Vocabulary (Review)

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Lesson Transcript

Chigusa: 第三十回 日本文化レッスンでございます。ちぐさです。
Yoshi: よしです。
Peter: Peter here. Japanese culture class #30. As always, brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. We are here with Chigusa san and Yoshi san and we are here to talk about a very interesting topic. Chigusa san, what are we talking about today?

Lesson focus

Chigusa: 七五三
Peter: Literally 753 and this has to do with girls of the age of 3 and 7 and boys of the age 3 and 5. Chigusa san, where do we go from there? What happens on this day? Well why don’t we start with the day? Which day is it held on?
Chigusa: It’s held on November 15th.
Peter: Now Yoshi san, is this a National Holiday?
Yoshi: No it’s not.
Peter: Okay so there is a chance that it may fall on a weekday?
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: So if it falls on a weekday and it’s not a national holiday, obviously people have lots of things to do. So while this day, the official day is the 15th of November, a lot of people wind up celebrating it on the weekend around this day, kind of the closest weekend. If November 15th falls on a Thursday, part of that upcoming Saturday or Sunday or if not, if it’s on a Monday or Tuesday, probably the closest weekend to that day. So we know that it’s held on November 15th or around November 15. We know that it deals with children, boys, ages 3 and 5, girls ages 3 and 7 but what happens. Chigusa san, help us out here.
Chigusa: Families visits Shinto shrines to pray for their children’s good health and growth.
Peter: Yeah so much like some of the other holidays. For example, remember こいのぼり?
Chigusa: Umm…
Peter: What day was that?
Chigusa: Children’s day こどもの日.
Peter: That’s the one. So similar to this, you are praying for the health and the welfare of your child but what’s different about this is, it’s for specific ages. Now Yoshi san, why are they odd numbers?
Yoshi: Because they are considered as lucky numbers in Japan but it also has a influence from China.
Peter: Really?
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: So these odd numbers again are a recurring theme in Japanese culture. So on this day, the families pray for the health and welfare of the children. Now let’s start out what the kids are wearing and maybe we should even specify further. We stated earlier that both boys and girls aged 3 participate in the ceremony, right?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: So why don’t we start out with children aged 3 because we can talk about what they are wearing because everybody is participating. Then we will cover 5 and 7 afterwards. So Chigusa san, at age 3, what are the children wearing?
Chigusa: Now-a-days, most girls wear kimonos and boys wear haori jackets and hakama trousers but recently more and more girls wear dresses and boys wear suits.
Peter: But the key here is that they are dressing up.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: And they must look adorable.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Okay so at 3, both the boys and girls are going to the Shinto shrine. Now using the same example, let’s use the same crop of kids. So bad, crop of kids but let’s use the same crop of kids. So at 3 years old, this year in 2006, all the 3-year olds will be going to the Shinto shrine. Okay now let’s fast forward two years, 2008. So all the kids who are 3 this year are now 5. Yoshi san, who is going to the Shinto shrine?
Yoshi: The boys.
Peter: And what are they going to be wearing?
Yoshi: We know as Chigusa san said like you know today like they can wear pretty much anything they want, you know they tend to dress up but traditionally the boys are supposed to wear Hakama on this day for the first time.
Peter: And can you just refresh everybody’s mind. What is hakama?
Yoshi: It’s like a kimono for boys and guys.
Peter: And what kind of material is it made of? When I think Kimono, I think silk and all those elaborate colors, you know along all the way down to the ankles. That’s the image in my mind of a kimono, tied in the back. So maybe we could specify it a bit more here because I think it’s quite different than what most westerns would envision when they hear this word kimono.
Yoshi: I think it’s made of cotton. It almost looks like a skirt but it’s a pants and…
Peter: Yeah it works. Two legs, you have two legs.
Yoshi: It’s really wide.
Peter: Exactly and that’s why some people do describe it as a skirt but it’s just very wide like baggy pants.
Yoshi: Yeah.
Peter: I think like 1990s MC Hammer.
Yoshi: Exactly but you can also see them like a people who do 合気道 and some martial arts, they wear hakama also.
Peter: Yeah so it’s just very baggy style pants but when you think baggy, you know it doesn’t have that structure to it but hakama has that structure. You know, it’s – the shape is very defined. With baggy pants, they are kind of just hanging but hakama is quite defined. The key point is that it’s just pants. It only goes up to the waist whereas a kimono would go all the way down. Now what do the guys wear on top?
Yoshi: They wear a 羽織.
Peter: Which is?
Yoshi: A jacket.
Peter: But when you say – again, when you say jacket, you know I think of winter jacket or in the US, we used to have these like NFL jackets with the big helmet on the back. Is that what we are talking about here? It’s a little different right?
Yoshi: It’s more Japanese style of a jacket.
Chigusa: It’s like a jacket without buttons and instead you have ravens. So you tie the raven in front of your chest.
Peter: And this is very traditional clothing.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Okay so the boys are all dressed up in this and they go to the Shinto shrine. Okay now let’s fast forward two more years and now we are at 2010. So the children who are 3 this year are now 7. Now this year in 2010, who is going to the Shinto shrine?
Chigusa: The girls.
Peter: Yes.
Chigusa: Yeay!
Peter: And what are they wearing?
Chigusa: They began to use obi sash to tie their kimonos instead of chords.
Peter: Yeah so when they are younger, it’s not such an elaborate process. Could we equate the obi which is the belt of the kimono, the sash of the kimono, kind of like I guess in the western where guys would wear a tie. Tie your own tie for the first time. Do girls, can they do it themselves or..
Chigusa: I don’t think they can do it themselves because usually we have very decorative designs on the back when you tie obi. So professionals or mothers do it for you.
