Lesson Transcript

Chigusa: 第十四回 日本文化レッスンでございます。ちぐさです。
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 specialists. Okay back for the third week in a row, Chigusa.
Chigusa: Hi Peter, it’s great to be back again.
Peter: It is great to have you back.
Chigusa: Thank you.
Peter: Okay Chigusa, what is the topic for today?

Lesson focus

Chigusa: The topic for today is 花見.
Peter: Which is?
Chigusa: Flower viewing.
Peter: Now Chigusa, are we a little late with this?
Chigusa: We kind of missed it but still we are okay.
Peter: You heard that everybody, Chigusa said we are okay. Therefore
Chigusa: It is okay because there is a word called 桜前線 in Japanese. It’s literally Cherry Blossom front and it moves from Southern Japan to Northern Japan and the flower season is already over in Southern Japan and mid-Japan area but still Northern Japan is yet to bloom, right.
Peter: So we are okay?
Chigusa: We are okay.
Peter: All right.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: And plus Chigusa, if you say we are okay, people are going to believe that we are okay.
Chigusa: Sure thing. We are okay.
Peter: All right. So depending on the location, we are a little late or we are little early.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: That means somewhere we are right on time.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Positive thinking! Positive thinking! Yes Sakura and I covered flower viewing about the plum blossom.
Chigusa: Umm 梅?
Peter: Yep that’s the one. So what are we talking about this week?
Chigusa: This week we are going to talk about 桜.
Peter: The Sakura.
Chigusa: Yes cherry blossoms.
Peter: Yes. Can you give us a little history behind Hanami?
Chigusa: Sure the Hanami tradition dates back to the Nara period.
Peter: Nara period, nara period, not ringing any bells. Can you give me a little better idea when this is? Give me the timeframe?
Chigusa: The Nara period is around 8th century.
Peter: Sakura and I talked about the Heian period. This is even before that.
Chigusa: Right the Heian period.
Peter: Yes hence the reason, I didn’t do well in history. Okay so at the start of this period, what kind of flowers were we looking at? Hanami was associated with what?
Chigusa: 梅.
Peter: As Sakura and I discussed in the other one, originally Hanami was synonymous with?
Chigusa: 梅.
Peter: But now it is synonymous and associated with
Chigusa: 桜.
Peter: So if you said to a regular Japanese person Hanami, what would they think?
Chigusa: 桜.
Peter: Now Chigusa, which one do you like better?
Chigusa: 桜.
Peter: That was fast and why do you like this one better?
Chigusa: Because Sakura is more gorgeous and the trees are big, the flowers are pink and really pretty.
Peter: And what about Ume?
Chigusa: Ume flowers are pretty and small.
Peter: You are really ______ (0:02:58) here. Yes Chigusa just showed you that it’s not even close for her. Poor ume but there are still people who love ume but yes Sakura is really something to behold.
Chigusa: Right. It’s really popular. It’s even on the ¥100 coins.
Peter: And it’s also
Chigusa: Japan’s symbol.
Peter: So as Chigusa just said, for some people, it’s not even close. Hanami is Sakura.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Flower viewing is Cherry Blossoms. So Chigusa when I think flower viewing, I think of a garden, walking through the garden, looking at the flowers, smelling the flowers, taking pictures of the flowers and going right on to the next garden. Now what is flower viewing for Japanese people?
Chigusa: If you are thinking like Peter, then that’s a big mistake because…
Peter: Well that was pretty direct Chigusa.
Chigusa: Aha because Hanami in Japan is just a really big party while you drink and you eat and you just watch a bit of the flowers and the rest of the time you just eat and sing and drink.
Peter: So it’s an atmosphere.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: The flower viewing kind of sets the atmosphere for the whole day.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: I see. Okay so tell us a little bit about how we get this atmosphere? How does this start off? Where do we do this?
Chigusa: Okay it usually takes place in parks where they have beautiful cherry blossoms.
Peter: Okay.
Chigusa: And you wake up in the morning, you go to the park and do 場所取り
Peter: What’s that?
Chigusa: 場所取り is the first step where you go to the park and get the best place to watch Hanami.
Peter: That should be easy.
Chigusa: No it’s the hardest part because everybody wants the best place to watch the flowers right?
Peter: Aha!
Chigusa: So it’s war. The place is war.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Because everybody fights to get the best places and usually the youngest person or the person of the lowest rank does this job.
Peter: Have you ever done this Chigusa?
Chigusa: When I was a student, I did. When I was a freshman in college, I did.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: And did you get a good place?
