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Lesson Transcript

Sakura: 日本文化レッスンでございます。さくらです。
Yoshi: よしです。
Peter: Peter here. Japanese culture class #27. As always, brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. All right, joined in the studio by Sakura san and Yoshi san and we are here to talk about what Sakura san?

Lesson focus

Sakura: 敬老の日
Peter: Respect-for-the-Aged Day. Now the best part about this lesson is, I know nothing about the topic. So I think there is going to be a lot of people out there quite happy that I will not be saying anything in this lesson.
Sakura: ずるい。
Peter: English please.
Sakura: あ~なんて言えばいいの。 I don’t know what in English.
Peter: What was the word?
Sakura: ずるい。
Peter: So cunning, not fair. So we are using a dirty trick.
Sakura: Dirty trick.
Peter: Or some kind of unfavorable means to get what you want.
Sakura: うん、そうそうそう。 Or it’s like it’s not fair ね。
Peter: Yeah that’s it.
Sakura: そう。
Peter: So I happily turn the lesson over to Sakura san and Yoshi san. よろしくお願いします。
Sakura: よろしくお願いします。
Peter: よろしくお願いします。
Sakura: どうぞ。
Peter: Please Yoshi san.
Yoshi: So, 敬老の日。
Peter: Respect-for-the-Aged Day.
Yoshi: You know, you have mothers day and fathers day but in Japan, we also have this day 敬老の日.
Peter: In addition to mothers and fathers day, correct. In Japan, you also have mothers and fathers day.
Sakura: Yes.
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: Plus this day too.
Sakura: Umm…
Yoshi: Because I don’t think other countries have this.
Sakura: I never heard of it.
Yoshi: Maybe they do, maybe not.
Sakura: Maybe.
Peter: Nice to see you going out on limbs instead of me. Yeah so anybody out there, we’d love to hear what’s going on in your country if you have a similar day or something because to the best of our knowledge, we are not aware of another country with this custom but it seems like someone out there would have this Respect-for-the-Aged Day and we should have it too in the US.
Sakura: Umm.
Yoshi: Yes it’s a National holiday, the 3rd Monday of September.
Peter: So every 3rd week of September, you have a 3-day holiday.
Sakura: Yes. やったぁ!
Peter: Yes Sakura san, you fell into my trap. Yes this is supposed to be a respectful holiday but I think many young people like Sakura san nowadays, rather than using this day for what it was meant to do think about a 3-day holiday. A 3-day vacation and take off somewhere. Sakura san, can you verify that? Do you usually take this day off or do you usually do something with the aged people.
Sakura: Actually to be honest…
Peter: We love when you are honest.
Sakura: I don’t do anything special really. Umm and I think many Japanese people too but some people who are more like living close to their grandparents may get together yeah or I heard that some people give flowers or send Sake, Japanese Sake to grandfather or grandmother.
Peter: Yeah so again with everything we introduced here, we just want you to know that much like in any country, there are people on this day who take the time to do what they want or there is other people who take the time to do what people traditionally did. Again there is a wide range of lots of people in any country. Again there is a wide range of people. We are going to tell you more about this day and what’s usually done on it but again, not everybody follows this. So if you meet a Japanese person overseas, maybe they don’t do this. Maybe they call or maybe you can ask them and gather some information for us. Maybe they do call home on this day. Maybe they do call their grandparents and things like that. Again it’s – we learn from each other. The more we hear from you, the better it is, interactive learning.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Yes. Okay Yoshi san, tell us more.
Yoshi: You know, Japanese people are well known for long life span.
Peter: Yes definitely and we went through this in one of the previous lessons especially the women.
Sakura: Ah yes.
Peter: Guys, you are not so…you are not…
Sakura: But still.
Peter: Yes.
Sakura: Still.
Peter: All right, you got it.
Yoshi: And I think it’s a wonderful thing but also it brings up this. It’s not a issue but topic about having elderly people in your society and this day – on this day, it gives you a chance to think about if our welfare for aged people is good enough.
Peter: Wow! You really took this political Yoshi san.
Sakura: But it’s good.
Peter: So you agree Sakura san?
