Vocabulary (Review)

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Lesson Transcript

Natsuko: 日本文化レッスンでございます。こんにちは、Natsukoです。
Peter: Peter here.
Sachiko: Sachiko here.

Lesson focus

Peter: We are back with Moving Part 2. Sachiko san, what do we have on top for today?
Sachiko: We have what I’d like to call the 2 Gs of moving. Greeting and gifts.
Natsuko: Oh I see!
Sachiko: So when you move out of a place, you go greet your neighbors and give them a gift and then when you move into a new place, you also go greet your neighbors and bring a little gift. So it’s the two Gs, greeting and gifts.
Peter: Makes perfect sense but let’s kind of elaborate a bit. Let’s just break it down a bit. Now when we talk about moving, you know, perhaps our US listeners have this image of moving from house to house but moving in Japan and I mentioned in last week that it was about 20 times that I moved and I’ve never even come close to owning a house. So it’s always apartment to apartment. Natsuko san, how about you?
Natsuko: Oh yes. Last time I moved, I moved into an apartment but from my family’s house. So house I used to live in was my parents house and they are still there.
Peter: Yeah which you didn’t buy right?
Natsuko: Of course.
Peter: Yeah. Sachiko san,
Sachiko: All of the places I’ve lived in in Tokyo and New York have been rented.
Peter: Yes so when we talk about moving and we talk about these customs, today for the most part, we are going to stick with what we know but try and give you a little insight at the houses but I have no idea what’s going on there.
Sachiko: I have no idea.
Natsuko: No.
Peter: Okay so let’s move on. Now you’d mentioned giving gifts and greetings when leaving.
Sachiko: Yes.
Peter: Now I’d be perfectly honest with you. I have never done this when leaving. I am always the cut and run.
Sachiko: Do you have something to hide Peter? Hah?
Peter: Umm yeah to tell you the truth, daylight moving is usually night time sneaking out, no…Just I don’t know. This custom is something that I know exists but I’ve never done it.
Natsuko: I think you know giving gifts when moving out is not so common these days. Maybe there are some customs in the rural places.
Sachiko: Right.
Natsuko: But not in cities.
Sachiko: And it also depends on how close you’ve become with the neighbors.
Natsuko: Exactly.
Sachiko: I remember my parents giving out gifts when they moved out of a place because my parents had kids and they were always babysitting each other’s children and they got to know each other really well.
Natsuko: Oh yes.
Sachiko: So they – there they had a intensive greet &gift session when they moved out.
Natsuko: And that’s a greet &gift session.
Peter: And that’s a greet &gift session.
Sachiko: Yes.
Peter: Let’s talk about these gifts. What were they giving?
Sachiko: Well my mother I think was giving mainly food on the fruits or cookies or pastries because each family had children.
Natsuko: Oh I see.
Sachiko: But I think the most common thing is towels. Little hand towels or bath towels, it’s just because it’s practical.
Peter: Yeah?
Natsuko: Yeah I think so yeah.
Sachiko: Yeah I think so yeah.
Peter: Okay so what kind of price range we are talking about here?
Sachiko: I would say some place between ¥3000 and ¥5000, does that sound right to you?
Peter: Wow, way over my budget. Natsuko san,
Natsuko: It depends on you know, how you are intimate.
Sachiko: Right. It really depends on how close you are…
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: And how much you really took care of each other and how much support you got from the neighbor.
Natsuko: Yes. And you know, usually in the single apartments where you don’t know the face of your neighbors, I don’t think it’s very common to give away gifts…
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: When you are moving out. You just go and say that you are moving out and that’s polite enough, isn’t it?
Peter: Yeah.
Sachiko: Yeah it’s true.
Peter: Yeah I think it’s very polite.
Sachiko: I think if you really haven’t had an interaction with your neighbors, there is no need to do the gift giving thing and you know, the greeting would be nice…
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: But I guess it’s cute you know either way, you could or could not do it.
Natsuko: But another thing you must be careful is you know, the movers will come and get your furniture brought out, right. So you are going to occupy some space on the hallways and elevators or staircases. So I think it maybe you know more polite to give an excuse to your neighbors that you are making some trouble maybe.
Sachiko: Yeah causing inconvenience to the other tenants probably.
Natsuko: Exactly.
