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Intermediate Japanese Learning with Dazai Osamu

Complimentary Japanese Reading Lessons From Maplopo Schoolhouse

Season ONE—水仙 (Page TWO)


EP2. Spotlight: という—Dazai Osamu (太宰治), Daffodil (水仙)

In this spotlight we cover the expression, という.
Rough meaning: “called / named”

Video file / Audio File/ Online Intermediate Japanese Course

Read the full という transcript | Intermediate and Advanced Japanese

Okay, so let’s tackle this first paragraph and deal with some of the Japanese. So, this first paragraph starts out with a fairly difficult title to pronounce in Japanese, so Reiko will read it twice, and then she will read the first phrase twice after that, and then I’ll break it down a little bit for you.

So, the title:

(speaking in Japanese)

And now the phrase, twice:

(speaking in Japanese)

Okay, so you might have noticed that when Reiko says “toyu” she does not pronounce the “i” in the middle of that…

So, it’s actually “to-i-yu,” right? But she just says “toyu.” So, coincidentally, she cannot hear this difference, but I picked up on it. So, when you pronounce it you don’t have to say that “i” —it’s “toyu.”

And, “toyu,” basically, is a useful expression that we use commonly in English to talk about the names of things that are maybe a little bit unfamiliar to the person we’re speaking with. So, if you were to want to go see a film with a friend and you’re not sure if the friend knows the title of the movie, you might say “It’s a movie called ‘Arrival’.” Or, “It’s a movie called ‘Back to the Future,’ right? We’re just telling the person what the title is, basically. And you can use this expression in many, many, different ways, right?

So, if you’re talking about a city, you could say, “Oh, I was on a trip last summer… we went out west and I visited this city called, Boogley-boogley-land.” We could also use this expression to talk about somebody we might have met that the other person probably does not know— “I met a person named Shohei,” for example. Right?

“I met a person named…”

Or, “I met a person called…”

You can talk about a flower: “It’s a flower called daffodil.”

Or, “It’s a novel called Daffodil.”


That’s what this expression “toyu” means. And then he uses it in the sentence to say “toyu shosetsu.” So, he’s talking about a novel. Shosetsu is a novel.

So, a novel called… the thing that Reiko pronounced for you earlier that I won’t dare pronounce… Okay… so, that’s the first phrase.

Maplopo Schoolhouse, Osamu Dazai, Daffodil 太宰治,「水仙」
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