Lesson Transcript

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Sakura: おはよう、東京。第十一回 日本文化レッスンでございます。さくらです。
Peter: Peter here and we are back with another Japanese culture class. As always, we are brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialist. Here in the studio, with me today is Sakura.
Sakura: Hello!
Peter: One more time?
Sakura: こんにちは。
Peter: Yes and we have a very interesting topic again this week. Right Sakura?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Last week, you weren’t here.
Sakura: That’s right. Natsuko explained us about…
Peter: 割り勘.
Sakura: 割り勘.
Peter: Yes I think it worked out great. It was her specialty.
Sakura: Yeah. 居酒屋
Peter: Sakura, are you 割り勘勝ち or are you 割り勘負け
Sakura: Umm….
Peter: I think you look like a 割り勘負け to me.
Sakura: Umm…maybe I think so.
Peter: Really?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Shall we go out tonight Sakura? You got it, you got the joke.
Sakura: I did…
Peter: Yeah.
Sakura: For a change.
Peter: For a change. Oh boy! Okay let’s get this lesson back on track. Now Sakura, what are we going to talk about today? Why are we so excited today? Tell us Sakura, tell us…
Sakura: You are too excited. Calm down, calm down.

Lesson focus

Peter: Deep breaths! Okay Sakura, what is the topic of today’s culture class?
Sakura: 卒業
Peter: One more time please.
Sakura: 卒業
Peter: And what is this in English please?
Sakura: Graduation.
Peter: Yes, graduation.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Now as we explained in a previous culture class, the entrance exam goes on and on through March, correct Sakura.
Sakura: Yes, yes.
Peter: And yes, as the new term starts in April in Japanese schools, everybody is graduating this month.
Sakura: That’s right.
Peter: Wow! What a month to graduate, it’s cold out there Sakura.
Sakura: Yes but it’s kind of – you can feel spring coming. Oh by the way, sorry, また off the track なんだけど and have you been smelling the 沈丁花 recently. When you are walking outside, you can…
Peter: 沈丁花 what’s that?
Sakura: 沈丁花
Peter: What’s this?
Sakura: I think it’s called Daphne in English. It’s like bush and it has like hard, tiny flowers and well, it’s not some lovely flower to look at but like when you are walking on the street….
Peter: How mean Sakura!
Sakura: Okay, okay I love 沈丁花 but anyway if you are walking on the street, you can smell it like it catches you, you know.
Peter: Really?
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: Can you describe the smell a bit.
Sakura: う~ん。どうしよう。 So it’s spring smell.
Peter: Ah…
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: I think I can understand what flower you are talking about.
Sakura: Really?
Peter: Yes it smells quite nice.
Sakura: Yes. So it’s – now is the time you can smell it the most.
Peter: Yeah and do you remember, we were talking about 梅. I went to school recently and the 梅 were blooming. The flower…
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: One more time, what is this please?
Sakura: 沈丁花
Peter: I could smell the 沈丁花
Sakura: Really?
Peter: And – yes it did feel like spring. So I can understand what you mean about the graduation.
Sakura: Yes, yes. I had to mention it.
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: Yeah I think it’s called Daphne in English.
Peter: Daffodils?
Sakura: No, no, no, no…. Daphne. Now my pronunciation is terrible yeah Daphne. Daphne.
Peter: I used to know…
Sakura: You know the Greek goddess. Do you know Daphne?
Peter: I don’t know but seems like I would like to know.
Sakura: Yes but…
Peter: Sakura, you are a little too educative for me.
Sakura: No, no…
Peter: Break it down a level.
Sakura: So this is one of my favorite flowers.
Peter: Ah!
Sakura: Yes in spring time 沈丁花
Peter: 沈丁花
Sakura: And in autumn, 金木犀 and that’s – 金木犀 also smells really nice in autumn. So it’s like spring flower and autumn flower.
Peter: Save that for the autumn JCC Sakura.
Sakura: Oh yes sorry! Yes okay back on track.
Peter: Back on track. Yes our goal for the day. So Sakura, you were saying, the latter part of March does have a very spring feel to it.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So maybe it might be just right for graduation. Now this could bring us to one point. In the US, graduation is usually in May or June and late August for some people who don’t...So I think we have two. For example, the first round of graduation is in June for high school and round 2 is in end of August. So the point of this would be that the weather is quite nice.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And we are pretty much assured to have graduation outside unless it rains and if it rains, then its inside and nobody wants to graduate inside. Outside feels so nice. Now for March, where do we have the graduation ceremony, inside or outside?
Sakura: Inside.
Peter: Oh but what about the spring feel?
Sakura: Yes but after the ceremony, you go outside and take pictures maybe.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: Yes. It’s usually in the school hall or somewhere rented.
Peter: Oh you rent the hall for the graduation?
