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Vivian: Japanese culture class, lesson 58. Spend New Years in Japan.
Naomi: こんにちは、Naomiです。 Hello everyone. I am Naomi. Today, I am joined in the studio by
Vivian: Hello, I am Vivian.
Naomi: Vivian san, welcome to japanesepod101.com it’s your first time to be here right?
Vivian: Yes it’s my first time and I am very excited Naomi Sensei.
Naomi: Could you introduce yourself?
Vivian: Yes. Okay so, I am Vivian. I am from San Francisco, California and I’ve been living in Japan for over 2 years and I love it here. I love the food, I love the people, the culture and it’s amazing.
Naomi: Good to hear that. And we also have a special guest today. ちゃらーん。
Hiroko: こんにちは、Hirokoです。 Hi this is Hiroko from englishpod101.com
Naomi: そうそうそう、そうだよね。 You are from englishpod101.com
Hiroko: I am originally from Fukuoka prefecture and I lived in Arkansas.
Vivian: Oh Arkansas?
Hiroko: Yeah about 4 years and a little bit in Hawaii and then I moved back to Japan last year and I’ve been working in englishpod101 since the beginning of this year.
Vivian: That’s cool.
Naomi: Do you know what Fukuoka is famous for Vivian?
Vivian: I bet it’s like some dish.
Naomi: No beautiful women.
Vivian: Oh! Yeah I can see that.
Naomi: People said that there are a lot of beautiful women in Fukuoka city.
Vivian: Umm I see.
Naomi: Of course, Hiroko is one of them.
Vivian: Now it made sense, yes.
Naomi: Of course.
Vivian: And we are not being sarcastic here.
Hiroko: Not American style? Okay cool right.

