book oba-san is a word for an old lady or ones grandmother, whereas
in the street. I called oba san! but she probably obasan means middle-aged lady or ones aunt. You probably meant to
didnt hear me and just kept walking. So, I ran after say obasan. As you see, oba-san and obasan look almost the same. -
toku no shinseki yori chikaku no tanin
her and again shouted oba- san! This time she The difference is whether or not you stretch the letter a when pronouncing A neighbor is better than a relative living far away.
Design : Masako Ban

noticed me calling but looked very fierce. Then she it. In Japanese, there are many other words like these two that share similar
grabbed her book from me and walked away without pronunciation but mean something completely different. The lady you
on ni kimasu
saying anything. I thought I was being nice, so I dont mention was probably upset because you called her old lady even though be profoundly grateful [casual style]
Mr. Pole understand why she didnt thank me. What is her she is still middle-aged. Next time you call someone you dont know to draw
problem ? his or her attention, just say sumimasen (Excuse me).
be in a dilemma (be sandwiched between)
Make sure you pronounce the vowels a, i, u, e, o correctly to avoid problems. Mr. Poles grandmother came to visit Japan from the South Pole
Mr. Pole : You have a lot of baggage. How did you carry them? A

shujin kite tori ojisan Grandmother: I met a kind person at the train station. My wife asked me: Which is more important, family or work?
my husband please come bird middle-aged man; uncle He carried my bags. ?
tsuma nikate- to shigoto docchi ga taisetsu ?to iwaremashita
carry my wife family or work which important
shu- jin ki- te to- ri oj -i san sono hito wa nimotsu o
that person baggage Family is (also) is also important...
prisoner please listen street old man; grandfather
He told me about many places in this town. ... ...
(ke- ro- no hi) Respect for the Aged Day (Sept. 15) 2 kate- mo taisetsu... shigoto mo taisetsu...
teach (tell) also
The average span of life for Japanese men last year was 77.97 years and for kono machi no iro-iro na tokoro o
women, 83.82 years. From age 65, people are treated as old by the system this town various place
Im in a dilemma
in Japan. But in this aging society, 65 is not exactly old and is rather desu
considered middle-aged. Nowadays, people from 65 up to age 75 are and he looked for the house with me.
often treated as young-old, and those above 75 are treated as the actual 3
look for B
old. The oldest living Japanese twins are the 107-year-old twin sisters soshite isshoni uchi o Sometimes, my landlord looks after my child; hes very helpful.
known as Kin-san and Gin-san. and together house

toki doki o yasan wa kodomo o azukattekuremasu node tasukarimasu
Grammar notes He took the trouble to come all the way here. sometimes landlord child look after so helpful
[ someone did something for me: I benefited from someones action ] come
A neighbor is better than a relative living far away

waza waza koko made
implying : someone was kind enough to do something for me desu ne
take the trouble to do; see below
Mr. Pole : To the house? He really was a kind person, wasnt he? C [casual style conversation]
+ verb (te-form) + Oh, I forgot to take money out (of the bank)!
Mr. Pole :
Grandmother: He was a police officer!
wa o kuremashita
someone something Can be replaced with aa okane o orosu no o wasureta!
politer kudasaimashita Oh money draw forgot
waza-waza is used in a sentence when showing the appreciation to
I received someones action (implying someone was kind enough to do something for me)
someone for doing something. If you use this waza-waza for your own I will pay you back tomorrow, so can you lend me
e.g., Ms. Oda : May I carry your baggage? action, people may think you have a patronizing attitude. So, be careful. 30,000 yen?
Mr. Pole : Thank you. (Thats very kind of you.) + ones action
take the trouble to do ->
waza waza ashita kaesu kara san-man en kashite
[Later, Mr. Pole is talking about this incident to someone else.] tomorrow pay back 30,000 yen please lend me
e.g., Thank you for taking the trouble to do it.
Mr. Pole : Ms. Oda helped me to carry my baggage. a wa hita Friend : No problem.
z s
waza waza arigato -gozaimashita wa ima
za o
-g Mr. Pole : I really appreciate it. (Im profoundly grateful.)
Oda-san wa watashi no nimotsu o motte-kuremashita Thank you very much. a to
Answers a rig

1 2 3 4
motte-kuremashita oshiete-kuremashita sagashite-kuremashita kite-kuremashita arigato -gozaimashita A ... 3 B ... 1 C ... 2
With cooperation from Akiko E. Yasukawa

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

aware; know; intelligence

When I want to say I dont know in Japanese, I As you say, wakarimasen means the same as shirimasen. But

always say shirimasen. But Ive noticed many there is a difference: If you use shirimasen in conversation, it can 1 watashi no shiru kagiri dewa
(as far as I know)

Japanese people use wakarimasen more often. sound cold in some cases. But there is no need to worry when you dont
Design : Masako Ban

These two phrases are supposed to have the same know which phrase is more appropriate in a particular situation. The (acquaintance)
meaning, so whats the difference? Is wakarimasen information below may answer your questions concerning these two
politer than shirimasen Im afraid that I may have phrases. But if the difference is still not clear, it may be safer to just use 3
- do
(degree of fame)
been using shirimasen in inappropriate situations. wakarimasen. chime
Mr. Pole
4 (be ignorant of the ways
seken shirazu of the world, naive)
Client : I hear you are going to Kyoto next week.
I dont know in Japanese can be... 1
hear you will go
A This commodity is not well known, but somehow
sells well.
raishu- Kyoto ni
can sound abrupt if used too much
shirimasen can imply Thats not my concern,
next week (this information is uncertain)
degree of fame

kono sho hin wa ga hikui desu ga,
(I dont have any knowledge/information) said in a strong tone of voice Are you staying in a hotel or an inn? this commodity low

can be used in just about any situation or
nazeka yoku ureteimasu
Hotel desu ka ryokan desu ka
wakarimasen will not be misunderstood as long as somehow well well-sold
(I have no idea) not used in a strong tone of voice
Mr. Pole : Hummmm...I dont know.
can be used in any case concerning
the five senses; see below
3 B My father has a wide circle of acquaintances,
I dont know. (implying: I am still thinking about it.)
e.g., 4 chichi wa ga oi desukara
I dont know. (implying: Someone else is making the decision.) my father many so
Q : Do you know Mr. Kijima?
so heaps of New Years cards arrive for him every year.
A : No, I dont know him.
Client : I see ...
maitoshi nengajo wa yama no yo ni kimasu
(implying: I dont have any every year new year card huge amount of arrive
Do you know of a good fish restaurant in Kyoto?
information about him.)

Q : 5 0.215 8 24 ?
Kyoto de sakana no oishi- restaurant gozonji desu ka C As far as I know, it has nothing to do with that company.
A : I dont know. polite form of Do you know
wakarimasen as far as I know
Mr. Pole : Hummmm...I dont know. ano kaisha wa kanke nai desu yo
(implying: I learned it before, but that company nothing to do with
I cant answer it.) 5
(implying: I dont know anything about restaurants
I dont know.
in Kyoto.)
D Recently, the number of people who are ignorant of the
world has been increasing.
[five senses : sight / hearing / smell / taste / touch] 6
(implying: I know a good restaurant in Kyoto,
sight Q: How high is that mountain? I dont know.
but it is not a fish restaurant.) be ignorant of the ways of the world, naive
hearing Q: Is this the sound of a harpsichord or a piano? recently
smell Q: Something smells good. Is that yakitori?
Q: Is this French wine?
no hito ga fuete-kimashita
touch Q: Is this carpet wool or synthetic? toka is used to mark -verb (dictionary form) person has been increasing
uncertain information heard -noun
+ Perhaps its because they were overprotected when
from someone else. -i-adjective toka
Answer : I dont know. -na-adjective (omit na) growing up.
Japanese people often make a Hsssss (I hear .
.. / Someone says... )
... sound when thinking by sucking in their tabun kahogo de sodatta kara desho
Hssss... wakarimasen breath through their teeth. e.g., I hear its impossible. perhaps overprotection grew up
Answers Answers
muri toka... (itte-mashita)
iku toka
impossible someone said can be omitted A - 3 B - 2 C - 1 D - 4

With cooperation from Akiko E. Yasukawa

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

/ -
furi / -buri
Vol. 12 behavior, to wave

Lately, the word buri has popped up in several news programs and Its the same kind of buri that is used in the saying
its meaning is bothering me. It is used in contexts such as: the yen is ohisashi buri desu (long time, no see). It is called an 1. nai sode wa furenai
at its strongest standing in three years and eight months (san nen emotional expression because it conveys feelings. For You cannot wave the sleeve when there is not one.
hachi kagetsu-buri); the baseball team clinched a league title for example, if you were to say, senjitsu, 14 nen-buri ni yu-
Design : Masako Ban

(You cannot give what you dont have.)

the first time in 26 years (niju- roku nen-buri); this years rice crop is jin ni aimashita (the other day, I met a friend who I hadnt It is mostly used for financial matters.
the best in two years (ni nen-buri); and two brothers were rescued seen for 14 years), the implication would be that you had
2. hito no furi mite waga furi naose
from the rubble 129 hours after the Taiwan quake (hyaku niju- ku really missed him and you were happy because you had
finally seen him again. Used in similar contexts, buri adds Observe the behavior of others and correct your own.
jikan-buri). Apparently, its a different kind of buri than the name
(Take a lesson from faults of others.)
given to the yellowtail fish. Can you tell me what in the world it is? feeling to a sentence.
Hirayama: I am going to pay you back next month,
Ive finally arrived! so could you lend me some money?
Emotional Expressions Mr. Pole :
Mr. Pole : .
Well, I would really like to, but..
buri is used to convey things like, I was looking forward to. .
.;Im so yatto tsukimashita
buri .
happy to...; I really miss..; Ive been waiting for... etc. finally arrived
e kashite-agetai nowa yamayama desu ga
God, I havent drunk water for two days! well I want to lend you See below
If you have missed something for a while, you say: 1
Im really broke right now, so...I cant give you
the length of time two days
e.g., It has been for 10 days. buri desu aa mizu wa desu what I havent got, you know!
10 water A. I cant give you what
to- ka buri desu I havent eaten anything for a week! umm I dont have desu
If you dont remember the length of time, you say: Hirayama: [grumbling]
something 2
wa hisashiburi desu one week
e.g., I didnt eat fish for a long time. tabemono wa desu Friend: The person is griping all the time.
Long time no see, ohisashiburi desu
sakana wa hisashiburi desu Whew! I havent taken a bath for four months! ano hito wa shirokujichu- monku bakari itteimasu ne
she (that person) complain only
If you want to emphasize how long you 3
See below
something the length of time four months
have missed something, you say: wa buri desu fu furo wa desu Mr. Pole : I know, thats why everyone around her hates her.
e.g., I havent eaten fish for 10 days. bath
(When you are invited to a dinner, you might say this
10 expression at the table to express your appreciation of the I havent slept in a bed for half a year! so-, dakara mawari no hito ni kirawareru n desu
sakana wa to- ka buri desu food being served, implying that the host has prepared
I know therefore everyone around hates her
food that you have missed for a while.) half year Id better learn a lesson from the faults of others!
wa desu
If you want to emphasize that you are happy B. learn a lesson from ...
the length of time + sentence
about what you are going to do, you say: buri ni Mr. Pole soon loses consciousness and comes to seven days later. faults of others watashi mo ki o tsukenakereba
Hirayama: Oh, hello, Mr. Pole! Long time, no see, huh? too must be careful
e.g., I am going to eat fish 10 days after the last time.
Answers A ... 1 B ... 2
10 5
long time, no see
sakana wa to- ka buri ni tabemasu ara desu ne
my, my... = always; used with negative feelings
Mr. Pole : Oh, wow, dear, its been a year! shirokujichu-
Expressions for lengths of time (Be careful of numbers 4 and 9; they are very confusing.)
6 e.g., My husband is fooling around all the time.
hours: [number + jikan] yo jikan (four hours), ku jikan (nine hours) one year
wa honto-ni desu
days: [number + nichi] ichinichi (one day), futsuka (two days), mikka (three days), really
shujin wa shirokujichu- asondeimasu
yokka (four days), itsuka (five days), muika (six days), nanoka Wait a minute, what was your name? ...Im just kidding! my husband fooling around
(seven days), yo- ka (eight days), kokonoka (nine days), to-ka (10
... ...I wish I could/I would
days), ju-ichi nichi (11 days)...ju- yokka, (14 days), etc. jo-dan desu yo
ano- donata deshita -tai nowa yamayama desu ga love to, but...
(Expressions for one to 10 days are Japanese in origin, but from 11 days Excuse me e.g., I would like to buy it, but Im broke right now!
and up derive from Chinese, except for 14 days, 20 days, and 24 days.)

kai-tai nowa yamayama desu ga, okane ga arimasen
weeks: [number + shu- kan] yon shu- kan (four weeks), kyu- shu- kan (nine weeks) -
1 2 3
futsuka buri isshukan buri yon kagetsu buri I want to buy money dont have
months: [number + kagetsu] yon kagetsu (four months), kyu- kagetsu (nine months) 4

With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

years: [number + nen] yo nen (four years), kyu- nen (nine years)
hantoshi buri ichi nen buri
Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Vol. 13 proverbs

I was talking with a friend the other day, Hmm...welI...I wish I could say no...but I do know what it is. It is a shortened
and she used the word eco-car. I had form of ecological car, isnt it? As you have noticed, there are many Japanese pin kiri
1. pin kara kiri made from the best to the worst

no idea what she meant at first, but I was words that are shortened so that they are much easier to say. I call such words
[From No.1 through No.10]
gradually able to figure it out. She told Shrunk Japanese. The shrinking spirit can be seen in other areas apart from one from ten to
pin stands for No.1 or the
Design : Masako Ban

me that many Japanese people use such language. For example, the Japanese shrank the big cars they imported from the best in Portuguese. kiri,
abbreviated expressions a lot. I liked it United States and Japan became the land of the automobile. Another example is however, stands for the cross
(the symbol of Christianity),
because it was like a riddle. Anyhow, do bonsai which is like a shrunk tree. I believe the Walkman is a well-known example of which looks like , or "10"
Mr. Pole you know what an eco-car is, Ms. how Japanese people like to make things smaller and more convenient. in Japanese.
Hirayama? tana bota

2. tana kara botamochi A windfall. [Finding a rice
Shrunk Japanese Mr. Pole is looking forward to his first date with a Japanese girl tomorrow. So, he went to
Hakone the other day to check out places to visit on his big day.
shelf from rice cake
cake on a book-shelf.]
An unexpected piece of good
We often need to communicate quickly since modern life moves at a luck.
fast pace, so many people use shortened words. For example, as Hirayama : How did you like Hakone?
soon as possible is often abbreviated to ASAP in English. In a Mr. Pole : Well, I had rented an imported car to go to Hakone, but... Mr. Pole : Im going abroad on vacation next week.
similar way, many Japanese words are shrunk. Even though most 1 2 ...
shrunk Japanese terms are made up from English words, the way imported car rent
jitsu wa o shitano desu ga raishu- kara kaigai ryoko- ni ikimasu
they are constructed is unique to the Japanese language. But next week foreign travel will go
remember that shrunk Japanese is not really polite language, and it stalled in the mountains, and the air conditioning also broke down.
Hirayama : Wow, thats sudden!
there are some words that should not be used at work. Some 3
stalling of 4
air ....
fashionable words are likely to become useless within a few months. yama no naka de an engine shichatte conditioning mo kowareteshimatte
mountain broke down
ara kyu- desu ne
oh sudden isnt it
e.g. personal computer convenience-store I found a convenience store a kilometer further on, but it was closed!
I know! My aunt gave me the plane tickets

5 Mr. Pole :

because she couldnt go because of her work.
convenience store
remote control foreigner ichi kiro saki ni o mitsuketa kedo shimattemashita
e- oba ga shigoto de ikenakunatta node ko-ku-ken

2 ahead found but closed

I couldnt make a phone call because I didnt have a telephone card. yes aunt work cannot go so plane ticket
pocket-bell Bank of Japan

3 nichi

{ ni telephone card
ga nakute denwa ga dekimasendeshita o kuremashita
car navigation system didnt have couldnt gave me
air conditioner

4 I walked for about two hours and finally found a family restaurant. Hirayama : What a windfall!

family restaurant
- unexpected present (you are lucky)
pasokon rimokon pokeberu eakon
1. 2. 3.
kombini gaijin nichigin kanabi
4. 5. 6. 7. 8. ni jikan kurai aruite yatto o mitsukemashita desu ne
two hours about walking finally found
Hirayama : Hotels are competing hard these days because of
When Mr. Pole got back to his house, it was after 11 p.m.! the recession.
..... Nippon or Nihon ?
Then, I saw a message on my answering machine, and...
In the 18th year of the Meiji era (1868-1912), it is said that the name,
saikin wa fuke-ki nanode hotel ga kyo- so- o
Nippon, was printed on 100 bills for the first time. The reason for using answering machine
the name was that the then finance minister and the Bank of Japan sorede ni message ga haitteimashita these days recession competition
governor were both originally from Satsuma (the old name for
She had called off the date at the last minute. Com-pa: From company
Kagoshima Prefecture), where people used to call Japan Nippon at the party, originally a party shiteimasu ne
time. Nowadays, we call Japan Nihon most of the time. But Nippon 9 the last moment involving men and women
date wa cancellation desu from different companies, Mr. Pole : I think so. Thats why their rates vary from very
is still used by the Bank of Japan and the Nippon Broadcasting System though not related to
expensive to the cheapest, and service can also
Corporation. Most Japanese people say Gambare (go for it), Nippon! Hirayama : Dont feel so bad! Lets go to a party tonight!
be anything from very good to simply awful.
when they want to encourage the Japanese athletes to do their best during
10 B. from the best to
the Olympic Games. Ive also heard that the Bank of Japan has been using company
the name, Nihon recently.
sonnani gakkarishinaide konban ni ikimasho e- desukara nedan wa the worst desu shi
so please dont feel bad tonight lets go therefore price
rusuban denwa company party

B. from the best to
gaikoku sha rental car the engine stalls air conditioner convenience-store telephone card family restaurant dotanba (last-moment)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
service mo the worst desu ne
foreign country car answering machine cancellation
gaisha renta ensuto eakon kombini tereka famiresu rusuden dotakyan kompa
A ... 2 B ... 1
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun


Japanese people start holding bo- nen kai (forget-the-old-year parties) When someone has a particular song that
with friends and colleagues in mid-December. Someone told me that he is proud of and sings often, it is called his ju- 1. A stitch in time saves nine.
participants are required to sing a song or perform a party trick, and hachi ban. The term can be used for things ko-kai saki ni tatazu [It is too late for regrets.]
repentance, regret before not be in
there would be no escaping. I took this very seriously, and I practiced other than singing, such as someones favorite
Design : Masako Ban

a song for our office bo nen kai until I got a sore throat. The party recipe. The expression originally referred to the 2. It is too little, too late.
ato no matsuri [It is the day after the festival.]
came around last night, but when I was about to sing, the guys told repertoire of 18 classical kabuki pieces of the after festival
me to sing my ju hachi ban (18). Baffled, I looked up the song famed Ichikawa family. An alternative 3. Out of temper, out of pocket.
Mr. Pole numbered 18 in the karaoke songlist and tried to sing it, but they said expression, ohako (the box), refers to the box in tanki wa sonki [Impatience makes you lose
- which the repertoire was kept. Try asking friends short temper disadvantage more money.]
it wasnt my ju hachi ban. It seemed everybody else was singing
different songs but referred to their songs as ju hachi ban. Ms. to sing their - hachi ban at a karaoke box, and
ju 4. You will reap whatever you sow.
inga o- ho-
Hirayama,clue me in on this! they will sing their favorites. cause-result react-retribution [Cause and effect are consistent.]

