Minarai 3: LANGUAGE
The Tao te Ching: Verse 81 The Paradoxes of Life
True words aren't eloquent;
eloquent words aren't true.
Wise men don't need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren't wise.
The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.
The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
By not dominating, the Master leads.
Japanese Phrases Overview
This lesson provides you with some basic phrases and references that you might like to use if you are interested.
Directions for the Japanese Phrases
It is NOT an expectation for you to memorize these phrases...they are here as a point of reference and interest. However it is good to be familiar with some of them. If you use them in conversation, please also add the translation in your chat line. So for instance if you are meeting someone for the first time, you could type this in the chat line:
Hajimemashite.. how do you do?
Of course, the words and phrases in this lesson do not represent a complete list. Sharing with sister geisha is considered good etiquette, so if you come across useful words or phrases that are not on the list, please consider sharing them with others. And if you think something else should be added to this lesson, please let Okaasan know.
A wonderful website for learning simple Japanese phrases is hyperlinked below. It also has lessons in reading, writing and sound files to learn pronunciation:
The following is a must-have reference site for all things geisha. This link goes to the glossary pages:
Other sites you may want to look at include:
Here are some basic Japanese pronunciation of vowels
A is pronounced as in Ba (bah)
E is pronounced as in Be (bay)
I is pronounced as in Bi (bee)
O is pronounced as in Bo (boh)
U is pronounced as in Bu (boo)
If vowels are combined, each vowel is pronounced as the ei in geisha - it sounds more like the e in met
ai in maiko = ma - ee - ko
okiya is o - kee - ah
The vowel u at the end of words is usually silent or very softly spoken as in desu sounds like des or as in suki which tends to be pronounced like ski
Some differences from English are:
g is always "hard" like the g in go
ch is always pronounced like the ch in chirp
fu sounds somewhat like "who" only short and cut - the lips are close together
r is more like an L in English but again is short and made by the tongue behind the top teeth - just flicking away there
tsu sound is another sound shaped by the tongue against the upper palate - it is as if you pronounce the t and s on top of each other with a very short u following close behind and almost barely perceptible. Listen to the sound files from the link above.
y is not like the vowel in English but always pronounced like the consonent y as in yo yo so Kyoto is pronounced Kyo - to, Tokyo is pronounced To - kyo
These and other pronunciation rules are found in the link above. I would encourage you to visit that site if you are interested in learning to speak and Japanese words.
Greetings are very important to learn. Greeting and parting phrases are called aisatsu. If someone does not make aisatsu, they may be seen as cold and dysfunctional. Even if you are only going to use English, making aisatsu is certainly an expectation of your training and behavior in the okiya.
okage-same de san sama common suffix to add to someone's last name who is outside your "in-group" sama is a polite suffix after last name like Gable-sama (only if you don't really know the person...like a waitress to a customer)
"good morning" ohayou
less formal for "good morning" konban wa
"good evening" konnichi wa
"good afternoon" or "good day" to anyone hajimemashite
said to someone as a greeting/hello whom you have only just met oyasumi or oyasuminasai
"sleep well/good night" ja mata
"see you later" ja ne
"goodbye" (when you do not think you will see for awhile) ogenki desu ka?
"how are you?" "I am fine, thanks to God and you, my friend." yoroshiku onegaishimasu
"please favor me with your friendship" or "nice meeting you" yoroshiku
"I am pleased to meet you" or " I appreciate your helping me" kochirakoso yoroshiku
"I am pleased to meet you" (in reply to yoroshiku) watashi no namai wa...desu
"My name is......"
common suffix to add to someone's last name who is outside your "in-group"
sama is a polite suffix after last name like Gable-sama (only if you don't really know the person...like a waitress to a customer)
|Kiko||Konnichi wa. Ogenki desu ka?||Hello. Are you doing well?|
Hai, genki desu. Kiko-san wa?
|Yes, I'm fine. And how about you, Kiko?|
|Kiko||Genki desu.||I'm fine.|
|a domo||"O thank you"|
|domo or arigato gozaimasu||"Thank you" (to bosses, older strangers, or if they are not easy-going)|
|arigato||"Thank you" (to family, friends, co-workers, subordinates, younger strangers)|
|arigato gozaimasu or domo arigato||"Thank you very much"|
|gokuro-sama||"Thank you for your trouble"|
|i-e (eee-a)||"No problem" (say in reply to "thank you")|
|ja, onegaishimasu||"Yes, please"|
|onegai shimasu||"please" (literally, I wish)|
|douzo, haitte kudasai||"please come in"|
|sumimasen ga, suwatte kudasai||"please, sit down"|
|sumimasen ga, tatte kudasai||"please, stand up"|
|sumimasen/shitsurei shimasu||"excuse me" or "I am being rude (literally, but also means excuse me--farewell)|
|osakini||"pardon me but I am leaving now"|
|nan desu ka?||"what is it?"|
|zenzen||"not at all" (phrase of denial--if someone asks if they are bothering you, you would say, "zenzen" and shake your head)|
|koto||long, Japanese zither with 13 strings|
|shamisen||3-stringed Japanese banjo|
|haiga||simple illustrations for haiku|
|dozo||"here you are" (when serving something to someone)|
|itadakimasu||"I humbly receive this food"|
|gochisosama||"It was a great feast"|
|...-san, nani ga suki desu ka?||"Name, what do you like?"|
|watashi wa spaghetti daisuki desu||"I like spaghetti very much."|
|nan to yu desu ka?||"what is this called?"|
|enryo shinaide kudasai||"don't be shy" (say right after our guestsays, "no thank you", if you are host/hostess)|
the second phrase is the most polite
|yatta||"I did it!"|
|oikutsu desuka?||"How old are you?"|
|do demoikoto desu||"It's not important"|
|totemo taisetsu desu||"It's very important"|
|honto||"really?" or "yes, really!" (depends on the context)|
|a, so desu ka||"Oh , I see"|
|a, yokatta||"Oh, good - as in what a relief!"|
|doshiyo||"what shall i do?"|
|sasuga||" I am impressed by you as usual"|
|gambatte||"try your best"|
|gambari masho||"let's do our best"|
|daisuki desu||"I love it" or "I love you" (depending on context)|
|suki desu||"I like it"|
|yo-ku arimasen||"isn't good"|
|ototo||as in "this is my little brother"|
|oneechan, oneesan||"older sister (you could say "name"-nee)|
1. Use in conversation the words for "good morning", "good evening", "thank you" and good night"
2. Acquire an instrument and dance HUD of your choice - appropriate for Second Life Geisha. You may want to ask other geisha what they like to use. Okaasan has enjoyed hers for many years.
3. Research a topic related to Japanese or Geisha culture, write it on a note card and present it to the okiya by sending to Okaasan or oneesan first - they will post to the okiya group. But even better, present your topic during an ozashiki or tea house night.