Sakura: No sorry. No I think it’s in a school hall.
Peter: School hall.
Sakura: Yes えーと it’s held inside in a school hall and then when the ceremonies finish, they might come out and take pictures.
Peter: Now if you remember, the Japanese school year starts in April and runs through
Sakura: March.
Peter: And they have some breaks in between of course.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: But it’s much, much different than the US system and everybody out there will be very interested to know how your school system runs.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So everybody is graduating and getting ready to go into a new school or getting ready to work.
Sakura: Right.
Peter: But where to start Sakura, where to start, where to start? We have elementary schools, middle schools, junior high schools, high schools, colleges, specialty schools, vocational schools.
Sakura: Where shall we start?
Peter: You tell me.
Sakura: Junior high school.
Peter: Okay well how about -
Sakura: Elementary…
Peter: Do you remember elementary school?
Sakura: Umm…
Peter: We will give you five minutes or so. Everybody please hold…
Sakura: Well…
Peter: Another joke, Sakura.
Sakura: Oh oh! Okay Elementary school and junior high school and high school are basically not so different.
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: And students wear their uniforms if the school has any uniforms.
Peter: Err…stop right there!
Sakura: Oh!
Peter: Okay first point. In Japanese schools, most Japanese schools, there is a dress code, right?
Sakura: Yes, yes.
Peter: And what is the word for uniform in Japanese?
Sakura: 制服
Peter: Yes and this is kind of the standard uniform.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And the guys wear black uniforms?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Or kind of navy. Is it black or…
Sakura: Black.
Peter: Okay and what do the girls wear?
Sakura: セーラー服
Peter: Okay and what’s this style?
Sakura: Sailor.
Peter: Yeah they kind of look like sailors.
Sakura: Yes. So that’s traditional. Very – そう traditional style ね。セーラー服 and 学ラン you call it.
Peter: For the boys.
Sakura: Yes black…
Peter: Yes okay. So we have the girls looking like sailors and the guys with the black uniforms with the short collars. Okay now, this is again we said many, many schools implement this dress code.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And I feel bad for the girls because they actually wear skirts in the middle of winter…
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And it’s cold. Sakura, speaking from experience, is it cold?
Sakura: I didn’t wear them. Sorry but okay, the セーラー服 and 学ラン is popular as well but also blazer ブレザー
Peter: Ah I see!
Sakura: It’s also very popular.
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: Mostly navy.
Peter: Okay so but again you won’t see. It’s not like a fashion show back home. You know Sakura, when the school year starts in the US, it is like a commercial that came to life. Okay back on track, graduation. So many schools in Japan have graduation in March.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: So what goes on? Where is the ceremony?
Sakura: Usually we have ceremony in this big school hall or gymnasium and they have this solemn atmosphere.
Peter: Ah I see!
Sakura: Yes it’s like ceremony.
Peter: So Sakura, tell us a little bit about the ceremony.
Sakura: Yes okay the order may differ but the 学長 we know 学長 right or 校長 we sometimes say for principal.
Peter: Principal.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And yeah 学長 will be dean.
Sakura: Ah yes if you are going to university, yes.
Peter: For like a university.
Sakura: 校長先生 would give a speech and then a student will go on stage and say this little speech to thank the teachers, yes.
Peter: Lie.
Sakura: Huh, sorry.
Peter: Basically yes. He is getting out and he is the last. Umm but the thing is, how do we select this student? Now in the US, one student gives a speech but he is usually he or probably in most cases, she. It is usually the person with the highest grades.
Sakura: Same, same.
Peter: It’s the same?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: We say valedictorian.
Sakura: Hmm…
Peter: Valedictorian will give the speech.
Sakura: Hah yeah maybe we say 主席
Peter: Top of the class.
Sakura: Class yes. And after that 校長 hands out 卒業証書
Peter: Which is
Sakura: Graduation certificate.
Peter: Diploma, yes.
Sakura: Diploma okay. So when your name is called, you walk up to the stage and then 校長 would read out the short version of what’s written and then you bow and receive it.
Peter: Ah very interesting.
Sakura: Yes and then people will clap 拍手。拍手をします。
Peter: Does anybody stand up and yell?
Sakura: No.
Peter: Yeah Sakura!
Sakura: No….
Peter: No?
Sakura: No just パチパチパチパチパチ clap.
Peter: Which is the sound for clapping.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: パチパチパチパチ
Sakura: パチパチ。 Yes and you walk down.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: In the US, we have – they call your name, you walk up and you shake the principal’s hand.
Sakura: Oh wow!
Peter: And you get your diploma and then you get one second. You could flash it to everybody and hold it up and usually people are clapping and going crazy like in my case, only five years, way to go! It’s a miracle or something like this.