bo-nen kai (party to forget the old year) Mr. Pole attended the party of his company last night. A. The government advised us to stock up food and drink for a few days
....forget / ......year / Hirayama : You look sleepy, Mr. Pole!
over the New Year because of the Y2K problem.
Hirayama : You bought a lot of food, didnt you?
The reason for having bo- nen kai is that Japanese people want to

look sleepy
forget the bad things that happened during the year by drinking a lot Pole san desu ne
zuibun kai-komimashita ne

of alcohol. You may want to remember that Japanese employees Mr. Pole : Well, yes.I went to a party last night, drank too much, fairly buy in didnt you?
become nervous and they cannot enjoy themselves in the presence of and didnt get enough sleep. Mr. Pole : Well, no one knows whats going to happen on Dec. 31, right?
their superiors at a party. If you are the boss and propose a toast at
I regret drinking ... 3 lack of 31
the beginning, it would be nice to say kyo- wa bure-ko- de! (Lets

iya- yu-be no bo-nenkai de too much sleep desu datte 31 nichi wa nani ga okiru ka darenimo wakaranai desho-
forget all the formalities and enjoy ourselves!), so that everybody can Well (casual style) last night but (casual style) what happen nobody dont know I guess

enjoy themselves on equal terms.
Hirayama : Are you OK? What time did you get back home? Hirayama : True, but dont you think youve bought too much?

o- misoka (New Years Eve) daijo-bu desu ka nan ji goro kaerimashita ka
- demo chotto kai-sugi
e janai desu ka
what time about went back yes but quite buy too much dont you think
Most Japanese people eat soba (toshi koshi soba) on New Years
Eve. They might listen to temple bells ringing 108 times (joya no Mr. Pole : Well, actually, I came home in the morning. Mr. Pole : You think so? But a stitch in time saves nine!
kane) starting nationwide at midnight. According to Japanese ... A stitch in time saves
Buddhists, it is said people possess 108 kinds of worldly desires Unnn "gozen sama" deshita so- desu ka nine. desu kara ne
(temptations), and they can be removed by listening to the bell ringing coming home after midnight (slang, gozen = morning) It will be too late after the problem occurs, you know!
108 times. Scenes at popular temples are broadcast on television as To tell the truth, I misplaced some of my documents last night.

their bells are rung and people visit them. A lot of people visit shrines ... 4
I regret misplacing .... Its too little, too late.
my documents
mondai ga okite kara dewa desu yo
or temples to wish for a happy new year from very early in the jitsu wa shorui o dokoka ni problem if happen
morning, because public transportation is available all night. to tell the truth documents somewhere
B. Mr. Pole was swindled by a business partner in another company.
Im never going to drink again!
Cool it, Mr. Pole! Out of temper, out of pocket, as they say.

mo- nidoto osake wa nomanai desu Out of temper, out
The following expression is used as a final parting
never again dont drink Pole san so- kakka shinai de of pocket. desu yo
word at the end of the year. It is said to a person like that get angry at
you will not see again until the following year. Grammar note A few days later, Mr. Pole found out the swindler had been fired.
1. look / looks like Remove the vowel i of an i-adjective and add so-.
i-adjective Hirayama : See? She reaped what she sowed!
do-zo yoi otoshi o exception: look(s) good yosaso-
You will reap
I wish you a happy New Year! so- desu You look sleepy.
hora ne whatever you sow. desu yo
i-adjective look(s)
These are the greetings used during the nemui nemuso- desu See?
first two weeks in January. 2. have / has done (already) This expression implies that you have done something There are many words that have the consonants (k or g) in Japanese
that you regret. when feelings and angers are described.
te form + shimaimashita e.g., (I regret that ) I have been drunk. (I regret that ) I have misplaced it.
akemashite omedeto- gozaimasu to get angry to explode in anger to be grouchy

Happy New Year! yopparatte-shimaimashita okiwasurete-shimaimashita -
kakka suru katto naru gami gami yu
3. A lack of something : e.g., a lack of sleep a lack of funds a lack of explanations to get nervously irritated or to be disappointed
kotoshi mo do- zo yoroshiku onegaishimasu
noun + ka- tto naru
I hope its going to be a good year for us. busoku ne-busoku shikin-busoku setsume- -busoku kari kari suru gakkari suru
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga


12 signs
rayama of the Chinese
Vol. zodiac

I had dinner with friends after the New Year holiday, Did you receive any nengajo- (New Year cards)? Did you notice the
and they started talking about their age. One of pictures of a dragon on them? This is the year of the dragon in the ju- nishi The ju- nishi signs are believed to reflect the personalities of
them said, Im a dog. What are you, Mr. Pole? I Chinese zodiac, and nengajo- designs often include the zodiac sign of the their holders. At one time they represented 12 directions on a
didnt know what she meant, so I just said, Im a year. Japanese people sometimes try to determine your age by asking, nani compass and every two hours of the day starting at midnight
Design : Masako Ban

penguin. They told me Japanese people are doshi desu ka (Whats your sign of the zodiac?), instead of directly asking, with ne. For example, ushi no koku is 2 a.m. You may have
classified as different animals according to their year How old are you? It is a tactful question used particularly by middle-aged seen the old time system referred to in samurai films.
of birth. Is that true? or older people.


shako- teki rinki o- hen
Mr. Pole ne
ju-nishi (The 12 signs of Chinese zodiac) Mr. Pole and Ms. Hirayama are talking about New Year holidays.

This 12-year-cycle zodiac originated in China. The following list shows all the ox sympathetic cautious
signs in the correct order. Try working out what your sign is:
Mr. Pole : How was your New Year holiday?
ushi omoiyari ga aru shincho- (rat) ...ushi (ox) ...tora (tiger) ...u (rabbit) 1. How was...? (asking the impression)
osho- gatsu wa
...tatsu (dragon) ...mi (snake) ...uma (horse) ...hitsuji (sheep) accommodating

New Year tiger strong-willed
...saru (monkey) ...tori (chicken) ...inu (dog) ...i (boar)
Hirayama : Well, I went to the shrine, watched movies (and so on). (tora)
Year 2000 is tatsu. The next 12 years will therefore be: tora ishi ga tsuyoi sewazuki
2001 (mi) 2002 (uma) 2003 (hitsuji) 2004 (saru) 2005 (tori) 2006 (inu) watched
2. visited 3. progressive
2007 (i) 2008 (ne) 2009 (ushi), 2010 (tora) 2011 (u)
e.g., My zodiac sign is dragon. tatsu doshi desu
2012 (tatsu)... jinja ni terebi o
It was really good to relax with my family for once. u onwa shimpo teki
Grammar note
generous studious
1. Asking someone s thoughts
on their recent experiences:

wa ikaga deshita ka
(polite form) hisashiburi ni
after a long time
kazoku to nonbirishimashita
with family felt at ease

tatsu o-raka benkyo- -ka
your trip Its a shame the holidays ended so quickly.
How was ? (friendly form)
ryoko- wa do- deshita ka ambitious passionate

(casual form)

atto yu- mani yasumi ga 4. have finished snake

wa do- datta (expressed with regret) mi maemuki jo-netsu teki
in a moment holiday
2& 3. Citing more than one item:
-tari can be used when expressing your ta-form + ta-form + + describe By the way, how was the Y2K problem? open-minded active
impression of several things. ri ri your feelings
2000 horse

e.g., I visited a shrine, went to the movies and so onit was fun. so- ieba nisennen mondai wa 5. How was...? uma kaiho- teki ko-do- teki
(asking about the situation)
by the way Y2K problem
jinja ni ittari e- ga o mitari tanoshikatta desu patient serious

- sheep
to goz
Mr. Pole : There was almost no trouble at all.
e de a (hitsuji)

4. Hav e (h as) d o n e/ h ap p en ed al r ead y : This hitsuji nintaizuyoi majime


expression is used to show regret for what has te-form +

as u
happened or something you have done against your trouble wa hotondo nakatta desu ne

n ake positive cheerful
e.g., (It is a shame that) it is over. hardly did not exist ne m as h monkey

We worried about it too much! saru sekkyoku teki akarui
5. Use the friendly form of 1 . Note that it shows
6. too much worry about organized gentle

Asking how a situation was: chicken
your concern or sympathy for the person you are talking to.
Hirayama : How is the economy going to be this year? tori kicho-men onko-
How (bad) was the Y2K problem? 2000
nisennen mondai wa do- deshita ka How bad...? (asking thoughtful honest
kotoshi no ke- ki wa
6. this year
5. about the situation,
in present tense) dog

sho- jiki
Expressing an action that has gone too far:
inu shiryobukai
I ate too much.
+ or
masu sugi desu sugimasu Well, I guess it will level off. strong-willed kind

Mr. Pole :
masu-form tabesugimashita boar

+ e.g., I worried about it too much.
uunnn tabun yokobai desu ne i ishi ga tsuyoi shinsetsu
o shimasu no shisugi desu
masu-form leveling off
shimpai no shisugi deshita With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Vol. 16 information

na-adj. na

rashi- desu

verb mitai desu
In the past, it was not common for Japanese women to declare their love for a mana
A lot of girls gave me chocolates
woman used to wait for a man to approach her. But St. Valentines Day is now an occasion
on Feb. 14, but one of my
when Japanese women can make their feelings known by giving chocolates. There are two
friends said, All you got is giri- 1 (Many people stand in line to get into a particular
different kinds of chocolates. One is called giri-choco. Women give them to male restaurant because they had read about it in a magazine
Design : Masako Ban

choco! I looked at all the

acquaintances so they dont feel left out. Such chocolates are given out of friendship or a sense or heard about it.)
chocolates, but it doesnt say giri
of duty and they are usually cheap. Women who work in offices usually give giri-choco to male I heard that restaurants food is delicious.
anywhere. Ms. Hirayama, what
colleagues and it is estimated that the average amount of giri-choco received by a man last year
is giri-choco? rumor (I got the information
was 12.2 pieces. (giri means obligation!)
ano mise wa oish i- from a magazine, television, etc.) desu yo
restaurant delicious
On the other hand, giving honme- -choco indicates real feelings for the recipient. Mr. Pole and Ms. Hirayama are talking about chocolates. 2 (I thought the concert was today, but nobody is here.)
honme- -choco is expensive (sometimes more than 10,000) or sometimes
Mr. Pole : It seems that Mr. Okada got many chocolates. (I saw some of them.) Oh...It seems that I had the wrong date.
homemade. The average price of honme- -choco is 3,166, while the average giri-
choco is 595. According to a survey, if a man receives chocolate that seems to be 1
using power of sight
evidence (sight: because
worth more than 3,000, he is likely to assume it is honme- -choco. Interestingly, St. (I saw that)
okada san wa takusan moratta desu are- hinichi o machigaemasu nobody is here) desu
Valentines Day in Japan did not start until 1958. The first chocolates were heart- many recieved date to make a mistake
shaped, and sold for 50. (honme- means favorite!) Hirayama : Yes, someone told me that (but Im not really sure). 3 (Ms. Yabe had a baby last month. She calls me sometimes,

Im really not sure and asks me about child-care.)
Grammar note so- (I heard that rumor ) desu ne I understand that Ms.Yabe is going through the most
guess ...rashi- / ...mitai / ...yo- ...yo- ...rashi-
difficult time right now.
But I heard it was all giri-choco.
As you can see from the diagram, these expressions (polite form) evidence (direct information:
are similar and sometimes their meanings overlap. 3
Im really not sure taihen na because she calls me sometimes)
(I heard that rumor ) ima ichiban desu
demo zembu giri-choco desu yo
2 3 ...rashi- : I think/guess that A is... / Someone said that A is... etc. but all I tell you
now most hard, tough
...rashi- is better use when you are guessing from indirect Mr. Pole : Oh, no...he said that one of them seems like homemade (but he is not sure). 4 (Recently, Miss. Mori has been all by herself. There is a
information or less credible rumors. rumor that she broke up with her boyfriend.)
This refers to a statement based on rumors. There is no confidence in the information because its not 4

I heard that Miss. Mori might have broken up with her boyfriend.
based on facts. If someone replies, so- rashi- desune, it means, Thats what I heard, but Im not sure. -i e I heard from him
ikko dake wa tezukuri desu yo
one only hand made rumor (implying, Im not sure,
A (information) topic A And I got homemade chocolates, too! boyfriend to wakaremasu but someone said about that.) desu
wa rashi- desu to break up

watashi no mo tezukuri desu yo 5 (I bought a curio at a flea market.)
Mr. A : This is a rumor, but I heard that Mr.B : I guess so. (someone was talking about it) one also
It seems that this is old.
Mr. Yamada is getting divorced.
Hirayama : Let me look like homemade,
so- rashi- desu ne
evidence (sight/feeling, because of the
but...(I dont think so). kore wa furui desu ne
Yamada san wa rikon o suru rashi- desu
shape and the texture)
(implying: I also heard the rumor,
(implying: Im not sure, but someone said that.)
using the ... old ne = confirmation
but Im not sure.) power of sight
dore misete unnn tezukuri desu ga
1 4 5 6 ...mitai: It seems that / like A is ____ . / I sense that A is____. show me
oish i- rashi-
1 2 3
machigaeta mitai taihen mitai
...mitai is used for statements based on direct information or facts. Mr. Pole : What !? Is this gi...ri...choco...!?
...mitai signifies that the information is more credible than ...rashi-.

.. .
.. ..
. .. oc te wakareta rashi-
4 5
furui mitai
It refers to discernment by using the five senses. If someone replies, so- mitai desu ne, it

e gi ri choco
means, I know, because I have some evidence. what ?
Mr. Pole : does look like homemade, though... A tip for people who feel that it is too difficult to make
topic A the above distinctions.
A (information) wa mitai desu . .. 6
using the . ..

unnn tezukuri power of sight desu yo ne The word mitai is more commonly used in
conversation. If you are not sure whether to use rashi-

Mr. A : It seems Mr. Yamada is getting divorced. Mr.B : I guess so. (I knew it.) Hirayama : Dont feel bad! Theres always next year!
or mitai, use mitai. You will probably be right 80
percent of the time.
yamada san wa rikon o suru mitai desu so- mitai desu ne gakkari shinaide rainen ga arimasu yo
(implying: Mr. Yamada confided in me about it.) (implying: I got some evidence.) Dont be disappointed next year have
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Vol. 17
shin nyu- sha in
new staff

(upper) (lower)
I went to a friends party the other day, and met Japanese names are not ranked in any way. The Japanese had only A ichi nin mae
a Japanese woman. I introduced myself, saying, given names until they started to use family names in the Meiji era. (one)(person)(deserve)
Japanese names are traditionally written vertically, and family names are Being advanced, skilled, independent, mature, full-grown, etc.
Pole desu. (Im Pole.) She asked me, ue no
Someone who can do good work without help from others. This
(upper) namae desuka, shita no (lower) placed above given names. Thus, given names are called shita no namae
Design : Masako Ban

expression is used for people who have technical skills.

namae desu ka? (Is it your upper name or (lower names), and family names ue no namae (upper names). (carpenters, chefs, etc.), but its also applied to workers in
lower name?) Ms. Hirayama, does that mean Interestingly, the Japanese Emperors family has no family name. Several general. Another meaning is Food for one person.
names are ranked as upper class or lower class? years ago, I heard a Japanese couple tried to name their baby akuma B han nin mae
If so, how are they classified? Is my name upper (meaning devil), but the city hall refused to accept their registration. (half)(person)(deserve)
class, or what? mi juku mono
(not yet)(immaturity)(person)
Being intermediate, immature, etc. Someone who does not have
Introducing oneself Mr. Pole : My name is James Pole. I work for Ice Co. enough skills to complete his or her work alone.han nin mae is
an expression for someone whose technical skills are imperfect,
Japanese people usually avoid saying, watashi (meaning I) because it whereas, mijuku mono is for general use.
may sound arrogant if it is used too much. Try not to say watashi unless Ice-gaisha no James Pole desu
you wish to emphasize yourself. Ice company of Say your name just the way C 3 ishi no ue nimo san nen

it is in your country. (stone) (on) (three years)
first name and Perseverance prevails.Sit on a rock for three years. If you sit on
My name is . I work for company name . Hirayama : My name is Hirayama. I work for Japanese Lunch. a rock for three years, you will get used to it, and feel
last name
comfortable. This means that perseverance brings good results.
Japanese Lunch no Hirayama desu Upper
first name and
company name
no last name desu Japanese people
name D migi mo hidari mo wakarimasen

usually introduce (right)(left)(dont know)
1 Please keep a good
de gozaimasu (very polite) relationship with me. themselves with their Lower Being a complete novice.I dont know which way is right or left.
If you dont belong to a company, Someone who doesnt know what to do because he or she is in a
you can skip this part.
last names alone name
to mo-shimasu
new environment (a new house, or a new location, etc.)
Excuse me, but what is your first name?

Mr. Pole :

(This is a very formal expression usually used when introducing

oneself for the first time. After that, it is fine to say, ...desu)
what is your 1 It takes about 10 years to learn to make sushi, while it takes
shitsure- desu ga first name? about 15 years to become an excellent Japanese chef

do- zo yoroshiku do- zo yoroshiku onegaishimasu (polite) When you ask personal question (see below) 10 15 skilled

1 or
(implying, please keep a Hirayama : Its Hitomi. sushi wa yaku ju- nen washoku wa yaku ju- go nen de worker ni narimasu
good relationship with me) about 10 years Japanese food 15 years become

Japanese people will understand if you say do zo yoroshiku. Even though there
2 Please be patient with me because Im a complete novice.
Hitomi desu (This is a good phrase when you introduce yourself.)
is no similar expression in English, you will find many Japanese people use the
phrase every day. They try to avoid asking favors directly, and using this phrase is a being a complete
subtler way of making a request. There are two ways of saying excuse me in Japanese: novice. node kore-kara yoroshiku onegai-itashimasu
so from now
These are several ways of using the phrase. 1.shitsure- desu ga (implying: I dont mean to bother you by asking personal
Simply add the phrase at the end of the conversation, when... questions, but...) 3 Oh, no, no Im still intermediate. (Use this phrase to show
1) you are introducing yourself. (implying: please keep a good relationship with me) It means that you want to ask a personal question. your modesty when a Japanese person praises you.)
2) you want to ask a favor in a subtle way. 2. suimasen/sumimasen (implying: Allow me to have your attention.)
ie ie mada-mada being intermediate
3) you want to ask the person to do his / her best in a subtle way. Used to attract someones attention.
4) you want to avoid telling someone what to do step by step. Oh, no, no still, not yet
e.g., Excuse me, may I have some water, please?
5) you want to wrap up the conversation. 4 I know that perseverance prevails. I wont give up doing my best!
6) you want to imply Thanks or Good bye. mizu onegaishimasu
2 When you write the Japanese language vertically, you start writing from the top-right Perseverance prevails.
Excuse me, but may I have your name, please? akiramenaide gambarimasu
corner of the paper, and go downward. When you reach the bottom of the page, you dont give up hard to do that
move to the next line on the left, and write from top to bottom.
(polite form)
onamae wa 5 Excuse me! May I have yakitori (grilled chicken) for one person?
e.g., Mr. Masanori Kobayashi What is your last name ? Excuse me, is anybody here? (looking for a staff at a shop, etc.) (at a restaurant.)
(first name) (last name) 5 food for

Ko suimasen yakitori one person onegaishimasu
ue no namae ue no onamae wa
bayashi (upper) (name) Excuse me, but how old are you? (polite form) answers :
Excuse me I order
What is your first name ? 6 4 6 shitsure- desu ga
Masa shita no namae oikutsu desu ka 3 5 suimasen answers :
1 ... A 2 ... D 3 ... B 4 ... C 5 ... A
nori (lower) (name) shita no onamae wa
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Vol. 18 ears
Lets p
ractic e!

