Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ake Ome, Koto Yoro

Recited while bowing, the standard New Year's greeting in Japan is "Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu, Kotoshi Mo Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu (or Onegai Itashimasu for situations calling for uber-politeness)". My rough translation is "congratulations for the opening of the new year, please look upon me favorably this year too." Though kind of charming, this string is a bit of a mouthful. Starting from January 1, people exchange this greeting when meeting for the first time in the new year. By the middle of the month, the new year feels launched and the time for reciting this special greeting is over. But we are not quite there yet.

Yesterday, at the Apple Store in Ginza, I overheard two people greet each other with "Ake Ome, Koto Yoro" instead. Hip and happening, this version simply lops the final syllables from each traditional word. When the girls came home from school, I excitedly reported on my new find. While old hat to some, these mildly irreverent and informal words sound so fresh and clever to me. Though not suitable for all social situations, I like the way this slangy, abbreviated version just rolls off the tip of the tongue.

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