Peter: Ah very interesting. See I have the way of thinking like on your way in, you probably have to worry about that but since you are leaving, whatever.
Sachiko: Peter! Come on, let’s be a little bit more polite here.
Natsuko: Ah!
Peter: Yeah it’s okay. Umm now let’s get back to these buildings. Now I lived in lots of different buildings. Some of them had just six tenants, two floors, three across, some had 50 rooms.
Sachiko: Wow!
Natsuko: Wow!
Peter: Now when leaving, I think this kind of gets back to how intimately you know a person or a neighbor because yeah you are definitely not expected to say goodbye to everybody.
Sachiko[: That’s not possible. Not going to happen.
Natsuko: Especially if there is more than 50 rooms.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: So what kind of range are we talking about, two people down?
Natsuko: I think someone directly above you or downstairs and your direct neighbors.
Peter: Yeah up, down, left, right. No diagonals right?
Natsuko: Well unless you are making pretty much noise or something.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: Ah okay.
Sachiko: I agree with Natsuko san, up, down, right and left and that’s about it.
Peter: Okay.
Sachiko: Because those are the people that you really I think affect in your day-to-day life if you are turning on the TV too loud, if you are walking around at midnight, these are the people that you are affecting.
Natsuko: Yeah so maybe some families with small kids might go to more wider range because you know, kids are usually making very much noises.
Peter: Yes.
Sachiko: That vibrate through halls.
Natsuko: So it depends on your lifestyle.
Peter: But I think if you have kids and you live in a place with other kids, so it’s kind of like a tie. You really don’t have to worry.
Sachiko: Oh yes that’s true.
Natsuko: Right.
Sachiko: That’s true yeah.
Peter: Okay so you are making a great escape. If you want to, greetings and gifts to some neighbors. You are almost there. What about the landlord? Can we just see you later or is there something we are supposed to do for him or I mean maybe we did enough already about the gift money?
Natsuko: Oh in that case, I think the best way is to consult the real estate agent.
Peter: Ah!
Natsuko: Because usually real estate agents handle these matters and some landlords don’t like to you know, contact directly to the person who rents the room.
Sachiko: Umm…
Peter: That’s very interesting umm but I know like in the US, you may want to keep in touch with these people for references say you know, I lived here and you know, I was a good tenant. So again, do we – I guess it depends case by case but sometimes we will let the real estate agent or the owner handle this.
Sachiko: I’ve never really heard of a landlord being asked for reference.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: Have you?
Natsuko: No, no….
Sachiko: That doesn’t really happen.
Natsuko: No.
Sachiko: Yeah I don’t think.
Peter: Clean slate every time?
Sachiko: Umm I think it just never occurs to people like credit companies would not take the time out to contact landlords to see if this person is reliable…
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: Or trustworthy. I just don’t see that happening. I think they focus more on maybe their employer and see if they are a diligent hardworking people.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: Or if they paid the bills in the past.
Natsuko: So I think that’s not very common in Japan.
Peter: Okay. So we are clear. A couple of gifts and greetings to the neighbors, your intimate friends and then you are off. You get the move, the people come, they take your packages. They bring the package to the new place. Now you are at the new place. Now the moving guys, tipping is not common in Japan right?
Sachiko: No.
Natsuko: No.
Peter: What about the movers?
Natsuko: Well it depends again you know, case by case.
Sachiko: I typically don’t tip the movers. I don’t tip anyone when I am in Japan but if I feel like they’ve done a great job, I give them a bottled drink because it’s usually you know hard work. So you give them tea, you give them drinks.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: I also maybe treat them to lunch if it’s a full day move.
Natsuko: Wow! Aha!
Sachiko: We would just give them rice bowls and tea to help them.
Natsuko: Oh yes, yes.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: Right and I remember giving this man a coupon for beer.
Sachiko: Oh nice. I am sure he appreciated that.
Natsuko: You know, apparently he can’t drink there.
Sachiko: On the job.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: Because he is driving as well.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Little do you know Natsuko.
Sachiko: But I did the same thing. My boyfriend and I couldn’t finish drinking all the beer that we had in our old house.
Natsuko: Oh! Why didn’t you call me?
Sachiko: Oh I am so sorry, next time. Next time I move but we actually…
Peter: Yeah is it a open call for everybody Natsuko san?