It has been one year since I met you in Time does fly! (ko-in ya no gotoshi) Yes, please feel free to ask me when you
April, Hirayama-san. You have told me so have questions. In fact, Ive been receiving a lot of e-mails from people worldwide
(takusan no e-mail arigato- gozaimasu). Those heartwarming messages are my A Seeing is believing, or
many things about Japan, and I have literally, Seeing it once is
encouragement and have given me energy. And I always look forward to reading them. hyakubun wa ikken ni shikazu
began to understand Japanese culture. Now, I am going to give you a question for a change! Did you know that Japanese much better than hearing about
Design : Masako Ban

(hundred) (seeing it once)

But please continue to give me your people think differently from people in other cultures in regard to onomatopoeia, the (listening) it a 100 times. It means that it
advice because I believe what I know is much easier to understand
naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it? It may something if you see it once
about Japan is only the tip of the iceberg. be hard to describe the sounds, but please try to use your imagination. with your own eyes, instead of
hearing about it 100 times from
You might have noticed that Japanese people make some weird sounds that These are typical questions taxi drivers may ask you in informal other people.
make you irritated. But there is no need for you to try making those sounds. (It may language. The question form desu ka? is usually omitted in casual B Turning a deaf ear. To not
be hard to slurp your noodles without practice!?) conversation. mimi o kasanai pay attention to what someone
(ear) (not lend) says.
Please draw lines between (A to G) and (1 to 7) in order to make the match. Key words:
Doubting your own ears, or
1) This is the sound of sucking air through ones teeth. It
If Japanese people ask you questions using these words, please reply in your own words. C
A) mimi o utagau
unable to believe what you
su- indicates that the person is thinking. have just heard because you
(doubt, suspect)
(e.g. Well...)
2) This is the sound you hear when someone sneezes. It is not rude doko kuni tabemono suki do- kazoku toshi are so fazed
to sneeze in public, and there is no need to say, Excuse me, where country food like How is...? family age
B) D. Having a quick ear.
su- -su- after you sneeze or, Bless you, after someone else sneezes.
mimi ga hayai Describes a person who is
(sniff, sniff) 3) This is the sound of slurping noodles (udon, soba, etc.). driver : Where are you from? (quick) quick to hear the latest rumors.
Slurping them loudly gives the impression that you are really okyaku-san doko no kuni
C) enjoying eating them. Many Japanese people try not to slurp
su- when they eat spaghetti. Mr.Pole : Im from the South Pole.
(slurp) nankyoku desu 1 No matter what I say, he just turns a deaf ear to me.
4) This is the sound of sniffing when you have a runny nose. It is
rude to blow your nose loudly in public, but it is acceptable to
D) . driver : What is your favorite Japanese food? turns a deaf ear
sniff when you have a very runny nose. If you are desperate to nani o ittemo ano hito wa desu
zuru-zuru-zuru Nihon no tabemono wa nani ga suki no matter what that person
blow your nose, just excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.
(slurp, slurp, etc.)
2 I have heard many explanations of it, but I think, after all,
5) This is the sound of slurping when drinking hot coffee, tea or Mr.Pole : Oh, I love sakana (fish)!!!
E) soup. Slurping cools the hot liquid, and it is quite acceptable sakana ga suki desu
hakushon in Japan. Interestingly, you are supposed to slurp the last iroiro setsume- o kikimashita ga yappari
(achoo) drop of your tea when you are invited to tea ceremony. It driver : How is your life in Japan? various explanation listen but after all
means that you have finished your tea. Nihon wa do- Seeing is believing.
F) 6) This is the sound of inhaling the air between the teeth when
o hi sui i ne - ji). It is mainly Mr.Pole : Im getting used to it. Seeing is believing
removing the bits of food with a toothpick (yo desu ne
(Its delicious!) done by men, or people who have poorly aligned teeth. sukoshi naremashita
3 When I heard about it, I couldnt believe my ears. Really!
G) 7) This is what people sound like when they try to say, oishi- driver : Do you have a family?
su--su- ne (This is delicious) with their mouths full. kazoku wa couldnt believe
sono hanashi o ki- ta toki my ears honto- ni
Mr.Pole : Im single. that story listened indeed
Answers 1) ... A ), 2) ... E), 3) ... D), 4) ... B) , 5) ... C), 6) ... G) , 7) ... F) when
dokushin desu

When in Japan, do as the Japanese do. h akush 4 What ? You heard the rumor already?
on driver : How old are you?
Here is a list of things that are considered bad manners in Japan. toshi wa ikutsu e mo- sono uwasa o shitte-irun desu ka
People may cringe when you do them. What? rumor have known
Mr.Pole : How old do I look? already
Do not blow your nose in public, particulary into your ikutsu ni miemasu ka You have a quick ear.
handkerchief. Please try to use tissues. (They are often handed out
on streets as advertisements.) Handkerchiefs are supposed a quick ear
to be used as handtowels or napkins. If you are desperate to blow It seems like Mr. Pole is being interviewed by an employer of a company. desu ne
your nose, say, shitsure- -shimasu (Excuse me). But it is not unusual for Japanese people to ask even private things to a
It is not good manners to eat and drink while you are walking. person whom they are meeting for the first time in order to find out what
1 ...... B mimi o kasanai 2 ......A hyakubun wa ikken ni shikazu
Do not put your feet up on your desk at the office. kind of person he/she is. By the way, when you are asked to count your
3 ...... C mimi o utagaimashita 4 ...... D mimi ga hayai
It is also rude to sit on tables or desks. family members, you are supposed to include yourself. (e.g. you, your
It is rude to speak while chewing gum. wife and two children. yo nin desu)
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

ZZ 5-
Vol. 19

aimai kotoba Ambiguous words
I know what you mean, Mr. Pole. yo-suruni, you think that such meetings
I have noticed that most Japanese companies hold should be shorter and more efficient, dont you? It is true that the Japanese tend to
long meetings almost every day, without making any hold long meetings. They hold these conferences over and over because they dont 1 If it is possible, .
..your answer by tomorrow ...
decisions at all. Sometimes I cant even make out wish to make their final decisions until they are sure of each others ideas. sonoue
what they are talking about. tsumari (After all)...its ... ...
(In addition), Japanese people use ambiguous words when they know they have to if its possible
a waste of yu-ka (I mean)...i- kaereba (in
Design : Masako Ban

... asu made ni gohenji o ...

make decisions by the end of the meeting. Instead of making statements, the speaker tomorrow by replying (polite form)
other words). ..exhausting...yosuruni (to sum up)... makes ambiguous comments, to avoid offending listeners. The other participants
Grr...I cant stop talking like the people in the 2 On the contrary, ...a bad result .
have to work out what he actually means, or guess at what has been left unsaid.
meetings! ... . ..

on the contrary
... warui kekka ga ...
bad result
Japanese culture treasures the concepts of space, silence, and nonexistence. One day, Mr. Pole attended a conference. Pole san no aruhi no kaigi
For instance, when designing a Japanese garden, the landscaper thinks of a First of all, about the budget
3 I thought so.
Mr.Pole : 1
first of all ...
windows as the frame, and calculates the amount of space within the frame for next year. .
. rainen no yosan desu ga
when the trees have leaves in summer, and when they are bare in wintertime. I thought so !
Well, Mr. Mori, please tell us.
For a Noh actor, the most difficult thing is silence, or absence of movement. well then Mori-san kara desu
Silence is a form of expression in Noh. And as for a Japanese tearoom, .
I wonder if it is impossible..
Mori-san : .
Last year, it was pretty bad.. ...... 4
nonexistence is represented by the fact that it contains only a few things.
sakunen wa kanari kibishikatta...desu... ... ...
Next year, we may be able to muri ... I wonder
... 3
it may be ...
Even if you dont understand all the Japanese words during the meeting, please .
balance the budget.. rainen wa yosannai de dekiru (polite form) desu ga... impossible
pay careful attention when someone uses the key words listed below. They
Or maybe
.. 4 it may be ... ... 5 .
I guess its probably today..
indicate that the speaker is going to say something important next, and thats dekinai (polite form) desu... u-n...
what he or she actually means. If someone keeps silence for a while, look ... I guess ...
Shacho- : osoraku ... kyo-
carefully at that person and try to guess what he wants to say. What do you mean? What do you mean?

e.g., (Talking about something for a long time) ... to sum up, I think it will be impossible ... Mori-san : In other words, hm. .
.If it is possible, 6 in other ...... 7 if it is ... 6 It may be hopeless
a little bit more.. words ...e- ... possible mo- sukoshi ...
(Talking about something for a long time) ... Mr.Pole : To sum up, we need a larger 8 ... it may be (uncertain)
yo-suruni muri ... budget than last year, right?
to sum up
sakunen yori o- ku ... desu ka hopeless; impossible
in short impossible Mori-san : Frankly speaking...yes. ... ...

hm .. ye..s
hakkiri ieba ... so- desu ga... 7 Was it in vain after all?
Pay attention! This is what he actually means!
One hour later
in the end ...
Mr.Pole : After all, it would be difficult to 10
after all
11 muda-ashi ... ?
Key words during the meetings. No.1 (friendly form / polite form) terrible
make our decision, now. .. ketsuron wa desu ne a fools errand
1 if it is possible 2 whether or not Lets postpone it for 12 ...
for the time being 8 . cheap as possible .
... the time being. .. jikai mata ...
moshi dekitara dekimashitara ... ka do- ka Shacho- : Well, wed better handle the as ... as possible ...
handle the problem positively ...

problem positively. .. ma- ga ... yasuku ...

3 after all; in the end 4 with that reason; That will do it!
Mr.Pole : That will do it 14
That will do it ... 9 .
..and you mean? (inviting him/her to say more)

kekkyoku yu- koto de Answers 1 18 2 6) 3 4 17) 5 15) 6 13) 7 1) 8 5) 9 19) 10 3) 11 14) 12 8) 13 10) 14 4)
and you mean ?
5 to sum up; in short 6 well then, 7 I wonder if... ?(very casual form) 8 for the time being; for now 9 I guess (not a fact, just guessing)
... ; ...
yo-suruni ja dewa kana- ; kashira toriaezu ...daro- ; desho- 10 ..
.whether or not I can finish my work by 9 p.m.
(male style) (female style) (male style) (female style) whether or not ...
10to handle the problem positively 11 I thought so; as I expected, 12 on the contrary; instead 13 in other words ; after all 14almost hopeless; difficult zangyo- ga ku-ji made ni owaru
over work 9 oclock by will finish

maemuki ni kento- shimasu yappari yahari kaette tsumari muzukashi-
15What do you mean?; ...and you mean? 16 as ... as possible 17 it may be ... (uncertain) 18 first of all, ; at first, 19hm ..... ye...s.... 1 1) 2 12) 3 11) 4 7) 5 9)
. .. ... ... ... 6 17) 7 3) 8 16) 9 15) 10 2)
to yu-to to yu- koto wa dekirudake... ...kamo kamoshirenai mazu mazu saishoni e- ... ma- ...
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Frequency / Quantity
Vol. 20
I know its confusing. The common usage of zenzen has a
I attended a conference yesterday. I think I understood the negative meaning, implying not at all. Thus, zenzen should be
Japanese speakers better after referring to the previous used with the negative form of i-adjectives, so zenzen oishiku-nai 1 I am so busy I hardly get any exercise. I need more exercise.
lesson. If there are any more key words, please let me (It doesnt taste good at all.) is correct grammar. But lately, it has hardly
know. And one more thing.Ive been studying Japanese become a kind of slang, and people say zenzen oishi- . This zenzen isogashi- node (about 10%) undo- o shimasen undo- -busoku desu
Design : Masako Ban

for a while, but sometimes I notice that Japanese busy so to exercise dont get enough exercise
brings a positive meaning, and so the phrase means It tastes really
speakers use grammar that is different from what I have good. Zenzen is also used with na-adjectives, as in zenzen kantan! 2 In the old days, I often made mistakes.
learned. They say, zenzen oishi- ! What do they mean? (Its a piece of cake!). This zenzen is positive, implying completely or
Do they mean something is delicious, or awful? entirely.
(about 80 %)
mukashi wa shippai o shimashita
the old days to fault

Frequency (how often?) Quantity (how many / much?)

One day, Mr. Pole attended a conference.
3 Im just a paper driver (Sunday driver), so I seldom drive a car.
Mr.Pole : .
Mr. Mori. Its about the discussion we had last month..:
100 % always 100 % quite a few, seldom
itsumo a lot, many Mori-san : To tell the truth, its not 1 ... ...... paper driver desu node (about 5%) kuruma no unten o shimasen
ippai takusan
... mada tochu- de ... ano- ...
to tell the truth
done yet...and... so car to drive
often Paper drivers: People who have passed their driving
yoku Mr.Pole : You mean you need a 2
you mean ... ?
a few, a little little more time? mo- sukoshi jikan ga hoshi- test, but have little or no experience of driving.
chotto sukoshi They are just drivers on paper.
Shacho- : Theres no choice, is there? 3 4
50 % sometimes theres no choice Lets just wait and see. 4 Thank you as always.
Lets just wait and see. desu ne
from time to time tokidoki few, little + negative form
hotondo Mr.Pole : We cant wait too long, always always
so...finish it by the end 5 cant wait ... ... 6
(about 90%) arigato-gozaimasu
30 % occasionally
0% none at all + negative form of next week, OK? too long desu kara... raishu- ippai
tamani zenzen
Shacho- : week... 7
...... 5 I occasionally help with household chores when I feel like it.
20 % (not) much, (not) very
+ negative form raishu- desu ... yo ... occasionally
not too often amari (about 30 %)
Mori-san : By the way, did you know ki ga muku to kaji no tetsudai o shimasu
by the way
a Starbucks had opened when I feel like it housekeeping to help
10 % hardly, scarcely + negative form office no chikaku ni Starbucks ga dekimashita ne
hotondo near the office?
6 Vegetarians never eat meat at all.
+ negative form Mr.Pole : Come to think of it, I see 9 come to
5% seldom, rarely
mettani those shops here and there. think of it acchi-kocchi de mikakemasu ne
not at all
coffee saishokushugi-sha wa (about 0 %) niku o tabemasen
Mori-san : Well, before long, this city
never, not at all
+ negative form 10
you vegetarian meat to not eat
0% zenzen will be full of coffee shops, iya- know it machi ga coffee shop darake ni narimasu ne
dont you think? 7 Regular customers are people who always come to the same restaurant.
meeting words No.2 (friendly form / polite form)
Mr.Pole : Thats possible.
thats possible always
1 its about time to. 6 come to think of it; as you mentioned
ne jo-ren-kyaku wa (about 90%) onaji mise ni iku hito no koto desu
.. Mori-san : Lets go there for lunch 12
sometime soon regular customer same to go
. .. ohiru ni itte-mimasho-
sometime soon! restaurant person
sorosoro... so- ieba 8 Youd better not worry about it too much.
Mr.Pole : Well, its about time to end 13 ... not much
ja- kyo- no kaigi wa
the meeting for today. its about time to
2 before too long; before you know it 7 cant wait too long; theres no limits (about 20 %) ki ni shinai ho- ga -i desu yo
to not worry had better
sono-uchini kiri ga nai Mr. Mori was not willing to put his mind into the meeting.The only decision
9 (At a party: Would you like more wine?) Well, Ill have a little bit more.
that was made in todays meeting was to go to the coffee shop for lunch!
3 that will do it; OK? 8 To tell the truth; as a matter of fact kono kaigi wa do- narimasu ka. ( What do you think will happen? ) a little
ja- dake
... just; only
8) 4) 14) 11) 7) 3) 7 13) 10) 6) 2) 5) 9) 1) well yu- kotode
Answers 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 11 12 13
10 My brain is always filled with worries.
4 you mean...? 9 right away; sometime soon 11 just wait and see; well see 13anyway; anyhow (male style)
always a lot
... (about 90%) nayami-goto de atama ga desu
... to yu- koto desu ka sugu sassoku yo-su o mimasho- tonikaku distress head
5 thats possible 10 by the way 12 Lets see what happens; 14 its no use; theres no choice 1 hotondo 2 yoku 3 mettani 4 itsumo itsumo 5 tamani
What do you think will happen ?
6 zenzen 7 itsumo 8 amari 9 chotto 10 itsumo ippai
ariemasu tokorode
do- narimasu ka sho-ganai shikata ga nai
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

san sama
polite form / to customer

Japanese people address me in various ways, such san does not correspond exactly to Mr., Mrs. or Ms. because people
as Pole san, Pole sama or James kun. But how are addressed in different ways according to the situation. To answer The interviewer calls an applicant for a job interview.
come san does not correspond to Mr., Mrs. or Ms. your second question, it is said that in 1888, when diplomat Munemitsu interviewer : Mr. Kobayashi !

even though my dictionary says that san means Mr. Mutsu signed his name on a treaty, he became the first Japanese to write
Design : Masako Ban

his name in the given name-family name order. Presumably, he imitated Kobayashi 1
or Mrs.? And another question: Japanese people
usually write their family name, then their given the Western way in order to show Japans eagerness to learn from other Kobayashi : Yes, Im Kobayashi.
name, right? But why do they write their names the countries after its period of isolation.
hai Kobayashi 2 desu
other way round when using romanized letters?
Mr. Oda comes back to his hotel after sight-seeing and
san is a respectful way to call or address people. [Horizontal style] Front Back finds there is a message at the front desk.
When you are speaking to Japanese people, even in English, it is best to say receptionist : Mr. Oda ! Mr. Miki is waiting for you in the lobby.
san after their first name or last name. Japanese people often feel
uncomfortable if their names are used without san. That is why most people
3 4
say san after your name when talking to you, even in English. Oda Miki ga lobby de o-machi de gozaimasu
(the recipients address) (honorific form of waiting)
1) e.g., Ms. Yukiko Suzuki I met Suzuki san yesterday. 4 -7-10 (the senders address) Talking to a receptionist at a company.
(given name) (family name) I met Yukiko san yesterday. 5-6-39 Minato-ku Tokyo Inoue : My name is Inoue. Im from Shibuya Bank.
(the recipients name)
2) Company name + san In business, san is added after the name of (the senders name)
a company. 5
Shibuya Ginko- no Inoue
James Pole 2
desu ga
e.g., Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank Tokyo Mitsubishi san / sama bank
3) There are some situations where you should not use san. When you are speaking I have an appointment to see Mr. Yokota at 9 a.m. today.
to a third person, it is best not to refer to members of your own group using san. [ Vertical style] Numbers used for vertical style, or kansu- ji (kanji for numbers) 9
(group members = yourself / your family members / staff of your company etc.) 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... 8... 9... 10... ku ji ni Yokota to o-yakusoku-shiteimasu
at 9 oclock (honorific form of have an appointment)
Introducing your staff members to a client : Front Back receptionist : Yes, Sir. We do have your appointment today.

e.g., (your company staff to client)This is Ms. Suzuki. (Calling Yokotas desk)
Suzuki desu
Introducing your family members to your friend: Mr.Yokota! You have a visitor from Shibuya Bank.
e.g., This is my wife Susan.

