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.


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.

Su (す – 巣)

(す – 巣) Meaning: Nest (for birds, bees, and even animals such as foxes, which might require a specialized word like “den” in English).

Example 1: あれは とりの す です。/ あれは 鳥の 巣 です。/ Are wa tori no su desu. = That’s a bird nest.

Example 2: はちの す に ちかよらないように!/ 蜂の 巣に 近寄らないように!/ Hachi no su ni chikayoranai you ni! = Be careful not to get too close to the bees’  nest!

Photo: Rika Nakajima


Setsubun (せつぶん- 節分)
Meaning: Feburary 3rd is Setsubun-no-hi, “The day of Setsubun.” Setsubun is a festival in Japan held to herald the coming of spring.

Perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of the festival is a tradition in which children get to pelt their dads with beans. Mame-maki, as this is called, is about chasing out evil spirits from one’s house, and it works like this. A male member of each family, either someone whose zodiac sign is the same as the sign for the current year, or the father, puts on a demon (oni) mask and visits each room in the house while making scary poses. The children, armed with dried beans, bombard the oni while shouting ‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!’ = “Demons out! Luck in!” Afterward, the beans that were not used as projectiles are eaten to wish for good luck in the coming year. These days, not everyone actually performs this tradition at home, but many families head to the local shrine to take part in other festivities.

Photo: Keiji Koizumi


Dousatsuryoku (どうさつりょく – 洞察力) Meaning: Insight, powers of insight.

Example 1: かのじょの どうさつりょくは するどい。/ 彼女の 洞察力は 鋭い。/ Kanojo no dousatsuryoku wa surudoi. = Her powers of insight are keen.

Example 2: あなたは どうさつりょくを  もっと みがくべきだ。/ あなたは 洞察力を もっと みがくべきだ。/ Anata wa dousatsuryoku wo motto migakubeki da. = You ought to work on (“polish”) your powers of insight.

Photo: Keiji Koizumi

Story of the Day 5 (Casual)

わたしは よふかしが だいすきだ。でも あさ おきるのは にがて。まいあさ めざましどけいと かくとうする。ときどき めざましどけいを とめて にどねしてしまう くせがある。

Watashi wa yofukashi ga daisuki da. Demo asa okiruno wa nigate. Maiasa mezamashi-dokei to kakutou suru. Tokidoki mezamashi-dokei wo tomete nidone shite shimau kuse ga aru.

私は 夜更かしが 大好きだ。でも 朝 起きるのは 苦手。毎朝、目覚まし時計と 格闘する。時々 目覚まし時計を 止めて 二度寝してしまう 癖がある。

I love staying up late. But waking up in the morning is tough for me. I do battle every morning with my alarm clock. I have the habit of sometimes stopping the alarm clock and going back to sleep.

* In many of our recordings, we speak slowly and clearly so that you can easily follow along. But it’s also important to get used to hearing flowing speech at normal speeds. And even more important is to practice pronouncing things in the same way as native speakers. First, listen carefully, comparing to the script where you have trouble. Then try reading out loud along with the actor, and compare your pronunciation to hers. Enjoy

Photo: Keiji Koizumi

Story of the Day 4 (Casual)

さむく なってきたね。かぜを ひかないように きをつけよう!マフラーまいて てぶくろして コートをきて でかけよう。

Samuku natte kita ne. Kaze wo hikanaiyouni kiwotukeyou! Mafuraa maite tebukuro shite kooto wo kite dekakeyou.

寒く なってきたね。風邪を 引かないように 気をつけよう!マフラー巻いて 手袋して コートを着て 出かけよう。

It’s gotten cold, hasn’t it? Let’s be careful not to catch colds! Let’s put on (“wrap”) a scarf, (do) gloves, and (wear) a coat and go out.

Photo: Rika Nakajima