Tips for Living in Japan
Read a short entry on Japanese culture, including language, customs and etiquettes. Maybe you would find out something that you were always curious of.
Lesson 50Sasete itadakimasu
In Japanese conversations today, you often hear ~ sasete itadakimasu. More and more people think they can express respect as long as they say ~ sasete itadakimasu.
At the beginning of a meeting, for example, a person will say to the other participants, Setsumei sasete itadakimasu, literally meaning "I will receive the favor of being allowed to give my explanation." In this situation, Setsumei shimasu, meaning "I will explain," would be quite sufficient.
Also, you may see a notice on the front of a shop saying Jûji kara eigyô sasete itadakimasu, which literally means "We respectfully ask you to let us open at 10 o'clock." This is also a wrong usage.
But words change as time passes. These expressions may well become "correct Japanese" one day!
In Japan, most houses have a bathtub in their bathroom. The average size allows an adult man to sit with his legs outstretched and soak himself up to his shoulders. The hot water in the tub is used by all the members of the family, so you should wash your body and hair before getting into the tub.
The Japanese not only take a bath at home but also often go to a hot spring resort. Travel with its main purpose being a visit to a hot spring is called onsen ryokô. Some hot spring inns have rotenburo—meaning "open-air bath"—where you can take a bath while enjoying looking at the surrounding scenery. They're very popular because they give you the feeling of being free.
Lesson 48Seasonal ingredients
Japan has four seasons and each one has its delicacies. We will introduce you to some seasonal ingredients.
Typical spring delicacies include bamboo shoots and the first bonito of the season.(Bamboo shoots are called takenoko.)
In summer, we eat cucumbers and eel. Cucumbers are regarded as a useful vegetable for relieving summer fatigue because they remove body heat.
As the phrase "The autumn, when people have a good appetite" suggests, a wealth of ingredients come into season in autumn. They include persimmons, Pacific saury, and mushrooms.
Popular in winter are cod and giant radishes, which help to warm the body.
Seasonal ingredients are reasonably priced and widely popular because they are available in large quantities. Marine delicacies in season are particularly valued, and the markets come alive with cries such as, "This year's first bonito have arrived!"
The Japanese archipelago stretches a long way from north to south, so regional climates vary greatly and the country enjoys four distinctive seasons with abundant natural bounties. Each region has its own agricultural products and specialties.
Tea is the specialty of Shizuoka Prefecture, located at the foot of Mt. Fuji. It boasts the largest tea production in Japan. Shizuoka has a coastline and so it's also blessed with abundant fresh marine produce, such as young sardines and spotted sakura shrimps.
Of course, Tokyo has its specialties as well. The nori laver used when making sushi is one of them. The nori harvested in Tokyo Bay is popular because it is rather sweet and has a strong aroma.
These days, by using an Internet mail order service, you can order specialties from all over the country and enjoy them at home. However, the ultimate luxury is to actually visit the local area and taste them when they're in season.
Lesson 46Mt. Fuji
Summer is the best season for climbing Mt. Fuji. During July and August every year, more than 300,000 people aim at reaching the summit. Nearly 30% of them are foreigners. Though it is summer, the temperature sharply drops as you climb up, and the weather is changeable when you approach the summit, which is 3,776 meters above sea level. Rain gear, cold weather protection gear, potable water and emergency food are necessities. You must also pay attention to altitude sickness.
Although Mt. Fuji is popular regardless of age and sex, women weren't allowed to climb it until about 150 years ago. It's recorded that even before that some women in disguise climbed it, mingling with men. It seems that Mt. Fuji certainly has the same charm today that has fascinated people since early times, doesn't it?