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Tweet of the Week #30

Learn Japanese with what's going viral in the Twitterverse.

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The abdication of Emperor Akihito in April and the succession of his son Crown Prince Naruhito marked the start of a new era, with Japan saying its goodbyes to three decades of Heisei on May 1 and welcoming in the first day of Reiwa.

Royal shenanigans aside, many Japanese will also probably remember how the change of an era brought with it an extra long 10-day Golden Week — a true holiday miracle that may never occur again!

That’s punny

In addition to benefiting from the surge in travel over the holidays, Japanese businesses, retailers and product makers have also managed to squeeze every last drop of PR value out of this momentous occasion, branding any product they can think of — from candy and potato chips to toilet paper (yep!) — with the kanji (令和) from the new era name. Because we all know there’s nothing better than a shopping frenzy to kick start a new era — oh, and the fiscal year of course.

Even when it seemed like there was no end to the imagination of companies cashing in on a piece of history (check out this Mount Fuji-shaped cat’s hat), there was one curry shop that took things to a whole ‘nother level.

3日前みっかまえまでは普通ふつうだったのに… = Three days ago (this place) was normal…

On the original storefront, you can see the catchy slogan: “Curry is a drink.” This is a common Japanese expression to talk about food you never get tired of eating.

Alas, to @_oliverSI’s surprise, three days later, the owner seemed to have been struck with a (not so?) genius idea. Brace yourself, for this ultimate oyaji gyagu (dad joke):

カレーはものです。= Karee wa nomimono desu. 

became…

令和れいわ飲み物です。= Ka reiwa nomimono desu.

Ba dum tsh.

Your first lesson of the Reiwa era: Using のに

Recovered from the punchline? It’s time to learn how to use this handy particle combo のに.

The combination of the two particles のに can be translated with “although”, “despite” and “even though.” They combine two sentences: the second one contradicting the first one, implying unexpectedness or dissatisfaction.

のに can be used with verbs, adjectives and nouns, all in their casual form:

  • Verb のに
  • い-adj のに
  • な-adj なのに
  • Noun なのに

Different ways to use のに:

  • Use のに to express disappointment:

勉強べんきょうしたのに、大学だいがく受験じゅけんちた・・・ = Although I studied, I failed the university entrance exam…

  • Use のに to complain:

約束やくそくしたのに、どうしてなかったの。= Why didn’t you come even though you promised?

You’ll often find the expression combined with the word せっかく, which isn’t easy to translate by itself but marks the considerable effort someone made, or the excitement someone had waiting for something.

かれはせっかく勉強したのに落第らくだいしたのはどくだ。= It’s a pity that despite all his effort studying, he failed.

  • Use のに to express this universally satisfying (or annoying, depending on which side you’re on) phrase:

だからったのに!= I told you so!

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
3日前みっかまえ mikka mae three days ago
まで made until
普通ふつう futsuu normal
のに noni although, despite, even
カレー karee curry
もの nomimono drink
勉強べんきょう benkyou study
大学だいがく daigaku university
受験じゅけん juken (taking an) examination
ちる
ochiru fail
約束やくそく yakusoku promise
どうして doushite why
kuru to come
せっかく sekkaku sekkaku
どく ki no doku pitiful, unfortunate
落第らくだいする rakudai fail, drop a class
だからったのに
dakara itta no ni I told you so

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