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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Asking the way - directions


Japanese police officer giving directions.
The way Japanese addresses work makes finding one a potentially maddening task. The often narrow, winding streets that turn into pavements and back into streets again, the numerous cul-de-sacs you end up in, and the general sameness of the architecture can get you very lost.

Fortunately the system compensates by having a police box, or koban, often within a few hundred meters of wherever you may be, or, at least near a station for you to drop in to before you begin the hunt. Hopefully a police officer – keisatsukan, or, more colloquially omawari-san (literally, “one who does the rounds”) will be between doing the rounds, and will be able to help you.

Let’s look at a few Japanese phrases to do with asking the way.

First of all, “the way” is, in Japanese, quite simply “road,” or michi. “Ask” being “kiku,” the phase “to ask the way” becomes “michi o kiku,” literally “to ask the road.”

A Sumimasen ga, michi o kikitai desu
(“Excuse me, but I would like to ask the way.”)

B Doko made desu ka?
(“Where to?”)

A Kono Chuo ittchome, loku no yon made desu.
(“This 'Chuo 1-chome, 6-4'”)

B. Dewa, koko wo massugu itte, hashi ni tsuitara, wataranaide sugu hidari e itte kudasai.
("OK, go straight, then when you reach the bridge, don’t cross it, but go immediately left.")

A. Hai

B. Ni sam byaku mehtoru aruitara, konbini ga miemasu. Soko wo migi ni magatte kudasai.
("Go 3-400 meters, and you’ll see a convenience store. Turn right there.")

A. Hai.

B. Sono hen tsuitara, mata dare ka ni kiite kudasai.
("Once you’ve made it to there, please ask someone again.")

A. Wakarimashita. Domo arigato gozaimasu.
("I got it. Thank you very much.")

B. Ie ie, ki o tsukete kudasai.
("Not at all. Take care.")

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