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Lesson Transcript

Natsuko: 第38回日本文化レッスンでございます。Natsukoです。
Peter: Peter here. Japanese culture class #38. As always, brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. Natsuko san,
Natsuko: はい。こんにちは。
Peter: Natsuko san, it is the first Japanese culture class of the year.
Natsuko: Yes I am very honored to be here.
Peter: We are very honored to have you.
Natsuko: Thank you.
Peter: Thank you. Now Natsuko san, today it is not only us.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: We have a special guest.
Natsuko: Please introduce yourself.
Peter: Natsuko san, please introduce yourself. I thought you were going to introduce her.
Natsuko: Oh I am sorry!
Peter: But yeah maybe it’s better this way. Megumi, can you please introduce yourself?
Megumi: Hi I am Megumi and I grew up most of my life in Japan and I went over to America to study at Bryan University and now I am back and ready to re-explore Japan.
Peter: Well it is great to have you here in the studio with us.
Megumi: Well thank you, it is great to be here.
Natsuko: じゃ、Megumiさん、よろしくお願いします。
Megumi: こちらこそ、よろしくお願いします。
Peter: Now Megumi is here today to talk about – what are we talking about today Megumi?
Megumi: Well, you tell me.
Peter: Natsuko, you tell us.

Lesson focus

Natsuko: 新年会(しんねんかい)
Peter: Natsuko san, how can we translate this?
Natsuko: Ah how about New Year’s party?
Peter: I think that’s a very good literal translation. The only thing is people may subconsciously mix this up with New Year’s Eve party.
Natsuko: Oh I see.
Peter: Because in the US, we don’t have anything like this.
Natsuko: Oh really?
Peter: Yeah or at least maybe I was never invited but… too much laughing.
Natsuko: I am sure not.
Peter: Thank you Natsuko san. Megumi, I cannot tell you how nice it is to have you here today.
Megumi: Oh!
Natsuko: What are you talking about?
Megumi: Well thank you.
Peter: Okay so New Year’s party. This is a concept that I became familiar with after coming to Japan. So before coming to Japan, I had never experienced one. So Natsuko san, maybe you could tell us a bit about what a New Year’s party involves.
Natsuko: Well it’s simply about gathering and drinking again.
Peter: Again. So a follow up to the 忘年会
Natsuko: Right.
Peter: The end of the year party.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: So just another excuse to get together.
Natsuko: Exactly.
Peter: Now the only thing about this is and the reason we are talking about it today is, it’s quite common practice.
Natsuko: Uhoo.
Peter: Now even at the translation company, Erklaren they had a New Year’s party.
Natsuko: 新年会、 Yes.
Peter: And I think that was a new record. When were they back to work?
Natsuko: Oh it was January 4th.
Peter: And when was the New Year’s party?
Natsuko: 4th.
Peter: Yeah the same day.
Megumi: Wow!
Peter: And Natsuko san, can you tell us a bit about how this went? For example, what time did you work till on the New Year’s party day?
Natsuko: I think it was around 3 or something.
Peter: Yeah like a half day.
Natsuko: Yeah because the boss started drinking at that time – around that time.
Peter: Yeah. So yeah this kind of sums up what the New Year’s party is about, getting together and kind of – well kind of the last era because the end of December is such a party season in Japan.
Natsuko: Uhoo…
Peter: Natsuko san, what’s interesting about this New Year’s party was it was held at the company.
Natsuko: Yes it was.
Peter: Now I’ve been to a few 新年会 New Year’s parties.
Natsuko: Uhoo.
Peter: And they were usually held at hotels or a restaurant, somewhere nice and people get together on maybe a Saturday night or so.
Natsuko: Oh yes, I think that’s more common.
Peter: Yeah I think what does that say about Erklaren?
Natsuko: Kind of a special case maybe.
Peter: Very down to earth, right.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Now Megumi, have you been to a New Year’s party?
Megumi: Actually unfortunately, I’ve never been to one. I usually end up meeting おせち料理with my grandparents.