Sakura: Yes because it’s becoming a very important issue in Japan in many ways. This aging population issue.
Peter: Yeah can you give us a bit of background for people who might not be aware of what’s going on out there. It’s okay I can give a background about what’s going on.
Sakura: Hm...
Peter: So in Japan, the birth rate has been falling.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: As more and more women enter the workforce, they choose to marry later. Similar with the guys, they want experience more before they settle down with a family. This is coupled with the fact that after the war, the population increased very fast. So they had the same thing. They had a baby boom but more so than the US, the birth rate has fallen and it’s getting to be quite an issue. I believe last year was the first year that the Japanese population actually started shrinking. So they actually peaked and they are forecast to fall quite a bit over the next 100 years. So it’s becoming this huge issue.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So that’s where we are at and that’s why people nowadays are kind of very concerned with this. There is pension things and there is all – well, we could spend the whole lesson on this.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: But what I’d like to do, I would like to ask you Sakura san and you Yoshi san define aged.
Sakura: Umm?
Peter: Define aged, Respect-for-the-Aged Day. Who is aged?
Sakura: Hahahaha! え~っとですね。あぁ~ Well actually I’ve seen somewhere that the definition for like 高齢者 which is like high aged people is like in statistics だよね, over 65 or somewhere like that but I am not really sure. I think I just saw that somewhere.
Peter: But the fact that you don’t know it, kind of lets me know that it’s kind of open to interpretation.
Sakura: Yes I think so umm…
Peter: So for you, what would you consider, who would you consider? Who would you pay respect to on this day, your parents or your grandparents or an uncle or great uncle or who would you pay respect to?
Sakura: Grandparents and old people around that age, I would say.
Peter: So give me a rough figure.
Sakura: No.
Peter: No?
Sakura: Because that’s going to reveal something.
Peter: Ah!
Sakura: How about you…
Peter: That’s right yeah. Just stop by the website japanesepod101.com for that because we have everything up there.
Sakura: But…
Peter: Good point. Yeah so let’s ask Yoshi san, yeah.
Yoshi: I would say if you have grandchildren, even though you are still in your like it could be 30s or 40s or 50s, but once your grandchildren start calling you grandpa, grandma, they can start respecting you as like elderly person.
Sakura: Ah from the eye of the grandchild. あぁ。
Yoshi: Yeah I think that’s how we see you know aged people like I – you would say, you respect your grandparents but how about when you have grandkid. So I think it’s safe to say that way so that we don’t have to define…
Sakura: あ~そっか。
Peter: I think it’s a great definition but just to play devil’s advocate, what about the people with no grandkids?
Sakura: ね。まあ、それもあるよね。
Yoshi: They can consider the friend’s grandkid as…
Sakura: Ummm…
Peter: Yeah.
Sakura: The same generation...
Yoshi: Yeah.
Peter: Yoshi I think you got a winner. That’s a great way to do it.
Yoshi: Thank you, thank you…
Peter: Great job Yoshi san.
Sakura: I think one interesting point is that many Japanese people who might have been considered an elderly a few decades ago are not so – they don’t look that age. They are enjoying like they are more active you know, nowadays I think.
Peter: Keep holding on Sakura san, keep holding on. Okay yeah no, it’s a great point.
Sakura: You know, what I want to say…yeah.
Peter: We got it. No that’s a great point.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: And that’s why I think Yoshi’s dynamic definition is really works out well because it does. It’s all kind of relative and especially as Japan’s population gets older.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So this is quite an interesting day.
Yoshi: And it’s not like you are trying to say you are old, but it’s more like you know, we want to respect your…
Sakura: Yeah.
Yoshi: Like what you have gained and what you know.
Peter: And what you’ve contributed to the society.
Yoshi: Yes.
Sakura: ね。
Yoshi: Because this holiday 敬老の日 originally started about 50 years ago like one mayor of this village in Japan tried to do a project to…
