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Lesson Transcript

Yoshi: 日本文化レッスンでございます。
Chigusa: ちぐさです。
Yoshi: ホ~ホケキョ。よしです。
Peter: Peter here. Japanese culture class #18. As always, we are brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. All right, we are back with animals, part 2 and joining us again is the lovely Chigusa and the lovely…
Yoshi: Yoshi!
Peter: Chigusa.
Yoshi: Thank you Peter.
Peter: Chigusa, does he qualify as lovely?
Chigusa: I don’t think so. I am sorry.

Lesson focus

Peter: All right. So it is the lovely Chigusa and Yoshi. Now, we are going to be going over some more animals. Two weeks ago, we covered the first round of animals and yes, we got a really good response to them. Chigusa’s lovely Japanese Bush Warbler call, we had a great response to the first round. So we are back with round 2. Again lots more animals today and we are going to see if we can get behind the meanings of them in Japan. Okay so without further adieu, let’s jump right in. Chigusa, first animal お願いします。
Chigusa: 猫 Cats.
Peter: All right and tell us something about cats today.
Chigusa: Cats are known as being really moody, one minute happy and playful but the other minute, aggressive.
Peter: Yes Cats. Now, in Japan, we went over this once with superstition. What is the good luck cat inviting in the good luck?
Chigusa: 招き猫.
Peter: Yes and you could see him throughout Japan in lots of shops and outside shops, he’s got one hand up, one hand down inviting in the luck, right?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Actually outside the studio, there is a Fuji camera shop and they have a huge inviting cat. I think he is about 3 feet big. Do you know which one I am talking about?
Chigusa: Really, I never noticed.
Peter: See, that’s how common they are in Japan. Japanese people don’t even notice them.
Chigusa: It’s everywhere.
Peter: Everywhere. Okay and again, these are thought to bring in good luck and money.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Good for business.
Chigusa: Good for business.
Peter: Chigusa, I noticed in Japan, there are a lot of stray cats. Do you have any idea why there are so many?
Chigusa: I have no idea but there used to be stray dogs too a long time ago but now they have Dog pounds and they don’t allow stray dogs but they don’t have pounds for cats.
Peter: Quite interesting. We should really look into this. Now Chigusa, what’s the name? I know there is a name of a law that was passed maybe 100 or so years ago that was passed to protect dogs because before that, there was kind of like cruelty to dogs in Japan. Do you know the name of the law?
Chigusa: The name of the law is 生類憐みの令
Peter: And because of this law, dogs were protected and then they started to flourish.
Chigusa: Right. Not only dogs but all animals it was.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Right and plants too…
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Really.
Peter: All right. I must be a dog lover because I missed the rest of it. I didn’t realize. Now if you want to find out more about this, please stop by japanesepod101.com and check out the PDF. We will have a little write up on this law and the history behind it because it’s really directly related to the way animals developed in Japan, the domestication and other things.
Chigusa: Right and the word お犬様 also flourished this time.
Peter: Really, what does that mean?
Chigusa: It’s 犬 in a very, very polite way. It’s like using 敬語 for dogs.
Peter: Wow!
Chigusa: お犬様
Peter: Wow! It’s the first time I heard this. Interesting, all right. So we backtracked a bit but Chigusa likes dogs. So we had to backtrack a bit and cover the dogs and let you know about that. All right, what do we have next?
Yoshi: 蛙
Peter: Frog. Now there is a very famous proverb associated with frogs. Well I think there is a few of them but I am thinking of one in particular and it has to do with a well. Any ideas, help me out here.
Yoshi: 井の中の蛙。
Peter: That’s the one. All right and what does this mean?
Yoshi: It’s actually 井の中の蛙大海を知らず。
Peter: And what does this mean?
Yoshi: A frog in a well doesn’t know the big ocean.
Peter: Yes and Chigusa, how was this interpreted? What kind of situation will you use this in?
Chigusa: For example, when a person is living in a really small enclosed environment and doesn’t know about the world.
Peter: Exactly, yeah great explanation.
Chigusa: Really?
Peter: So yeah, someone who doesn’t really know what’s going on outside.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: So you can just say to someone ah, 井の中の蛙 ah you are the frog in the well and the rest of the expression is kind of known. And the nuance is, you don’t know much about the world out there, do you?
Chigusa: Right but I don’t recommend for you to say it in front of that person.
Peter: Oh just stick to behind the back.
Chigusa: Yeah, yeah no but sometimes like sensitive people might get offended.
Peter: Frogs do.
Yoshi: But I do.
Peter: All right. Frogs, frogs, frogs. Now what else do we have, next animal?
Chigusa: 狸
Peter: Not quite a Raccoon, not quite a dog. So Raccoon dogs. Now when I first read this, I was a bit shocked but you have to see one to understand. It’s not a Raccoon right?
Chigusa: No it’s not.
Peter: You know in the US, we have the Raccoons and well, they can be disease carrying and they can be a bit ferocious. They are very cute at a distance. These things – what do you think Chigusa, cute?