Sachiko: Did you see the look at her face, yeah I think it was an open call but I actually gave a six-pack to the movers and they were delighted.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: But we asked them please, don’t drink it till you get home.
Natsuko: Make sure.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: Yes it’s becoming a big problem.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: See me, I usually tip the guys.
Sachiko: What? Money?
Peter: Yeah money.
Sachiko: Wow!
Peter: I tip everybody. The pizza guy or…
Sachiko: The colleagues’ maybe.
Peter: No not the colleagues. They are all kind of surprised and they don’t really know what to say and I have a hard time giving it to them because I say to them チップ、チップ which is like the Japanese for tip but at first, they are kind of taken aback by, but then they kind of, they give me this phrase that they I believe is a equivalent to tip and they kind of understand.
Natsuko: 心づけ
Peter: Okay and what does this mean? Literally, what does this mean? We know it means tip.
Natsuko: It means like you know, giving your heart.
Peter: Yeah kind of putting your appreciation into a currency.
Natsuko: Yes. In Japan, people used to think that you know giving money directly as a gift is not a decent thing to do. So they called it you know, it’s the way to appreciate it’s a form of my heart.
Sachiko: So simply it’s just expressing your appreciation for their efforts.
Peter: Yeah and also I think presentation has a lot to do with it like grabbing a ¥1000 bill which is like a 10 out of your pocket and slap it on the guys hand.
Sachiko: That’s not going to go over well.
Peter: I think Natsuko’s reaction kind of like really summed that up.
Natsuko: I don’t think that’s very common in any country.
Peter: Oh Natsuko, we should go to the US.
Sachiko: Yes it happens very commonly.
Peter: But yeah…
Natsuko: Yeah.
Peter: Presentation, if you want to give a tip and the movers, they do kind of work really hard. The reason I did this was I lived in an apartment building, three stories and no elevator.
Natsuko: Oh!
Sachiko: Uh!
Peter: Yeah so you can understand now why I gave them the tip and what we did is, you put it in the envelope.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: They have special envelope for this and you give it to them while bowing after the move is done, not the 10 out of your pocket and this too is not unheard of but maybe not that common but again so much depends on case by case. Three stories, only the stairs, it was a hot – kind of a hot day. They definitely earned that extra money.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: Wow! That’s really nice of you.
Peter: Thank you.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: Yeah. That was – I was quite happy but the first time I tried to do this, I did the 10 out of the pocket here.
Sachiko: Oh oh oh, you did! You actually did that?
Peter: Yes. It’s kind of a learning experience.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Learned from my mistakes.
Sachiko: Okay.
Peter: Okay. So now we are moved in. Natsuko san, take it from here.
Natsuko: Yes. After you settle in, as Sachiko san reminded, greetings and gifts. Don’t forget.
Sachiko: And the earlier the better.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: I mean people say that you should go greet the neighbors before you move in, but that’s kind of tough considering your work schedule. So at the latest on the day of the move.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: I would recommend greeting your neighbors.
Natsuko: Uhoo…
Peter: The day of the move. Can we have a little more levy? I think I don’t know. I went within the first week.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: Well it depends on you know,
Sachiko: Whether they are home or not.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: The neighbors may not be home during the day when you are moving obviously.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: So yeah within a week sounds good.
Peter: Now you said, go and greet them. You actually go and knock on the door?
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: Yes and you give this whole elaborate speech in honorific form, whole elaborate because this is – first impressions are very important.
Natsuko: Right.
Sachiko: So you buzz on their door and you explain first of all in honorific form why you are bothering them this late at night. It’s usually late at night because you are waiting for them to get home right and so you tell them oh, my name is Sakamoto or my name is Nakagome. I moved in upstairs and I just wanted to say hello. You wait for them to open the door and then you bow to each other very deeply and say, oh my name is Sakamoto, oh my name is Tanaka. Nice to meet you and then you apologize for all the inconveniences that you are about to give them. So you apologize for all the inconveniences you are about to cause.
Peter: I can understand. I really can understand that.
Sachiko: Yeah and this is a great opportunity to make excuses. For example, I went around and explained that my boyfriend works in news. And so a lot of times, they will have to come home at 3 AM, 4 AM and because the doors make a lot of noise when you open them.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: So I wanted to put that up front before they start getting these ideas. Oh, he works for the mafias, oh he works for the やくざ.