(the recipients (the senders
tsuma no Susan desu (the recipients 7 8

address) Yokota Shibuya Ginko- ga o-mie desu

First name (given name) / last name (family name) for daily conversation. Friends (honorific form of come)

since childhood or school days usually address each other by their first names or
A nurse calls a patient at a hospital.
nicknames. Those who meet later in life usually call each other by their last names. Inoue : Mr. Taro Fujita! Please go to Room 5!

Female Male (the senders 5


Fujita Taro- 9 go-ban ni o-hairi-kudasai
Child first name + chan first name + kun or chan 3 No. 5 (honorific form of come in)

none 5

Adult daily conversation ....................... last name + san A bank teller calls a customer at a bank.
teller : Japanese Lunch Co,. Ltd.!

Applications of san ...... sama ( ) / shi ( ) / dono ( ) / onchu- ( )

[Business style] (a letter to companies or organizations) 10
e.g., Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. Takada ()
Japanese Lunch kabushiki-gaisha
(in case of a self-addressed card) (in case of a blank card)
A written form used in letters, documents, etc. At a restaurant.
Takada sama A polite form used in conversation. Hayashi : My name is Hayashi, I have a reservation for 7 p.m.

A written form used in the media. (the senders 7

Takada shi (the name address) shichi-ji ni yoyaku o shita Hayashi desu
at 7 p.m. have reserved

of organization)
This form is applied only to someone of the same status as

(the address of company) waitress : Yes, Mr. Hayashi! Please come this way.
Takada dono yourself or lower. It is hardly used nowadays, but

occasionally occurs in documents. 2-35-11
Hayashi 12 do-zo kochira ni


company name /
This form is used instead of ( sama) (the name of company) please come this way

The name of organization onchu- when a letter is sent to a company or
Nippon Co. Ltd. 5

organization. On a self-addressed 6

1. san 2. none 3. sama 4. sama 5. none
6. sama7. san
envelope, (yuki or "To:") is written after the senders (to Japan Institute) 8. sama
9. san 11. none12 sama
10. sama
name. It is good manners to cross out this word, customarily
with two slashes, and write (onchu) when returning it. With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Sounds logical Sounds illogical

) (
( )
Vol. 22 Reason
riyu- (o yu- )
to explain
the reason
wake (o yu- )
to justify something

One of my colleagues came to work late the other When you want to explain the reason for something, you can choose
day because she had a hangover. She said to me, kara or node to convey different impressions to your listeners. kara is
yu-be nomi-sugita kara, chikoku-shichatta! (I used for emotional expressions. It may sound illogical or like an excuse. (
) (
am late because I drank too much last night!) But Japanese children use kara, but when they grow up, they start saying Excuse
benkai (o suru) -i wake (o suru)
Design : Masako Ban

when she was talking to her boss, she said, yu-be node. It might be best to say node during business meetings or when to rationalize to defend oneself
nomi-sugita node, chikoku-shimashita. Is there speaking polite Japanese, since node gives the impression that what you something with poor excuses
any difference between kara and node when ex- are saying is logical.
plaining the reason for something?
1. Stop making excuses! (illogical excuse)
There are three words of expressing a reason or cause. (talking to your boss)May I go home now because I have a headache?
excuse wa yamenasai
reason / cause kara / node / de result / conclusion atama ga itai kaettemo -i desu ka stop
1) 2) 3) head painful May I go home ?
2. I have no way to justify.
1) kara is used for emotional expressions. (talking to your friend) (illogical reason)
It is used for friendly conversations where the reason or cause is personal. Im taking a day off tomorrow because a friend is coming over from France. illogical
But you should be careful how you use it, because it can sound selfish. do-shite ko-natta noka reason ga wakaranai desu
France kara tomodachi ga kimasu ashita kaisha o yasumimasu why become like this don't know
I canceled it (the job) from friend come tomorrow company absent from ~
because I had another
isogashi-katta kara cancel o shimashita appointment (to meet a 3. Youd better acknowledge your mistakes,
(talking politely) instead of trying to rationalize them. (logical excuse)
friend). Id like to take a day off tomorrow because my friend is coming from France.
I was busy I canceled
excuse o suru yori sunao ni mitometa ho- ga i- desu yo
Even if the reason/cause is unreasonable, it starts to sound more logical if France kara tomodachi ga kimasu 3
ashita kaisha o yasumimasu obediently had better acknowledge
you use the magic words, node and de!
(talking politely) I couldnt buy it because I didnt have any money. 4. The more you defend yourself with poor excuses,
2) 3) node and de are used for logical expressions (de is used for nouns). the more you sound like a liar! (illogical excuse)
They are used in public situations and polite speech. Public situations include 4
o-kane ga nakatta kaemasen-deshita illogical
business meetings and speeches. Logical reasons for something might be money didnt have couldnt buy excuse o sureba suru hodo uso ni kikoemasu
earthquake (natural phenomenon), fire (accident), illness, etc.
more ~ more a lie can hear
(talking to your friend) I stayed at home all day yesterday because it was raining.
I canceled it because I 5. Did he explain the reason? (logical reason)
was busy with work. kino- wa ame datta ichinichi-ju- uchi ni imashita
isogashi-katta node cancel o shimashita yesterday was rain all day long house was (exist) nanika reason o itte-mashita ka
I was busy I canceled something said to you ?
(inevitable causes...noun) The buildings collapsed because of the earthquake.
noun 6. Please dont make me justify this! (illogical reason)
I canceled it because I jishin tatemono wa mecha-kucha desu
had to work. illogical
earthquake building destroyed (onomatopoeia) reason
shigoto de cancel o shimashita wa kikanaide-kudasai
please dont ask
work I canceled (inevitable causes...noun)
Many companies have gone bankrupt because of the recession.
e.g., I was late because the roads were crowded. 7. No matter how hard you try,
or ds
( traffic jam ... ju-tai, ic w 7 it is too late to rationalize this! (logical excuse)
ag fukyo- oku no kaisha ga to- san o shiteimasu
became late ... osoku-narimashita) depression many company have gone bankrupt

( implying the node ikura excuse shitemo mo- osoi desu

even though already too late
inevitable cause ) ju-tai de osoku-narimashita (talking to your client) It is because I am going on a business trip.

shuccho- o shimasu 8
ju-tai datta node osoku-narimashita go on a business trip
( implying my fault) Answers Answers
ju-tai datta kara osoku-narimashita
1. node 2. kara 3. node 4. node 5. kara 6. de 7. de 8. node 1. iwake 2. wake 3. benkai 4. iwake 5. riyu 6. wake 7. benkai

With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

A) to pass away B) to die C) desperately

nakunaru shinu hisshi ni
to pass away to die
(polite form used (used for humans,
I heard that my friends grandfather died I understand you meant to say, Im sorry by saying, gomennasai for humans) animals)
last month, so I said to him, in Japanese. But this expression is used when you want to apologize for
gomennasai. (Im sorry.) But he was making a mistake or causing a disturbance. When you wish to express D) a matter of life and death E) with all ones might
confused and said, Why? What do you your sympathy for the bereaved, it is better to use a fixed expression, such

Design : Masako Ban

mean? Did I say something wrong? I as goshu-sho- sama desu/deshita. (You have my deepest sympathy.) In

ended up asking him the same thing, addition, you need to mumble the words, to imply that you cant finish shi katsu mon dai shi ni mono gurui
Well, what do YOU mean!? Ms. saying it because of your sadness. Traditionally, Japanese women wear
Hirayama, did I say something weird mofuku (mourning kimono) for a funeral, and, as a sign of their grief, they
again? try not to wear it too neatly.
Oh, my goodness! A new restaurant has opened just around the corner!
Apology: These expressions are used when you want to apologize for Hasebe-san : 1
You dont look 2
Are you OK?
your mistakes. so good. ne
taihen atarashi- mise ga sugu chikaku ni dekimashita
(friendly form)
gomennasai Pole-san : Late last night, all of a sudden, Ryo-ta passed away. Oh dear new restaurant right near has opened
... ... ...
or yu- be osoku kyu- ni I
m i
ntrouble. ..Its a matter of life and death to me.
sumimasen suimasen Ryo-ta ga nakunatte
... 1 a matter of life
Hasebe-san :
(Im sorry) You have my deepest sympathy.
komatta na- ... kore wa and death desu
shitsure- -shimashita I'm in trouble this is

How old was he ?
(polite form)
mo-shiwake-gozaimasendeshita -
- sho The famous novelist was killed in a traffic accident three years ago.
Sympathy: These expressions are used when you want to convey ...If he was human... s h u
g os ama des
Pole-san : 2
your grief over someones death and to indicate your passed away
... ... san-nen mae ni yu-me- na sho-setsuka ga kuruma no jiko de
sympathy concerning someones problems.
ningen deshitara
u tree years ago famous novelist car accident

he would have been about 95 years old.
zannen desu (Thats a shame.)
95 5
kyu- -ju- go sai
desu I worked as hard as I could and was able to pay off my debts at last!
genki o dashite-kudasai (Try to keep your What ? You mean, Ryo-ta was not human?
Hasebe-san : with all ones might
spirits up.) de hataraite yatto shakkin o kaeshimashita
at last debt pay back
by working
gambatte-kudasai (Dont be discouraged.) ee Ryo-ta-san wa ningen janai no desu ka
e.g., Hayashi-san : My company went bankrupt the other day... Pole-san : Right, he was a fish.
Kobayashi-san : Im sorry. 6 fish ... Although I ran desperately, I didnt make it on time.
gambatte-kudasai (Dont be discouraged.) hai desu kedo
Hasebe-san : ... 4
Encouragement: These expressions are used when you want to give desperately
hashirimashita ga maniaimasendeshita
emotional support to the depressed. (to die / to pass away): nakunaru is used only for the humans, whereas run but not be on time
shinu is used for all living creatures.
taihen desu ne (That must be hard for you.)
He died just a moment ago. The corpse is
still there There are many dead fish in the pond. They may have been killed by
The time of his death can be agricultural chemicals.
taihen deshita ne mo- daijo-bu desu ka given in figures. or it can be seen.
(It was really hard for you. Are you OK?) 5
sakana ga ike de takusan (can be seen)
fish pond many
gambatte-kudasai (Hang in there!/Dont give up!)
He is dying./He is about to
: I have been looking for a new job for six months.
tabun no-yaku genin desho-
e.g., Kobayashi-san
pass away. He died./He passed away. He is dead. ga
Tanaka-san : That must be really hard.
maybe agricultural chemicals cause I guess

taihen desu ne
shinimasu nakunarimasu shinimashita nakunarimashita shindeimasu
(That must be really hard.)
Hang in there! Answers Answers
gambatte-kudasai 1 genki ga nai desu 2 daijo-bu desu ka 3 goshu-sho- sama desu 4 oikutsu deshita ka 1 D) 2 A) nakunarimashita 3 E) 4 C) 5 B) shindeimasu

(Hang in there !) 5 kurai/gurai 6sakana

With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

ic h i ? 24
at day is d o n Vol.

Please write down your date of birth here.
My friends and I were making plans to go to an onsen (a hot No, donichi is not a special day. I think foreigners probably
spring) together. One of them asked me, "donichi isogashi say, getsu-yo- bi to sui-yo- bi (Monday and Wednesday) in koko ni
the date of birth
o kaite-kudasai
desu ka?" (Are you busy on donichi?) I didn't know what Japanese. But Japanese people prefer to use a shorter term in here please write
donichi meant, but I didn't want to embarrass myself, so I their daily conversations, such as ges-sui, which is the
Computer technology is making rapid progress.
Design : Masako Ban

told her that I would be busy. Another friend told us that combination of getsu-yo-bi and sui-yo-bi. Another example is ka--
donichi was better for her, but we finally decided to go to kin, the combination of ka-yo-bi (Tuesday) and kin-yo-bi (Friday). computer no sekai wa
rapid progress
desu ne
the onsen on a weekday. I preferred the weekend to a I think you ' ve got the point by now. Yes! donichi is the world
weekday. Why did they choose the weekday? Is donichi a combination of do-yo-bi (Saturday) and nichi-yo-bi (Sunday). Let
me show you the days of the week with kanji. 3.I changed my mind at the last minute.
special day?
last minute

Sho-ke- moji (pictographic characters): Sho-ke- moji originated with de ki ga kawarimashita
an image of the object / objects (in some cases, concepts) and shows Let
ice! How to pronounce the days of the week: change one's mind
highly pictographic features. getsu, ge (Monday), ka- (Tuesday), sui (Wednesday), moku (Thursday),
kin (Friday), do-, do (Saturday), nichi (Sunday) 4.It is dangerous if you can't see the forest for the trees.
Even if you cannot write the kanji, try to memorize the shapes, so (tips: The words ka- and do- should be prounounced with a long vowel.) unable to see the
you can recognize the corresponding characters. forest for the trees wa kiken desu
1. Wednesday and Sunday 5. Sunday and Monday dangerous
2. Friday and Saturday 6. Thursday and Saturday

3. Monday and Tuesday 7. Monday and Wednesday 5.I forgive you and forget what you did to me in the past.
4. Tuesday and Friday 8. Monday and Thursday
nichi-yo-bi to forgive and forget

Sunday originated with sun and day.
Answers mo- kako no koto dakara (masu-form)
2. - 3. - - 4. 5.
- 6.
8. 7.
already past matter because
kin-do getsu(gek)-ka ka -kin moku-do

i 6.Their quarrel is an everyday occurrence.
moon Monday everyday

getsu getsu-yo-bi ano hito-tachi no kuchigenka waoccurrence desu
that person quarrel
Monday originated with moon. A) B) C) D)
everyday occurrences / a quitter the date of birth rapid progress /
daily happenings (a person who cannot constant advancement 7.My husband and I are getting along well, even though our
finish what he starts) personalities are like oil and water.
ire Tuesday

ka ka-yo-bi watashi-tachi fu- fu wa
like oil and water
Tuesday originated with fire. nichi jo- sa han ji mik ka bo- zu se- nen gap pi nis shin gep po we husband and wife but
(day)(always)(tea)(meal) (three days) (boy) (birth)(year)(month)(day) (day)(advanced)(month)(step)
-i desu.
naka ga
relationship good
d Wednesday

sui sui-yo-bi 8.(talking to a friend who has money problems)
E) F) G) Don't be so sad! Money comes and goes, you know!
Wednesday originated with water and liquid.
There' s no smoke without fire. like oil and water to forgive and forget
(being incompatible (to wipe the slate) Money comes and
with each other) sonnani o-kina tameiki o tsuka-naidegoes, you know desu yo
ree,wood Thursday like that big sigh don't


moku 9.I believe it is true, because there's no smoke without fire.
Thursday originated with trees, plants and wood.
hi no nai tokoro ni kemuri wa tatanai mizu to abura mizu ni nagasu
(fire) (without) (place) (smoke) (water)(and)(oil) (water) (flush) there' no smoke
without fire to -i masu kara honto- desho-
say so true I'm sure
d,money Friday

10.I knew he couldn't keep it up. He always quits.
kin kin-yo-bi H) I) J) quitter
being unable to see the forest Money comes and goes. / at the last minute /
Friday originated with gold, money and metal. for the trees Easy come, easy go. yappari tsuzukanai ... itsumo nan- dakara
at the critical moment
as I expected not continue always because

and Answers
do do-yo-bi ki o mite mori o mizu kane wa tenka no mawarimono do tan ba
1.C) D)
2. J)
3. 4.
H) G)
5. A)6. F)7. I) 8. E) 9. B) 10.

Saturday originated with soil, land and ground. (tree) (look at) (forest) (not see) (money) (the world)(round)(things) (soil)(platform)(place)
With cooperation from Yasuhiro Koga
thin g i s w r i t t e n o n y o
ur f a c e) 5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
Vol. 25
fa ce

hea d


O n e o f m y co lle a gu e s a s ke d m e , " P o l e -s a n , did Y ou a re right. I' m gla d y ou' re m a king progres s , P o l e -s a n! W ha t

s om ething good ha ppen to y ou? " I a s ked her w hy s he s he m ea nt to s a y w a s , "I s ee it on y our fa ce! " B ut it does n' t m ea n 1. I ta ke m y ha t off to people w ho do v olunteer w ork.
ha d a s ked m e tha t. S he s a id, "da tte ka o ni ka ite-a ru s om ething is a ctua lly w ritten on y our fa ce. Do y ou rem em ber tha t
to ta ke one' s ha t off
y o! " (B eca us e s om ething is w ritten on y our fa ce! ). I y ou ha v e s tudied phra s es tha t a re ex pres s ed w ith body pa rts a nd i- v o l u n t e e r ka ts udo- niw a
Des ign : M as ako B an

thought s om ething w a s on m y fa ce, ev en though I ha d a djectiv es before? For this les s on, let m e s how y ou s om e frequently a ctiv ity (m a s u-form )
w a s hed m y fa ce in the m o r ning. S o I a s ked her , u s e d e x pr e s s io n s w ith bo dy pa r ts a n d v e r bs . Y o u m igh t fin d
2. M y a unt a lw a y s pokes her nos e into ev ery thing.
" R ea lly ? W her e? " B u t s he ju s t s m iled a nd w a lked ex pres s ions w ith body pa rts num bering m ore tha n 800 in jus t one

dictiona ry . It m ea ns tha t thos e idiom s a re com m only us ed in da ily to poke one' s nos e into
a w a y . I w ent to ba throom right a w a y a nd checked m y oba w a na nni-dem o
fa ce in the m irror. I didn' t s ee a ny thing s tra nge, jus t a conv ers a tions , s o y our s peech w ill s ound v ery na tura l if y ou us e a unt w ha tev er (m a s u-form )
ha nds om e guy s ta ring ba ck a t m e in the m irror! O h, th e m . Y o u r gr a m m a tica l u s e o f th e e x pr e s s io n s m a y be a t a n
3. I know the ow ner of this res ta ura nt,
w w e go a ga in! I rem em bered tha t w e ha v e a interm edia te lev el, but y ou ca n s ta rt us ing thos e phra s es im m edia tely
s o plea s e order a ny thing!
s im ila r ex pres s ion in m y country : "It' s w ritten on y our if y ou m em orize them . R ega rdles s of y our lev el, they a re helpful for
to ha v e a n
fa ce." Is tha t w ha t s he m ea nt? a ny one w ho ca n' t find enough tim e to s tudy . kono m is e w a influence kara nan-dem o tanonde-kudas ai
res ta ura nt (dictionary -form ) s o a ny thing plea s e order
fa ce A ) to be w ritten on one' s fa ce C ) to a ppea r, to com e to s ee P ole-s a n: T he guy w ho w a s hired this tim e is rea lly s m a rt. 4. I' m up to m y neck in debt.

to be s m a rt to be up to one' s
ka o ni ka ite-a ru ka o o da s u kondo no hito w a ka na ri yo s ha kkin de
neck in debt des u
to be w ritten to a ppea r this tim e pers on v ery m a s u-form I tell y ou
debt (na i-form )
ka o B ) to us e one' s influence, H a s ebe-s a n: B ut I hea rd he w a s fired from his la s t job. 5. (pra is ing him /her)
to ha v e a n influence
? S urely a s m a rt pers on like y ou is one of a kind!
-a r u 2
e to be fired

ka o ga kiku a it dem o m a e no ka is ha w a toka to be s m a rt
ik but prev ious com pa ny ta -form I' m not s ure s a s uga hito w a chiga im a s u ne
to ha v e influence as w as ex pected (dictionary -form ) pers on different

P ole-s a n: R ight! B ecaus e he alw ays pokes his nos e into everything and he gets m ad s o eas ily.

hea d D) to ta ke off one' s ha t 3 6. I' m s o m a d! I jus t got fired!