Sakura: So different. You bow like you really bow deeply and you practice this a lot before this ceremony, yes. And when there are so many students, we sometimes have like few going up the stage and then the rest will get their certificate in class, classroom.
Peter: Okay Sakura but now what I want to know. Again here we are talking about high school and junior high school.
Sakura: Junior high school, yes.
Peter: Now in the US, we all wear cap and gown, cap and gown, cap and gown, cap and gown…
Sakura: That’s for high school as well?
Peter: Yeah junior high school and high school and on that cap, we have the little tassel…
Sakura: Yes, yes…
Peter: With the number like that says boy! I think in my case, it said 06 for 1906.
Sakura: へぇ~。
Peter: It’s a joke again.
Sakura: あ、そっか。そっか。そうだよね。This year だもんね。
Peter: Yeah. Okay the point being that we got that on a top just two numbers and when we graduate – in the beginning, it’s on one side. When we graduate, we shift it to the other side. And then when the last person graduates and the principal says congratulations, we take our caps and we throw them in the air.
Sakura: Hah! I think I’ve seen that in a movie.
Peter: Yes.
Sakura: Yes. That’s great.
Peter: Believe what you see in movies. It’s all true.
Sakura: Wow! So different.
Peter: Okay tell us, tell us, tell us…How are the Japanese dressed? Is there any special thing they wear for the ceremony?
Sakura: Uniform.
Peter: So they wear the same uniforms that they wore everyday to school?
Sakura: Yes 制服 so that’s formal clothes.
Peter: Formal clothes?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: Okay and elementary school may have no uniform but junior high school and high school often have uniform. So students wear that and when boys wear 学ラン
Peter: Which is the boys uniform.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Is it just the top of the uniform?
Sakura: I think it’s the set.
Peter: The set. Okay which is the set, the uniform set they wear?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: When they graduate, girls will come up and ask for your second button.
Peter: The second button.
Sakura: Yes. And you give it to the girl you really like.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: That’s really interesting. What is it called?
Sakura: 第二ボタン。第二ボタン。
Peter: 第二 The second button.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Now this is the second button from the top right?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Why do you think it’s this button – this particular button?
Sakura: Maybe it’s close to the heart.
Peter: Yes.
Sakura: Is it?
Peter: I am guessing yeah. I think…
Sakura: And often, when the boy belongs to a club…
Peter: Which is
Sakura: Club activities.
Peter: Yeah like extracurricular activity.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Could be sports or something else.
Sakura: Yes. Often the younger girls like first year and second year girls come up to you and say 先輩!先輩!先輩 is a senior right?
Peter: Yeah.
Sakura: And you call them 先輩. You say 先輩、第二ボタン、ください。
Peter: Which is?
Sakura: Please give me your second button.
Peter: Wow!
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Yeah it’s amazing. The girls seem to have so much courage in Japan giving candy first, asking for buttons, pieces of clothing…
Sakura: True. It’s all fair.
Peter: Yeah.
Sakura: I know.
Peter: Now Sakura, just the second button.
Sakura: You can give out. Some boys end up without any buttons on the uniform.
Peter: School guys are going home naked.
Sakura: We have the cloth. So – but no buttons.
Peter: No buttons?
Sakura: Umm..
Peter: That’s really interesting.
Sakura: Maybe they do that with blazer too, I don’t know.
Peter: How many buttons can you have? You got the blazer plus the shirt inside. So I guess you can give – you can supply up to 10 or 20 girls?
Sakura: Not at all. Another thing associated with 卒業 is 卒業アルバム.
Peter: Oh what’s this?
Sakura: It’s an album with all pictures of the classmates. There is one big album for each year.
Peter: We have the same thing.
Sakura: Oh really?
Peter: Yeah and we usually trade them to be signed.
Sakura: Oh we don’t do that though.
Peter: Really?
Sakura: We just keep it, yes.
Peter: Really? You just keep it.
Sakura: Yes and that’s called 卒業アルバム。
Peter: Really you know we usually trade, will you sign mine, will you sign mine?
Sakura: Really?
Peter: And then it’s funny. You know, everyone signs it and then in like 20 years, you could look back and see what everyone wrote.
Sakura: Ah yes that’s interesting.
Peter: Well so you just get it and you don’t do anything with it?
Sakura: No when I was a junior high school student, we had autographs like you buy this サイン帳 signature book.
Peter: Ah…
Sakura: Yes. You can divide up the pages and then put them together again so you divide it among your friends.
Peter: That’s really good. I like that a lot and it works out better. One of my friends signed right over my picture. No, just kidding!
Sakura: Right.
Peter: It does kind of work out better. Do you have them together?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: See that’s a thing. You are very – you are able to hold on to these books. I think I would lose them very fast. If it’s not altogether, I am going to lose it. Okay so what happens after graduation?
