Sound smart in Japanese for beginners / 「トラベルエージェントが教(おし)えました」

Illustration by Kanae Asai

By Yohei Arakawa 「トラベルエージェントが教(おし)えました」

Tim has been on Shodo-shima island(小(しょう)豆(ど)島(しま))for three days and he is now visiting a small shrine(神(じん)社(じゃ))built in a cave(洞(どう)窟(くつ)), where tourists seldom visit(めったに訪(おとず)れない). While he was taking pictures(写(しゃ)真(しん)), a group of local high school girls (女(じょ)子(し)高(こう)生(せい))found him. One of the students starts to talk to him.


Today’s conversation

真(ま)由(ゆ)(Mayu, student): Hello!

ティム(Tim): Oh, hi. こんにちは! (Konnichiwa!)

真由: あ、日(に)本(ほん)語(ご)、できるんですね。(Oh you speak Japanese, don’t you?)

ティム: はい、でも、少(すこ)しだけ。(Yes, but only a little.)

真由: それにしてもこんなところ、どうやって知(し)ったの?(Wow but, how did you know a place like this?)

ティム: ああ、①トラベルエージェントが教(おし)えました。(Well, a travel agent told me.) とてもきれいです。(It is very beautiful here.)

真由: (showing her mobile phone) じゃあ、一緒に写真撮(と)らない? (So will you be in a picture with us?)

ティム: いいですね。(Okay.) ②じゃあ、あの木(き)へ行(い)きましょう。(So why don’t we go to that tree?)


①トラベルエージェントが教えました。→ 旅(りょ)行(こう)会(がい)社(しゃ)の人(ひと)が教(おし)えてくれました。

There are many English loan words in Japanese, including “agent.” However, it is more common to say “会社の人” when referring to this kind of person.

A. 保(ほ)険(けん)会社の人(ひと)に相(そう)談(だん)すれば? (Why don’t you have a talk with an insurance agent?)

The latter part is more important. When someone does something for the sake of others, you have to show it in actual words, adding あげる (I give), もらう (I receive) or くれる (give me). For instance, if your friend Hugo kindly taught you a French greeting and you need to describe it, it would be better to say it like B below. You can show your gratitude to the French guy by adding “くれる” to “教えました (taught).”

B. ユーゴが私(わたし)にフランス語(ご)の挨(あい)拶(さつ)を教えてくれました。(Hugo kindly taught me a French greeting.)

②じゃあ、あの木へ行きましょう。→ じゃあ、あの木のところへ行きましょう。

When you want to show a place by indicating something in Japanese, you need to add “ところ (place),” as a thing like a tree is not a place to be exact.

C. 10(じゅっ)分(ぷん)後(ご)にコピー機(き)のところで待(ま)っています。(I’ll be waiting for you at the photocopy machine after 10 minutes.)

This rule can be applied to a person, instead of a thing.

D. 昨日(きのう)、社(しゃ)長(ちょう)が私のところに来(き)た。(Yesterday the president came to me.)

“ところ” can also be used when describing the characteristics of a person.

E. いつも正(しょう)直(じき)なのはティムの良(よ)いところだね。(Tim’s good point is always being frank.)

* * *

Arakawa is a professor of modern Japanese at the Institute of Japan Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. He is also a language supervisor for “Japan-easy” on NHK World TV.


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