4 M r. A :
to poke to be angry

a ta m a ga s a ga ru
s o- -s o- nanni-dem o
R ight ! every thing
one' s nos e into s hi chotto no koto de
dictionary -form little
w ith kara ne
m atter dictionary -form to get m a d

tots uzen to be fired

to go dow n
G ) to be una ble to s ta nd a ga ins t, (ta -form ) s uddenly (ta -form )
a ta m a E ) to be s m art, quick-w itted una ble to com pete w ith H a s ebe-s a n: B ut ev en s o, I hea rd he ca n us e his influence on big com pa nies .
5 Don' t be s o m a d! W hy don' t y ou ca lm dow n?
M r. B :
to ha v e a n
dem o tatoe s o dem o -
dai-kigy o niw a influence ras hi- des u y o
a ta m a ga a ga ra na i to ca lm dow n
a ta m a ga kireru
but ev en s o big enterpris es dictiona ry -form I hea rd s onna ni ka kka -s hina ide ra do- des u ka
to s ha rpen does n' t ris e s uch don' t be m a d (ta -form ) H ow a bout ~ ?
F) to cool off, ca lm dow n H) to be a ngry w ith, get m a d P ole-s a n: I hea rd he is com ing here toda y , jus t for a v is it.
7. I' m looking forw a rd to tra v eling a broa d.


a ta m a o hiy a s u a ta m a ni kuru ky o- w a
to a ppea r
da ke toka to look forw a rd to
to cool to com e dictiona ry -form jus t I' m not s ure ka iga i-ry oko- o
tra v eling a broa d (m a s u-form )
neck I ) to poke one' s nos e into L ) to be up to one' s neck in debt Ha s ebe-s a n: A nd the bos s told m e he w ill fire him im m edia tely if he finds
ev en a s light difficulty dea ling w ith him . 8. M r. W a ta na be took v ery good ca re of m e w hen I w a s a
7 s tudent, s o I ca n' t a rgue w ith him .
kubi ga m a w a ra na i to fire
kubi o ts ukkom u
does n' t turn dem o s ukos hi-dem o yariniku-kattara s uguni to itte-m as hita yo to be unable
to thrus t in
bes ides s light difficulty dealing w ith s oon dictiona ry -form he s aid to m e to oppos e
W atanabe-s an ni totem o os ewani-natta node des u
kubi very took care of m e s o (na i-form )
J ) to be fired M ) to dis m is s , to fire P ole-s a n: T ha t proba bly w on' t ha ppen beca us e the guy is a gra nds on
of the cha irm a n. I don' t think ev en the pres ident ca n s ta nd a ga ins t him . 9. He is careles s w ith tim e and m oney , s o I decided to fire him .
kubi ni na ru kubi ni s uru
to becom e to do to be unable to fire
tabun muri desho- datte kaicho- no mago dakara tatoe shacho- demo against to omo- yo

to stand jikan to okane ni daras hi-nai node koto ni s him as hita
probably not becaus e chairm an grandchild even com pany of pres ident nai-form I think tim e m oney loos e about s o (dictionary -form ) I decided
K ) to look forw ard to, aw ait eagerly
Ha s ebe-s a n: W ell, w ho know s ! A ns w ers A ns w ers
kubi o nagakus hite m atteiru . . . .
1 E) 2 J) 3 I) 4 H) 1. D) 2. I) 3. B ) 4. L ) 5. E ) 6. H) J ) F) 7. K ) 8. G ) 9. M )

do- na ru koto y a ra . . . .
to m a ke long w a iting 5 B) 6 C) 7 M) 8 G)

W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

I feel. . . a t tha t m om ent. the condition continues .
5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

is not a past tense! Vol. 26 ts ukare-m as hita ts ukareta

I' m tired.
ts ukarete-im as u
I ha v e been tired (s ince. . . ).

W hen I firs t ca m e to J a pa n tw o y ea rs a go, m y com pa ny I think y ou m is unders tood w ha t s he s a id. It is rea lly
introduced m e to a J a pa nes e hos t fa m ily s o tha t I could liv e difficult to ex pla in y our m is ta ke in genera l gra m m a r term s , s o 1 . O h, m a n. . . it' s a lrea dy noon! N o w onder I' m s o hungry !
w ith them fo r s ev er a l m o nths a nd lea r n a bo u t J a pa nes e plea s e a llow m e to us e m y ow n gra m m a r, w hich I ca ll "H itom i
I' m hungry

culture firs tha nd. I w a s thin w hen I liv ed w ith them , but G ra m m a r, " to ex pla in y our m is unders ta nding. In the pa s t, I uw a- m o- ju- -ni-ji do- ride to om otta
Des ign : M as ako B an

ga ined a lot of w eight a fter m ov ing to m y ow n a pa rtm ent, think y ou ha v e s tudied the form , "-m a s hita , " a s the pa s t tens e Oh a lrea dy 12 o' clock no w onder I thought
s ince I couldn' t res is t the tem pta tion to ea t a ll the J a pa nes e form of "-m a s u. " B ut now w ha t I w a nt y ou to rem em ber is tha t
food I ha d grow n to lov e. I s ta rted ex ercis ing to los e s om e the conjuga ted v erb "-m a s hita " is not jus t a pa s t tens e form 2. (friendly form ) O h, I s ee! I' v e got it now !
w eight a nd thought I ha d becom e s lim a ga in. B ut w hen I bu t is a ls o u s e d to de s c r ibe s o m e th in g e ls e in da ily
conv ers a tions . It m a y s eem ha rd to believ e tha t this is true, a- s o- da tta no ka I unders ta nd
v is ited m y ho s t fa m ily the o ther da y , the m o ther a s ked, friendly form of "I didn' t know tha t. "
" s u ko s hi fu to r i-m a s hita ka ? (Did y o u u s ed to be fa t? )" I bu t c e r ta in ly y o u h a v e n o tic e d th a t J a pa n e s e pe o ple
thought I ga ined w eight only a fter I m ov ed out, but w hy did s om etim es us e this form in w a y s different from w ha t y ou ha v e 3 . I have a fever and a cough that w on' t s top. . . It s eem s I' ve got a cold.
s he know tha t I us ed to be fa t? s tudied. . . . . . .
I have a cold
nets u ga aru s hi ... s eki m o deru s hi ... m itai des u
fever have cough als o com es out s eem s
A lthough y ou ha v e lea rned "-m a s hita " a s a pa s t tens e form , tha t is not
the only w a y of us ing it. It is a ls o us ed to des cribe pres ent conditions . I feel ________ (a t tha t m o m ent) the co nditio n co ntinu es 4. (friendly form ) O ops ! I forgot the key s !
____ a ppea r s to be (a t tha t m o m ent)

T here a re tw o different us a ges of "-m a s hita , " a s des cribed below . (polite form ) (friendly form ) (polite form ) a ka gi o I forgot
I' ll focus on B ) for this les s on, but plea s e let m e briefly ex pla in
A ) for now . I w ill dis cus s it further in a future les s on. 5. (polite form ) G eez, I' ve been w orking overtim e lately , and I' m s o tired.
1 . I' m tired.
ts uka re-m a s hita ts uka reta
A ) ' -m a s hita ' or the ta -form is genera lly us ed to des cribe w ha t is fu- zutto za ngy o- ga ts uzuite-im a s u node I' m tired
ha ppening, s uch a s " (s om ething) ga ki-m a s hita . (s om ething) G eez for long tim e overtim e have reas on
is com ing. " (pa rticle ga (com m unica tion, v ehicles , ev ents ,

2 . I forgot. w a s ure-m a s hita 6. (polite form ) I ha v e s om e trouble a t hom e.
liv ing things )

(s om ething) a rriv es ka te- no koto de
____________ I' m troubled
3 . I unders ta nd. w a ka tta w a ka tte-im a s u
is com ing hom e m a tter
e. g. , (I w a ited a t a tra in s ta tion, a nd I s a w the tra in com ing) 7. (polite form ) N ow I rem em ber!
Here com es the tra in! 4 . I rem em ber.
om oida s hita oboete-imasu / shitte-imasu I rem em ber
(polite form ) (friendly form ) y a tto

a ! dens ha ga ki-m a s hita ! a ! dens ha ga kita ! 5 . I' m in trouble. kom a tta 8. (friendly form ) G os h, I' m thirs ty ! "A dra ft beer, plea s e! "

B ) ' -m a s hita ' or ta -form is genera lly us ed I' m thirs ty
a- na m a -b e e r onega is him a s u
w hen y ou w a nt to des cribe a phy s ica l / m enta l condition. 6 . I got los t. m a y oi-m a s hita m a y otta dra ft plea s e (reques t)
I feel ________ (a t tha t m om ent)
____ a ppea rs to be . . . (a t tha t m om ent)
9. M r. A : (friendly form ) Did y ou los e w eight ?

7 . I gained w eight. Ha v e y ou los t w eight
e. g. , I' m s o tired. (to be tired . . . ts uka re-m a s u) futotta
(polite form ) (friendly form ) M r. B : N o, I ga ined s om e w eight beca us e of the s tres s a t w ork.

8 . I los t w eight. y a s e-m a s hita y a s eta
I ga ined w eight
ts uka re-m a s hita ts uka reta uun s tr e s s -butori des u
(pa s t tens e of ' m a s u-form ' ) (ta -form ) to ga in w eight beca us e of s tres s
9 . I s m iled / laughed.
w a ra i-m a s hita A ns w ers
1 . ona ka ga s uita 2 . w a ka tta 3 . ka ze o hi ta 4 . w a s ureta
"-m as hita" is generally us ed w hen y ou are 5 . ts uka rete-im a s u 6 . kom a tte-im a s u 7 . om oida s hi-m a s hita
des cribing a phy s ical or m ental condition.
1 0 . I ha v e a cold. - 8 . nodo ga ka w a ita 9 . y a s eta 1 0 . futotta
kaze o hiki-m as hita ka ze o hi ta
A ns w ers
1 1 . I' m hungry . 1 . ts uka rete-im a s u 2 .w a s ureta , w a s urete-im a s u 3 . w a ka ri-m a s hita
G OHON onaka ga s uki-m as hita onaka ga s uite-im as u
... 4 . om oida s hi-m a s hita 5 . kom a ri-m a s hita , kom a tte-im a s u 6 . m a y otte-im a s u
7 . futori-m a s hita , futotte-im a s u 8 . y a s ete-im a s u 9 . w a ra tta , w a ra tte-im a s u
1 2 . I' m thirs ty . 1 0 . ka ze o h ite-im a s u 1 1 . ona ka ga s uita 1 2 . nodo ga ka w a ita
GOH nodo ga kawaki-mashita nodo ga kawaite-imasu
In cooperation w ith Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

w a?
5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama Quiz:

Pleas e identify the particle,
(I had this delicious restaurant.) Vol. ha ? ": wa" in the following
s entences .

During a lunch brea k w ith s om e collea gues , I w a s T hey la ughed beca us e y ou us ed the w rong pa rticle w hen y ou
r e a din g th r o u gh a go u r m e t m a ga zin e a n d ca m e s poke. Y ou s a id, "I a te this delicious res ta ura nt. " Y ou s hould ha v e
a cros s a lis ting for m y fa v orite res a ura nt. I told m y u s e d th e pa r tic le ' de , ' s a y in g , " __r e s t a u r a n t ' de ' ( __a t th e 1.
friends , "kino- kono ois hi r e s t a u r a n t o ta bem a s hita ." I res ta ura nt). " It is genera lly ha rd to us e J a pa nes e pa rticles , but I think ha ha ha ha chi ji ha n ni ha s hi tte ka i s ha ni i ki m a s u
Des ign : M as ako B an

m ea nt to s a y , "Y es terda y , I ha d a delicious dinner a t they a re fun! I think m a ny of y ou m ight ha v e a lrea dy noticed from m y 2.
this res ta ura nt," but a ll of m y friends looked s hocked! colum n tha t m y ex pla na tions of J a pa nes e gra m m a r a re s om ew ha t ko no ha ko ni ha ha na ha ha i tte i m a s e n
O ne of them a s ked m e, "How w a s it? W a s it good? " different from thos e of m os t people. T ha t' s beca us e I' v e been us ing 3.
"Y es , of cours e, it w a s good! " I s a id. T hey a ll s ta rted "Hitom i G ra m m a r, " the s et of gra m m a tica l rules tha t I ha v e crea ted to ta ba ko no ha i ha ha i za ra ni
la ughing a nd one of them s a id to m e, " S orry , P ole- m a ke J a pa nes e gra m m a r m uch ea s ier a nd m ore enjoy a ble for foreign
s a n! W e ca nnot ea t a res ta ura nt! " s tu de n ts . A n d I' ll c o n tin u e to u s e " H ito m i G r a m m a r " fo r m y ha ha no ha ha ha ha ku ha ts u de s u
ex pla na tions from now on.
ha chi ha ha na ni to m a tte i m a s u
B a s ic R ule of S entence S tructure
pa rticle
(w a ) . . . . . E x pla na tion, C om pa ris on
T he pa rticle "w a " is us ed in m a ny different w a y s , but I' m going to ex pla in ha to ha gu ki ha ha bu ra s hi de m i ga ki m a s ho-
tw o m a in w a y s of us ing the pa rticle for this les s on. T hey a re "E x pla na tion"
J a pa n e s e g r a m m a r pla c e s le s s e m ph a s is o n w o r d o r de r th a n o th e r 7.
a nd "C om pa ris on. "
la ngua ges . A lthough it is up to y ou to decide how to a rra nge y our w ords , it ki no ha ha ha i i ro de s u
w ill be m uch ea s ier to com m unica te in J a pa nes e if y ou s ta rt ea ch s entence E x pla na tion (O bjectiv ely )
w ith the m os t im porta nt idea , then w ork dow n through the les s im porta nt B is the ex pla na tion of A . 8.
things a nd finis h w ith the v erb. How ev er, ea ch pa rticle m us t s ta y w ith the ha ha ha ha ri to i to to ha s a m i o ka i m a s hi ta
w ord it m odifies wa
A B the deta ils
A ns w ers
M os t im porta nt W hen y ou finis h s a y ing "w a , " the lis teners w ill
think tha t y ou a re going to ex pla in the deta ils nex t. 1. M y m other runs to w ork a t 8: 30 a . m .
e. g. , T his fis h is s m a ll. 8
the ex planation ha ha w a ha chi-ji ha n ni ha s hitte ka is ha ni ikim a s u
kono s akana wa -
L ea s t im porta nt of this fis h chi s a i - m y m other 8: 30 a t com pa ny
(this fis h) (s m a ll) kono sakana wa chi sai desu
V erb 2. T here a ren' t a ny flow ers in this box .
M r. K ida left.
the ex planation
kono ha ko niw a ha na w a ha itte-im a s en
K ida -s a n w a of him kaerim as hita K ida-s an w a kaerim as hita this box flow er

"C om pa ris on" 3. P ut the ciga rette a s h in a n a s htra y .

pa rticle pa rticle pa rticle
T o pronounce "w a " w ith em pha s is . It' s s tres s ed ta ba ko no ha i w a ha iza ra ni
B ciga rette ash a s htra y
W ord order is up to y ou! A this pa rt w ill be em pha s ized
ex pla na tion of A 4. M y m other' s m other ha s gra y ha ir.
or com pa red wa
e. g. , I' ll s ee m y friends in H a w a ii nex t w eek. Y ou ca n s a y , either 1), 2) or 3). e. g. , (com pa ring w ith other fis h) T his fis h is s m a ller. ha ha no ha ha w a ha kuha ts u des u
m y m other' s m other gra y ha ir

In gener a l, J a pa nes e peo ple do no t u s e " I (w a ta s hi)" m u ch in ev er y da y - 5. T here' s a bee on the flow er.
kono s a ka na w a chi s a i des u
s peech. If y ou us e "w a ta s hi" too m uch, it s ta rts to s ound a rroga nt. A v oid
us ing it unles s y ou w a nt to em pha s ize y ours elf.
e. g. , (com pa ring w ith other people) I a m not bea utiful. ha chi w a ha na ni tom a tte-im a s u
bee flow er
w a ta s hi w a kire- ja na i des u 6. L et' s brus h our teeth a nd gum s w ith a toothbrus h.
w a ta s hi w a H a w a i i de ra is hu- tom oda chi ni a im a s u C a ution It is not a com m on pra ctice to s a y "w a " directly a fter w ords ha to ha guki w a ha -b r u s h de m iga ki-m a s ho-
(I) (in/a t) (nex t w eek) (to friend) (w ill m eet) th a t r ela te to da te s , s u ch a s " to m o r r o w , " " th e da y a fte r to m o r r o w , " teeth gum s toothbrus h L et' s brus h
"S unda y , " "nex t w eek, " etc. 7. T he lea f is gra y .
T he w ord order is up to y ou! T he v erb ends .
I' m going to s ee a friend tom orrow . ki no ha w a ha iiro des u
e. g. , tree lea f gra y

as hita w a tom odachi ni aim as u 8. M y m other bought a needle a nd s cis s ors .

ra is hu- H a w a i i de tom oda chi ni a im a s u If y ou put "w a " right a fter ' tom orrow , ' it w ill be com pa red w ith other da y s . ha ha w a ha ri to ha s a m i o ka im a s hita
m y m other needle s cis s ors bought
3) (com pa ring w ith other da y s ) It is tom orrow tha t I' m going to s ee a friend.
tom oda chi ni ra is hu- H a w a i i de a im a s u
as hita w a tom odachi ni aim as u W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama ga? wa?
Vol. 28 s election / em pha s is ex pla na tion

I hea rd a n interes ting ex cha nge in a res ta ura nt the other da y . I N ex t tim e, I hope y ou' ll ta ke m e out to dinner a nd then
didn' t rea lly unders ta nd w ha t they w ere doing, but tw o J a pa nes e s a y , "w a ta s hi ga . " I w ould be ha ppy to ha v e dinner w ith collea gue : W ho is going to L ondon ins tea d of M r. H a y a s hi?
m en w ere try ing to ta ke the bill out of ea ch other' s ha nd, s a y ing, y ou! G ee, I w onder w ha t I' ll order ha , ha , ha I' m jus t

"w a ta s hi ga ," "w a ta s hi ga ! " I w a s s urpris ed to s ee w ha t they w ere kidding, M r. P ole! T o a ns w er y our ques tion, y our problem is dare
ga w a
Hayas hi-s an no kaw ari ni L o n d o n
Des ign : M as ako B an

pa rticles a ga in. L et m e ex pla in a bout the pa rticle "ga " for W ho 1 ins tea d of ni ikim as u ka
doing, but no one els e in the res ta ura nt s eem ed to ta ke notice. A
few da y s la ter , I w ent to ha v e a dinner w ith m y fr iend a t a this les s on. It is us ed to em pha s ize one thing ov er a nother.
In this ca s e, "w a ta s hi " (I) w ill be s tres s ed. T hus , if y ou s a y , P ole-s a n : M r. K oga is going.
res ta ura nt. W hen w e ca m e to the ca s hier, I rem em bered the funny

s cene from the other da y a nd s a id, "w a ta s hi ga ." I w a s ex pecting "w a ta s hi ga " a t a ca s hier, it im plies , "It is I (w ho w ill pa y the
K oga -s a n
ga w
a ikim a s u
bill)". E v en though y ou jus t s a id "w a ta s hi ga , " the pa rticle
tha t he w ould a ct in the s a m e w a y a s the people I ha d s een did. 2
B ut he jus t s a id, "W hy , tha nks a lot! " a nd left the res ta ura nt! W hy "ga " em pha s izes w ho w ill pa y , a nd tha t w ould m ea n, "It is I
w ho w ill pa y the bill! " collea gue : W ha t kind of pers on is M r. K oga ?
did I ha v e to buy his m ea l?

