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"Villagers Help Rethatch Roofs in Shirakawa Village"

Learn Japanese from the News

Broadcast on July 17, 2023 Available until July 16, 2024

Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News." In this program we learn Japanese and more about Japan from news stories presented in simple Japanese. Today's headline is "Villagers Help Rethatch Roofs in Shirakawa Village" which was published on NEWS WEB EASY's website on May 16, 2023. Keywords include「合掌造り(がっしょうづくり)gasshoo-zukuri」"gassho-style houses" and「かや kaya」"a collective term for the pampas grass and common reed that's used for thatching roofs."

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[Transcript]

"Villagers Help Rethatch Roofs in Shirakawa Village"


 
Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News."
 
Join us as we learn Japanese and about the country through Japanese news stories.
Today's headline is…
 

 
岐阜県(ぎふけん)白川村(しらかわむら) 村(むら)の人(ひと)が手伝(てつだ)って合掌造(がっしょうづく)りの屋根(やね)を新(あたら)しくする
 
"Villagers Help Rethatch Roofs in Shirakawa Village"
This news story was published on NEWS WEB EASY's website on May 16th.
Now let's go over some vocab words that will help us understand what's going on.
.
合掌造(がっしょうづく)り
Gassho means "to bring your hands together in prayer," and zukuri refers to form or style. The buildings in Shirakawa Village have steep, triangular thatched roofs that resemble praying hands, so they're called gassho-style houses.
 
かや
This is a collective term for the pampas grass and common reed that's used for thatching roofs.
 
Let's keep these words in mind as we listen.
 
「岐阜県(ぎふけん)白川村(しらかわむら)には、屋根(やね)が山(やま)のような形(かたち)をした合掌造(がっしょうづく)りの家(いえ)が残(のこ)っていて、世界遺産(せかいいさん)になっています。
5月(がつ)13日(にち)、200年(ねん)ぐらい前(まえ)に建(た)てた家(いえ)の屋根(やね)を新(あたら)しくしました。昔(むかし)から、近(ちか)くに住(す)む人(ひと)たちが手伝(てつだ)っています。この日(ひ)は子(こ)どもや大人(おとな)130人(にん)ぐらいが集(あつ)まりました。新型(しんがた)コロナウイルスなどのため、しばらく手伝(てつだ)うことは中止(ちゅうし)していました。
集(あつ)まった人たちは9000ぐらいのかやの束(たば)を、みんなで一緒(いっしょ)に屋根(やね)まで上(あ)げました。かやを屋根(やね)に結(むす)んで、最後(さいご)に木(き)の道具(どうぐ)で強(つよ)くたたきました。
白川村(しらかわむら)に住(す)む24歳(さい)の女性(じょせい)は「全部(ぜんぶ)人(ひと)の手(て)で作(つく)っていて、すごいと思(おも)いました。伝(つた)え続(つづ)けることが大事(だいじ)だと思(おも)いました」と話(はな)していました。」
 
This story is about Shirakawa Village in Gifu Prefecture, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. For the first time in five years, members of the community came together to help rethatch the roof on one of the local gassho-style houses.
 

 
Now we'll break down a few sentences from the story that contain helpful expressions and keywords.
Let's start with the following sentence:
 
昔(むかし)から、近(ちか)くに住(す)む人(ひと)たちが手伝(てつだ)っています。
 
"People who live nearby have traditionally helped with this work."
 
Now let's zero in on ています, in the phrase 手伝(てつだ)っています.
You may have learned that we use the te-form of a verb with います to describe an action in progress. For example, if you said 今(いま)、手伝(てつだ)っています, that means "I'm helping right now."
 
However, in today's story, the ています in 昔(むかし)から手伝(てつだ)っています describes a recurring or habitual action. The sentence is saying that members of the community have been helping out with the rethatching work for a long time, and continue to do so.
 
Right. So you have to look at the context to determine if it's
describing an ongoing action, or a habitual one.
 
In our story, the phrase 昔(むかし)から tells us that the sentence is describing a habitual action.
 
Alright, let's move on to our next sentence.
 
伝(つた)え続(つづ)けることが大事(だいじ)だと思(おも)いました。
 
"I think it's important to hand down this tradition."
 
伝(つた)え続(つづ)ける refers to handing down traditions from parent to child, generation to generation.
 
続(つづ)ける means "to continue" or "to keep doing something." We can attach another verb in front of it to make a compound verb.
 
So for instance, 待(ま)ち続(つづ)ける means "to continue waiting." 輝(かがや)き続(つづ)ける means "to keep on shining." Try creating some compound verbs with 続(つづ)ける. It's a very useful word to know.
 
Yes, it is.
And, that's all we have for you today.
 
I understand that in Shirakawa Village the roofs are rethatched once every 30 to 40 years.
 
Yes. And apparently it takes a couple of days and hundreds of people to rethatch one house. But it's an important local tradition that they're working to keep alive.
 
So the beautiful gassho-style houses are a living testament to the bonds of community. That's wonderful.
Alright. Be sure to tune in next time for more!
 

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