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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Going to start the first of my new series of posts with an ending.

Last week was the 終業式(しゅうぎょうしき;closing ceremony)for the 2nd trimester at the school where I worked. For me, it marked more than just the end of a school term.

It was my final day as an ALT for the foreseeable future.

In future posts, I'll probably get into how I'm earning money now, or why the timing to walk away was right, but today I just want to talk about saying goodbye, and ways to go about it.

In Japan, employees for most large companies and for the government are used to getting shuffled around between posts. They move from store to store, office to office, sometimes accompanied by pretty big geographical moves too, so they have a lot of practice at saying "Welcome" to the new-comers and "Farewell" to the leavers.

Sometimes there are parties that accompany comings and goings:

歓迎会 (かんげいかい;kangeikai) for Welcome.
送別会(そうべつかい;soubetsukai) for So Long.
A lot of times, one party will actually serve both functions. Out with the old, in with the new in one fell alcohol-fueled swoop.

When there is no party, in the case of my school (where the students who I wanted to say goodbye to wouldn't have been allowed to attend anyhow,) you can do what they call


別れる means to separate, to part, or to divide. It's the same word used to describe break-ups from boyfriends or girlfriends. When you stick an honorific on the front of it, you can use it to refer to any kind of formal farewell moment.
And since the school was kind enough to work an お別れ into the school's closing ceremony, I was asked for

お別れの言葉 (ことば;kotoba) Parting words.
お別れの挨拶 (あいさつ:aisatsu) Farewell speech.
So, without writing out my whole farewell speech for you, I wanted to hit the key phrases and words that you should know how and when to use.

Meaning "You took care of me," with an "I am indebted to you," nuance.
Stick a 大変 on the front to add gravity.
Like よろしくお願いします、you can also use お世話になります in advance when you first meet someone who you hope to have a good relationship with. I think I first introduced お世話になる on this blog when talking about getting into a stranger's car.

Translating as "Thanks for everything up until this point," you might feel inclined to use this just like you would use "色々ありがとうございました," or "いつも、ありがとうございます," but you're gonna want to be careful with it, because the "今まで" makes it OH so FINAL. This is what you say at the end of a relationship, and it indicates that there won't be a continuation of the same relationship beyond this point. I used it in my speech because I wasn't going to be their teacher anymore. People use it for their interpersonal relationships too though, and if someone you're dating ever says it to you, it doesn't mean "I appreciate you." It means "It's over."

You can look up advice on how to give a farewell speech in Japanese online, and most of the sites will tell you that you don't want to dwell on sad stuff or how sorry you are to be leaving. Instead you should go with 前向き (まえむき;forward-looking; positive).

So I was sure to incorporate another staple of Japanese farewell speeches,

Let's meet again. You can change the formality level of this one to suit your needs. When I'm writing to a business contact, I'll say "またお会いできる日を楽しみにしております" to keep it humble. When I was saying it to the kids, I said "また会いましょう。"
For even less formal, "また会おう" works just fine.

If you're looking for how to say goodbye to your school, or your Japanese co-workers, but you're still a beginner, I'd recommend using those 3 key phrases just like that. Try tacking them onto the end of an English goodbye speech, and the Japanese listeners will be happy that you made the effort.

I wrestled with my speech for a handful of reasons. Most of the kids had never heard me speak Japanese, so I mixed in some local dialect to get their attention, and to lighten the mood a little bit. I also came close to tears (泣きそうになった), because these kinds of ceremonies are big on being "moving," so just getting the words out was rough.

It was an amazing school, and an amazing group of kids. I ended the speech by telling them that I WANTED to say keep working hard and studying English, but that I wasn't going to, because I knew they'd do it on their own anyway. Cheesy, I know, but I really meant it. I told them I was looking forward to coming back and seeing their 成長(せいちょう;growth, progress) and of course, the one thing that I was happiest to be able to say honestly:

I'll never forget the memories that we made together. I'll never forget you.

Thanks for reading!

Next time, TV!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A New Approach for a New Year

As I mentioned in the previous post, living with Japanese, day-in and day-out for four years has changed my relationship with it.