K oga -s a n
ga wa donna hito des u ka

(ga ) . . . . . . . E m pha s is by m a king s election.

3 w ha t kind of
pa rticle Questions & Answers
P ole-s a n : M r. K oga is a n a ccounta nt a nd he is v ery s m a rt.
{ W hen, W here, noun, v erb

T he ba s ic rule is to ha v e one "ga " in one s entence. T here a re m a ny w a y s of us ing the Q : W ha t, W ho } ga i-a djectiv e ? A: (s election) ga ga w akaike- s hi de
K oga-s an atam a
ga w akirem as u
pa rticle, but let m e ex pla in the m os t com m on us a ge of it in this les s on: "em pha s is . " T he na -a djectiv e a ccounta nt hea d
4 5 s ha rp
pa rticle "ga " em pha s izes s om ething by s electing it from a certa in group. Y ou ca n a ls o
em pha s ize s itua tions s uch a s occurrences a nd a ppea ra nces . T he follow ing ex a m ples s how When ?(its u ga ) collea gue : B ut rea lly , M r. Ha y a s hi w a s s uppos ed to go, w a s n' t he?
y ou how to us e the pa rticle. P lea s e try to dis cern how it is us ed. e. g. , Q: W hen w ould you like to go on the trip? A: I' d like to go nex t m onth.

"ga " em pha s izes by s election: (s election) ga (ex pla na tion) -
ry oko- w a its u ga i des u ka
ra igets u ga i des u ne honto- w a Hay as hi-s an ga w a iku-hazu des hita ne
truth to be s uppos ed to
this w ill be em pha s ized. Where ?(doko ga ) Y es . B ut M r. Ha y a s hi w on' t be a v a ila ble beca us e he
P ole-s a n :
Q: W hich restaurant is it that makes delicious food? A: It's the one in front of the train station. ca n' t finis h his w ork by then.
S election/C hoice (to em pha s ize by s electing
one thing from the s a m e ca tegory ) -
doko no m is e ga ois hi des u ka eki-mae no mise ga oishi desu yo ee dem o Hay as hi-s an ga wa im a no s higoto
e. g. , S electing the ta s te of s om eone like B ut 7 pres ent w ork
What ? (na ni ga )
(s electing tuna from fis h ca tegory ) e. g. ,Q:W hat is im portant in your life? A: S taying healthy is

It is tuna tha t I like. im portant.
ga w a okurete-im as u node ikem as en
being la te
jins e- de nani ga tais ets u des u ka 8

m a guro ga s uki des u kenko- ga tais ets u des u B ut if M r. K oga goes , he w ill take care of every thing.
tuna like Who ? (da re ga / dona ta ga )

e. g. ,Q : W ho is com ing to this m eeting? A: M r. K oga is com ing. K oga-s an a ikeba s ubete um aku iku-des ho-
ga w
(tuna ) 9 if he goes ev ery thing w ill go fine

m a guro i
ka igi ni da re ga ikim a s u ka K oga -s a n ga ikim a s u
(y ellow ta il)
collea gue : I' m gla d to hea r tha t.
ha m a chi T he pa rticle "ga " is us ed w ith intra ns itiv e v erbs to ta lk a bout
occurrences . -
s ore o ki te a ns hin s him a s hita
e. g. , to com e out, to brea k dow n, to increa s e, to blow , to s pill, to cry tha t lis ten to feel a t ea s e
e. g. , T he w ind is blow ing. I coughed. M y s a la ry increa s ed.
e. g. , S electing s om eone S electing s om ething/ A ns w ers
T here is /a re ca us e T here is /a re (I got a ra is e. )
1 Q ues tions & a ns w ers (W ho? ) . . . . . ga
T here s M rs . M ori. T here w a s a n a ccident. kaze ga fuite-im as u s eki ga dem as hita - - 2 S electing a pers on . . . . . ga
ky u ry o ga fuem as hita
3 A s king for the ex pla na tion of him . . . . . w a
M ori-s a n ga im a s u jiko ga a rim a s hita "ga " is not only us ed a s a pa rticle, but a ls o a s a tra ns itiona l 4 E x pla na tion a bout M r. K oga . . . . . w a
ex pres s ion in da ily conv ers a tions . 5 S electing the cha ra cteris tics of M r. K oga . . . . . ga

S electing from things tha t y ou S electing from one' s des ires Highlighting the a bility A , but B A ga B 6 S electing M r. Ha y a s hi from a m ong the s ta ff . . . . . ga
think a re good is /a re good w a nt of s om eone ca n 7 E x pla na tion of M r. Ha y a s hi . . . . . w a
e. g. , It is ra ining right now , but it' s going to s top s oon. 8 S electing the ca us e of M r. Ha y a s hi' s s itua tion . . . . . ga
S unda y is good for m e. I w a nt a da y off. I ca n do e-m a il. 9 S electing M r. K oga from a m ong the s ta ff . . . . . ga

- - im a a m e ga hutte-im a s u ga s ugu y a m u-des ho-
nichiy o--bi ga i des u y a s um i ga hos hi des u e -m a i l ga dekim a s u now ra in fa lling but s oon it' s going to s top W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
Vol. 29
eye, s ight
I w ent to G inza to m eet m y friend S unday as I had prom is ed to do. I Y es , w e dis cus s ed s om e s im ilar ex pres s ions in V ol. 25, s o
decided to get there a little early to do s om e w indow -s hopping, w hen I w hy don' t w e talk about them m ore in this les s on? T he m os t
s aw an item w ith an unbelievable price on dis play in front of a fam ous us ed "body part" for s uch ex pres s ions is "ey e," the s econd is
fruit s hop. O ne m elon cos t 20,000! A s s oon as m y friend s how ed up, I "ki" (s pirit, feelings , etc) and the third is "hand." N ow , let m e
Des ign : M as ako B an

as ked her, "Do you know how m uch one m es h m elon in a beautiful box
cos ts ? " S he s aid, "W ell, I gues s , ' m ega tobideru kurai takai' , right?
ex plain w hat y our friend actually m eant. T he firs t ex pres s ion
"m e ga tobideru kurai," m eans "T hat' s an ex orbitant price,"
w hile "m e o utagatta" m eans , "unable to believe one' s ey es ,"

Probably, s om ew here betw een 10,000 and 20,000. I bet you s aw the
price, and w ere ' m e o utagatta,' w eren' t you? T heir m elons are very and the las t phras e, "m e ga nai," m eans "to be very fond of." B y

ex pens ive, but delicious ! I really ' m e ga nai' their m elons ! " I could the w a y , M r. P ole! L a tely , it s eem s like the la ngua ge of E ye to view to s leep to look to nurs e
figure out w hat s he m eant to s ay , but I w as n' t s ure w hat "m e ga teena ger s a nd y o ung a dults in their 20s ha s s ta r ted to
tobideru kurai," "m e o utagatta" and "m e ga nai" m eant. M s . Hirayam a, deteriora te, a nd m a ny of them a re no longer us ing s uch
w e dis cus s ed phras es that relate to our body in V ol. 25, but are they ex pres s ions . Perhaps foreigners like y ou w ho are eager to learn 1. P eople w ho are optim is tic don' t feel too m uch s tres s .
s im ilar ex pres s ions ? J apanes e know thos e idiom s better than they do!

rakkan-s hugi no hito w a s t r e s s ga tam arinikui des u
A ) U nable to believe one' s ey es . H) T o keep a n ey e on. L ) T o attract the ey es of people. Let's practice ! optim is tic people don' t feel too m uch s tres s
(T o w a tch in dis belief. / (T o pa y cons ta nt a ttention to. (T o get others ' a ttention. )
2. M any hos pitals are in trouble becaus e of the lack of nurs es .
T o be s urpris ed by s om ething. ) / T o ta ke ca re of. )
1. I ca n' t ta ke m y ey es off 2. Fla m boy a nt clothes get other people' s
m e o hiku toda y ' s politics . a ttention.
m e o uta ga u m e ga todoku
can' t take m y kangofu bus oku de dono byo- in m o kom atte-im as u
get others '
B ) T o s kim through. I) U nable to take one' s ey es off M ) To be surprised by an exorbitant price. s aikin no s e- ji wa ey es off des u ha de-na fukus o- w a a ttention
nurs e la ck of a re in trouble
(T o rea d quickly through. ) s om ething. (It is a m us t to keep (m a s u form ) 3. It' s not fair to look at things from a bias ed view point.

an ey e on it.) m e ga tobideru 3. I rea lly like w ine.
m e o to- s u (U s ua lly "-kura i" is a tta ched 4. O n hea ring the new s of the horrible
m e ga ha na s ena i tra gedy , I w a s throw n into des pa ir.
to this phra s e. ) be fond of iro-m egane de m ono o m iru now a y okunai des u
w i n e niw a n des u
C ) T o be very fond of. w as throw n into bia s ed v iew point look a t
(T o like a lot.) eyes N ) T he point aim ed at.
(One's point of view.)
5. U ndera ge kids s m oked
w ithout being s een by a dults .
dai-jiko no n e w s o ki te des pair
(pa s t tens e) 4. I ca n' t s ettle dow n, beca us e of ins om nia .

m e ga na i
m e no ts ukedokoro

m is e- nen-s ha w a
w ithout being
s een
6. T he conv enience s tore is right nex t to
m y hous e.

fum ins ho- de fura -fura des u
ins om nia uns tea dy
D) T o ha v e a n ex cellent ey e (te- form )
for s om ething. me O ) W ithin a s tone' s throw .
(It is s uch a s hort dis ta nce. )
o n v e n i (e n c e s t o r e ) w a w ithin a s tone' s throw
5. "S eeing is believ ing, " is n' t it?
(T o ha v e know ledge of t a b a c o o s uim as hita
s om ething. )
m e to ha na no s a ki 7. J us t s kim through the papers des u hy a kubun w a ikken ni s hika zu des u ne
m e ga a ru becaus e there is no tim e. 8. He is a lw a y s a nnoy ing. one hundred tim es lis tening s eeing once
E ) T o ta ke no note P ) S om ething tem pting. run y our ey es a nnoy a nce
6. W hen I w ent to the optician, I w as s hocked becaus e
(T o ignore com pletely .) jikan ga nai node ov er a no hito w a des u
they told m e to us e old people' s reading glas s es .
(dictiona ry form )
m e no doku
m e m o kurena i dake des u
10. P eople w ho ha v e a good ey e for -
m egane-ya ni ittara ro gan to iw are s h o c k des hita
F) T o change one' s countenance
9. A fter the ex pla na tion, I felt a s if high-qua lity item s ca n find them ev en
optician' s s hop w hen I w ent pres byopia
J ) T o be throw n into des pa ir. Q ) T o have a bum p above one's eyes . the s ca les ha d fa llen from m y ey es . a t a s a le.
(T o glare in anger.
/ T o be abs orbed com pletely.)
(E verything before one's eyes goes black.) (A n annoy ance.)
ha v
e a good 7. I ha v e cha nged m y v iew of life s ince the a ccident.

s ono s ets um e- o ki te b a r g a i n dem o ey e for

m e no m ae ga m akkura ni naru m e no ue no kobu (dictiona ry form )
m e no iro o ka eru a s if the s ca les ha d a no jiken ira i jins e- ka n ga ka w a rim a s hita
fa llen from m y ey es the accident s ince view of life changed
G ) T o a v oid being s een. K ) T o feel a s if the s ca les ha d hito w a y ois hina o era bim a s u
R ) A n eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth. (pa s t tens e) m a s hita
(T o do s om ething in s ecret w ithout fa llen from one' s ey es . A ns w ers
(Q uota tion from the B ible. ) 1. 2. 3.
being s een by anyone.) (T o s uddenly realize the truth.) A ns w ers
/ 4
. 5
. 6 . / 7
1. I 2. L 3. C 4. J 5. G 6. O 7. B 8.
Q 9. K 10. D
m e o nus um u m e kara uroko (ga ochiru) m e niw a m e o ha niw a ha o W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

4-letter cha ra cter prov erbs

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

y on m o ji juku go
N o, M r. Pole! I' ve never had m is o s us hi before. B ut there w as no m is o
I w as recently invited to a friend's hous e, w here his w ife in the s us hi y ou ate. W hat y our friend s aid w as a proverb. "T em ae-m is o des u
friend : It is really hard to s ucceed in this com pany becaus e
cooked a lot of J apanes e food for m e. S he s pent the entire ga, ois hii des u y o! " m eans , "I don' t m ean to s ing m y ow n prais es , but this is people on the top have abs olute authority.
tim e in the kitchen cooking dinner, w hile I w as eating it w ith delicious ! " J apanes e people frequently us e proverbs in daily life, becaus e

Des ign : M as ako B an

her hus band. W hen s he s erved us s om e s us hi, her hus band being a ble to us e "kotow a za " (prov erbs ) is cons idered to be a s ign of P ole-s a n : S urv iv a l of the fittes t
des u ne
told m e, "T em ae-m is o des u ga, ois hii des u yo! " I thought it intelligence. Y ou s hould try to us e s om e, too! It is a good opportunity to
w as the m is o us ed for m is o s oup. A s it w as m y firs t increas e y our J apanes e vocabulary , and y our J apanes e friends w ill think that friend : T he pers onnel depa rtm ent did a n ex cellent
y ou are s m art! L earning proverbs is us eful even for bus y people w ho do not job of reorga nizing!
experience to eat m is o s us hi, I s aid, "M is o no s us hi w a
hajim ete des u (I've never had m is o s us hi before)." B ut it did ha v e enough tim e to s tudy J a pa nes e a s they ca n us e prov erbs for P ole-s a n :
T he right pers on for the
right job des u ne
not tas te like m is o at all w hen I ate it. M s . Hirayam a, have com m unication. B y the w ay , y ou s hould try delicious "m is o pan" (bread w ith
you ever had m is o s us hi? m is o ins ide), w hich is s old at a m is o s tore in K am eido, T oky o! . friend : I ba ked this ca ke m y s elf. I don' t m ea n
to blow m y ow n trum pet, but it' s delicious !
If I m ay s ay s o m y s elf,
J a pa n e s e pe o ple like to u s e pr o v e r bs . T h e y a r e u s u a lly v e r y s h o r t C ) S top bea ting a round the bus h D) B eing incons is tent
"It' s delicious ! "
ex pres s ions , but they ca rry a lot of m ea ning. In s om e ca s es , y ou m a y be a ble des u ga "ois hi des u yo"
T his m eans "s peak directly," "get to the point," It is u s ed to cr iticize s o m eo ne w ho s a y s
to e x pr e s s y o u r th o u gh ts w ith o n e pr o v e r b, in s te a d o f u s in g difficu lt ev en if the s ubject is difficult to dis cus s . s om ething different from w ha t they ha v e s a id friend : L et' s be ca reful.
v oca bula ry a nd gra m m a r to m a ke the s a m e point. M os t prov erbia l s a y ings a re J apanes e people us e this phras e w hen they w ant before or w hos e a ctions do not m a tch their
ea s y to lea rn a nd us e a nd a re a quick w a y to ex pres s com plex idea s . B ut be to clea r things up, s ince they a re genera lly w ords . P ole-s a n : S ta y on y our toes .
ca r efu l. S in ce pr o v er bs a r e fix ed ex pr es s io n s , J a pa n es e peo ple w ill n o t reluctant to s peak directly right aw ay. des u ne
N o s upport ca us es dis ruption
u n der s ta n d w h a t y o u m ea n u n les s y o u s a y th e w h o le ph r a s e. W e h a v e Direct s ta b w ith one s w ord (fork)(s ca ttered)(dis ruption)
des cribed the m ea nings of the prov erbs a s w ell a s the m ea nings of ea ch ka nji friend : I think w e ha v e ha d good w ea ther la tely ,
s o tha t y ou ca n rem em ber them m ore ea s ily .
(s ingle) (s w ord)(direct)(put in) a nd I hope it' s going to be. . .
s hi ri m ets u rets u