Chigusa: No because I woke up too late. And everybody was so mad at me.
Peter: We forgive you Chigusa.
Chigusa: Thank you. I did try my best.
Peter: And that’s all we can ask for. So 場所取り you go there, you fight, you get the place.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: It’s funny that you say this to youngest or the lowest rank because April starts at the beginning of the fiscal year and the calendar school year.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: So all the new people in the company.
Chigusa: Right, right it’s their first job.
Peter: First day orientation is how to get the place for cherry blossom viewing.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And all the freshmen, that’s what they have to do.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Now I can understand why the school year and the fiscal year starts in April in Japan.
Chigusa: Yeah they measure your potential.
Peter: Oh! That’s funny. All right, so now that we get the place, what do we do next?
Chigusa: You can prepare your lunchboxes.
Peter: Okay just prepare?
Chigusa: The best thing you can do is make reservations for 花見弁当 beforehand.
Peter: And what’s that?
Chigusa: 花見弁当 is lunchbox for flower viewing and a lot of Japanese restaurants make special flower viewing lunchboxes in this season.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Have you ever got one?
Chigusa: Yeah sure. My favorite is the なだ万花見弁当
Peter: Say that name one more time?
Chigusa: なだ万
Peter: And where is this restaurant located?
Chigusa: It’s all over Japan. It’s a chain restaurant but it’s pretty expensive.
Peter: Really, hence the reason I don’t know it. I know one called ほかほか弁当.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Kind of the same level?
Chigusa: Not at all, sorry!
Peter: Yes you can see the refined taste in Chigusa. So you make the reservation for the lunchboxes. Who goes to get them?
Chigusa: The people who do the 場所取り
Peter: They have to get the place and then they have to get the lunch?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Wow!
Chigusa: Or you can work as a team, of course.
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: You know.
Peter: I could tell by the order you placed it that there is no teamwork whatsoever. Wow! It’s not fun to be the lowest rank.
Chigusa: Well everybody has to go through that. So…
Peter: I can imagine if a company goes bankrupt, they are not that angry about losing their pension, they are not that angry about anything else. Just the fact that they had to do all this stuff and they are not going to get to do it to anybody.
Chigusa: You know…right.
Peter: Wow! Okay so you go to get the lunchboxes, you bring them back. Okay what else do we need for flower viewing?
Chigusa: Sake if you are over 20.
Peter: You were a little late with that, if you are over 20 there Chigusa. What are you trying to hit back here?
Chigusa: If you are over 20.
Peter: Yes if you are over 20, everybody. Okay so we got food, we got alcohol, we got a place which means that opposed to what we do for flower viewing moving around, you are stationary.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: This is not like flower viewing at all back where I come from.
Chigusa: Right. It’s a party. It’s like an outdoor party.
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Okay so what time do we start the flower viewing?
Chigusa: Usually we start around noon.
Peter: Wow, the youngest people are getting all the preparations for at least 3 to 4 hours.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Then the older people show up.
Chigusa: Uhoo…
Peter: And then we get started.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And what do we start with?
Chigusa: 乾杯
Peter: Which is
Chigusa: Toast.
Peter: All right. So everyone gets there, you all pour a little bit. So we are drinking from the afternoon.
Chigusa: Right. Fun!
Peter: Very fun!
Chigusa: Very fun.
Peter: You could see why Japanese love this.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Okay Chigusa, so the party starts at 12, it starts at noon. What time does it end?
Chigusa: You can end at any time you want because if the sun goes down, then its 夜桜 time.
Peter: What’s that?
Chigusa: 夜桜 literally means night cherry blossoms.
Peter: So they actually have lights to light them up.
Chigusa: At some parks, they do, right.
Peter: Wow I can understand why getting the good place is so important. So now we are viewing cherry blossoms at night. What are we doing at night?
Chigusa: At night, it’s quite the same still eating and drinking and partying.
Peter: Wow Chigusa, this is – this is an amazing thing.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: It goes on and on.
Chigusa: On and on.
Peter: And some people are singing you said?
Chigusa: Right. They bring little カラオケマイクs.
Peter: Mobile karaoke.
Chigusa: Right. Some people.
Peter: Are you serious?
Chigusa: Aha!
Peter: I have seen people with guitars but I haven’t seen the mobile karaoke.
Chigusa: People do.
Peter: Okay so we are eating, singing, drinking, chatting.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And usually how big are the groups? You know, give us an idea of like the group size?
