Speakin' Japanese: Arts and culture

Speakin' Japanese: Arts and culture

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Japan is a cultural treasure house. Check out a local museum or castle, or try your hand at martial arts, calligraphy or flower arranging. If you don’t have time for that, wear a yukata to a hanabi or bon odori festival. Here’s some words and phrases to help enjoy Japan’s culture.   

“Sumo” = sumo wrestling
“Kabuki” = a traditional form of drama and music performed by male actors
“Ukiyo-e” = colored woodblock print
“(O) shiro” = castle
“Katana” = Japanese sword
“(O) cha” =  tea ceremony
“Koto” = Japanese harp
“Yukata”= summer kimono
“Shuuji” = traditional calligraphy
“Togei” = ceramic art
“Kyoshitsu” = school
“Tai” = want (iki-tai = want to go, mi-tai = want to see, shi-tai = want to do)
“Suki” = like
“Doko” = where
“Mirareru” = can see
“Honmono” = authentic
“Narau” = learn
“Sensei” = master, instructor
“Tsurete itte” = take me
“Muzukashii” = difficult
“Kirei” = beautiful
“Oshiete” = teach
“Narau” = learn
“Kachaashii” = traditional Okinawan dance
“Sanshin” = Okinawan banjo

“Sumo wo mini ikitai desu.” = I want to go see sumo.
“Kabuki wa suki desuka?” = Do you like kabuki?
“Ukiyo-e wa doko de miraremasu ka?” = Where can I see ukiyo-e?
“Kono kimono wa kirei desu ne?” = This kimono is beautiful, isn’t it?
“Chikaku no oshiro ni tsurete itte kudasai.” = Take me to the nearest castle, please.
“Honmono no katana ga mitai desu.” = I want to see authentic Japanese swords.
“Ocha wa muzukashii desu.” = Performing a tea ceremony is difficult.
“Yukata no kikata wo oshiete kure masen ka?” = Could you tell me how to wear a yukata?
“Togei kyoshitsu ni sanka dekimasu ka?” = Can I join the ceramic class?
“Shuuji wo narratte imasu.” = I am learning traditional Japanese calligraphy.
“Koto no sensei wo sagashite imasu.” = I am looking for a koto instructor.

You can also say it in “Uchinaaguchi” (island dialect) like this:
“Dounnagu too kachaashii udouiga.” = Show me how to dance kachaashii.
“Sanshin narawashi shimisooree.” = I want to learn sanshin.


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