Chigusa: They are really cute when they are babies.
Peter: Yeah that works for every animal out there. But tell us more about these Raccoon dogs?
Chigusa: Most Raccoon dogs are wild.
Peter: Yeah and are they big, are they small?
Chigusa: They are pretty big about a mid size dog.
Peter: Yeah like much bigger than a Raccoon but these get to be the size of about a mid sized dog which when you see a pack of them, it’s quite an eye-opener. All right, and what are they known for?
Peter: They are kind of like ______ (0:06:27) when they are surprised or when they see other animals or enemies, they play dead.
Peter: Is there a word for this in Japanese?
Chigusa: 狸寝入り
Peter: Ah the たぬき sleep and it’s kind of like playing dead.
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: All right. Can you give us an example, how to use this?
Chigusa: Okay. If you see a person, a young person who is pretending to be asleep on the train when…
Peter: Pretending?
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Or like really sleeping.
Chigusa: Pretending.
Peter: Like say an old lady comes and stands in front of them.
Chigusa: Yeah comes in front…
Peter: He closes his eyes and…
Chigusa: Right. That’s 狸寝入り
Peter: Is there a way to wake them up? Pull the tail or something?
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Pretending to be ah…actually I remember well now like when I was a child trying to avoid school. Yes pretending to be asleep.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Got it. All right, so please continue on.
Chigusa: In Japanese folktales, Raccoon dogs are known for fooling human beings but they don’t succeed.
Peter: So they are always trying.
Chigusa: They are always trying but they always fail.
Peter: And Yoshi, is there something going on with their belly?
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: What is going on here?
Yoshi: The Raccoon dogs, they – they use their bellies as drums.
Peter: For the drum they beat themselves on the belly and they make the drum noise.
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: Are they depicted this way in like cartoons and stuff.
Yoshi: Uhoo…
Peter: Ah interesting. Chigusa, next please.
Chigusa: The next is 狐 Fox.
Peter: All right. And what do we have for fox?
Chigusa: They are often detected as very cunning, sly, and not very positive image.
Peter: Yes kind of the same in the west. It’s funny how the fox gets this bad reputation. Why do you think it gets such a bad reputation?
Chigusa: I think it’s because of the face, its sharp. They have like – their eyes are like…
Peter: I thought it’s because they are really clever but yeah…the face…
Chigusa: The face, they look kind of bad. Don’t you think?
Peter: Chigusa.
Chigusa: They are cute but…
Peter: Oh your recovery is so late and so little. It’s pretty good point. I guess we could look more into it but I think it has to do with the fact like they used to wreak havoc on the farms and they wouldn’t get caught. I guess some animals would just go get a cabbage and eat a cabbage on the farm and then the farmer will come and catch them but I think foxes, they are really stealthy and they get the chickens, they get the other animals and they never get caught. So I guess that’s maybe where it comes from but I want you to quote me on this. If you want to quote, go to japanesepod101.com and check out the PDF because that’s where you will find all the sourced information. All right, and you know something, right here in Akasaka, they have
Chigusa: 稲荷神社
Peter: That’s it. Now what’s the connection between 狐 and 稲荷?
Chigusa: At 稲荷 Shrines, foxes are taught to be messengers of the gods.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Right. So there are always statues of seated foxes. Sometimes they are taught to be as sacred animals.
Peter: I see. We’ve actually had lunch there a few times and what do they have here Yoshi?
Yoshi: Big fox.
Peter: Yeah. Now I want to ask you about something else. I know when I go to eat そば, there is something called きつねそば and たぬきそば and うどん too or just そば?
Yoshi: For both.
Peter: What’s going on here?
Yoshi: きつね either そば or うどん has the fried soy bag on top of it.
Peter: Aha!
Peter: And たぬき either そば or うどん has…
Peter: Chigusa, help us out here. What’s going on?
Chigusa: I think one reason why they call it きつね うどん is because they have おあげ in the うどん.
Peter: And what’s that?
Chigusa: おあげ is fried soy.
Peter: So what relation to the fox?
Chigusa: It’s brownish gold. So it resembles the color of the fox I think.
Peter: All right, you got out of that one. Now what about the たぬき, what about the Raccoon うどん?
Chigusa: The たぬき, I don’t know. Maybe as opposed to having the おあげ, they have bits and pieces of crumbs, tempura crumbs.
Peter: Ah!
Yoshi: And also I have an idea of たぬき うどん.
Peter: All right let’s hear it.
Yoshi: This is just my guess but like if you are rich, you can have really good 天ぷら うどん.
Peter: With the shrimp.
Yoshi: Aha with all the vegetables on top of うどん.
Peter: Oh it sounds nice.
Yoshi: And – but if you didn’t have enough money, but still you can have たぬき うどん which is as good as 天ぷらうどん. So I am guessing たぬき うどん makes believe that you are eating 天ぷらうどん.
Peter: Ah!
Yoshi: As you know Raccoons fools you.
Peter: Or it could be that Raccoons often eat out of the garbage and they are just the crumbs with nothing in there.
Yoshi: It’s just my guess.