to- choku ny u-
Y ou could us e a J a pa nes e prov erb in the m iddle of a conv ers a tion in E nglis h. S top bea ting a round
ta n P ole-s a n :
the bus h. ni onega is him a s u
F) T he right pers on for the right job
E ) U na ble to know w ha t to do nor how to friend : It s eem s like w e a re s till s ea rching in the
prov erb A pers on gets right job a ccording to his or
des u ne des u y o s olv e problem s da rk, a nd w e ha v e no idea w ha t to do. . .
her s kills a nd know ledge.
Y ou are unable to find any clues to help s olve
R ight pers on in right pla ce N o idea w ha t to do
your problem s . Y ou have no idea w hat to do. P ole-s a n :
a s king for a greem ent giv ing inform a tion to s olv e a problem des u ne
A s ea rch in da rknes s (right) (m a teria l) (right) (pla ce)
(, is n' t it? , y ou know ?
, don' t y ou think s o? etc. ) s o? (da rk) (in) (grope for) friend : N othing I s a y m a kes a ny difference to him .
e. g. ,
mi teki za i teki s ho It' s like I' m ta lking to a brick w a ll!
K oga -s a n : I w a s v ery s urpris ed to hea r tha t his com pa ny an chu- mo s a ku P ole-s a n : A pers on w ho pa y s no a ttention
w ent ba nkrupt. Did y ou hea r a ny rum ors a bout it? H) S ta y on y our toes des u ne
G ) A pers on w ho pa y s no a ttention
P ole-s a n : N o, it w a s "a thunderbolt out of the blue" for m e, too. A lthough ev ery thing is going w ell, a n friend : He does n' t know w ha t he' s ta lking a bout.
T his prov erb origina lly m ea ns "a hors e jus t enem y m a y s nea k up a nd ov ercom e y ou if
(I w a s s hocked, too. / I w a s s urpris ed, too. ) m ov es its ea rs w hen a s pring w ind blow s . " A W ha t he s a y s is confus ing.
y ou a re not ca reful. It tea ches us to be on
pers on w ho pa y s no a ttention, or s om eone gua rd a t a ll tim es .
s e- ten no hekireki des u y o w ho hea rs the w ords , but let them go in one P ole-s a n : B eing incons is tent
C a reles s nes s is the grea tes t enem y . des u ne
ea r a nd out of the other.
a thunderbolt out of the blue (ca reles s nes s ) (pow erful enem y )
E a rs of hors e in the ea s t w ind. friend : He w a s a lw a y s difficult to dea l w ith, a nd
If y ou criticize or reprov e s om eone too directly , he or s he m a y be offended or (hors e) (ea r) (ea s t) (w ind)
la s t w eek, he got fired!
ev en becom e defens iv e. H ow ev er, if y ou offer y our criticis m in a s ubtle w a y yu da n ta i teki
by us ing kotow a za , y ou m ight s often the pers on up enough to a ccept y our P ole-s a n : R ea ping w ha t y ou s ow
des u y o
opinions , ev en though s uch a prov erb m ight ha v e a s trong m ea ning. ba ji to- fu- J ) B low ing one' s ow n trum pet (horn)
(If I m a y s a y s o m y s elf. . . ) friend : In the la s t m eeting, w e couldn' t rea ch a
I) S urv iv a l of the fittes t cons ens us .
(B ig fis h ea t s m a ll fis h) M is o w as a traditional food that people m ade
A ) T o each his ow n B ) Y ou rea p w ha t y ou s ow w hen they w a nted to s how off their culina ry
T his phra s e litera lly m ea ns the w ea k is prey . . .
W h en 10 peo ple get to geth er in o n e W hether w ha t y ou do is good or ba d, s kills . S ince J apanes e people do not like to s ing P ole-s a n : T o ea ch his ow n
y o u w ill h a v e to de a l w ith th e co n - to the s trong, a nd it is ha rd to s urv iv e. It is their ow n prais es , they us e this phas e to s how des u ka ra . . .
pla ce, ea ch one w ill ha v e a different hobby
or likes a nd dis likes . s equences genera lly us ed a s a w a rning. us ed w hen a s m a ll com pa ny is purcha s ed by their hum ble attitude w hen they w ant to boas t in
a la rger one. a s ubtle w ay. A ns w ers
T en people w ith 10 colors . R etribution is the res ult of the caus e. T he w ea k becom es food for the s trong. Hom em a de m is o 1. I ) 2 . F) 3. J) 4 . H) 5 . C)
(10) (people) (10) (colors ) (ca us e) (res ult) (retribution) (w ea k) (m ea t) (s trong) (ea t) (m y ow n) (m is o) 6 . E) 7 . G) 8 . D) 9 . B) 1 0 . A)

ju- nin to iro in ga o- ho- ja ku niku ky o- s hoku te m ae mi so W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

4-cha ra cter idiom s

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

y on mo ji juku go

O ne of m y collea gues s ucceeded in his la tes t project, s o I I don' t think y ou ca n find a ny body w ho a ctua lly w ea rs fundos hi 1. Friend : (phone ca ll from M r. P ole) "O h, hello, M r. P ole!
told him , "C ongra tula tions ! Y ou did a n ex cellent job! " B ut I w a s a bout to ca ll y ou in a m inute! "
th e s e da y s , bu t I' m n o t s u r e . If y o u ta lk to pe o ple in fo r e ign
s o m e m em ber s w ho helped him do the pr o ject w er e countries a nd a s k them a bout their im pres s ions of N ihon, m os t of
P ole-s a n: C om m unica tion w ithout w ords
Des ign : M as ako B an

w a tching m e, a nd ca m e to m e, s a y ing, "K eep y our ey es them w ould s a y s om ething like, "geis ha , " "liv ing in a hous e of w ood des u ne
on him , M r. P ole! B eca us e he is "hito no fundos hi de a n d pa pe r , " o r " pe o ple w h o a lw a y s w e a r kim o n o , " e tc. T h e ir M y s on does n' t ha v e a perm a nent job.
s um o- o toru" hito des u y o. (L it. Doing s um o- by w ea ring
Friend's M om:
im pres s ions of J a pa n a re s till old fa s hioned a nd ina ccura te. I think He w orks a s a pa rt-tim er ev en though he is
s om eone els e' s fundos hi) I looked up the w ord fundos hi y ou m ight ha v e thought tha t "hito no fundos hi de s um o- o toru" a lrea dy 45 y ea rs old.
in a pocket-s ized book fea turing J a pa nes e culture tha t I m ea nt, "Doing s um o- by w ea ring s om eone els e' s underw ea r, " a nd P ole-s a n: G rea t ta lents m a ture la te
bought w hen I firs t ca m e to J a pa n. It s a id tha t fundos hi y ou m us t ha v e been s urpris ed! B ut it a ctua lly m ea ns , "B enefiting des u y o
w a s a n old-s ty le loincloth m a de of one s heet of fa bric, o n e s e lf a t s o m e o n e e ls e ' s e x pe n s e . " fu n do s h i m a y giv e a ba d 3. G erman friend: M y girlfriend' s fa ther lov es G erm a n w ine,
a nd it w a s w o r n by m en a s under w ea r in the pa s t. I im pres s ion to others , s o it m a y be better to s a y , "ta riki honga n" s o I bought s om e w ine for him w hen I w ent
couldn' t believ e tha t he w a s s till w ea ring a fundos hi. I (benefiting ones elf w ith the help of others ). " A ls o, y ou s hould be ba ck to G erm a ny . A nd he w a s s o ha ppy tha t
th in k s u m o w r e s tle r s w e a r m a w a s h i, n o t fu n do s h i, ca reful w hen y ou us e idiom s , beca us e s om e idiom s m ight hurt the he took m e to a s us hi ba r la s t w eek.
correct? M s . Hira y a m a , do a ll J a pa nes e m en s till w ea r feelings of other people unw ittingly . P ole-s a n: T o throw a s prat to catch a m ackerel
fundos hi ev en thes e da y s ? des u ne
4. friend : I ov erhea rd tha t tw o girls w ere ta lking
a bout their w eight. O ne s a id s he w eighs
T erm inology in s um o- C ) T ria l a nd error D) Im pra ctica l pla ns 82 kilogra m s , a nd the other s a id s he w eighs
S triv ing tow a rd s ucces s ev en though Idea s or opinions tha t m a y s ound good on
80 kilogra m s , w hich s he s a id m ea ns s he
jo no kuchi : T he ra nks of s um o- s ta rt from "jo no kuchi" a nd go a ll the there a re m a ny tria ls a nd errors pa per, but a re not pra ctica l.
is s lim m er tha n her friend.
w a y to y okozuna (gra nd cha m pion). T he w a y of s um o- is a long w a y
S ucces s through tria l a nd errors : T heory on des k: N o big difference!
inv olv ing pers is tence a nd effort. "jo no kuchi" is the firs t ra nk, a nd a ls o it P ole-s a n:
des u ne
(try , tes t) (ca rry out)(confus e)(error) (des k) (on) (of) (em pty )(dis cus s )
m ea ns "It' s only the beginning. " T herefore, this ex pres s ion is us ed to
im ply , "It is going to becom e ha rder a nd ha rder, a nd this is only the
5. friend : T w o m ore new v ers ions w ere relea s ed a fter
s hi ko- s a ku go ki jo- no ku- ron I bought a com puter la s t y ea r.
beginning. " A nd its m ea ning is em pha s ized if y ou s a y "m a da (y et)" or N ow , m y P C is outda ted!
"honno (jus t)" before "jo no kuchi""jo no kuchi des u, " "m a da jo no E ) T o be ev er progres s ing F) C om m unica tion w ithout w ords
kuchi des u" or "honno jo no kuchi des u. " M aking progres s day by day . It als o m eans T ra ns ferring thoughts (feelings ) to s om eone P ole-s a n: T o be ev er progres s ing
rapid progres s . G ood ex am ples are inform ation els e' s m ind w ithout us ing w ords des u ne
e. g. ,
O h, m y goodnes s ! Y ou ha v e been drinking a lot! technology (IT ) and com puters , etc.
K oizum i-s a n : C om m unica tion from hea rt to hea rt: 6. friend : T he politicia n did not keep the prom is es
S tea dy progres s in da y s a nd m onths : (by ) (hea rt) (tra ns m it)(hea rt) he m a de during his ca m pa ign, a nd
uw a a s ugoi nom i-m a s u ne (da y ) (a dv a nce) (m onth) (s tep) now , ha s enem ies on a ll s ides .
P ole-s a n : O h, no, no! "honno jo no kuchi" des u
i s hin den s hin P ole-s a n : T o have a whole world against him
(im ply ing: T his is only the beginning; I' m going
nis s hin gep po des u ne
to drink m ore a nd m ore. ) H) T hey are both m uch alike / N o big difference.
honno jo no kuchi G ) T hrow a s pra t to ca tch a m a ckerel In a ncient C hina , one s oldier ra n a w a y in 50 7. friend : He alw ay s takes a lot of tim e to m ake decis ions .
iy a iy a des u y o U s ing a s m all inves tm ent as bait to gain a huge s teps w hile a no ther s o ldier r a n a w a y in 100
s teps w hen they w ere los ing their ba ttle. T he P ole-s a n: T o be indecis iv e
e. g. , profit. "ebi tai" is the abbreviation of "ebi de tai o des u ne
K oizum i-s a n :B oy ! T his is v ery hea v y tra ffic! ts uru (to throw a s hrim p to catch a s ea bream )." s oldier w ho took 50 s teps s a id to the other tha t
he w a s les s cow a rdly beca us e he ra n a s horter
S ea brea m out of s hrim p: dis ta nce a w a y . B u t the w ho le idea w a s tha t friend : I think M is s . K ojim a' s idea is ex cellent, but
hidoi ju- ta i des u ne (s hrim p) (s ea brea m ) both of them ra n a w a y . T his idiom im plies tha t it m ight not w ork on actual s ettings .
P ole-s a n : T his is "jo no kuchi. " W e ha v en' t pa s s ed the pea k, y et. there m ight be s om e differences betw een the

e bi ta i tw o but they a re v ery m uch a like. N ote tha t the P ole-s a n: Im pra ctica l pla n
jo no kuchi pronuncia tion of 50 is "go-ji, " not "go-ju-. " des u ne
m ada m ada des u y o p e a k w a kore-kara des u ne I) G rea t ta lents m a ture la te.
Fifty s teps a ga ins t 100 s teps : 9. friend : How is y our new project com ing a long?
Im ply ing tha t a v er y a cco m plis hed per s o n
does not dev elop ov ernight, but he begins to
(fifty ) (s tep) (hundred) (s tep) P ole-s a n: E v ery da y , I' m try ing new w a y s to
A ) U s ing others to benefit ones elf, B ) T o ha v e the w hole w orld a ga ins t
ra ther tha n us ing one' s ow n m ea ns ones elf us e his ta lents la ter in life. If y ou s a y this idiom figure out how things w ork out, but it
to people w ho ha v e not y et m a de a ny s ucces s , go jip po hy a p po s eem s nothing w orks .
W is hing to finis h his w ork by us ing other S urrounded by enem ies
people, ins tea d of m a king his ow n effort
it m a y be a n encoura ging thought for them ,
J ) T o be indecis iv e T ra ils a nd errors
im ply ing, "C heer up, a nd s oon y ou w ill becom e des u ne
Depending on others to rea lize Hea ring a s ong s ung by the enem y grea t a nd s ucces s ful! " B eing hes ita nt or una ble to m a ke a decis ion
one' s goa ls : on four s ides : G rea t ta lents m a ture la te: N o decis ion, no conclus ion: A ns w ers
(help from outs ide) (w is h) (four s ides ) (s ong of "S o" country ) (great)(m an of ability )(late hours )(m ake) (indecis iv e) (indecis ion) 1. F ) 2. I ) 3. G ) 4. H ) 5. E ) 6. B ) 7. J ) 8. D ) 9. C )

ta riki hon ga n s hi m en so ka ta i ki ba n s ei y u- ju- fu da n W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

red bla ck blue w hite

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
a ka kuro ao s hiro

I have found that tax i drivers in J apan are w illing I s ee it a s green, but in genera l, the colors of the s igna ls a re des cribed a s "a o
- 1. O h, gees I' m in the red a ga in! I need to cut
to ta lk w ith their cus to m er s , s o it is a go o d (blue), a ka (red) a nd ki ro (a m ber)" in J a pa nes e. E v en J a pa nes e people s om etim es
D e s ig n : M a s a k o B a n

dow n m ore on ex pens es !

opportunity for m e to im prove m y J apanes e by a s k the s a m e ques tion. L et m e ex pla in it a s I s a w it on a T V progra m the other da y .
in thered
talking w ith them . I took a tax i las t Friday night, In a ncient J a pa n, there w ere only four w ords to des cribe colors a ka (red), kuro a m ata da m otto s ets uy aku-s hinakucha
a nd I s a id to the driv er, " m idori des u y o (It' s (bla ck), s hiro (w hite) a nd a o (blue)a nd there w a s no w ord for green until the (Oh) (again) (m ore) (s ave on expens es )(cas ual s tyle of "have to")
green! )" w hen the s igna l cha nged from red to Heia n period (794-1192). E v ery s ha de betw een blue a nd green w a s ca lled blue 2. W hen I ha d to giv e m y s peech,
green. I had jus t learned how to des cribe colors in until the firs t cra y ons w ere im ported to J a pa n in 1917, a nd there w a s a green m y m ind w ent bla nk, a nd m y w ords
J apanes e, s o I w anted to try out the w ords . B ut (m ido r i) cr a y o n ins ide. T he idea o f dis tingu is hing gr een fr o m blu e w a s fir s t beca m e m ore a nd m ore incoherent.
- introduced in the tea ching guidelines for firs t gra ders in 1951, a nd people s ta rted the m ind
the driver s aid to m e, "i e ao des u y o m idori ja nai
to us e the w ord m idori. T ha t is w hy m a ny J a pa nes e prov erbs a nd phra s es in da ily s peec h no toki goes blank shidoro-modoro ni narimashita
des u (N o, no. It' s blue, not green! )" I looked at the (w hen) (confus ed; incoherent)(becam e)
s ignal again, but to m y ey es the color w as green. life ha v e the w ord a o m ore tha n m idori beca us e the w ord m idori s ta rted to be
3. A re y ou feeling ba d? Y our fa ce looks pa le.
W hen I got back to m y office, I as ked m y friends u s ed o n ly in r ecen t y ea r s . F o r ex a m ple, v egeta bles a r e gr een , bu t th ey a r e
a pa llid fa ce

about the color of trafic s ignals . S om e s aid, "It' s des cribed a s a o-m ono (L it. blue things ), a nd the budding green lea v es a re ca lled kibun ga w a rui no des u ka ? des u y o
blu e , " w h ile o th e r s s a id, " It' s gr e e n . " M s . a o-a o to s hita ha (L it. budding blue lea v es ). (feeling) (ba d, ill)
Hiray am a, w hat color do y ou think it is ? 4. friend : O ur com pany has been in the black s ince he
becam e the new pres ident. He is quite s m art!
M ost colors are described using katakana versions of the E nglish words. It is a ls o com m on to put "m a (pure)" in front of a color w ord to des cribe its purity . E v en if the
co lo r o f s o m ething is no t pur e, the w o r d " m a s s /m a kk()" ca n be us ed to em pha s ize the ataras hii s hacho- ni natte uriage ga in the black
However, shiro (white), aka (red), kuro (black), midori (green) and chairo (new ) (com pany pres ident)(becam e)(s ales )
des cription of its color. For ex a m ple, w hen y ou ov ercook a fis h, y ou ca n s a y , "s a ka na w a m a kkuro
(brown), etc. tend to be des cribed us ing the original J apanes e words .
koge (T he fis h w a s burnt bla ck)." B ut plea s e rem em ber tha t it ca nnot be s a id in front of ev ery color.
However, note that white wine is described using either E nglish or J apanese E x a m ples 1 though 4 a re frequently us ed. B e ca reful w ith the conjuga ted pronuncia tions ! ni narim as hita y appari y arite des u ne
(shiro w in e or w h it e w in e). In addition, colors are usually described in the (becam e) (as I ex pected) (m an of ability )
P ole-s a n: B ut, I hea rd a da rk rum or a bout him
E nglish form if the hues are related to industries that label their products in 1. pure w hite (s now w hite) s hirt. 2. pure red (deep red) lips tick tha t m a kes m e w orry .
E nglish, such as the colors of clothing, automobiles, etc. For example, pin k pure w hite pure red A ns w ers
na s h i r t na kuchibeni
no s h ir t (pinkish shirt), w in e-r ed no kuruma (wine-red car). M ost J apanese 1. 2. a da rk rum or
(lips tick) m a s s hiro m a kka dem o o kikim a s hita
generally understand E nglish terms for basic colors. pure blue s ky (but) (hea rd)
4. pure bla ck (deep-bla ck) ha ir 3. 4.
e. g. , M a king a prom is e to m eet a cus tom er for the firs t tim e by ta lking on a phone pure blue pure bla ck m assao m a kkuro
na s ora na ka m i chotto s him pa i des u
cus tom er : W ell, then, let' s m eet a t the W es t E x it of (s ky ) (ha ir) (a little) (w orried)
S hinjuku S ta tion a t 9 tom orrow m orning. L et me show you some expressions using colors.
5. friend : Y ou w ere w ith a beautiful w om an in the firs t-clas s
9 () color blue (green) car of the S hinkans en bullet train
ja as hita ku-ji ni S hinjuku-eki no nis hi-guchi de (aim as ho- ) J) the other day , w eren' t y ou?
(W ell then)(tom orrow )(at 9 o' clock)(S hinjuku S tation)(at the W es t E x it) (Let' s m eet) iro o ts ukeru ka o ga m a s s a o
to a dd s om ething, to ex a ggera te, to
W ha t a re y ou going to w ea r? a pa llid fa ce s enjits u kire- ina hito to S hinka ns en no
iro es tim a te a little bit m ore, to pa y a little bit ao
m ore, s om ething ex tra , a n a ddition (the other da y ) (bea utiful) (pers on)
P o l e -s a n w a donna ka kko- de kim a s u ka w hite
B) K)
(W ha t kind of; How ) (s ty le) (w ill com e)
iro-m ega ne de m iru g r e e n -s ha ni im a s hita ne
s hiroi m e de m iru (firs t-cla s s ca r) (w ere)
Pole-s an : I' ll be w earing a light-blue hat and carry ing a s ilv er bag. to look a t things from a bia s ed v iew point to look coldly upon s om ebody ,
s hiro P ole-s a n : W ha t? O h, s he w a s a com plete s tra nger to m e!
red C) D)
to give s om ebody the cold s houlder
watas hi wa l i g h t -bl u e no bo- s hi, s i l v e r no b a g ,
a ka ji m akka na us o L) M) e? a a re w a
a com plete s tra nger
des u y o
(ha t)
a deficit, in the red a dow nright lie atam a ga m as s hiro ni naru ku- ha ku
A nd I' ll als o be w earing an orange T -s hirt and pink s hoes . ? the m ind goes bla nk a bla nk friend : O h, y eah? I heard a rum or that s he is y our fiancee.

