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Arigato and Obrigado

JAPAN | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | Views [3411] | Comments [1] | Scholarship Entry

Arigato and obrigado are two ways of saying thank you, both deriving from the first western language ever heard in Japan in the sixteenth century: Portuguese. Following the footsteps of our ancestors, we embrace this modern Japanese adventure with gratitude. Arigato for updating our old caravels into the bullet train Shinkansen Tokaido, which took us, in four hours, from Tokyo to the soothing city of Kyoto, the former capital of Japan for more than a millennium, skimming aside from the venerable Mount Fuji.
You'll be fooled by the glass buildings in Kyoto, tempted to feel this is just another ultra-modern city. Behind those buildings, are more than 2000 small buddhist and shintoist shrines, where white collars go to light incenses and pray in the early hours of the morning before going to work. Shinto is the religion native to Japan and pays tribute to nature spirits and ancestors, so it will only be natural if inner peace waves at you. The assuasive palaces, temples and japanese zen gardens furthermore contribute to that.
Crossing the street at any hour of the day, you might bump into a fully dressed Maiko, wearing colourful Kimono and makeup, and trying hard not to trip over her large platformed wooden shoes, the Okobo. Kyoto is the only place in the world where these young geisha apprentices can still learn their trade. Later in the evening, they dance, sing and fill drinks. They're just one level below from the grown Geisha, whose responsability, sexually misconcepted, is pretty much entertaining guests.
Never devalue, though, the importance of a skillful body language: it may be a good way of getting around in Japan. It is very difficult to find English speakers and, even when they manage to do so, it will still be tough for you to understand the accent. Luckily, most restaurants have pictures in the menus. And you'll eventually learn, by the frantic gestures of the receptionist, to take off your shoes once you get inside the traditional Japanese inn Ryokan.

Tags: buddhism, gueisha, japan, maiko, portugal, ryokan, shinkansen, shinto, shintoist, travel writing scholarship 2012 arigato obrigado



"Arigato and obrigado are two ways of saying thank you, both deriving from the first western language ever heard in Japan in the sixteenth century: Portuguese." This is false. Please do not spread lies such as this one--the Japanese have been thanking each other before the Portuguese came in.

"Arigatou (ありがとう), the Japanese for "thank you", comes from arigatai (有難い), a conjunction of the verb aru, "to have", with the ending gatai (難い) which means "difficult". The "ou" ending comes from the conjunction of the adjectival arigataku with the polite verb gozaimasu (originally from gozaru)."

  Ken Sep 4, 2013 2:33 PM

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