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さくら: さくらです。
Peter: Peter here.
さくら: 四字熟語
Peter: Lesson 15. Passionate Japanese, I like the sound of this one.
さくら: はい。
Peter: Again in this series, we take two Japanese idiomatic phrases and we dissect them. We take a look at the characters, the four kanji characters that make up the phrases and it gives you a bit of insight into the Japanese way of thinking.

Lesson focus

Peter: Okay Sakura san, first one, what do we have?
さくら: 二人三脚
Peter: Three-legged race. Two cooperating people sharing the same purpose, be joined at the hip.
さくら: ににんさんきゃく 二人三脚
Peter: Let’s take a look at each of the four kanji characters. First character,
さくら: 二
Peter: Two.
さくら: 人
Peter: Person.
さくら: 三
Peter: Three.
さくら: 脚
Peter: Leg. So the first two kanji character compound means
さくら: 二人
Peter: Two people. The second two character kanji compound means
さくら: 三脚
Peter: Three legs. Put it together,
さくら: 二人三脚
Peter: Three-legged race. Is that right?
さくら: Yes, yes, yes….
Peter: Tell us a little bit about this.
さくら: It originally means a race where you – two people run together and one person’s right leg is tied to the other person’s left leg.
Peter: And then they have the other legs free.
さくら: Yes.
Peter: This is very common. I think I don’t know maybe you can help us out listeners but I think this is common throughout the world, this kind of race.
さくら: Umm I think so.
Peter: So this phrase is taken kind of metaphorically?
さくら: Yes, yes, yes it indicates the two persons cooperate with each other or work together closely for the same purpose.
Peter: Makes perfect sense.
さくら: はい
Peter: Sakura san
さくら: うん
Peter: Well first, do we use this phrase a lot?
さくら: Umm まあまあ
Peter: まあまあ Maybe something I could see appearing in like a newspaper article.
さくら: Or 何だろうstories about like episode of somebody athletes とかさpeople who became successful 二人三脚で頑張りましたlike this.
Peter: Okay and how about the usage?
さくら: It’s often used as an adverbial phrase like 二人三脚で
Peter: So we use the particle で and we use it to express how closely people are working together.
さくら: Yes.
Peter: Let’s take a look at some sample sentences.
さくら: 僕は父と二人三脚でオリンピックを目指した
Peter: So my father and I are aspiring to go to the Olympic games and it’s kind of as if we are joined at the hip.
さくら: So father was helping him you know to become a good athlete. Next, 私は夫と二人三脚でこの店を大きくしてきた
Peter: My husband and I have been working closely together to develop our shop and finally
さくら: 私は医者と二人三脚で病気と戦っている
Peter:My doctor and I are cooperating closely with each other to fight against the disease.
さくら: はい
Peter: So you see in all the cases, we had the phrase followed by で and it was two people working to achieve a common goal.
さくら: Yes.
Peter: Okay now, let’s leave a metaphorical phrase aside for a second. Sakura san, have you ever participated in one of these races where you tie a leg to…
さくら: Oh yes, yes, yes in the elementary school.
Peter: Isn’t this part of the kind of sports day or the battle of the classes.
さくら: Yes 運動会 そうですね. I saw on TV where 30 children lying up and tie their legs together and do 30人31脚. They do a race. It’s nationwide competition.
Peter: Yeah I remember that.
さくら: Yes そうそうそう
Peter: It’s a national championship.
さくら: そうそうそう
Peter: And those kids, they actually train at school for this.
さくら: そうです In like class, the whole class worked together for this race.
Peter: It’s really something to see them all running together.
さくら: Yes.
Peter: And Sakura san, do you route for them to make it to the finish line?
さくら: Umm…
Peter: That’s so nice of you. Okay on to the second phrase.
さくら: 無我夢中
Peter: To lose oneself in something, to be absorbed in.
さくら: むがむちゅう 無我夢中
Peter: Let’s take a look at the four characters that make up this phrase. First character,
さくら: 無
Peter: Nothing.
さくら: 我
Peter: Oneself.
さくら: 夢
Peter: Dream.
さくら: 中
Peter: In. Now this is one of the Buddhist phrases.
さくら: Yes.
Peter: That we love so much.
さくら: そうですね
Peter: Now let’s take a look at the two, two kanji character compounds that make up the four kanji character compound.
さくら: 無我
Peter: Now this is originally a Buddhist word or a word from Buddhism. Sakura san, can you tell us about that?
さくら: It means the mind condition that someone can go beyond obsession with oneself.
Peter: To go beyond obsession with oneself. The second two character kanji compound is
さくら: 夢中
Peter: And this means to be absorbed in but this is quite common.
さくら: Yes popular phrase ね
Peter: Now when we put these two two kanji character compounds together, we get
さくら: 無我夢中
Peter: And it means be completely and passionately absorbed in one thing without paying attention to other things at all and we know from experience that that’s not a good thing.
さくら: Umm まあな、無我夢中 it’s not that totally negative though. 無我夢中で走れRun without thinking about anything like my teacher might say on sports day.
Peter: Wow! Driving them to such competition. That’s a good point, it’s interesting. I didn’t think about it that way but it could have also kind of positive.
さくら: So it depends on the situation maybe, negative and positive.
Peter: Okay. 有難うございますLet’s take a look at the usage and then some sample sentences to kind of see how it’s used in context. First usage,
さくら: It’s often used as a adverbial phrase like 無我夢中で do something.
Peter: Again we have the で the phrase followed by でmuch like the previous phrase.
さくら: Yes, yes.
Peter: How about an example?
さくら: 無我夢中で逃げた
Peter: Which means to run away feverishly. We also have another structure that you can use when you want to say that someone is completely absorbed in one thing.
さくら: Someone は無我夢中だった
Peter: And I think we are going to have an example of this in the sample sentences.
さくら: はい
Peter: So first one,
さくら: その本はとても面白くて無我夢中で読んだ
Peter: That book was so interesting, I couldn’t put it down. And kind of a more literal translation is, I read it feverishly. I was wrapped up in it. Next,
さくら: 僕はすごくお腹がすいていたので、無我夢中で食べた
Peter: I was so hungry. So I could think about nothing but eating, just concentrating on eating. Finally we have
さくら: 私は昨日の試合中無我夢中だったので何も覚えていない
Peter: Since I was completely absorbed in the game yesterday, I didn’t remember anything about that. So just focused on one thing.
さくら: Yes.
Peter: Sakura san, is this one more common? Do you use this in every day conversations and things?
さくら: Umm. I think so. It’s not used for something you do for very long time like if you are absorbed in doing something recently you know.
Peter: A bit short term rather than long term.
さくら: そうそうそうそう
Peter: And it can have not negative, not a negative meaning like in a dictionary or something. It just means that you are putting all your energy into one thing.
さくら: そうですね
Peter: 勉強になりました
さくら: はい


Peter: Okay Sakura san, that’s going to do for today.
さくら: はい
Peter: Now don’t forget to stop by japanesepod101.com, pick up the PDF, leave us a comment and try to use these phrases and we will be more than happy to respond in the comments section of this lesson.
さくら: はい
Peter: Japanesepod101.com


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