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Lesson Transcript

Peter: Welcome back to the ‘All About Japan’ series, the Japanese lessons where you get to learn about the real Japan. In this lesson, I’d like to introduce a new member of the team. In the studio for this lesson, we have:
Natsuko: Konnichiwa, Natsuko desu! Hi everyone, this is Natsuko. In this lesson, we have something special.
Peter: A quiz!
Natsuko: Yes!
Peter: Which may have some of you thinking uh-oh, but don’t worry. This will be a fun one.
Natsuko: We’re not going to test out your Japanese skills or anything like that yet.
Peter: Nope, these questions are about Japan itself – society, geography, pop culture… so you can test how much you know about Japan!
Natsuko: Yes, because learning Japanese is much more than just learning a language.
Peter: Natsuko-san, that’s so true! You learn about the people, life, society, and all that good stuff.
Natsuko: Yes, and if you pass, you can go onto the next lesson!
Peter: And even if you don’t pass… you can go on to the next lesson!
Natsuko: Yes!
Peter: So no pressure.
Natsuko: So everyone, are you ready?
Peter: All right, let’s get started!
Natsuko: Peter, you’ll be the one taking the test!
Peter: Me?
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Okay, well, I’ll do my best! Ganbarimasu!
Natsuko: Okay, so here’s the first question, which is about geography.
How many prefectures does Japan have?
Peter: Okay, I know this one… 47!
Natsuko: Yes, correct! Japan has 47 prefectures! So, do you know which one has the most people?
Peter: I think another easy one. That would be Tokyo, right?
Natsuko: Correct. Tokyo has the largest population with 12 million people. Now, how about the biggest prefecture in terms of size?
Peter: I think there’s some pretty big prefectures on Honshu, the main island… uh, Niigata’s pretty big…
Natsuko: Oh that’s right…
Peter: But I’m going to go with Hokkaido.
Natsuko: That’s correct, again! The answer is by far Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture. It’s over 5 times as big as the next biggest prefecture, Iwate. So Iwate is the second.
Peter: Oops!
Natsuko: But I know, Niigata looks pretty big too. And guess where Tokyo ranks on the list for size?
Peter: Oh boy, I would have to say number… let’s see… Hokkaido, Iwate, Niigata… four?
Natsuko: Hmmm? It’s the THIRD smallest prefecture out of 47! I didn’t know this before too.
Peter: Can we, uh, edit that? So the most populated prefecture is the third smallest in the country!
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: That actually explains quite a bit. The trains are too crowded… Yeah Natsuko-san, this is actually pretty fun!
Natsuko: Yes! Now let’s move onto a pop culture question.
We will give the names of three popular characters that originated in Japan. Put them in order of when they were created from oldest to newest.
Gozilla, Hello Kitty, and Pikachu.
Peter: Hmm… I have a feeling Gojira, Gozilla, is the oldest, right?
Natsuko: That’s right! Gojira was created in 1954. He’s the oldest of the group.
Peter: After that, hmm.. I think Pikachu is a relatively new character, so I’m gonna guess, um, Haro Kiti, Hello Kitty is the second oldest.
Natsuko: Correct!! Haro Kiti was created in 1974.
Peter: So I guess that leaves Pikachu as the youngest of the group.
Natsuko: Yes, Pikachu was created in 1995, so good job!
Peter: You know, all of these characters are quite popular all around the world.
Natsuko: Do people know that they are from Japan?
Peter: Hmm, Gozilla and Pikachu I’d say most people know. Hello Kitty – I’m not sure.
Natsuko: So, are there any characters that you like?
Peter: Um, from this group, I like Pikachu.
Natsuko: Oh really?
Peter: From characters in general, I kind of like Yu-gi-oh, which is a game that’s kind of similar to Pocket Monsters.
Natsuko: There was also a manga, right?
Peter: Yes, a very good one. And Natsuko-san? How about yourself?
Natsuko: Hmm, yes, I like Doraemon.
Peter: Doraemon.
Natsuko: Yes, I’m not sure whether its popular in the rest of the world, but in Japan its really popular.
Peter: I think it’s pretty popular in China.
Natsuko: Oh really?
Peter: Yeah.
Natsuko: That’s a good news! Okay, let’s move onto the next question. This question is about travel.
We will give the names of three popular sightseeing places. Please choose the one that is NOT in Tokyo!
A) Tsukiji Fish Market B) Mt. Fuji C) The Imperial Palace
Peter: Hmm, does everybody know the answer?
Natsuko: Hmm, let’s see…
Peter: Okay, Tsukiji Fish Market is located in central Tokyo… The Imperial Palace is in Chiyoda near Tokyo Station… So the answer must be Mt. Fuji, or Fuji-san, as it’s known in Japan.
Natsuko: Yes, you’re right! Mt. Fuji, or Fuji-san, is not in Tokyo.
Peter: But on a clear day, you can see it from Tokyo!
Natsuko: Yes, you can! It can be seen from my nearest station on a clear day! So do you know where Mt. Fuji actually is?
Peter: It’s between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, right?
Natsuko: That’s right! It’s located 100 kilometers, or 60 miles away from Tokyo. Have you ever been to or climbed Mt. Fuji?
