Learn

Tweet of the Week

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

By 3 min read

There’s no need for Netflix when you have the drama that is goodbyes in front of Japanese train ticket gates. Offering an insight into the highs and lows of the human condition better than any Korean drama, this phenomenon is unique to stations in Japan and something that @endys_holiday captured to perfection with this picture, taken precisely 3 years ago.

Drunk in love

3年前の今日、惜しくもピューリツァー賞を逃した作品です。ご査収下さい。
左:恋愛
右:泥酔

= Taken 3 years ago on this day, this work of art regrettably wasn’t awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Please have a look. On the right: love. On the left: drunkenness.

Picture the scene. We’re near the entrance of the shinkansen (bullet train) track of a train station in Shizuoka. On the left, a young girl hugs her (assumed) boyfriend goodbye before she returns to Tokyo. Or so we can guess from the kawaii pink suitcase at her feet.

On the right, another kind of couple are also sharing a moment, albeit less romantic. Here we see two salarymen, one holding his colleague tightly against his chest, before one or both of them board the train.

But what does it all mean?

@endys_holiday’s picture has generated a lot of scrutiny on Twitter, with users sharing their own in-depth analysis of what might be happening and the underlying metaphors. Could there be various readings here? That’s what @hsgwtk seems to believe.

ほんとはあと3パターンありますよね?
左:恋愛
右:恋愛

左:泥酔
右:泥酔

左:泥酔
右:恋愛

= “In reality, there are 3 more possible patterns, aren’t there? On the right: love. On the left: love. On the right: drunkenness. On the left: drunkenness. On the right: drunkenness. On the left: love.”

Making a request in Japanese

The first way to make a direct request in Japanese you will learn is ください, which translates to “Please do or give (something)”. Easy to use, this polite imperative can be attached to a verb’s て form or to a noun. In this last case, the noun will be prefixed with お or ご.

  • 見てください = Please look
  • ご連絡ください = Please inform
  • お持ちください = Please bring

One does not simply know how to request in Japanese

You’re set to ask someone your first request with ください, but let’s review the exact underlying meaning conveyed here because with great power comes great responsibility.

ください is, in fact, giving an order — politely, but it’s not like the recipient has any choice. The person the order is directed at can’t say yes or no. In a classroom setting, when your teacher asks you to 読んでください (= “please read”) they are actually telling you “READ NOW!”

The point we’re getting at is that you must take into account the person you’re talking to and the context. For instance, ください is a perfectly polite way to tell a client or a superior to sit down or to eat; this is a grey area where the order is actually more of a polite instruction. However, if you’re asking for a service (e.g. lend me this book, give me some money) ください will sound quite offensive. To be less straightforward with your request, use くださいませんか instead, which translates into the much safer, “Won’t you do (something) for me please ?”.

Useful vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
〇〇年前ねんまえ 〇〇nenmae 〇〇years ago
今日きょう kyo today
しくも oshikumo to one’s regret, regrettably
ピューリツァーしょう pyuuritsaa shou Pulitzer Prize
のが nogasu to miss (an opportunity, a shot)
作品 さくひん sakuhin work (of art)
査収下さい さしゅうください gosashuu kudasai Please have a look
ひだり hidari left
みぎ migi right
恋愛 れんあい ren’ai love
泥酔 でいすい deisui drunkenness

For more on learning Japanese

Topics: /

Related

Learn

Tweet of the Week

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

By 3 min read

Learn

Tweet of the Week

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

By 3 min read

Learn

Idioms: Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

Using human anatomy to illustrate fascinating similarities and differences between English and Japanese.

By 5 min read