Sakura: You go home!
Peter: Say it louder. Say it louder.
Sakura: You go home.
Peter: Sakura! I figured out that much.
Sakura: Okay. You might like to go you know for cup of coffee or – yeah, you can’t drink yet right?
Peter: Yeah.
Sakura: So you can’t go drinking so…
Peter: And we all know if it’s a law, it can’t be broken.
Sakura: But things are a little bit different for universities though, university or college graduation.
Peter: Wait! Before that, do you get any gifts for graduating high school like from your parents or from your grandparents or – in the US, it’s customary [*]. It’s definitely not worth the labor you put into graduating high school because it is only a couple of hundred dollars. So if you divide it by year and hour, you are getting like $0.01 an hour to go to school.
Sakura: You get that from….
Peter: Very cheap labor.
Sakura: Yeah from relatives and family.
Peter: Okay so what’s going on for colleges and universities?
Sakura: Yes you either wear suit both girls and boys or girls might wear 袴s.
Peter: And we talked about this last time.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: In
Sakura: 成人の日
Peter: Yes the coming of age day and coming of age ceremony.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay wow! The 袴 is really popular for these ceremonies.
Sakura: Yes very colorful 袴s.
Peter: Did you wear one?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: What color?
Sakura: Green 袴 and red 着物 inside.
Peter: Wow!
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Please check the home page for pictures of Sakura and her graduation.
Sakura: Black and white. Black and white picture, yes.
Peter: That was great.
Sakura: Yeah and usually when 袴 is worn by men and girls wear either 草履 or boots to go with 袴。
Peter: I see. Wow! It must be nice.
Sakura: It’s very nice, yes.
Peter: But it’s a shame that guys aren’t all dressed up too.
Sakura: I know. Usually suits.
Peter: Yeah. But at least they look nice and do you guys throw anything?
Sakura: Throw!
Peter: Yeah like we throw the hats again for college too. We throw the hats.
Sakura: Ah no, no, no, no.
Peter: So what’s the highlight of the graduation?
Sakura: Umm well it’s basically the same right? You get this diploma.
Peter: But what’s like the peak moment like in the US, the peak moment is, congratulations class of 2006. Yeay!
Sakura: It’s not like that at all. So we cry you know.
Peter: Ah see there it is…
Sakura: Everybody’s
Peter: But when do you cry, during the ceremony or after?
Sakura: Well often students sing this song, graduation song. It’s not – there are a couple of songs that’s sung at that kind of situation and when you start singing that, it’s just you know, you’d start crying.
Peter: Yeah... The eyes open up. So that’s the highlight. What’s the name of the song?
Sakura: 蛍の光。
Peter: And this is in English?
Sakura: Auld Lang Syne.
Peter: Auld lang syne.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: Really?
Sakura: Yes. You have to check it though.
Peter: Can you sing just a little bit for us?
Sakura: ♪蛍の光 but yeah…
Peter: Don’t stop.
Sakura: We often sing that at the end of the year as well.
Peter: Really?
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: I noticed that’s the closing song to the library when I used to study. It’s like that song will come out and we would have to leave. It was like five minutes to go.
Sakura: There are various songs like there are some new ones as well. And usually they sing something altogether and then they start crying. Everybody is crying.
Peter: I think some of our listeners are crying. You stopped singing in the middle of the song.
Sakura: And ah..University, we sometimes have 謝恩会
Peter: What was that?
Sakura: 謝恩会
Peter: And what’s that?
Sakura: Literal translation would be, thank you for the – thank you party.
Peter: Ah!
Sakura: Yes. So you have this place reserved like a restaurant or some hall and teachers are there and you go there dressed up like if you are wearing 袴 you go in 袴 maybe and if you are wearing like western clothes, it’s kind of dressed up you know western clothes and you have a party with teacher, yes.
Peter: And everybody is invited?
Sakura: Umm…
Peter: Or only certain people are invited?
Sakura: Everybody is invited but…
Peter: Not everybody is notified.
Sakura: No, well most people prefer to go drinking with friends, right?
Peter: Ah…
Sakura: Like go out and like have fun, yeah.
Peter: The party isn’t fun Sakura?
Sakura: Yeah but so it’s more…
Peter: Which one did you go to Sakura?
Sakura: Of course. Of course 飲み会。
Peter: Ah Sakura!
Sakura: Drinking party.
Peter: Ah Sakura, you didn’t go say goodbye to your professors?
Sakura: No. I should have.
Peter: Yeah. Show up this year. They never specified what year you…right?
Sakura: うん、まあね。 yes.
Peter: Okay Sakura.


Sakura: That’s about it, I suppose.
Peter: So I hope everybody enjoyed that.
Sakura: Yes thank you.
Peter: That’s going to do for today.
Sakura: また明日ね。
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