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Lesson Transcript

Naomi: ジャパニーズポッド101でございます
Naomi: Welcome to the Japanese Children Song Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, you’ll learn Japanese language and culture through Japanese Children Songs. Go to our site to hear full versions of the songs, sung by professional singer Kana Mizushima. Visit JapanesePod101.com and claim your free lifetime account now.
Naomi: ナオミです。
Peter: Peter here.
Naomi: ジャパニーズポッド101.comの童謡のレッスン9へようこそ。
Peter: Welcome to Lesson 9 of our Japanese Children Song Series. Naomi 先生, can you tell us the name of the song we’ll be focusing on this time?
Naomi: ずいずいずいっころばし
Peter: ずいずいずいっころばし? Naomi 先生, what does that even mean?
Naomi: Well, you’ll find out.
Peter: So, Naomi 先生, what can you tell us about the background of this song?
Naomi: This song is sung while doing hand movements. We will put the link to our video showing you the hand movements in the comment section, so please, check it out!
Peter: Now, Naomi 先生, the past few children songs we’ve covered have been pretty simple, but this one…
Naomi: Yes. Actually, the lyrics are quite difficult in this song. I didn’t even know what the lyrics meant until I did some research about the song.
Peter: Let us give you some background on the song first. This song is related to a historical event in the Edo period.
Naomi: Right. An event called お茶壺道中
Peter: One more time, Naomi 先生?
Naomi: お茶壺道中
Peter: Thousands of people carried a pot of a very famous tea from Kyoto to the Shogun in the Edo. Which was the old name for?
Naomi: Tokyo.
Peter: When they passed through an area, the people living there had to clear the way for them. And maybe the safest for kids is just to stay inside their homes and be quiet. If they weren’t…Naomi 先生, what would have happened?
Naomi: There’s a good chance they might be killed.
Peter: So, it’s said that this song is a warning to kids to stay at home while the tea parade was passing through. Quite dark, isn’t it?
Naomi: Yes. It does have a dark background story. But, the lyrics of the song are written in kind of a humorous way, I think.
Peter: Okay, Naomi 先生 if you say so. So, shall we take a look at the lyrics?
Naomi: Okay.