Peter: Really?
Megumi: Umm.
Natsuko: But that sounds nice too.
Megumi: It is nice but it’d be fun to go to 新年会.
Peter: Now be careful. There are fun ones and then there are umm not so fun ones.
Natsuko: Really?
Peter: Yes really?
Natsuko: Maybe.
Peter: I think so.
Natsuko: Okay.
Peter: Natsuko san, when was the last one you ______ (0:04:48) besides, besides the company one?
Natsuko: Oh I had another 新年会 with friends from my high school.
Peter: Really?
Natsuko: Uhoo..
Peter: And that was on the weekend, right?
Natsuko: No weekday after work. How brave we are!
Peter: Yeah I think so. Now what did you do for that and where did you go?
Natsuko: Well it was like a reunion and we went to 居酒屋.
Peter: Which is?
Natsuko: Japanese style pub.
Peter: Yeah. Now umm, now Megumi, can you tell us a little bit more about an 居酒屋?
Megumi: Let's see, an 居酒屋 is where everyone gets really drunk.
Peter: What!
Natsuko: Not really….
Megumi: Let’s see…
Peter: I definitely don’t think that’s a definition – the official definition of an 居酒屋
Megumi: Well as far as I know, there is lots of 酎ハイ and 酒
Peter: But what about the 焼き鳥 Grilled chicken and the food there and all the small dishes that you share with everybody?
Megumi: Yes it’s true actually. I – no that part is essential. You have the 焼き鳥and you have always the side dishes of you know, anything from pickles to anything you could really, you know really want.
Natsuko: You know, there are also 刺身, And yeah anything.
Peter: But I think what really separates the 居酒屋 from other types of places you can go and eat and drink is the atmosphere.
Natsuko: Umm right.
Peter: It’s a – well I guess the traditional 居酒屋 is kind of, you are sitting on the Tatami in a room and there is no partition between the other people.
Natsuko: Right.
Peter: So it was like a room full of 30, 40 people squeezed in together on Tatamis and it's very loud.
Natsuko: Umm…
Peter: Very smoky and a really interesting atmosphere. Nowadays, we have the partition ones where you go to the 居酒屋, you can get your own room. So you are separated from everybody but when I think of an 居酒屋 I kind of think of that atmosphere.
Natsuko: Yeah very crowded and loud and noisy and yeah all those messes.
Peter: Oh yeah.
Natsuko: But it’s really you know kind of uprising.
Peter: Yeah and it’s something that should really be experienced at least once.
Megumi: Very true.
Peter: So Natsuko san, we are talking a little about the 新年会 the New Year’s party but we did some research and there aren’t really any customs associated with it. There aren’t really – there is not too much behind it. So what’s going on here? You know, why is everyone doing this?
Natsuko: Well I think mostly it’s the excuse for gathering and drinking but it’s like the first gathering of the New Year. So you can have 新年会 like maybe later in January as long as it’s the first time of gathering.
Peter: For that particular group of people.
Natsuko: Yeah. Maybe you won’t call it 新年会 anymore when you are holding it in February but it’s kind of a broad ranged custom.
Peter: Yeah lots of – lots of levy here.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Peter: Okay now today, we have some statistics about 忘年会 and 新年会. Again end of the year party and New Year’s party. Now statistics, can we even call them that Natsuko san. We pulled them from the internet.
Natsuko: Oh really?
Peter: Megumi would like to present you with the statistics. Megumi san
Natsuko: Here we go.
Peter: Megumi?
Megumi: On an average, people attend more end of the year parties than New Year’s parties. The majority of company workers participate in 2 to 3 忘年会 or end of the year parties and 1 or 2 新年会 or New Year’s parties. A majority of students on the other hand go to one or two 忘年会 and none or one 新年会.
Peter: So in short, people go to a lot of parties at the end of December and the beginning of January. Natsuko san, can you agree with me here?
Natsuko: I agree.
Peter: Natsuko san, what’s your total for this year?
Natsuko: Ah not much.
Peter: Really?
Natsuko: Yes umm two 忘年会 and two 新年会.
