Word of the Week: 足元にご注意下さい

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’.

Mind the gap

‘Mind the gap’ on the London Underground

(Image source)

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’!


(Image source)

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

Word of the Week 2014

12 thoughts on “Word of the Week: 足元にご注意下さい

  1. Oh sorry I didn’t realized your reply to my previous post. But now understand.

    Suggestion with い
    いってらっしゃい / Itterasshai、いってきます / Ittekimasu、いただきます / Itadakimasu、いの一番(いちばん)/ Inoichiban、意味深(いみしん)/ Imishin


  2. I’m looking forward to following and learning some new words this year! Good luck with your studies 🙂

    My suggestion for い is いらっしゃいませ. As much as hearing the shop assistants screech it annoys me, there’s no denying it’s very ‘Japan’!


  3. Great new series.

    But why no nouns?

    We play a word game in my Japanese class every week, the rule we’ve got is the word/phrase can’t end in ん since no word starts with ん.

    A suggestion: could you put either the romaji or the hiragana/katakana right the first time you mention the word/phrase of the week? If you have to read half-way down the post before you can sound out the word, it’s not so great (since, I presume, most of us aren’t fluent in kanji).


    • Hi Alua,

      Thanks for your comments! The game you’re playing is ‘shiritori’ – I actually had a weekly series of shiritori a couple of years ago. This time I have decided, rather than playing a game, to just choose a word or phrase each each to write about. I’m following the order of the hiragana chart so that it’s not completely random. Last year I did a similar weekly series and most (if not all) weeks I chose a noun. Since I have done a lot of the obvious ones, I’ve decided not to use nouns this year.

      Good point about the kanji. Actually, I don’t know a lot of kanji, but I’m forcing myself to look at them rather than only hiragana, so I get more used to them! I should include the romaji/hiragana near the beginning though – so thanks for mentioning that. (*^_^)v


  4. Yay! My suggestion won!
    As for this week, some of my ideas were already mentioned. So here’s something different.
    いらない – I don’t want it
    いっしょに – together
    意味わかんあい – I don’t understand (I get this from kids a lot)
    いいね。。。 – multiple meanings, depending on situation. But basically, “sounds nice” or “that would be nice.”


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