Peter: All right, there goes my theory. Okay they dress up in this and head to the Shinto shrine.
Yoshi: And they put makeup on too...
Peter: Really?
Yoshi: Lots of girls, yes and it’s really cute.
Peter: Wow, Yoshi san, when was the last time you’ve seen one of these?
Yoshi: Long time ago. I saw the picture of my nephews who did 七五三.
Peter: Yeah that must be adorable. Chigusa san, what did you wear for your 7-year. What could we call, could we call it 7-year, 7-year celebration?
Chigusa: Hmm.
Peter: What did you wear for your 7-year celebration?
Chigusa: I think I wore a red kimono and I went to the beauty parlor to get my hair set up.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Yeah like the traditional Japanese style hair and I remember I was really excited because I was in the states when I was 3. So I missed my 3-year-old celebration and it was my first time to wear a kimono.
Peter: Wow! yeah it seems like a really good experience.
Chigusa: Yeah. You feel like you are a princess and girls love that, so…
Peter: How about you Yoshi san? Did you feel like a prince for your 5-year celebration?
Yoshi: I feel like a princess too. Now I don’t remember much because it was a long time ago but I – In my old picture, I wore a suit.
Peter: Oh really?
Yoshi: Yes.
Peter: And the tie?
Yoshi: Maybe. I might have wore bow tie.
Peter: Any chance of us getting a picture from your parents all the way from Nagasaki?
Yoshi: Of course.
Peter: I’d be pretty interested to see that picture.
Yoshi: I want to see Chigusa san’s picture.
Peter: That – yes.
Chigusa: Sure I will bring it in then.
Peter: All right. Now this celebration has its root in the Meiji era but it goes back even further preceding the Meiji era. The aristocrats and the samurais would mark the 3rd and 5th birthdays of their male children and the 3rd and 7th birthdays of their female children. So when the child of an aristocrat or a samurai became 3, what would happen both for boys and girls, Yoshi san?
Yoshi: They started growing their hair.
Peter: Yeah up until this point, their heads would be repeatedly shaven. So this is the age in which this practice would stop. Then at the age of 5, what would happen for the guys, Chigusa san?
Chigusa: They would put on hakama for the first time in public.
Peter: As we stated earlier in the podcast. Finally at the age of 7 for the girls
Yoshi: They began to use obi sash.
Peter: Again we talked about this earlier. Now we got this information from allabout.co.jp. Now we will have this link available on the site so you can get more information about this holiday. We are just relaying a bit of information here about where this holiday developed from. So some of these as you heard in the previous discussion, some of these customs have carried over while others have kind of faded away again much like anything else, holidays and customs and events kind of evolve. The reason we are bringing up the traditions and the history behind this holiday is that there is something related to the lifespan of humans included in this holiday. Yoshi san, you want to tell us a little bit more about that?
Yoshi: Yes. So this tradition started from when all the children didn’t live easily when they were children.
Peter: Yeah pretty much in the past, the average lifespan was quite short – well I mean obviously much shorter than it is today. So children didn’t necessarily make it when they were young, they were very susceptible to diseases and other things that could take their life. They would pray for the health and longevity of their children.
Yoshi: Also back then like all the kids were considered as god’s children because it was so hard for them to survive because of you know all the poor diet or you know, they didn’t have any medications that we can get today. So this day, they go to greet the god, to thank them that you know, we made it.
Peter: Yeah and once you get past 7, your immune system even in the past was quite developed and you had a much better chance of surviving. Yeah the first few years are – you are very – quite susceptible to a lot of illnesses and diseases. Okay related to this is something that children receive on this day. Chigusa san, what do they receive from their parents?
Chigusa: They get 千歳飴
Peter: This literally means a 1000-year candy. Chigusa san, let’s just look at this a little closer. How do we say 1000 years.
Chigusa: 千歳
Peter: And the word for Candy?
Chigusa: 飴
Peter: So 1000-year candy. Anything else about this?
Chigusa: This could be translated as longevity candy and its given to children to wish for their good health and longevity.
Peter: Aha and what kind of animals are associated with this bag?
Chigusa: Turtles and cranes.
Peter: Yes and if you recall from our animal episode, Chigusa san, how long are cranes supposed to live?
Chigusa: A 1000 years.
Peter: And turtles.
Chigusa: 10,000 years.
Peter: So these are two animals that are quite popular on this day and in recent times, you can see these animals on the outside of this candy, well on the bag and maybe on the wrappers of the candy.
Chigusa: And the candy is usually a really long stick and I think there is two types of candy. One is the normal candy. It’s all white and the other has pictures of cranes or turtles and wherever you cut the candy, you get the same picture inside.
Peter: Ah so the picture is actually inside the candy?
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: All right. Now one more interesting thing about this day. Yoshi san, what’s the name of that shrine across the street from where we work?
Yoshi: 比叡神社 Hiei Shrine.
Peter: And like when I say right across the street, we work right in front of the window. We can actually see this shrine. Sometimes we eat there. Yoshi san, you usually go there right?
Yoshi: Yes.


Peter: It’s a very quiet place. You get a Bento, go there, you eat. A really nice place and very peaceful. This place is right across the street from us and on this day, a lot of families go there to celebrate this day. So maybe we can see about checking out that place. So that’s going to do it for today’s lesson. If you stop by japanesepod101.com, we will have to see but maybe inside that PDF, we will have Yoshi san and Chigusa san’s pictures. No promises but you are going to have to come down and check it out. All right, that’s going to do it for today.
Yoshi: またね。
Chigusa: またね。


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