Megumi: Wow!
Peter: Wow! That’s a lot.
Megumi: That’s better than me.
Peter: What are you? Where are you?
Megumi: Zero and zero.
Peter: Zero and zero?
Megumi: Yes. Well I just got back anyways but…
Natsuko: Okay I have an idea. Let’s have a 新年会 today with Megumi san.
Megumi: いいですね。 That’s a great idea.
Peter: Ah I don’t know.
Natsuko: Peter.
Peter: I think – ah let me check the schedule.
Natsuko: 用事がありますか?
Peter: Yes. No I would love to have a 新年会. Yeah that sounds good because you know, to tell the truth, I haven’t had one this year.
Natsuko: Ah.
Peter: One 忘年会 and zero 新年会. A little better than you.
Natsuko: Yeah definitely.
Peter: But in the past, I used to average back. Ah back in the days. About five years ago, my statistics were much better. Natsuko san, what is your record for 忘年会 and 新年会?
Natsuko: I don’t remember. I don’t count it when I have very – well yeah but I used to have like 2 or 3 in a row.
Peter: Wow!
Natsuko: Yeah.
Peter: Yeah I remember back when I was in school going to Japanese university. Well I am still in school but back when I actually had time to go to school, I used to average 4 and 4.
Megumi: Wow! How did you have the energy?
Natsuko: Good question.
Peter: School does that to you. It really allows you to catch up on your sleep and…
Natsuko: The school allows you, wow! Not japanesepod101.
Peter: Not japanesepod101.com Now it all kind of depends on your situation because I’ve had some friends where these numbers are quite normal. You know, there is usually the company one and the one with friends. For both, the end of the year party and the New Year’s party.
Natsuko: Right.
Peter: And then sometimes, if you have certain business relationships, they can add up really, really fast.
Natsuko: Right.
Peter: You almost spend half the year catching up your body recovering from this two-month period but it’s actually condensed into like four weeks. The latter half of December and the beginning of January. Oh and what makes it worse is the doctors are all on vacation. So that just when you need them the most, they are all not there. Now, I think that’s going to do for today. What we just – the goal today was just to introduce you to this topic and let you know that – that this is going on in Japan now or this is the season for it because this custom is not that well known. I never heard about it until I actually participated in one.
Natsuko: Really?
Peter: Yeah. There is the 新年会 email, a New Year’s party email.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: And it always starts off with something about how cold it is.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Right Natsuko san?
Natsuko: Right.
Peter: Most emails and most mails start out with something about the season.
Natsuko: Yes about the weather usually.
Peter: Yeah and as soon as you see that and you see all the addresses CCed, you know it’s a New Year’s party. All right, so with that said, I think we are going to make our plans for tonight’s 新年会.
Natsuko: Yes let’s.
Megumi: Sounds good.
Peter: Megumi, where would you like to go?
Megumi: Well, is there any 居酒屋 around here?
Natsuko: Many.
Megumi: Oh very nice! Then let’s go.
Peter: Natsuko san, are they going to shout out your name…
Natsuko: What!
Peter: Rather than いらっしゃいませ when we go in? All right…ごちそうさま。
Natsuko: ごちそうさまです。
Peter: Ah Megumi is paying?
Megumi: え?いやいやいや、もう、お願いします。
Peter: No, you are late, right? The last one to say it pays.
Megumi: Ah we will see.
Peter: Is there something like that in Japan Natsuko san?
Natsuko: Umm I am not sure.
Peter: Well starting today, there is. Thank you Megumi in advance.
Megumi: やだ。
Peter: Okay for more about the 新年会, stop by japanesepod101.com. There, inside today’s PDF, we will have a write up about this and I think a lot more useful information.
Natsuko: Useful, yes.


Peter: That’s going to do it for today. Megumi, thank you again for joining us today.
Megumi: Thank you.
Natsuko: ありがとうございました。
Natsuko: じゃ、また来週。
Peter: See you next week.


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