Friends in Japan


What would you do if you heard someone calling JAGAIMO (Jah-gah’ee-moh)? In Japan people run outside to buy hot sweet potatoes when they hear that call. This is the sound made by the sweet potato man. He pulls a cart similar to the handcarts pulled by early Mormon pioneers. At one end of the cart there is a little wood-burning stove that bakes the sweet potatoes. The man earns his living by selling the potatoes for about ten yen (almost three cents) each.

Children walking to school in Japan must be very careful because many of the crowded streets are narrow and without sidewalks. The streets are filled with cars and trucks going in both directions and in some places fast-moving trains cross the streets.

A lot of Japanese students walk to school, carrying their lunches and books on their backs in small boxes called obentos. The young children dress in a variety of western-style clothes just as American children do, though the boys often wear short pants. Junior high and high school students dress in school uniforms—dark blue skirts and white blouses for girls and dark pants and white shirts for boys.

Did you know that most Japanese don’t sleep on beds? They sleep on futons, thick mattress-like quilts in vivid colored prints. During the day the futons are often placed on the balconies or roofs of houses to air. Large apartment buildings are often very colorful with many futons laid over the rails.

What would you think if you saw a pile of shoes by your neighbor’s door? If you lived in Japan, you’d know that your neighbor had company, since people always take off their shoes before entering the house of another person. There is often a slipper rack by the door where visitors choose brightly colored slippers to wear indoors.

If someone said shizukani (shee-zoo-kah-nee) to you, what would you do? In Japan you would stop talking if you were courteous, because that is the word for “be quiet.” Another Japanese word is konichiwa (ko-nee-chee-wah), meaning good day or hello. Here are two words that are fun to say: otokonoko (o-toh-koh-noh-koh), meaning boy, and omnanoko (om-nah-noh-koh), meaning girl. Japanese is an interesting language. Here are the numbers from one to ten:

one ichi (ee-chee)

two ni (nee)

three san (sahn)

four shi (shee)

five go (goh)

six roku (roh-koo)

seven shichi (shee-chee)

eight hachi (hah-chee)

nine ku (koo)

ten ju (joo)

The numbers from ten to nineteen are easy because you just keep adding to the number ten (ju).

eleven juichi (joo-ee-chee)

twelve juni (joo-nee)

thirteen jusan (joo-sahn)

fourteen jushi (joo-shee)

fifteen jugo (joo-goh)

sixteen juroku (joo-roh-koo)

seventeen jushichi (joo-shee-chee)

eighteen juhachi (joo-hah-chee)

nineteen juku (joo-koo)

Twenty is two 10s or ni + ju (nee-joo). Twenty-one is two 10s and 1 or nijuichi (nee-joo-ee-chee). Can you write these numbers in Japanese?

twenty-five ________________

twenty-eight _______________

thirty _____________________

fifty ______________________

seventy-five _______________

Nihon-ga taihen suki desu (We like Japan very much). We hope you do too!

Answers:

(25) nijugo (nee-joo-goh), (28) nejuhachi (nee-joo-hah-chee), (30) sanju (sahn-jooo), (50) Goju (goh-joo), (75) shichijugo (shee-chee-joo-goh).