o r a n g e no T -s h i r t , p i n k no kuts u,
a ka E)
a ka no ta nin
? N) O)
(s hoes ) a com plete s tra nger s hiro kuro o ts ukeru s hiro-ta ku s o- des u ka? uw as a dew a kony akus ha toka
A ls o, I ha v e blue ey es a nd bla ck ha ir. to get it s ettled once unlicens ed tax i (Is tha t s o? ) (rum or) (a ccording to)(fia ncee)
bla ck F) G)
a nd for a ll P ole-s a n : A bs olutely not! T ha t' s a dow nright lie!
s os hite m e w a b l u e , kam i w a b l a c k des u kuroji kuroi uw as a
(a nd) (ey es ) (ha ir) a surplus, in the black a dark rum or P) Q)
a dow nright lie
ha kus hi ni s uru s hiro-bos hi ie des u y o
I think y ou' ll be a ble to recognize m e im m edia tely . kuro H) I) to forget ev ery thing a victory m ark,
kuro-bos hi ha ra -guroi a nd m a ke a fres h s ta rt, to w in A ns w ers 1. C
2. L ( ) 3. J 4. F, G 5. E, D
ta bun s ugu w a ka ru to om oim a s u to be defea ted to be black-hearted, to go ba ck to the
(m a y be) (im m edia tely ) (recognize) (I think)
w ith a black s oul dra w ing boa rd W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
onetw o three four fiv e

I als o love J apanes e food and frequent J apanes e res taurants ,

I lov e J a pa nes e food, a nd I go to J a pa nes e res ta ura nts 1) A s ingle, a uthorita tiv e w ord 4) T o coopera te w ith s om eone
s o I know that m os t of them do not w rite their prices in A rabic
quite often. T he only problem I ha v e is tha t I ca n' t rea d (S ingle cry of cra ne) els e on a s ingle ta s k
num era ls . T here a re tw o ty pes of num bers com m only us ed in
the prices on the m enus w hen the num bers a re w ritten in (T hree-legged couple)
J apan: A rabic num erals (1, 2, 3) and C hines e num erals (, , ).
Des ign : M as ako B an

C h in e s e c h a r a c te r s (, , ), in s te a d o f A r a bic
G enerally , C hines e num erals are us ed w hen num bers are w ritten 2
num era ls . T o be hones t, I only know (one) through ts uru no hito koe
vertically , w hile A rabic num erals are us ed for horizontal w riting. ni nin s a n ky a ku
(thr ee), s o I o ften o r der w itho u t kno w ing the pr ice. I cra ne v oice
B ut pleas e note that this is not a rule. For ex am ple, articles are pers on legs
a lw a y s get nerv ous w hen I ha v e to pa y m y bill. A ls o, the
w ritten v ertically in J apanes e new s papers , although they often 2) R om e w a s not built in a da y 5) U na ble to keep one' s
prices of s us hi v a ry from res ta ura nt to res ta ura nt, a nd
us e A r a bic num er a ls . A nd C hines e num er a ls a r e pr efer r ed to res olution for a long tim e
tha t m a kes m e nerv ous . T ha t is w hy I ha v e to go to the 1
des cr ibe th e J a pa n e s e h o lida y s , ev e n if th ey a r e w r itten (A m onk w ithout w illpow er)
s a m e res ta ura nt w hen I w a nt to ea t s us hi. M s . Hira y a m a , R o m e wa ichi nichi ni shite narazu
horizontally . L et m e s how y ou s om e m ore ex am ples .
could y ou help m e to rea d thos e num bers ? da y not built
m ik ka bo- zu
3) T o round off the num bers da y s a boy
A rabic Chines e J apanes e-s tyled Chines e-s tyled C hines e num era ls for a ddres s es a nd C hines e num era ls for pla ce na m es (Four is dow n, fiv e is up)
num erals num erals pronunciation pronunciation telephone num bers on bus ines s ca rds , etc. (C hines e nu m er a ls a r e fr equ ently u s ed fo r 6) T o be changed again and again
(zip codes m us t be in A ra bic num era ls ) the pla ce na m es in K y oto a nd for the na m es 4
5 (T w o rolling, three rolling)
1 of tem ples a nd s hrines . e. g. , : s a n
hitots u ichi s hi s ha go ny u-
2 futa ts u ni
e. g. , 151-0063 7-36- 9 ju- s a n gendo- ) N o te: T he C hines e nu m er a l 2
151-0063 T oky o-to S hibuy a -ku 7- 36 - 9 "10" s hould be " (ten)", not "O (zero). "
throw aw ay add to / put in
3 m itts u san ni ten san ten s uru
mi tum ble
4 4 s hi 4 yo 6 m ui 3
y otts u s hi / y on 1 5 1 0 0 6 3 A) U na ble to keep one' s res olution. e. g. , 49. 5 50)
5 its uts u go koku ts u ka ta T o round off the
6 ichi num bers
de keis a n s hitekuda s a i
m utts u roku 7
7 w ith plea s e ca lcula te
na na ts u s hichi / na na 9 4 s hi 5 go
ku 2 futa B) If y ou ca n' t keep y our w ord, y ou ca n' t a ccom plis h w ha t
8 y a tts u ha chi 3
ko m an ta n y ou ha v e decided to do.
9 kokonots u ky u- / ku 10 ju-
6 ta m a da
to U na ble to keep
to- ju-
10 10
9 ku ga w a one' s res olution de nani o s hitem o nagats uzukis him as en
9 gaw a w ith w ha tev er ca n' t keep
ri C ) O ur negotia tions w ill nev er end. T hey a re a lw a y s cha nging.
T he s teps for writing:
C hines e num era ls on a m enu (y en en) T o be cha nged

1 1 2 1 ha na s hia i w a its um o
(pos tca rd / env elope) a ga in a nd a ga in
1 2 (s us hi) . . . na m i (regula r) 2, 000

1 2 3 4 negotia tion a lw a y s
(s us hi) . . . jo- (better)

3, 100

3 C hines e num era ls for people' s na m es

2 3
(s us hi) . . . tokujo- (bes t) 4, 500 D) W e s urv iv ed through thos e difficult tim es by coopera ting
5 T hes e na m es a r e gener a lly giv en to
4 (beer) . . . s ho- (s m a ll) 500 w ith ea ch other v ery clos ely .
J a pa n e s e m e n . " r o- ( m e a n in g

(beer) . . . chu- (m edium )
1 1 2 650
"la d")" Ichiro- , G oro- , S a buro-

2 T o coopera te w ith ea ch

1 (beer) . . . da i (la rge)

1 780

1 other to do the s a m e ta s k
3 4
(dra ft beer) de kibis hiijiki o norikoem as hita

1 ichi 5 go 3 s a bu (s a ke) 770 w ith difficult tim es s urv iv ed
E ) E very thing w as accom plis hed, but w e have to go back to the
ro- ro- ro- draw ing board becaus e the pres ident has the las t w ord.
L et' s pra ctice
yatto kim atta noni s hacho- no
A s ingle a uthorit-
de yarinaos hi des u
e. g. , 502 390 689 754 8934 4105 M a ny J a pa nes e girls ' na m es end w ith a tiv e w ord
a t la s t w a s m a de in s pite of pres ident go ba ck
"ko (child)" Y a eko, Fum iko, M ina ko
5 3 6 7 8 4 4 3 2
F ) R em em ber that R om e w as not built in a day. Let' s keep our chins up!
7 9 7 6 5 5 1 0
0 9 8 5 9 1 ya 2 fu 3 mi R om e w a s not
8 7 6 8 5 0 0 0 0 built in a da y des u ga m ba rim a s ho-
2 0 9 4 3 0 e mi na 0 0 0 0 0
3 7 0 0 0
A ns w ers A) 3) B) 5) C) 6) D) 4) E) 1) F) 2)

4 5 ko ko ko W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga

Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun

1 4 1
0o i s h i 5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama
(delic i ous) i s ix s ev en eight nine ten

L a s t tim e, y ou s how ed m e how to rea d ka nji num era ls , a nd I ha v e Don' t w orry , M r. P ole! I' v e got the num ber! It
m us t be 5501-0290. It' s ea s y to figure out. Do y ou 1. T o a tta in s u cces s th r o u gh 4. Da y a nd night / a lw a y s
rea lized how com m on they a re in da ily life. B ut a lthough C hines e fa m ily nam es / fa m ilia l (us ed critica lly )
num era ls a re conv enient, I ha v e encountered a new problem w ith know how I got it? J a pa nes e often us e a m ethod connections (During four tim es s ix hours )
num bers . It ha ppened w hen I a s ked a friend to for the telephone c a l l e d g o r o -a w a s e , w h i c h r e f e r s to c o m i c a l (46=24 hours )
(S ev en bea m s of pa rents ) 4
Des ign : M as ako B an

num ber of a recom m ended y a kiniku res ta ura nt. S he ga v e m e the na m e v a ria tions of prov erbs a nd punning (or w ord pla y ) to 7
of one a nd s a id, "koko w a ichiba n oniku ois hii (T he m os t delicious rem em ber certa in things . M a ny bus ines s es us e goro-
m ea t is s er v ed her e). " W hen I to ld her a ga in tha t I w a nted the a w a s e techniques to crea te s om e interes ting tele- s hi roku ji chu-
(oy a no) na na hika ri
telephone num ber, s he s a id s he ha d jus t giv en it to m e! W e a re going phone num bers s uch a s com bina tions tha t des cribe o' clock w ithin
pa rents light
to the res ta ura nt nex t w eek, but I w on' t be a ble to find it is if I ca n' t th e s e r v i c e s th e y pr o v i d e to h e l p po te n ti a l 5. T o take a chance / s ink or s w im
ca ll them for directions ! W ha t s hould I do? cus tom ers rem em ber the num ber. 2. T o s truggle w ith / (O ne or eight)
to ha v e difficult tim e doing 1 8
(Four a gonies , eight groa ns )

P ronuncia tion (In a ddition to thes e pronuncia tions , M oney : O ld ka nji num era ls , s uch a s (one) (tw o) 4 8
s im ila r s ounds ca n be us ed in ex ceptiona l ca s es . ) (th r ee) a n d (10, 000), a r e u s ed in fin a n ce to da y . ichi ka ba chi ka
T hes e cha ra cters a re com m only us ed on bills , m oney
0 (zero, re- , m a ru, o, w a ) 4 (s hi, y otts u, y on, y o) 8 (ha chi, ha , y a tts u, y a ) s hi ku ha k ku 6. T o get ba ck on one' s feet
orders a nd s o on. W e w ill not dis cus s thes e in deta il
1 (ichi, i, hitots u, hi ) 5 (go, ko, its uts u, its u) 9 (ky u-, ku, gu, kokonots u, ko) s ince they a re not com m only us ed in da ily life.
a gony a gony
2 (ni, futa ts u, fu) 6 (roku, ro, m utts u, m u) 10 (ju- , ju, to- , to) 3. M os t likely / T en to one (Fa lling s ev en tim es , but
3 (s a n, s a , m itts u, m i) 7 (s hichi, na na , na na ts u, na ) 10 100 1,000 10,000 100 trillion yen (E ight or nine out of 10)
s ta nding up eight tim es )
m illion 7 8

10 8 9
L et' s try goro-a w a s e!

1. "K orea n s tea k hous e" 3. "M ov ing s erv ice" na na korobi y a oki
( L it. T he bes t and m os t delicious m eat is s erved here. ) ( L it. It's alw ays afternoon to thank you for your bus ines s .) ju- hy a ku s en m an oku cho- en juc chu- ha k ku tum ble get up
py a ku zen m iddle
1. 10 3. 700 4. 500, 000 5. 40 m illion
A) M y da ughter w a tches nothing but T V .
- alw ay s ; us ed w ith
ko ko wa i (chiba n) o ni ku o (is hi ) go go w a i(ts um o) go ku ro- san ju- na na go y on m us um e w a negative feelings t e l e v i (s i o n ) bakari m iteim as u
(here) (N o. 1) (m ea t) (delicious ) (a fter noon) (a lw a y s ) (tha nk y ou for w orking) m y da ughter only w a tching
hy a ku ju- s en
B) I' m s truggling w ith the new com puter.
2. "T em pora ry pers onnel s erv ice" 4. "Flow er s hop"
2. 1, 000
( L it. It' s a job for ev ery one w ho is kind. ) ( L it. A s m iling flow er is a cherry blos s om . ) en m an m an - s truggle w ith
a ta ra s hi c o m p u t e r ni s hiteim a s u
s en new
en en
en C) S top w orry ing a bout it! W hy not ta ke a cha nce a nd do it?
s hi go to o s hi(ns e) ts u na m i(nas an) ni ko ni ko ha na w a s a(kura)
(w ork) (kind) (ev ery body ) (s m iling) (flow er)(cherry blos s om s ) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. ta ke one' s cha nces
y attem itara do- des u ka
A ns w ers
nay ande naide
s top w orry ing w hy not try to do
A ns w ers 1. 5501-0290 2. 4510-4273 3. 5501-5963 4. 2525-8703 N ew s papers : A rticles in J apanes e new s papers are w ritten
vertically , but A rabic num erals are com m only us ed. D) Don' t feel s o ba d! Y ou m a y ha v e fa ilures in life, but
y ou ca n get ba ck on y our feet.
goro a w a s e is a ls o us ed for da tes . (m onth: / da y : ) U ps a nd dow ns
400 m illion 19, 000 7 m illion 150 m illion
s onna ni ga kka ri s hina ide of life / nev er giv e up des u y o
1.m i m i no hi 2.niku no hi people people
3.m us hiba no hi 4.ichigo no hi like tha t don' t be dis a ppointed I' ll tell y ou
(E a rs da y ) (M ea t da y ) (C a v ity da y ) (S tra w berry da y ) 4 1
na na ichi
E) I hea rd tha t the genera l m a na ger' s s on la nded a good full-
m an tim e job through his fa ther' s influence.
hy a ku oku thanks to
9 bucho- no musuko-san wa family connections de shu- shokushita rashi desu yo
7.fugu no hi 8.gom izero no hi m an go m anager one' s s on got a job it s eem s
5.fum ino hi 6.y a kiniku no hi s en
(L etter da y ) (S tea k da y ) (B low fis h da y ) (N o tra s h da y ) F) M os t likely , it is im pos s ible.
en nin
s en m os t likely ; in
nine ca s es out of ten m uri des ho-
im pos s ible
m an
A ns w ers A) 4 B) 2 C) 5 D) 6 E) 1 F) 3
A ns w ers
1. 33 2. 29 3. 64 4. 15 5. 23 6. 829 7. 29 8. 530 nin W ith cooperation from Y as uhiro K oga
Copyright 1999 The Yomiuri Shimbun
C onv ers a tion

5-minute Japanese Class by Hitomi Hirayama

ka i wa

I have s tudied J apanes e for 2 1/2 years , but m y J apanes e is s till aw ful. I ha v e nev er s een y ou s o s a d, M r. P ole! B ut ha v e
I w ant to s peak fluent J apanes e by us ing the gram m ar that I have coura ge! Y ou a re not the only one ha v ing trouble like A) Friend: O h, gee...I didn' t know that it' s clos ed on W ednes day s .
s tudied, but for s om e reas on m y phras es in J apanes e are not as this . A ny body w ho is s tudy ing J a pa nes e ex periences
s m ooth as thos e of native s peakers . Furtherm ore, I can' t m ake good this ty pe of frus tra tion. S om e a re dow nhea rted beca us e P ole-s a n : T ha t' s too ba d, is n' t it?
Des ign : M as ako B an

us e of trans itional ex pres s ions and it s ounds s o aw kw ard! I have they ca n' t com m unica te w ith J a pa nes e people how ev er
s tudied s om e phras es in certain s ituations at s chool, but I have not ha r d they s tudy the la ngua ge. O ther s a r e depr es s ed B) K oga -s a n : Do y ou w a nt to go for a drink s om etim e s oon?
had the opportunity to us e them in daily life! W hen I s tarted to learn beca us e J a pa nes e people res pond to them in E nglis h
J a pa nes e, I enjoy ed s a y ing, "oha y o- " (G ood m orning! ), "a riga to- " ev en though they s pea k fluent J a pa nes e. It' s the s a m e
P ole-s a n : It is up to M r. K oga , a s fa r a s I' m concerned.
(T hank y ou), and s o on. B ut lately , s tudy ing J apanes e is getting for m os t s tudents . "Don' t w orry ! (da ijo-bu)," M r. P ole! I
harder and harder for m e, and I don' t s ee any progres s . I am s tres s ed ha v e a good idea to cheer y ou up. "Y ou ca n count on C) Friend: How a re y ou ?
out becaus e of that, and I am depres s ed. O h, boy. m e! (m a ka s ete-kuda s a i! )."
P ole-s a n : It' s been a long tim e, ha s n' t it? ogenki des u ka
H ow a re y ou ?
T hes e icebrea kers a re helpful a nd us eful ev en for beginners , a lthough
D) Friend: I hea rd tha t M is s Y a m a da is getting m a rried.
th e gr a m m a r o f th es e ex pr es s io n s is a t a n a dv a nced lev el. S ince Icebreaker (Heart Opener)
beginners s till ha v e a ha rd tim e ex pres s ing their thoughts in J a pa nes e, P ole-s a n : Y es , I hea rd s o, too?
it is better for them to m em orize s horter s entences . M em orizing thes e