Welcome to the first in the series of Word of the Week! Each week I will be asking you for suggestions of Japanese words and phrases to feature as ‘word of the week’, and I have to say I’m thrilled with the response for the first post. This week we are looking at words beginning with ‘a’ (あ), and I received the following suggestions:
Antonio suggested ‘aware’ (あわれ), meaning ‘pity; sorrow; grief; misery; compassion; pathos’; Japan Australia suggested ‘aishimasu’ (愛します) or ‘aisuru’ (愛する) meaning ‘to love’, ‘arienai’ (ありえない) meaning ‘impossible; unlikely, fat chance’, and ‘akemashite omedetogozaimasu’ (明けましておめでとうございます) meaning ‘Happy New Year’; Fran suggested ‘akireru’ (呆れる) meaning ‘to be amazed’, ‘akke ni torareta’ (呆気にとられた) meaning ‘totally stunned’, and ‘akiru’ (飽きる) meaning ‘to be fed up with or tired of something; and Jay Dee suggested aoi (青い) meaning ‘blue’, ‘amai’ (甘い) meaning ‘sweet’, and ‘ashimoto ni gochuui kudasai’ (足元にご注意下さい) meaning ‘please watch your step’.
These are all fantastic suggestions – thank you for playing along! I’d like to write about all of the words and phrases suggested, but the weekend seems to have run away with me and I only have time to choose one today. So, because it was the suggestion that made me smile the most, I have decided to write about:
(ashimoto ni gochuui kudasai)
When travelling around Japan on the trains, especially in large cities, you will hear all sorts of announcements and warnings being read over loud speakers. Unless your Japanese is super fluent, it’s likely you’ll just block most of this out as background noise – I certainly did even after three years of living in Japan. ‘Ashimoto ni gochuui kudasai’ is one of these many warning announcements, and if you’ve ever travelled on a train in Japan it’s likely you’ve heard it. For those of you familiar with the London Underground, ‘ashimoto ni gochuui kudasai’ is basically the equivalent of ‘mind the gap’.
Here’s a rather random video I found on YouTube where you can hear the phrase being said. Incidentally, you can also hear the great jingle at Tachikawa (立川) Station!
Let’s break the phrase down:
‘Ashimoto’ (足元) means ‘at one’s feet’ or ‘one’s step’
‘gochuui kudasai’ (ご注意ください) – ‘chuui’ (注意) is ‘caution’ and the ‘go’ (ご) is there for politeness, ‘kudasai’ (ください) means please, so it’s basically ‘caution please’
The ‘ni’ (に) between ‘ashimoto’ and ‘gochuui kudasai’ shows the place, kind of like ‘at’ (I think – I still have a lot of work to do on particles!). ‘Ni’ has a lot of uses (read more here!), but in this case it brings the sentence together to mean something like ‘caution at one’s step please’, if I were to translate it directly. So, as I said, it’s basically ‘mind the gap’.
I looked for a picture of an ‘ashimoto ni gochuui kudasai’ sign, but what comes up in most searches is actually ‘dansa ni gochuui kudasai’ (段差にご注意ください), as in the image below. ‘Dansa’ (段差) means ‘difference in level’, so this sign on a Japanese train station floor is even more like ‘mind the gap’!
So there you have it – ‘ashimoto ni gochuui kudasai’ (足元にご注意ください). Listen out for it if you go to Japan!
I hope you found this little post interesting, and I do hope to write at more length sometimes, time permitting. I’m quite pleased to be able to do a little bit of studying today, and even learnt a new word – ‘dansa’ (段差). I didn’t know the kanji on the image above, so I had to look them up. I’m starting new Japanese lessons tomorrow and feeling quite nervous, but also really excited to get back into it. がんばります！
Next week’s post will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘i’ (い), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression, but no nouns please! For example, ‘iku’ (行く) meaning ‘to go’ would be acceptable, but ‘Itami’ (伊丹), the place, would not. I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v