Japan Signs: Soup Nazi Barber
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
I found this small ¥1,000 barber shop hidden somewhere in the back blocks of Ueno Station in Tokyo.
The whole concept highlights the Japanese predilection for hyper-efficiency and I must admit that is exactly what I love about Japan.
Although the love doesn’t extend far enough to get my haircut for ¥1,000. I’d assume you get one style here – salaryman standard. ^_^
While the English words on the sign read like something from Seinfeld’s infamous Soup Nazi episode, the Japanese is actually a little more polite.
I’ll break down a couple of the phrases below from the sign and then you can take it from there.
If you’d like to learn more please use an online dictionary such as www.tangorin.com to work through the kana and kanji.
1st Phrase: 千円札をご用意ください
|千円札||せんえんさつ (se-n-e-n-sa-tsu)||¥1000 Bill|
|千||せん (se-n)||1000 (Numeral)|
|札||さつ (sa-tsu)||Note, Paper Money|
|N/A||を (o)||Particle denoting an object|
|用意||ようい (yo-u-i)||Prepare, Bring, Ready|
|下さい||ください (ku-da-sa-i)||Please (Almost always written in Kana)|
2nd Phrase: 両替はできません
|両替||りょうがえ||Change, Money exchange|
|は||は||Wa Particle (Written “Ha” pronounced “Wa”)|
|N/A||できません||Unable to do|
I’m not going to go in to the details of every line on the sign. Instead, I have chosen a couple of key items from the 2nd phrase that are worth noting.
While I won’t go deeply in to particles at this stage, the は particle in the phrase above is one of the most important in the Japanese language.
It is known as a “topic marker” and signifies the topic of the sentence, which in this case is the “changing of money” or “money exchange” eg if you don’t have a ¥1,000 bill, you’re out of luck.
There is no direct English translation for the は particle but it essentially has the meaning “as for”. So in this context it roughly means “As for the changing of money, we are unable to do (it).”
You’ll probably first come across the は particle in a sentence such as “わたはジョンです” which literally means “As for me, I am John” or in normal English – “I am John”.
Verbs – Tense
The dictionary form of できません is できる, which means “to be able to”.
To make a “ru” verb in to the negative present form as we see in our example above, you just remove the る and add on ません, which gives us できません.
There’s plenty more to know about verbs but that’s for another article.
Any questions please leave a comment below.