Birthdays in Japan

Did you know that Japanese people didn't celebrate birthdays traditionally? New Year's Day was believed to be the time when everyone aged another year so the importance of individual birthdays was introduced into the culture as the nation became more westernized.

Now in modern Japan though, birthdays are often celebrated with cake and presents. Many people go out to eat at restaurants and most restaurants have some birthday specials or can arrange them if informed in advance.

In this blog for Japanese learners, you can learn some new vocabulary and Kanji and find out more about Japanese teacher Noriko Yokozuka's birthday plans and her family. Listen to Yokozuka sensei read the story herself and watch the video on YouTube too.

How to spend a birthday




 先日、家族の誕生日がありました。忙しさにかまけてすっかり忘れてしまうところでしたが、ギリギリセーフで思い出し、何とか誕生日を祝うことができました。 特別なことは何もしていませんが、お夕飯にはいつもよりちょっといいお寿司を食べて、ご近所さんが焼いてくれたケーキをいただきました。 誕生日プレゼントは、特に欲しい物はないと言われたのですが、快眠のための枕をプレゼントしました。





To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video.


 先日(せんじつ)、家族(かぞく)の誕生日(たんじょうび)がありました。忙(いそが)しさにかまけてすっかり忘(わす)れてしまうところでしたが、ギリギリセーフで思(おも)い出(だ)し、何(なん)とか誕生日(たんじょうび)を祝(いわ)うことができました。 特別(とくべつ)なことは何(なに)もしていませんが、お夕飯(ゆうはん)にはいつもよりちょっといいお寿司(すし)を食(た)べて、ご近所(きんじょ)さんが焼(や)いてくれたケーキをいただきました。 誕生日(たんじょうび)プレゼントは、特(とく)に欲(ほ)しい物(もの)はないと言(い)われたのですが、快眠(かいみん)のための枕(まくら)をプレゼントしました。





How to spend a birthday

The other day, it was one of my family member's birthday. I was so absorbed with being busy, I almost forgot it, but I just barely remembered it and somehow we were able to celebrate the birthday. We didn't do anything special for it, for dinner we had some slightly better sushi than usual and ate some of the cake that our neighbours had baked for us. The family member said that they didn't want anything in particular, so we presented them with a pillow for comfortable sleep.

How do you spend your birthday usually? My mother, for example, takes the day off from work on her birthday and doesn't plan anything for the day and she spends the time only doing things for herself. My Indonesian ex-roommate from when I studied abroad, on the other hand, told me that she spent her birthday quietly and when the birthday was over, she invited lots of her friends over for a party. And she told that she likes to invite people who are always helpful to her and offer them some hospitality and express her gratitude to them.

In my case, I have settled my own birthday these last few years by just eating some cake with my family, but for my birthday this year I think I would like to use the whole day for myself and spend it in a luxurious manner.

Whether it is a birthday or not, time still passes at the same pace, so since it is special, I think freely spending that whole day luxuriously could be so chic.

かまける be occupied with / be absorbed in / be busy with / be taken up with

ギリギリセーフ     just safe (e.g. just avoiding being late、failing an exam、etc.); only just OK; barely acceptable 

快眠(かいみん) pleasant sleep

おもてなし Hospitality

済(す)ませる settle、decide、resolve、adjudicate

贅沢(ぜいたく)な Fit for a King、luxurious

存分(ぞんぶん)に freely

乙(おつ)な stylish; smart; chic


Konnichi-wa, everybody. I am originally from Ringo-no-ri in Aomori prefecture, but I am now living in Kakaa-tenka in Gunma prefecture. I've lived in several other of Japan's prefectures as well, including Niigata (which has gorgeous sunsets), Tochigi (where the Nikko Toshogu shrine is located), and Gifu (land of the famous Shirakawa-go area of historic rafter roofed houses).

I myself am studying Chinese, so I can really relate to the difficulty of learning a foreign language. But still, if we can get past that step and feel the excitement of having just a single word understood, the feeling of satisfaction that comes from communication is, no pun intended, beyond words. I'd like to invite everyone who visits our online Japanese school with the thought "I want to speak Japanese!" to join my classes. Until the day when you can say confidently, "I did it, I learned how to speak Japanese!", I promise to do my best to help you in your Japanese language studies.

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