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Lesson Transcript

Naomi: ジャパニーズポッド101でございます
Naomi: Welcome to the Japanese Children Song Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, you’ll learn Japanese language and culture through Japanese Children Songs. Go to our site to hear full versions of the songs, sung by professional singer Kana Mizushima. Visit JapanesePod101.com and claim your free lifetime account now.
Naomi: ナオミです
Peter: Peter here.
Naomi: ジャパニーズポッド101.comの童謡のレッスン10へようこそ。
Peter: Welcome to Lesson 10, our last lesson of our Japanese Children Song Series. Naomi 先生, can you tell us the name of the song we’ll be focusing on this time?
Naomi: とうりゃんせ
Peter: とうりゃんせ Interesting word. It doesn’t even sound Japanese.
Naomi: そう?
Peter: Does the title have a meaning?
Naomi: Well, you’ll find out.
Peter: So, what can you tell us about the background of the song?
Naomi: This is a very old song, which is said to be written in the Edo period.
Peter: This is another song that you’ll sing while playing a game, right?
Naomi: That’s right. I think many of our listeners are familiar with the children song called “London Bridge”, right? It’s basically the same game as that.
Peter: How about the background of the lyrics behind this song? There are a lot of different interpretations, right?
Naomi: Yes. And we will go over the most popular interpretation. Before we go into the lyrics, can we explain the background a little bit, Peter?
Peter: Okay. Basically, according to the most popular interpretation, this song is about parents taking their child to a shrine when the child turns?
Naomi: 7、7歳 which means “seven years old”.
Peter: And asking the guards to let them through. Something important to understand that is in the past, turning seven had a very important meaning, because many children…Naomi 先生?
Naomi: Didn’t make it through that age.
Peter: People used to make talisman to protect their baby after it was born. And then, returned to the shrine when their child was seven. This means, that after age seven, the child no longer the talisman to protect them.
Naomi: Right. I think knowing this background will help you to understand the lyrics better.
Peter: And with that, let’s take a look at the lyrics.

Lesson focus

Peter: Okay. We’ve got a lot of archaic Japanese in this song. Naomi 先生, the first line in the song お願いします?
Naomi: とうりゃんせ、とうりゃんせ
Peter: The title of the song. Naomi 先生, what would this be in modern Japanese?
Naomi: It would be 通りなさい. This is the command form 通る which means “to pass through”.
Peter: So it’s saying “Pass!” or “Pass through!”
Naomi: Right. It’s thought that this is what the shrine guard says.
Peter: Next?
Naomi: ここはどこの細道じゃ、天神様の細道じゃ
Peter: So we have question and an answer.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: First. The question asked by a parent who wants to take their child to the shrine.
Naomi: ここはどこの細道じゃ?
Peter: “This narrow road, where does it go?” And the answer from the shrine guard?
Naomi: 天神様の細道じゃ
Peter: “This narrow road is the road of the God 天神.” So, we know it’s the way to the shrine. Naomi 先生, what’s じゃ?
Naomi: Good question. じゃ is like だ, so, ここはどこの細道だ “This narrow road, where does it go?” 天神様の細道だ “This narrow road is the road of the God [*]”, in modern Japanese.
Peter: Next line?
Naomi: ちょっと通してくだしゃんせ
Peter: “Please let us pass through.” Now, you can kind of see that the lyrics of this song are the back and forth conversation between the child’s parents and shrine guard. The parent asks where the path leads. The guard says “To the shrine.” And now the parent is asking to be let through.
Naomi: Yes. In modern Japanese, this line would be ちょっと通してください、通す means “to let someone pass” or “go through”. Here, the 下さい became くだしゃんせ
Peter: And what does the guard say in response?
Naomi: 御用のない者通しゃせぬ
Peter: Literally, “We don’t let people who have no business here pass through.” The Japanese was so short, though. Let’s break it down.
Naomi: 用 is short for 用事 which is like “business” like in “something to do”. 者 means “person” in this context. So, 御用のない者 means?
Peter: “People who have no business here.”
Naomi: And the next word is, 通しゃせぬ. In modern Japanese 通しはしない or 通さない
Peter: “To not let pass.” So, all together the phrase is “We don’t let people who have no business here pass through.” Next, the parent explains why they’re there.
Naomi: この子の七つのお祝いに、お札を納めに参ります
Peter: “In celebration of this child turning seven, we’re going to present the talisman at the shrine.” So, remember what we said in the beginning? When a child turns seven, they parents return the talisman that they got after the child was born, back to the shrine.
Naomi: That talisman is called お札 in Japanese. 納め is from the verb 納める which has many meanings, but here means “to return something to a shrine”. 参ります is the humble form of 行く, meaning “to go”.
Peter: So the parent is explaining why they want to pass through. Was this good enough for the shrine guard? What’s the next line, Naomi 先生?
Naomi: 行きはよいよい、帰りは怖い
Peter: 行きはよいよい、行き is “the way to the shrine”, right?
Naomi: はい。
Peter: From 行く, “to go”.
Naomi: そうです。 That’s right. 良い has the same meaning as いい, “good”. So, in other words “The way to the shrine is fine. It’s no problem.” However, 帰りは怖い
Peter: 帰り “The way back”, right?
Naomi: はい。
Peter: It’s 怖い, “scary”.
Naomi: そうです。 “The way to the shrine is fine, but the way back from the shine is scary.”
Peter: Because they leave the talisman at the shrine, right?
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: So, they have nothing to protect them on their way back.
Naomi: It’s a scary feeling.
Peter: And the last line? おねがいします。
Naomi: 怖いながらもとおりゃんせ、とおりゃんせ。
Peter: The word for “scary” again. 怖い
Naomi: 怖いながらも means “While you feel scared.”
Peter: So, “While you’re feeling scared.”?
Naomi: とおりゃんせ、とおりゃんせ
Peter: “Pass through. Pass through.” So, this is what the guard tells them, right?
Naomi: Yes.
Peter: So the lyrics start and end with the title of the song.
Naomi: とおりゃんせ、とおりゃんせ
Peter: Naomi 先生, if I want to train and someone wants to get through and I let them through, can I say とおりゃんせ、とおりゃんせ?
Naomi: I don’t think so. どうぞ it would be better. But it would be nice as a joke.
Peter: For our listener’s sake, I’ll give a try. So, let’s have a listen to?
Naomi: サクラさんの歌


Naomi: Well, that’s all the time we have for this lesson.
Peter: We hope you enjoyed the song.
Naomi: And Peter, this is actually the last lesson.
Peter: That’s right. This is the last one. We really hope you enjoyed the series. I know I had a lot of fun doing it.
Naomi: Yes. I hope you enjoyed learning Japanese and Japanese culture through these songs.
Peter: Did you have a favorite? Let us know what you thought. Thank you again for listening!
Naomi: じゃあまた。 Find more detailed explication of the lyrics at JapanesePod101. There, listen to the full version of the songs and video format completed with beautiful pictures of Japan. Go to JapanesePod101.com to get your free lifetime account.


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