Lesson focus

Peter: Help, Naomi 先生
Naomi: はい。
Peter: I’m kind of lost after trying to decide for the lyrics.
Naomi: Yes, they’re pretty difficult. So let’s get through them together.
Peter: What’s the first line?
Naomi: ずいずいずいっころばし、ごまみそずい
Peter: ずいずいずいっころばし That’s the title of the song.
Naomi: Right. Since this is a pretty old song, there are so many different interpretations. However, I’d say this part is there to add rhythm to the song.
Peter: It does have a nice ring to it. ずいずいずいっころばし And ごまみそずい、ごま are “sesame seeds” and みそ is the miso paste. Miso paste with ground sesame seeds.
Naomi: Right, but it has a hidden meaning. ごま is used to mean “flattery”, like “apple polishing”. So, this part sounds like it just talks about ground sesame seeds, but actually, they’re criticizing someone for being an apple polisher.
Peter: Can we hear the line again?
Naomi: Sure. ずいずいずいっころばし、ごまみそずい
Peter: So, they’re criticizing the precession carrying the tea, calling them apple polishers. Now, in the translation we have “Here comes the precession of the apple polisher officials.” So, there are a bunch of them, right?
Naomi: はい。
Peter: Okay, and the next line?
Naomi: 茶壺に追われてとっぴんしゃん
Peter: 茶壺 is a “tea pot” referring to the parade of people carrying tea, and 追われて means “to be chased”.
Naomi: そうですね。 And とっぴんしゃん is an onomatopoeia of the sound of people shutting their doors after rushing into their houses.
Peter: Can we hear the line again?
Naomi: はい。茶壺に追われてとっぴんしゃん
Peter: So basically, when the tea parade comes, everyone rushes into their homes. Now, in the translation we have “They’re carrying the tea leaves for the shogun, so while they pass, shut all the doors and windows and hide in the house.” Naomi 先生
Naomi: はい
Peter: Next line.
Naomi: 抜けたら comes from the verb 抜ける which means “to go through” or “pass”. It refers to the parade passing through.
Peter: ら is the conditional that means “when”. So, 抜けたら means “When they pass through.”
Naomi: どんどこしょ Another onomatopoeia. どんどこ sounds like drums, doesn’t it? You don’t agree? Anyway, どんどこしょ has the feeling of people being more active and moving around.
Peter: So, the feeling is like, when the parade goes away, we can make noise. But until then, we should keep quiet.
Naomi: その通りです。 Exactly.
Peter: And the next line?
Naomi: 俵のネズミが米食ってちゅう、ちゅうちゅうちゅう
Peter: Talking about a mouse?
Naomi: そうです Right. 俵 is “rice bag”, ネズミ is “mouse” or “mice” and 米 is “rice”. 食って is the te-form of the verb 食う which is a raw form of 食べる meaning “to eat”.
Peter: So basically, what implies is that everyone is so quiet inside the house that you can hear the mouses eating grains of rice.
Naomi: そうそうそう。 Right. The second half of the line has the onomatopoeia for a mouse’s squeak. ちゅうちゅうちゅう。
Peter: That is a great onomatopoeia. Now, they can hear the mouse squeaking as well. That’s how quiet it is in the house. As this tea parade is passing through. Next line?
Naomi: おっとさんが呼んでもおっかさんが呼んでも
Peter: おっとさん and おっかさん sound familiar.
Naomi: Yes, they should. おっとさん is お父さん, “father”, in modern Japanese. おっかさん is お母さん, “mother”, in modern Japanese.
Peter: And followed by 呼んでも, it’s the te-form of the verb 呼ぶ, “to call” plus the particle も. Remember that the te-form plus も means “even if”. So, even if your father and mother call for you, what shouldn’t you do?
Naomi: 行きっこなしよ
Peter: Don’t go. But the phrase 行き something, something. Okay, Naomi 先生, you’re going to have to help me with this one.
Naomi: Basically, as you said, it means “don’t go”. こ here is similar to こと, “thing”. This “such and such” こなし is often used to make a promise or confirm a promise like “Let’s not do something.”
Peter: So, together with the first part it means “Even if your parents call for you, you shall not leave the house.” Here we can see how the song is strongly warning against leaving the house under any circumstances. And the last line.
Naomi: 井戸の周りお茶椀欠いたのだあれ
Peter: Let’s break this down.
Naomi: 井戸の周りで、井戸 is a “water well” and 周り means “around”.
Peter: So, “around the water well”.
Naomi: お茶椀欠いた、お茶碗 is “bowl” and 欠いた is the past tense of 欠く meaning “to break” or “to miss”.
Peter: This 欠く doesn’t mean “to right”, but “to break”.
Naomi: そうです Right. Different meaning.
Peter: So, お茶碗欠いた means “Broke a bowl.”
Naomi: そうです Right. If you say it in modern Japanese, that would be お茶碗を割った
Peter: “Broke a bowl”. And after that we have?
Naomi: のだあれ、誰 means “who”.
Peter: And the vowel is longed for emphasis.
Naomi: そうです、だあれ。 So, the phrase お茶碗欠いたのだあれ、 is the same as お茶碗を割ったのは誰 or お茶碗割った人は誰
Peter: “Who broke the bowl.” So, can we hear the last line again, please?
Naomi: 井戸の周りでお茶碗欠いたのだあれ
Peter: In modern or easier Japanese?
Naomi: 井戸の周りでお茶碗を割った人は誰
Peter: “Who broke a bowl at the water well.” So, Naomi 先生 why are they asking this?
Naomi: Well, kids are supposed to be inside their house, quietly. But they heard the sound of a bowl breaking. So, someone is still out there and they’re curious who is it.
Peter: なるほど I see.
Naomi: And this is where the lyrics end.
Peter: That was a really interesting song.
Naomi: Isn’t it?
Peter: I would have never guessed that it had that kind of background. So, let’s have a listen to?
Naomi: サクラさんの歌


Naomi: Well, that’s all the time we have for this lesson.
Peter: We hope you enjoyed the song. Let us know what you thought of it.
Naomi: Yes. Please leave us a comment.
Peter: Thanks for listening to this Japanese Children Songs Series. Until the next time!
Naomi: じゃあまた Find more detailed explication of the lyrics at JapanesePod101. There, listen to the full version of the songs and video format completed with beautiful pictures of Japan. Go to JapanesePod101.com to get your free lifetime account.


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