Lesson focus

Naomi: The three of us are here to talk about New Year’s customs in Japan. Now Vivian, is this your first time spending the New Year’s holiday in Japan?
Vivian: Well actually it’s my second time but to be honest, I haven’t experienced the traditional Japanese New Year celebration. So what do Japanese people do in the New Year’s holiday season?
Naomi: うーん、なんでしょうね。 Eat, sleep, get fat.
Vivian: It sounds like the same in US.
Naomi: What do you think Hiroko san?
Hiroko: I think you know, a lot of families spend time together. All the relatives get together in one family or you visit your husband’s family, you visit your wife’s family.
Naomi: And we also send and receive greeting cards over the New Year’s season.
Vivian: Oh so it’s like Christmas Day or Thanksgiving Day in the States?
Naomi: Yeah I think so.
Vivian: So first of all, let’s talk about the food you have on New Year’s Day.
Hiroko: We have the traditional Japanese New Year’s cuisines called おせち and what’s in おせち varies depending on the regions and families but I think nowadays people buy おせち from supermarket or a department store.
Vivian: From a supermarket or department store?
Naomi: To save more time.
Vivian: Oh everybody is busy working.
Hiroko: But anyways, each おせち dish have a special meaning.
Vivian: Oh what kind of meaning?
Hiroko: This is in the PDF lesson notes. So you can check it out later too but something called 数の子
Vivian: Oh salted herring roe.
Hiroko: Exactly. That has a wish to be gifted with numerous children.
Vivian: Huh I see!
Hiroko: Because there are many eggs.
Vivian: Yeah that makes sense.
Hiroko: Have you ever eaten fish eggs?
Hiroko: Yes. Isn’t it like what’s called Ikura?
Naomi: Ikura is little bit bigger.
Hiroko: Salmon egg.
Vivian: Oh I see, so it’s bigger.
Naomi: Yeah 数の子 is very small.
Hiroko: Small, tiny.
Naomi: It’s a bit like caviar.
Vivian: Oh I see. What color is it? What color is 数の子?
Hiroko: It’s actually pretty yellow, Goldish, yellow.
Vivian: I see. What about meat? Any meat dishes?
Hiroko: Don’t you think Naomi San that we don’t really eat meat over the New Year’s. It’s more fish and vegetables?
Naomi: Yeah more fish and vegetable because in old days, Japanese people didn’t eat much meat.
Hiroko: Right and especially in the temples like traditional temples, they don’t eat any meat.
Vivian: Right yeah.
Hiroko: So it makes sense. Yes.
Vivian: So it’s a very traditional dish, yeah?
Naomi: What’s your favorite おせち dish Hiroko san?
Hiroko: I like きんとん.
Naomi: あー、あたしも!
Hiroko: It’s really good. You can’t stop eating.
Naomi: Yeah. すごいおいしい。
Hiroko: It tastes like sweet potato.
Naomi: So a sweet potato and chestnut.
Hiroko: Oh it has a wish to keep wealth because きんとん kanji contains the gold king.
Naomi: Really?
Hiroko: とん means the group. So…
Naomi: Group of gold.
Vivian: Wow!
Hiroko: Group of gold. And it tastes good, so it’s great.
Naomi: I have never seen it in kanji though.
Hiroko: Right. Usually we write in Hiragana….
Naomi: Hiragana or Katakana.
Vivian: Oh I see.
Hiroko: But the problem always is that we eat too much.
Naomi: Yeah.
Hiroko: Usually people gain weight during the New Year’s holiday.
Vivian: We all do.
Naomi: So Vivian, what did you have New Year’s day last year?
Vivian: Hmm I think I had soba noodles.
Naomi: Soba noodles?
Hiroko: You mean left over from New Year's eve.
Vivian: Probably, I think yeah.
Naomi: Yeah. On New Year’s Eve, we eat Soba noodles which are buckwheat noodles. It’s called 年越しそば
Hiroko: Right. Over the New Year’s Soba.
Vivian: I see. So my friend served me left over like it is so good on New Year’s Day?
Naomi: On New Year’s Day.
Hiroko: 年 is a year and 越しis from 越す
Naomi: Across…
Hiroko: So to go across. So it’s like you are going across the end of the year to the New Year’s.
Naomi: Yeah we start eating buckwheat noodles midnight right?
Hiroko: Umm…
Vivian: Oh I see. So does it have a specific meaning I mean maybe the long, you know what it is.
Naomi: Yeah because Soba is buckwheat noodles but it’s a homophone of soba, near. So the New Year is approaching.
Vivian: Oh I see.
Naomi: So it has double meaning.
Vivian: Umm okay so speaking of New Year’s Eve, a lot of people go to a shrine or a temple at midnight of New Year’s Eve right?
Naomi: そうですね。
Hiroko: I think so especially in the big shrines like 明治神宮 in Tokyo it’s packed.
Naomi: Yeah and 浅草寺 in Asakusa.
Vivian: Oh Asakusa, yeah.
Naomi: Yeah.
Vivian: Since I am a foreigner, I am sometimes scared of visiting shrines because I don’t want to insult anybody or do something disrespectful. There must be lot of rules and I don’t know all these rules and can you please tell me a little bit about how to behave - behave
Naomi: どうですか?Hirokoさん。
Hiroko: Well actually there will be a video camera, right?
Naomi: Um…
Hiroko: Jun shooted film showing how to pray in the shrine.
Naomi: How to visit shrine?
Hiroko: Right.
Vivian: Oh that’s great.
Hiroko: So the order of going into the shrine and what to do once you visit.
Vivian: Umm….
Hiroko: So check that out.
Vivian: So jun's video, so I can check it out on japanesepod101.com?
Hiroko: Exactly.
Vivian: Oh okay, that’s great.
Hiroko: It’s coming out on the 2nd of January.
Naomi: Right.
Vivian: Okay I will definitely check it out. So you said, you send and receive cards during the New Year season. What are the greeting cards called?
Hiroko: It’s called 年賀状
Vivian: 年賀状
Hiroko: Many Japanese send New Year’s greeting cards to their friends and families. It’s kind of similar to the western culture of sending Christmas cards like you said. People send greeting cards to friends and families but nowadays, people do that on
Naomi: Internet.
Hiroko: Or the cell phones.
Vivian: I see. Those E-Cards right?
Naomi: Yeah.
Hiroko: Yeah.
Hiroko: It’s kind of annoying. But I like receiving them because there is a lottery on the official greeting cards.
Naomi: Right.
Vivian: Oh wow, a lottery!
Hiroko: One year, I received one from my friend and one of the cards won cooking utensil.
Naomi: Wow!
Hiroko: Like a 鍋 and I went to my friend’s house and used the 鍋. We had 鍋 party because we won that 鍋.
Naomi: Wow!
Vivian: So what’s usually written on those greeting cards?
Naomi: The most common phrase we write is あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。
Vivian: あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。
Naomi: Right. あけましておめでとうございます means happy New Year.
Hiroko: Literally it came from the word あける to open あけまして's あけ part came from the word あける4 to open and おめでとうございます is congratulations. So it’s like congratulating the coming of the year and 今年も means this year too.
Naomi: And よろしくお願いします is as you may probably know be nice to me. So…
Vivian: Yes I hear that a lot よろしくお願いします。
Naomi: But the thing is, we can’t say あけましておめでとうございます before New Year’s Day. So we can’t say あけましておめでとうございます today because it’s December 31st.
Vivian: Oh I see. Okay I should remember that.
Hiroko: Yeah instead you can say 良いお年を
Naomi: Have a great holiday, have a great year.
Vivian: So one more time please.
Hiroko: よいおとしを
Vivian: よいおとしを
Naomi: Okay よい means good. お年 is honorable year. So have a great year.
Hiroko: Oh yeah and we – Japanesepod101.com made a New Year’s Greeting card for the listeners. So please check it out. It’s cool looking.
Naomi: When will it be published?
Hiroko: I think it will be published on the 1st of January, the New Year’s Day. It has the picture of us.
Naomi: え?
Hiroko: And
Naomi: えー、知らなかった。 [*] 00:10:45 you know that.
Vivian: Everyone?
Hiroko: Ah yeah most of us.
Naomi: Oh Vivian, you won it there.
Hiroko: Maybe we will take one now and cut and paste.
Naomi: Yeah.
Vivian: So today, we talked about a lot of things about food, traditional Japanese New Year’s food and also today, we sent greeting cards.
Hiroko: Yeah I love this stuff….
Vivian: Be sure to send the greeting cards. Okay and don’t forget to visit our website japanesepod101.com to check out Jun’s video. It will be uploaded on January 2nd and also the New Year’s greeting card. Yeah.
Naomi: HirokoさんとHirokoさんの友達が作りました。 Hiroko and her friend made one.
Hiroko: My friend made it really cool looking. So check it out.


Vivian: Oh wow! Okay so I am looking forward to checking that out. All right, so Happy New Year every one.
Naomi: みなさん、よいお年を。 Have a great holiday.
Hiroko: じゃ、また来年お会いしましょう。 See you next year.
Naomi: See you next year.


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