もう秋ですね。/mou aki desu ne/
Autumn has come and with it a chance to cosy up, wrap ourselves in a comfy blanket and learn something new — maybe some Japanese vocabulary. Autumn is a great time to visit Japan, while the leaves turn red and the steamy hot summer gives way to pleasant lower temperatures.
For those of us who can’t jump on a plane to beautiful Japan, let’s at least dream of it and learn some Japanese words to match the season.
紅葉狩り – Momijigari
The two kanji 紅葉 have a double reading: こうよう /kouyou/ and もみじ /momiji/.
Kouyou is the word for the leaves turning to autumn colours.
Momiji is the Japanese maple, one of the most beautiful trees during the autumn, with its leaves turning slowly from a fresh green to a bright yellow, a warm orange and finally an intense red.
Momijigari, literally autumn-leaves hunting, is one of the most popular activities of the season. People visit temple precincts or go for a hike to enjoy the beauty of nature, often bringing お弁当 (obentou: lunch box) with them.
Momijigari ni ikimasu.
To go and see the autumn leaves.
Momijigari ha itsu ikeba ii desu ka.
When is a good time to go and see the autumn leaves?
お風呂 – Ofuro
Ofuro is the traditional Japanese bath. It’s not meant for washing, but for relaxing and chilling after a long day. If you’re visiting Japan, remember that you should shower or rinse yourself before getting into the bathtub.
It’s common for Japanese people to take a long bath almost every evening. It’s a perfect way to leave the stress from the day behind and to unwind before sleeping.
And of course, to warm yourself up after the first chilly autumn days.
Ofuro ni hairimasu.
To take a bath.
Ofuro wo youi shimasu.
To prepare a hot bath.
こたつ – Kotatsu
Most people who spent some time in Japan would agree that kotatsu is one of the best inventions in the world. It’s a low, wooden table over an electric heater, covered by a 布団 /futon/ to retain the heat.
When temperatures start to sink, there’s nothing better than hiding under the kotatsu with a hot drink and a good book – and possibly a purring cat on our side.
Kotatsu de nete shimaimashita.
I fell asleep under the kotatsu.
Kotatsu de hon wo yomitai desu.
I want to read a book under the kotatsu.
ゴロゴロする – Gorogoro suru
What do you do when you have a whole Sunday for yourself, nothing planned and you’re feeling lazy? If you’re like me, you might spend your day on the sofa, doing nothing in particular. That’s what ゴロゴロ – being idle – is all about.
Of course, we all love a good productive day. But we also deserve a rainy autumn day indoors, taking it easy without worrying about a thing, don’t we?
Kinou ha ichinichichuu ie de gorogoro shimashita.
Yesterday I’ve been idling about at home all day long.
Kyuujitsu ni gorogoro suru no ga daisuki desu.
I love to just chill on days off.
柿 – Kaki
The bright orange of kaki fruits invades supermarkets and greengrocers’ stalls during the autumn. The Japanese persimmon is sweet and delicious, and also good for your health as it’s rich in vitamins and fibres. It looks like a mini-pumpkin and its consistency is firm and crisp. You can also eat it dried – a perfumed and delicate treat that is rarely found outside Japan. A real taste of autumn.
Suupaa de kaki wo katte kimashita.
I bought some kaki at the supermarket.
Ichiban sukina kudamono ha kaki desu.
Kaki is my favourite fruit.
ハロウィン – Harowin
And as I mentioned pumpkins, of course, ハロウィン (Halloween) is the next thing that comes to mind. Despite being a tradition born far away, Japan enthusiastically adopted it and started to celebrate it every October – or even earlier. In Japan, it’s not unusual to see skeletons and pumpkin decorations embellishing shop windows already in August. Not surprisingly, maybe, considering the rich folklore of お化け (obake: demons) and 幽霊 (yuurei: ghosts) in the country.
Tomodachi to harowin paatii wo shimasu.
I’m having a Halloween party with my friends.
Harowin ni horaa eiga wo mimashou.
Let’s watch a horror movie on Halloween.
ラーメン – Ramen
Ramen is good all year round, but it’s even more enjoyable during the colder months. With the rich flavour of its ingredients and the heat of its soup, it’s the perfect dish to stay warm and energetic during the autumn and the winter. Even more so if you can have it sitting at the counter at a traditional ramen restaurant. Little cultural note: in Japan, it’s acceptable to slurp while you eat your noodles.
Kono ramen ha oishii desu ne.
This ramen is delicious, isn’t it?
Ramen wo tabe ni ikimasenka.
Shall we go and have a ramen?
涼しい – Suzushii
涼しい /suzushii/ means cool, and in a country with very defined seasons, like Japan, it’s the typical temperature you would have in autumn. After the 暑い夏 (atsui natsu: hot summer) and before the 寒い冬 (samui fuyu: cold winter), this is one of the most pleasant times of the year. Don’t forget to bring your セーター (seetaa: sweater)!
Suzushiku natte kimashita.
It’s getting cool.
Kono suzushii kaze ga kimochi ii desu.
This cool breeze feels good.
Elena is an introvert, grammar geek and proud Ravenclaw with a passion for languages. She comes from Italy and has lived abroad for many years in Japan, England and now Sweden. On her blog at hitoritabi.it she helps fellow introverts and other quiet learners to keep anxiety out of language learning.
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