Peter: All right. I am going to go with the scavenger theory that Raccoons you know, whatever they get, they can eat. So that’s why they get the crumbs. Yoshi is going with the tempura, all right. Now we have two theories to investigate.
Yoshi: All right.
Peter: All right. Okay what do we have next?
Chigusa: 蝉 Ciada.
Peter: And Yoshi will give you the sound, the Japanese sound of a Cicada. Yoshi…
Yoshi: みーんみんみんみんみん...
Peter: This insect in Japanese, break it down.
Yoshi: みんみんみん
Peter: So they repeat the sounds.
Yoshi: みん
Peter: Over and over to mimic the sound of Cicada. It’s actually pretty close, I think.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Okay so tell us about the Cicadas.
Chigusa: The Cicadas as it is everywhere in the world, they die a week after coming out of the dirt.
Peter: What an explanation!
Chigusa: It’s sometimes compared to the life of man.
Peter: Ah why do you think that is?
Chigusa: You know…
Peter: Enlighten us Chigusa!
Chigusa: Life is really short, so you got to make what you can make out of it.
Peter: All right. There you go, words to live by Cicada.
Chigusa: Cicada.
Peter: Yeah but all I know is they are so loud. They always wake me up, always. Okay what’s next?
Chigusa: The next is とんぼ Dragonfly.
Peter: Dragonflies. Okay Yoshi, what do we have for this?
Yoshi: According to the legend like long time ago, the first emperor was bitten by a mosquito. Then a Dragonfly came and ate that mosquito.
Peter: Ah Dragon flied to the rescue. So do they have a good image in Japan?
Yoshi: Yeah.
Peter: And also there is a children song right?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And what’s the name of that song?
Chigusa: 赤とんぼ
Peter: Okay Yoshi, please sing it for us.
Yoshi: ♪ゆうやけこやけの 赤とんぼ♪
Peter: And what does this mean?
Yoshi: Sun is fading and it’s really pretty and red. And you see the red dragonflies.
Peter: Wow! Now that’s representative of Japan, I think. Anything else with these?
Chigusa: I can tell you a way to catch them really easily.
Peter: All right, what do you got?
Chigusa: It’s a really famous way to catch dragonflies in Japan. First, you stand right in front of the dragonfly who is resting somewhere and you put your finger, your pointing finger in front of the dragonfly’s space and it starts making circles with your finger.
Peter: How do you get that close?
Chigusa: You erase all your aura and just really sneak up and start making circles with your fingers and then the dragonfly gets hypnotized and there you go, you can catch the dragonfly with your fingers right away.
Peter: I don’t know if I buy it.
Chigusa: It really works. I’ve tried it before 1000 times and it always works.
Peter: Chigusa!
Chigusa: Really.
Peter: I think you got me looking like a fool out in the park waving my fingers in the middle of the grass.
Chigusa: But it works.
Peter: All right Yoshi, should we believe her?
Yoshi: Yeah.
Peter: All right, we will give it a try.
Chigusa: Okay.
Peter: And everybody out there, please try this on your side of the world and let us know if it works. This is Chigusa’s guaranteed way to catch dragonflies.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: All right, what do we have next?
Chigusa: The next actually is the last one. It’s 蛍.
Peter: All right Chigusa, tell us about the firefly.
Chigusa: Fireflies used to be more common in Japan a long time ago but now they have decreased.
Peter: Because of all the buildings and all construction.
Chigusa: Right because they are thought to live where there is very clean water.
Peter: Yeah and a lot of it was drained to build houses.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And other things. Actually 池袋 right?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: It gets its name from a bunch of ponds. So there was probably at one time a lot of water there but now it’s just concrete.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: All concrete. Now there is a famous song with this you know that they play, that Japanese people play at graduations or when – I know when the library is closing, I hear this all the time. Any idea what I am talking about?
Chigusa: 蛍の光
Peter: All right and Yoshi is going to show us how it goes.
Yoshi: All right. Are you ready?
Peter: Ready.
Yoshi: ♪蛍の光 窓の雪 た~ら~らら…♪
Peter: That was pretty good. Now this song in the west is Auld Lang Syne. What do the words mean in Japanese? What were you just singing?
Yoshi: 蛍の光 means the light of fireflies and 窓の雪 means snow just outside of the window and this song represents like how hard all the students studied using the light of fireflies and the snow outside of the window of the light.
Peter: Hence the graduation and the library and some other places where we hear this song. All right, so again let’s do a little animal wrap up. Chigusa, what’s your favorite animal today?
Chigusa: 蝉
Peter: Are you serious?
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Why? They are so loud.
Chigusa: But they are kind of cute and I can’t just get over the fact that they have to die in a week after sleeping for 7 years.
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: You should get more sentimental Peter.
Peter: Not going to happen. Yoshi, what do we got?
Yoshi: I like all of them.
Peter: Okay. So you would like to be a hybrid, couple of wings, fox face.
Yoshi: What’s your favorite out of those animals or insects?
Peter: I definitely would have to say the fox.
Yoshi: Why?
Peter: Very misunderstood animal.
Chigusa: Like yourself, you mean?