Peter: That’s what I saw like very interesting. Yeah so if you have a night job, go explain it.
Sachiko: Definitely.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: I think that’s one of the key things too.
Sachiko: Definitely.
Peter: Night time, yeah. I like that. Night time is like one of the major things because Japanese, the accommodations in Japan are just so close together. I mean when I – whenever you go to get a place, one of the first questions they ask is, are you moving around a lot, are you moving around a lot at night? They even ask that.
Sachiko: They do, they do.
Natsuko: They do.
Sachiko: Because the walls are really thin, the floors are really thin.
Natsuko: Yes. So I think you must be really careful if you are you know, having a job coming home very late at night.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: So if you have a job that you must come very late at night. あ、そうだ…So I think you must definitely apologize if you are bothering them late at night.
Sachiko: Definitely and tiptoe at night.
Peter: Okay, okay. We got to ______ (0:14:16) that out of the way. Now, you are going to say hi to them and what about gifts? This is the greetings, what about gifts?
Sachiko: Well I brought a simple gift between like ¥300 and ¥500.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Sachiko: So maybe $3 to $5 US dollars and I brought…
Peter: ¥300 to ¥500? ¥300 to ¥500, your boyfriend has come back at 3 in the morning…That’s not going to last long.
Sachiko: Oh yeah we should do another round very soon but yeah well…
Natsuko: Well I think that’s a you know common level.
Sachiko: Yeah I think once we start causing specific problems, we will do it again but for now, we just distributed towels because we knew it’s a practical thing for people to have.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: And you can never have too many of them.
Natsuko: Uhoo….
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: Hand towels right?
Sachiko: Hand towels yeah.
Peter: Okay so you are moving in. How many rooms, how many apartments are there in your building?
Sachiko: We have I think a total of 14 to 16…
Peter: Okay.
Sachiko: And we did just the four, right, left, top and bottom.
Peter: Just the four?
Sachiko: Just the four.
Peter: Went over with the towels together.
Sachiko: Uhoo…
Peter: Handed to them.
Sachiko: Right.
Peter: Greeted, introduced yourself.
Sachiko: Uhoo…
Peter: Natsuko san, how about you? Last time you moved.
Natsuko: Because I live in the second floor of a two-story building, I don’t have anybody above me and also my room is at the corner.
Sachiko: Nice.
Natsuko: So…
Peter: Nice.
Sachiko: Nice.
Peter: Is it just saving money or like…
Natsuko: So only two and that was the room below and the room next to me but they weren’t both there when I went to greet them.
Peter: So what did you do?
Natsuko: So I left a note and my gift. I actually put it in a shopping bag and hanged it on the door.
Sachiko: Oh it’s kind of cute.
Natsuko: Yeah but actually I received a reply from my neighbor.
Sachiko: Wow!
Natsuko: Yes saying a thank you note.
Sachiko: Wow!
Natsuko: And saying that you know よろしくお願いします stuff.
Peter: Yeah.
Sachiko: The typical greeting to say when you meet someone for the first time yeah.
Peter: Yeah I have a great story too. When I moved into this place, it was 3-stories but we only had about 10 tenants. So I was like, you know what, I will just get everybody.
Sachiko: Wow!
Natsuko: Wow!
Peter: So I went to Starbucks and I know like hand towels are very popular but I was like, let me give them something you know practical, well Starbucks. So I got them all ¥1000 Starbucks cards.
Sachiko: That’s so cool.
Natsuko: Wow!
Sachiko: That’s really hit, funky and nice.
Peter: Well they really seemed to like it.
Natsuko: Yeah.
Peter: So basically what happened was I didn’t have time to go around to everybody. So I got these cards and I wrote out a letter and I said, you know my name is and my wife’s name is and we are moving in here and よろしくお願いします。 and I put it in everybody’s mailbox.
Sachiko: Wow!
Peter: The next day, the first response actually came from the landlord.
Sachiko: Okay.
Peter: He was like well, I can’t believe you did this. You know, recently now-a-days, most Japanese people don’t even do this.
Sachiko: Wow yeah that’s true.
Natsuko: Umm yeah right.
Peter: So this is kind of like a dying custom it seems and…
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: Thank you so much. You know, we are so happy to have you and so that was nice.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: Then the reciprocation took between 3 days to a month and a half. So like each day, in our mailbox would be like a letter and a little gift.
