The cryptic image from yesterday’s entry was a mobility walker with a basket on it.
What does that have to do with Japanese?
Yesterday I shared the following phrase:
“otetsudai shimashou ka”
Can I help you?
I used this phrase mostly with my neighbour when I lived in Japan.
She was a very old lady and had a mobility walker like the one pictured. Generally I would park my bike next to it and sometimes I worried I was obstructing access to her walker. Also, often during typhoon season the walker would get blown over. When I noticed this I would be sure to set it upright again and readjust the rain cover on it.
When I would say “otetsudai shimashou ka” to my neighbour she would almost always say she was fine but I think a couple of times I was able to help her carry groceries up to her apartment.
Japanese is a language with a lot of subtlety to politeness levels and it is actually very difficult to know what you can politely say to someone who is so much your senior.
Generally I would just do a big bow, perhaps with an:
But I did want to be able to say more.
At some point I decided I could probably get away with saying things even if the politeness level wasn’t quite perfect so I would expand what I said with the following phrases:
It’s cold, isn’t it!
It’s hot, isn’t it!
Where I lived in Toyohashi the summer really was hot and the winter was quite cold, so these weren’t quite as mundane comments as they may seem!
The image for today’s entry is a Japanese woodblock print: “Rain at Miekawa, Soshu” by the artist “Hasui” from the first half of 20th Century. As usual, it is a clue as to what I am going to talk about tomorrow!