Peter: Well Chigusa, I never really thought of myself that way but thank you, yes I kind of do now. Thank you for showing me the light. All right Yoshi, hit us with the music. Let them know the podcast is coming to an end.
Yoshi: ♪た~ら~らら た~ら~ら…
Peter: All right. That’s going to do it for today. You can experience the Japanese experience of closing down and you hear the music. That’s going to do it. See you next week.
Chigusa: またね。
Yoshi: またね。


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Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

JapanesePod101.com Verified
May 27th, 2006 at 06:30 PM
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皆さん、we hope you enjoy today's installment of Japanese Culture Class. :grin: Have a great weekend!:grin:

JapanesePod101.com Verified
September 10th, 2019 at 07:53 PM
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Hi Moru,

Thank you for studying with us!

Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

August 16th, 2019 at 01:43 AM
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Amazing! せみ story is so touching =) Thank you for so informative podcast

JapanesePod101.com Verified
November 12th, 2014 at 07:05 PM
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Hi Sarkis,

Thank you for posting.

We have added the right audio :smile:

Thank you for your patience and understanding.



Team JapanesePod101.com

November 8th, 2014 at 05:15 AM
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Just a reminder, the sound file for dragonfly is still incorrect.

JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 3rd, 2013 at 04:56 PM
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Ouch! You're right. The sound file for tonbo has a different word!:sweat_smile:

Thank you very much for letting us know about it!

The audio file will be replaced very soon! :wink:


Team JapanesePod101.com

August 1st, 2013 at 02:34 AM
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I'm really enjoying these cultural sessions in addition to the language sessions.

One small thing I noticed: in the vocabulary list, the sound files for "tonbo" (dragonfly) are incorrect.

mata ne,


July 29th, 2012 at 02:31 PM
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Thank you very much for comments, everyone!! :grin:

> Amanda-san,

it's panda in Japanese too:mrgreen: パンダ


July 29th, 2012 at 07:53 AM
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Just wondering, what is the Japanese name for a panda?? :roll:

August 17th, 2011 at 09:43 AM
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Wow! I wish I knew Chigusa-san's dragonfly catching method when I was little! I used to catch fireflies the hard way: grabing them by their tails! Had to be swift.

I wish we had some pictures on this lesson notes, like on the previous lesson!

March 19th, 2011 at 11:11 AM
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I'll have to confess to having tried the Yamaguchi Method of capturing dragonflies many years ago when I lived in Japan. Hmm, also stateside, come to think of it. The erasing one's aura part does work. I used to think about submarines. Seemed to work most of the time. Had to get rid of all aggravation, impatience, etc. Or it did not work. Or so it seemed The hypnotism part never worked for me. What did work was coming up behind them while they were on the clothesline, going submarine, and moving really slowly. At the last movement, a matter of centimeters, strking quickly to get both wings on one side between the thumb and forefinger, then getting a hold of the thorax to prevent him from damaging himself and from biting me. Some were pretty big. Then I would typically release them. This also worked for cicadae, bees, lizards, etc.

If I had to choose, the dragonfly and cicada seem to come to mind foremost. The American cicada is small and boring compared to the Japanese one...