Sakura: Develop the village.
Yoshi: Yes and…
Peter: Economic stimulation.
Yoshi: And his concept of this project was to be respectful to the elderly people but also get the wisdom.
Sakura: Yeah.
Yoshi: To develop the village.
Peter: It is a great idea.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: You know one of the most amazing thing for me is that for me, Japanese people retire too young. I mean you have these people 60, 63, 65 retiring and they are almost kind of forced out and you are talking about some really valuable work experience and things like this. We are trying to actually get a person to come work down here.
Sakura: Good idea.
Peter: Yeah we need, we need some structure.
Sakura: Yeah. I think many people think that and situation is changing little by little to hire these people who have retired nowadays.
Peter: Yeah I mean, it’s – yeah it could be great for the Japanese economy.
Sakura: Yes I’d say so.
Peter: So Yoshi san, do you have the name of that village?
Yoshi: I am not sure about the name of the village but it was in Hyogo prefecture.
Sakura: Ah!
Peter: Where is that located?
Sakura: Near Kyoto, Osaka.
Peter: So to the Southwest of Honshu.
Yoshi: Where Kobe is in.
Sakura: Ah Kobe, yes, yes.
Peter: Yeah. So Kobe is in Hyogo prefecture?
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: So down near Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe in that area down there.
Yoshi: Yes.
Sakura: And there is also a commercial campaign which is a lot smaller in scale compared to mother’s day and father’s day but like gift giving for grandparents.
Peter: Yeah but as we said before, since the aged population is increasing, this holiday can get very big in the near future.
Sakura: Huh!
Peter: Not only is the amount of elderly people increasing but on an average, they tend to live longer.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: And it’s usually in increasing trend. So we found out where this day came from.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: We talked about that the number of participants are increasing and when it started. Okay so now that we covered pretty much – now that we covered the basics.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Let’s get some input. Let’s ask Yoshi san what he does on these days. Sakura san, can you ask him? I don’t want to put him on the spot.
Sakura: Yoshi san, do you do anything special on that day?
Yoshi: I used to when my grandparents were still alive, I think my family went to visit them just you know to hang out.
Sakura: Yes.
Yoshi: But now they are gone. So I just respect the elderly people by myself.
Sakura: That’s nice.
Peter: Very nice.
Sakura: Nice.
Peter: Yeah I think the whole concept to this day is really nice and we could really use something like this. All right now, I think that’s going to cover it. Yoshi san, do you have anything you want to add or Sakura san, anything you want to add?
Yoshi: Yeah there is like one funny story about this Japanese man who lived the longest. I think he is in the Guinness Book. He was 120 years old.
Sakura: Yes though very old.
Peter: Wow! It makes me feel good all of a sudden. Really good.
Sakura: うん。すごいね。
Yoshi: I believe he was the longest lived male but when he turned to 120 years old, you know all the reporters, TV stations went to go interview him and they asked him, hey what’s your type of a woman? And can you guess what he said?
Sakura: Pretty girls.
Peter: Umm…
Sakura: Hello! Hands up.
Peter: Yeah these questions throw me up. Okay I would have to say, his type…
Sakura: Okay.
Yoshi: Can I just tell you the answer?
Peter: No.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay I don’t know, young girls?
Yoshi: Tad close but…
Peter: Close?
Yoshi: Almost but he said older women.
Peter: Older women!
Yoshi: Yes someone older than he was so…
Sakura: Nice humor だね。
Peter: We are talking about 19th century.
Sakura: So I like that.
Peter: Like that person – we are talking like the beginning of the Meiji era.
Sakura: Yes but he is the oldest guy.
Peter: What now!
Yoshi: Maybe he has a young heart.
Sakura: Yes and that’s – maybe that’s the key to that long age as well huh!


Peter: Yeah and I bet, there is a lot of people looking forward to their presence on this day to keep them young. All right, so that’s going to do it for today.
Sakura: またね。
Yoshi: またね。


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