Word of the Day: Denwa (でんわ – 電話)

Word of the Day: Denwa (でんわ – 電話) Meaning: Telephone. Use ‘suru/shimasu’ to make into the verb “to call on the phone.”

Example 1: あなたの でんわばんごうを おしえて ください。 / あなたの 電話番号を 教えて 下さい。 / Anata no denwa bangou wo oshiete kudasai. = Please tell me (“teach me”) your telephone number.

Example 2: わたしは でんわが にがてです。 / 私は 電話が 苦手です。 / Watashi wa denwa ga nigate desu. = I’m not good at phones. (E.g., I have a hard time speaking on the phone.)

Example 3: でんわしても いいですか? / 電話しても いいですか? / Denwa shite mo ii desu ka? = May I telephone (you)?

Example 4: ごご くじに でんわ して ください。 / 午後 九時に 電話して 下さい。 / Gogo kuji ni denwa shite kudasai. = Please call me at 9PM.

* Please click the play button in the bamboo logo to listen to the recording.


Shinjuku Gyoen / 新宿御苑

Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful and expansive garden in the heart of Tokyo that contains many different sub-areas showing off various aesthetic styles, including Japanese, English, and French.
Nestled in the Japanese areas, there’s even a tea house where you can stop in for a cup of strong ‘matcha’ and a piece of ‘wagashi,’ a Japanese treat that normally accompanies the tea.
Adult admission is only 200 yen, or 2000 yen for a year pass, which makes it a popular place for locals to come to have a picnic or set up a stool and practice their drawing or painting. If you plan a trip to Tokyo, it’s definitely worth a visit!

Ki wo kubaru / きをくばる

We’re always impressed by the little ways Japanese businesses show that they’re really thinking about the customer in Japan. At this outdoor cafe in Daikan-yama, Tokyo, on a sunny but brisk morning, there was a blanket on each and every chair for patrons to put on their laps.

The expression for thinking carefully about the experience and comfort of other people is 気を配る / きをくばる / ‘ki wo kubaru,’ and seeing it in action is always a delight.

Izakaya / 居酒屋

Japanese food culture: Izakaya (いざかや・居酒屋)

Walk around any Japanese city after dark and you’re likely to stumble upon lots of little bars — often tiny places that seat as few as ten people — that specialize in small dishes of traditional Japanese food. Known as ‘izakaya,’ you can think of these down-to-earth places as the Japanese equivalent of the tapas bar.

The one pictured here specializes in seafood. Starting in the upper left and moving clockwise, the dishes are 1) Shirasu, tarako, and daikon over rice, 2) Whole squid with a sauce made from its insides, 3) broiled broad beans with a pile of salt, and 4) roasted bamboo shoots. These dishes are meant for sharing over drinks, so grab a few friends and check one out!

Golden Week / ゴールデン ウィーク

Golden Week (ゴールデン ウィーク) – Golden Week is one of the longest and busiest holiday seasons in Japan.

It starts from April 29, which is Showa Day, “Showa no Hi,” the birthday of the former Emperor. May 3rd is Constitution Memorial Day, “Kenpou Kinenbi.” May 4th is Greenery Day, “Midori no Hi,” and May 5th is Children’s Day, “Kodomo no Hi” (which is actually mainly for boys).

Because of this string of days off, people tend to use the weekends together with those four national holidays, and have a long vacation. As this is one of the longest unbroken stretches of time off during the year for most Japanese, during this season, airfare, hotels, and transportation are fully booked and priced to reflect that. Airport, highways, and the main train stations are packed, so prepare to see chaos if you’re in Japan during this time. If you have control over your travel schedule, it’s best to avoid this crazy week.

The picture here is of Tokyo Tower with ‘koi nobori’ — carp streamers — flying in front of it. ‘Koi nobori’ are a symbol of ‘Kodomo no Hi.’

Hanami @ Ueno Park, Tokyo

It’s hanami (はなみ・花見) season here in Tokyo, and people were out in droves yesterday to see the cherry blossoms. This was the view at Ueno Park, where thousands of people laid out tarps and blankets and enjoyed a leisurely lunch, dinner, or both. Couples, friends, groups of salarymen, and families could be seen talking and laughing, and, aided by large bottles of beer and sake at virtually every table, a merry time was had by all. There was a particular sense of urgency since the weather was forecast to go rainy later, which it did that evening. It’s gray in Tokyo today, but here’s hoping we still have some blossoms left to enjoy when the sun comes out again this weekend.

Reporting live from Tokyo, your friendly Human Japanese team.