It’s time for Word of the Week again! Last time we looked at a Japanese word or phrase beginning with ‘hi’ (ひ), and focussed on the phrase 久しぶりです (hisashiburi desu), meaning ‘long time no see’. This week I’m looking for a word or phrase beginning with ‘fu’ (ふ). A big thank you those of you who joined in with their suggestions this week:
Kay suggested ‘fushigi’ (ふしぎ), ‘mysterious’, ‘wonderful’, ‘curious’, ‘strange’; and Japan Australia suggested ‘fukeru’ (ふける), ‘to play hooky’; and ‘Fukkatsu-sai omedetō gozaimasu’ (復活祭おめでとうございます), ‘Happy Easter!’.
These were great suggestions (I had no idea there was a word for Easter in Japanese that wasn’t just in katakana!), but in the end I decided to write about something else…
Firstly, yes, I know ‘furusato’ is a noun and this game is supposed to have a no nouns rule. However, what I really want to talk about this week is phrases and poems using the word ‘furusato’, and it’s such a lovely word that I couldn’t resist bending the rules slightly.
Many of you may know the word ‘furusato’, which means ‘home town’ from the children’s song, ‘Furusato’. Here it is, courtesy of JapanesePod101.com:
And here are the lyrics, courtesy of Wikipedia:
忘れ難き 故郷如何にいます 父母
思ひ出づる 故郷志を 果たして
わすれがたき ふるさといかにいます ちちはは
おもひいづる ふるさとこころざしを はたして
|usagi oishi ka no yama
ko-buna tsurishi ka no kawa
yume wa ima mo megurite
wasure-gataki furusatoika ni imasu chichi-haha
tsutsuganashi ya tomogaki
ame ni, kaze ni tsukete mo
omoi-izuru furusatokokorozashi o hata shite
itsu no hi ni ka kaeran
yama wa aoki furusato
mizu wa kiyoki furusato
|I chased after rabbits on that mountain.
I fished for minnow in that river.
I still dream of those days even now
Oh, how I miss my old country home.Father and mother―are they doing well?
Is everything well with my old friends?
When the rain falls, when the wind blows,
I stop and recall of my old country home.Some day when I have done what I set out to do,
I’ll return home one of these days
Where the mountains are green, my old country home,
Where the waters are clear, my old country home.
The word ‘furusato’ means more than just ‘home town’, as you might be able to tell from the song. It encapsulates a nostalgic feeling of ‘home’, similar to ‘natsukashii’ which we looked at a few weeks ago.
Poet and novelist Muro Saisei (室生 犀星) wrote:
ふるさとは遠きにありて思ふもの / そして悲しくうたふもの
furusato wa tooki ni arite omofu mono
Soshite kanashiku uta fumo no
which Wikipedia translates as:
Home is where you reminisce when you are far away
and sing with sorrow
I suppose it’s similar to ‘home is where your heart is’.
I found an article online called ‘Home of the Heart: the Modern Origins of Furusato’ by Lindsay R Morrison, which says:
There are several well-known Japanese idioms that emphasize the emotional component of furusato: for example, “kokyō bōji gatashi” (the home is difficult to forget), “furusato wa tooki ni arite omou mono” (home is something that one yearns for from far away), and “hito wa kokyō wo hanarete tattoshi” (people cherish the home after they have left it). These idioms show that furusato is not just an individual’s home; rather, it represents all the feelings that accompany the idea of home.
Interestingly, ‘furusato’ tends to refer to a rural home rather than an urban home. I wonder if people who grew up in big cities like Tokyo still have a sense of ‘furusato’ or if it can only ever refer to one’s rural home, or a home of the past. Because ‘furusato’ is more than just the place one was born, we can use ‘furusato’ to be about our spiritual ‘home town’ as well as our actual home town. Personally, I feel the word has too much of a rural feeling attached to it for me to use it about Nagoya, but if I had lived in the countryside in Japan perhaps I would say that place was my ‘furusato’.
furusato ya hosoi hashira no koke mo saku
even on a thin post
moss has bloomed
furusato ya asa[cha] naruko mo harugasumi
my home village–
the call to morning tea
a clap in the mist
furusato wa kumo no saki nari aki no kure
my home village
at the end of that cloud…
The idea of ‘furusato’ is widely used in Japanese poetry and literature, and I think it’s a very important part of Japanese culture. Even today, many people in Japan grow up in the countryside and then move to cities to seek employment. I don’t know if people still look back at their home towns as warmly as perhaps they once did, but hope some do. I’ll leave you with that thought, and these images of ‘furusato’, courtesy of Google…
Next week’s post will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘he’ (へ), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression, but no nouns please! For example, ‘heta’ (へた) meaning ‘unskilled’ or ‘bad at (something)’, would be acceptable, but ‘hebi’ (へび), ‘snake’, would not. I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v