Sunday, July 1, 2012

わかりました(past tense) VS わかります(present tense)

 A lot of foreign people might think it's strange, but  Japanese often say "わかりました(I understood.)", even though we are talking about present.  

"わかりました" is past tense, so it is natural you think it should be present tense,"わかります(I understand)" when you are being instructed by someone now. However, in Japanese discourse like when you express your understanding to someone's instruction or indication, it is common that you response with past tense. Then, when should you say "わかります(I understand.)"? There are about 2 ways of  the situation you have better use present tense.

A:Do you tell the meaning of this Russian word?
B:Yes, I understand.
Like this case, when you can understand the meaning of stuff or contents, especially in the midst of the indication, you better say "わかります". 

A:My husband never tries to listen to me! Disgusting! 
B:I understand. Same here.
Like above, when you want to show that you can understand someone's feelings or situations, or when you want to sympathize with someone, you should use "わかります".

In short, when you express your full comprehension about something, especially after someone has finished his explaining, you have to use past tense. On the other hand, when you want to show your understanding each time or temporarily, particularly amid instruction, you should response with present tense.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Certificate Of Lateness Iissued By Railroad Companies

It is very famous that trains in Japan run very punctually.  Japanese rail road companies, However, have another wonderful service, which is issuing certificates of lateness.
Please look at this picture of paper. It says "This paper proves that the train was delayed." When the train you always get on is delayed for some reasons, you can get this paper at ticket gates. It means, even though you are late for offices due to trains, you can prove it to your bosses with the certificates to. Actually these days, it seems that you can receive the certificates even through website.  

I think this service was developed because almost all of Japanese companies are really strict to their employees. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Station Building

This might be one of  the Japanese cultures. Especially in urban areas in Japan, it is normal that big stations have shopping malls inside themselves or in their adjoining places. For example, around Osaka station, there are 3 department stores, so station users can reach the shops directly from ticket gates.

We call this kind of station with shopping malls "Ekibiru", "Eki" means station and "biru" means building, and which  expresses "the combination of station and shopping mall". According to certain information, this concept started before World War 2. At that time, some private railroad companies in urban area tried to make department stores near terminal stations in order to make people living in the suburbs use the trains and the stores often. I think this concept was made by Japanese. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Free Pocket Tissues

Though the chances are getting fewer and fewer nowadays, because of the recession, but in Japan, you can get pocket tissues for free.

Seen in this picture, many companies like cellular carriers, banks, and sports clubs, are distributing pocket tissues for their advertisement on streets. Although they are free, but their quality is good. So if you come to Japan, you don't need to buy them.

Except free pocket tissues, you may be able to get paper fans, candies, or little amount of bathing powders etc. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Onomatopoeic Device For Toilet

I don't know whether other countries have this kind of devices or not, but here in Japan, more than half of public woman's restroom, except ones located in public parks, have onomatopoeic devices, which can kill the sound of pee.

I think the device appeared around 1985. Generally, Japanese women feel embarrassed about their pee sound being heard by other people. Henceforth, until that time, a lot of women including children had flushed the toilet during pee to kill its sound with sound of flushing water. In short, they flushed toilet at least 2 times in bathrooms. Of course it was not friendly to the environment in the light of overuse of water. Hence, household appliance companies developed the device.

How to use the device is very easy. Shortly before you pee, push the button, then false sound of water starts, and it lasts for 1 or 2 minutes. In case that the false sound's time length is shorter than yours, you can extend it by pushing the button again. By the way, maybe you can rarely encounter the device in men's restroom.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Heian Bijin-Beauty In The Heian Era-

Sometimes we Japanese use this words 
"Heian Bijin" to describe girls' faces. Actually, this words are kind of confusing.

"Heian" means "the Heian era", "Bijin" means beautiful women, in short, it is mentioning "beautiful women like noblewomen in the Heian era." Though the word "Bijin" has definitely a good meaning, if you put the words "Heian" in the front of it, it varies totally. 

Heian bijin's traits are stated below.

■chubby, round face 
■pasty white completions with very fine texture
■thin eyes

 Actually, the figure you can imagine from these is alien from what beauties should be nowadays.

As a matter of fact, in the Heian era, women who have these traits were really considered "beautiful women" and if you see this picture, you would think these women must have been beautiful and elegant. However, the truth is different. Rather, they must have been like monsters!

In this era, noblewomen weren't supposed to go out and the food was undernourished, so they were unhealthy, that's why their faces were swollen. Then they completely removed their eyebrows, wrote them on upper forehead with eyebrow-paints, and these written eyebrows were supposed to be apart from each other as much as they could. Besides, they put a lot of powder on their faces to make them look pasty white, fragile for the sake of guys visiting them at their houses under cover of night. Moreover, they dyed their teeth black, and the length of their hair was approximately 7 m, because they didn't cut their hair ever since they were born.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

【Japanese Manners】Binbo Yusuri-Fidgeting-

Here, the behavior "shaking your legs", so called fidgeting, is really hated. If you do this in front of Japanese, we will be absolutely annoyed.

It is called "Binbo Yusuri" in Japanese, "Binbo" means "poor",  "Yusuri" does "shaking". The reason it called like this is that the behavior makes you look like you are poor and your mind is always occupied with financial matters. 

Actually, this phrase seems to have been created in Edo era. Seen in Haiku or Senryu, which are Japanese traditional way of poem, people in that time also detested this behavior with same reason above. Incidentally, another phrase "Binbo Gami", which means god of poverty, was also made in this era. At that time, especially merchants really dreaded poverty, and what's more, there was a superstition that shaking legs conjured the god of poverty, so this behavior started to be called like this.