Sachiko: Oh!
Natsuko: Wow!
Peter: You know, welcome to the building and here, take this small little thing and…
Sachiko: Oh that’s so nice.
Peter: Yeah I thought it was quite nice but my kind of common…
Sachiko: Yes.
Peter: The kind of idea I got was that it was a lot of trouble for both parties.
Sachiko: No…
Natsuko: No.
Sachiko: Well, you are starting a vicious cycle of oh, let me give you this. Oh no, well, let me give you this.
Peter: Exactly.
Natsuko: Right.
Sachiko: The gift giving cycle.
Peter: Yes I think it went over very well but I think if I moved several times, I wouldn’t want to do this.
Sachiko: Well it’d be pretty costly to do a ¥1000 card to everybody.
Natsuko: Yeah and also yeah, as Peter said, you know, some people in cities now don’t like these kind of customs to getting you know intimate with neighbors. They just kind of have the attitude of Leave me Alone.
Peter: What a nice attitude!
Sachiko: But yeah the vicious gift giving tornado is something to be careful of. That’s why I start off really low cost, ¥300 towels. I didn’t get anything back for that.
Natsuko: That’s one point.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: Nothing, I was like…
Sachiko: I got nothing back.
Peter: I was 10 for 10. Everybody got back to me.
Sachiko: Wow!
Natsuko: So I think the price was pretty high.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: Compared to the average.
Sachiko: I think so.
Natsuko: So they felt you know kind of owed to you.
Peter: Yeah and plus no one beat my gift which I was a little disappointed about.
Sachiko: Well, you know the golden rule about gift giving in Japan right? If you get something, you give them something that’s about half price.
Peter: Is that the rule?
Sachiko: That’s the golden rule right?
Peter: Natsuko san?
Natsuko: Well usually.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: Not in case….
Peter: What kind of rule is that?
Natsuko: I don’t think that’s not the case with Valentine’s Day and White Day.
Sachiko: Oh yeah! Not Christmas presents but if you gave like I don’t know, a baby was born and you give them a gift, you give them something back at roughly half the price.
Peter: I wish I knew about this rule years ago because I usually give the amount plus 50%.
Sachiko: Uh you are a nice gift giver. I should be giving you gifts. Yeah.
Peter: Not anymore, now I know the rule.
Sachiko: Not any more.
Peter: Now I am like – now I am on the inside of the circle.
Sachiko: No, no my sister has a huge problem because she has two kids and every single birthday, every single you know, お正月 New Year, she gets all these gifts from friends, relatives and she actually gets something back for every single person.
Natsuko: Yeah that’s pretty troublesome.
Sachiko: It’s pretty labor intensive.
Natsuko: Uhoo…
Peter: Yeah okay Sachiko san, so when we move into a new place, what do we do?
Sachiko: Greetings and gifts.
Peter: To who?
Sachiko: Up, down, left, right. So four people.
Peter: Price range.
Sachiko: About ¥300 to ¥500.
Peter: Common gifts include Natsuko san
Natsuko: Towels, confectionary like cookies or Starbucks cards.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: The new…
Sachiko: The new thing.
Peter: The new trend. Okay and again, this custom is kind of losing popularity but I guess it depends on how serious and how long you intend to live in a certain place and lots of factors should be factored in.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: Right.
Peter: And how about when leaving?
Sachiko: Same thing, greeting and gifts.
Peter: But kind of less common.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Peter: You know, if you really got close with somebody, maybe you will go out one last time or something like this…
Sachiko: Right, right.
Natsuko: Right.
Sachiko: So it really depends, in both cases, it depends on how intimate you are with the neighbors and how intimate you want to be with neighbors.
Natsuko: Yes. So I don’t think you should feel obliged to do this.
Sachiko: Yeah.
Natsuko: When you feel that you really want to get close to each other, then I think you should do it but it’s not the case that you know, all the Japanese do this.
Sachiko: Right but I must say if you do do it, it feels great.
Natsuko: Yes.
Sachiko: I felt so much safer knowing my neighbors, knowing that they know me, I feel so much safer now living at my apartment.
Natsuko: Yes.


Peter: All right, that’s going to do it for today.
Natsuko: じゃ、また来週。
Sachiko: また来週。


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