Chigusa: It really depends on the party but I say about 5 to 20.
Peter: Oh wow! So you could have 20 people going for this?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And when you stake your claim, you lay down a little tarp right?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: So that’s kind of your space.
Chigusa: Right. And you take off your shoes when you get on that.
Peter: And that’s your little island of sanctity.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: It’s funny this year I was too busy to go flower viewing but the school I go to is in 国立.
Chigusa: Oh I know 大学通り
Peter: That’s right.
Chigusa: It’s really famous for flower viewing right?
Peter: Yep and this is the season when all the freshmen come into college. So all of the clubs are trying to get them to join. So everybody is flower viewing. I was too busy this year for I don’t really know the reason. Japanesepod101.com but – so although I couldn’t go flower viewing, I managed to see what was going on. I went to school at about 2 PM. The streets were full of people walking by flower viewing and like Chigusa said, people camped out under the trees. I went to go eat dinner with my wife at around 8 PM. People were still there. I went back to the research room studying, studying, studying, I left at 2. There were people still there.
Chigusa: No doubt.
Peter: No doubt. This is normal?
Chigusa: For young college students, that’s really normal.
Peter: Chigusa!
Chigusa: They want to stay up all night.
Peter: Chigusa, what’s the latest you’ve been flower viewing?
Chigusa: 5 AM maybe.
Peter: And what time did you start?
Chigusa: The morning before.
Peter: It’s almost like a 24-hour event.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: You could have sold your place to the next people.
Chigusa: Oho I should have done that. You should have told me earlier.
Peter: There you go! So now, you got an idea of what this is like. It’s really an all-day event about spending time with friends, colleagues or people you go to school with. So it’s not just going to look at the flowers. The flowers kind of set the atmosphere. It’s kind of a social experience.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And it’s really something that we definitely recommend that you try.
Chigusa: Right, right.
Peter: Get to Hokkaido now, make some friends and flower view.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Okay Chigusa, so how long are the cherry blossoms in bloom for?
Chigusa: About 7 days.
Peter: Yeah it’s just one week.
Chigusa: Right really short.
Peter: Too short but that’s why everyone appreciates the beauty so much.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: It’s so short but those seven days are worth the year long wait. Right Chigusa?
Chigusa: Exactly.
Peter: Okay Chigusa, so it’s just seven days. What’s your favorite part? What’s your favorite time during these seven days?
Chigusa: I like it most when its 満開.
Peter: Which is?
Chigusa: Right when they are in full bloom.
Peter: Ah I know what you are talking about. Yeah during this period, everything is just so pink.
Chigusa: Wait Peter! Not just pink, there are different shades from white pink to really dark pink.
Peter: You got me Chigusa yes. There are different shades and you don’t want to miss it.
Chigusa: And one more thing you don’t want to miss is 花吹雪.
Peter: And what’s this?
Chigusa: In English, it means flower blizzard.
Peter: Flower blizzard?
Chigusa: Right and it’s when the wind blows and the flower just falls, the petals everywhere. It’s really pretty.
Peter: You are right. Now I know what you are talking about. What was the name of that, one more time?
Chigusa: 花吹雪
Peter: This is my favorite part. Kind of towards the end of the week when the petals are about to fall and a big gust of wind comes along and just blows them. It looks like it’s snowing.
Chigusa: Right. Pink snow. So romantic right?
Peter: Can I show a sensitive side here?
Chigusa: Your eyes are tearing up.
Peter: Chigusa!
Chigusa: So romantic.
Peter: Oh Chigusa! No it is just the wind that got in my eyes. The wind got my eye although it’s a studio and there is no wind. It still got in my eye. Again if you can make it here during this time, if you planned a trip. Actually Johnny from Australia came to visit us and I said, you know wow! You had a really good timing and he is like, no I plan my trip around this Sakura.
Chigusa: Hmm smart.
Peter: Really smart. So if you can’t get to Hokkaido this year, plan for next year because this is just an amazing time at Japan.
Chigusa: Right. You should bring your girlfriends or boyfriends too.
Peter: I love how you use plural there. Chigusa, you are too funny.
Chigusa: Oops!


Peter: Oops! Okay. So that’s going to do it for this edition of Japanese culture class. Thank you again Chigusa.
Chigusa: Thank you too Peter.
Peter: It is always a pleasure to have you in the studio.
Chigusa: Thank you.
Peter: See you next week. Ah see you in two weeks because this is the last one before our one week break.
Chigusa: また、再来週!
Peter: See you in two weeks.