I'm a lot less interested in trivia, and more concerned with whatever I'm gonna be expected to know how to say on that particular day.

I think we've had some interesting posts and provided some good conversation material, but with the exception of the KN^4 series, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that we were not giving you extremely useful stuff.


Well, thank you for that. But please direct your attention here and here... and here.

The Daily Yo-ji will retain its name, because we already have a readership (at least I hope we still do) and because I like it. We'll also continue to make posts that are aimed to promote Japanese learning. But to reflect the changes in our lives, we'll be changing our focus.

To that end, let me reintroduce myself.

My name is Bobby Judo. I came to Japan in 2006 with the JET Programme as an ALT, assisting English teachers.

I recently retired from ALTing to pursue my passion: cooking and eating food. I pay the bills by doing translation, waiting tables, organizing cooking classes and events, and by appearing on TV and in magazines. That kind of work is primarily as a gourmet reporter or "food expert" of some kind. I'll also occasionally do modeling or commercials, which usually only require that I look foreign and am willing to make an ass of myself... which I'm kind of bad at.

The upshot is that all of this stuff requires me to do a lot of prep work in the studying department. In the past few months, I've been inundated with a variety of new sets of vocabulary, different speaking platforms which require different modes of speech, and a behind the scenes look at media in Japan.

I hope you'll let me use this blog as a place to post about what I'm doing, and the Japanese that I have to know in order to be able to do it.

I think that I'll end up with a lot of posts about food, because that's a large part of my life, but trust me, the variety of words related to food textures, smells, tastes, and appearance are just as complex and interesting as Yojijukugo.

It also might get complainy at times, because it's going to be much more autobiographical, opinionated and honest. And honestly, sometimes I need to vent.

If I've made you at all curious, please take some time to check out my videos on YouTube,
and my Japanese cooking blog (which has stolen my attention for a while).

Expect the first new post here soon.
Until then, in the spirit of revival, refresh yourself with this post from the archives.

Please accept my apologies for having been gone so long, and if any of our regular readers are still out there, please give us a よろしく in the comments!


Friday, December 24, 2010

The Honeymoon is Over

If any of you out there are still RSSed up, you will have noticed that we've been a little lax in our updating schedule as of late. To be more precise we have failed to post absolutely anything at all for over 6 months.

I want to talk to you about that some, if that's cool.

See, when I started this blog, I was absolutely smitten with everything about Japanese. Every day, I was discovering charming little quirks that only endeared me more, and I wanted to tell EVERYONE about it. I wanted to SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS, like

"OMG you guys, Japanese did the CUTEST thing the other day, you'll never believe it."

I was, for the most part, just happy being with Japanese.

Yeah, we had our squabbles. Some literally brought me to tears. But that's inevitable when you embark on a new life together. There are gonna be some bumps in the road. If you're stubborn and overly proud like me, sometimes you'll just straight up crash into a wall.

But I was in love, and I did everything I possibly could to make it work.

That was



years ago.

I'm here to tell you that the honeymoon is officially over.

Oh, I'm still happy. I still "love" Japanese and all, but it's a different kind of thing.

We've gotten used to each other. We've had years together, and those years have taken away some of our luster. Some of our passion.

I'm no longer at the point where I'm thrilled every time I discover some new little feature or detail. Japanese's dimples are starting to look like pockmarks.

No, it's more like I'm at the point where time has helped me learn the right approach to get Japanese to do what I want it to... sometimes.

I wouldn't say we're in a rut, but I've definitely got my share of pet peeves.

Like, even though I'm still fucking mystified when Japanese just suddenly turns on me, for seemingly no reason at all, somehow, it knows how to push all of my buttons, at all the wrong times.

And if I can confess something here, it's seriously starting to aggravate me that no matter how much time I spend on foreplay, I always seem to get shut down when I suggest that we try going for 1級。

The point I'm trying to make here is twofold:

One: learning Japanese is like having sex with the same person for a long time.
Two: I clearly don't know when to end poorly-constructed metaphors.

Oh, and I'm bringing the blog back.

So, I guess, threefold.

To be continued tomorrow....