Peter: Yes. Natsuko-san…
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Do you want to hear the top 3 mistakes that you shouldn’t make when climbing Mt. Fuji?
Natsuko: Yes, based on experience?
Peter: Unfortunately, based on personal experience.
Natsuko: Please.
Peter: Okay, the top 3 mistakes you shouldn’t make. Number 1 – on the top of Mt. Fuji there is a post office.
Natsuko: Oh, yes!
Peter: So, if you get to the top, you can actually send a “hagaki”, a postcard from the top of Mt. Fuji.
Natsuko: So, will there be any sign that it’s posted from Mt. Fuji?
Peter: Yeah.
Natsuko: Wow!
Peter: But, we went to top without our wallets.
Natsuko: You didn’t even bring a wallet?!
Peter: Not the proudest moment in my life, but yes. Don’t do that. Second mistake – don’t make. If you go up to see the sun set, bring a flashlight for the trip down. And, mistake number 3: It may be better to make a real night of it, do it the right way. You can actually rent a space to sleep, so you can climb to the top, watch the sunset, and then sleep for a few hours, and then watch the sun rise.
Natsuko: Wow!
Peter: They have these little cabins that you can sleep in.
Natsuko: So you can stay overnight.
Peter: Yeah. And finally, I think the climbing season is only for two months of the year, maybe one month of the year.
Natsuko: Yes, very short, during the summertime season.
Peter: So it’s only in the summer. Don’t plan on climbing Mt. Fuji out of season, because they won’t let you up.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Natsuko-san, how about yourself?
Natsuko: Um, yes, I have an experience too climbing Mt. Fuji. But in my opinion, climbing is not so much fun. I’d prefer looking at Mt. Fuji rather than climbing myself.
Peter: Hmm, interesting take on it! But, it may be worth it to do it once.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: And I thought you were going to say – climbing is a bit of an extreme term for it, it’s more like hiking. I think I saw people on the trail, like, sixty or seventy.
Natsuko: So everyone can try! Okay, now we move on to the Economic question.
Japan’s economy ranks what number in the world?
Peter: Well, we mentioned this in our All about series lesson 1, didn’t we?
Natsuko: Right. Japan’s economy is the second largest in the world, right after the United States.
Peter: Yeah, I think we should probably try to predict the future a bit, uh, see into the future. When you’re listening to this, China and India may have passed.
Natsuko: At least they’re really catching up close!
Peter: Yeah, so – this is 2009, so several years into the future that may have changed quite a bit.
Natsuko: Yes, right.
Peter: And who knows, maybe Japan’s economy will pass the U.S.!
Natsuko: Who knows?
Peter: But the point is that the economy is tremendous.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: And one of the things that makes Japanese such an important language.
Natsuko: Okay, now the next one is a true/false question! This time we are doing to debunk a myth about Japan.
Peter: This sounds fun!
Natsuko: Yes.
Japan’s main staple diet is sushi. Japanese people eat sushi nearly every day. True/false.
Peter: Natsuko-san, this one has to be false.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Sorry to disappoint.
Natsuko: Quite far from the truth. I think that the first thing a lot of people think about when they think of Japanese food is sushi, so that may be why they think this.
Peter: So, Natsuko-san, how often do you eat sushi?
Natsuko: Actually once every few months…?
Peter: It’s interesting, you know, in my experience sushi appears quite a bit for special occassions.
Natsuko: Yes, it’s kind of a special meal.
Peter: So you have to understand that there are many types of sushi.
Natsuko: Oh right.
Peter: And the really top-notch stuff is kind of reserved for special occassions.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: The conveyor belt sushi you can eat maybe once you a month – grab it for lunch or depending… sometimes I’ll go a week and I’ll eat it every day
Natsuko: Oh yes.
Peter: But it’s interesting to hear your answer Natsuko-san, because when you think of sushi, you think of the good stuff.
Natsuko: Yeah, right. I imagine a really expensive, posh sushi bar.
Peter: Not the convenience store sushi, which you can pick up for like a couple of dollars, or a couple hundred yen.
Natsuko: Yes. And by the way, Peter, what’s the real main staple food in Japan?
Peter: Rice! Sticky rice.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Rice is eaten with almost every meal.
Natsuko: And not just regular plain white rice – there are lots of different varieties and ways to prepare it, so it never gets old!
Peter: And it even takes on different shapes and forms… sounds weird, but Natsuko-san is going to explain.
Natsuko: Yes, I understand, like mochi – which is cooked rice that has been pounded until it makes a sticky rice cake.
Peter: And It’s used in a lot of Japanese sweets.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: So when you’re in Japan you might be eating more rice than you realize!
Natsuko: You’re right - maybe you can’t even tell it’s made of rice! All right, so that’s all for our quiz!
Peter: We hope that you had fun and that you learned something!! You should try asking your friends and family these questions, and see how they do!
Natsuko: That sounds like a fun idea! You can teach other people what you’ve just learned about Japan.
Peter: And this is only the beginning of all of the interesting things about Japan that you will find out as you learn the language and experience the culture firsthand. See you there!
Natsuko: Ja, mata ne!