Not at all like Pi Day plus Shemini Atzeret

Well, a new semester is starting! My wife’s gotten into grad school, and I’ll be writing my thesis and doing a translation project and taking a course or two, and we have a one-year-old kid. Whee!

盆と正月が一緒に来たよう
(Bon to Shougatsu ga issho ni kita you;
“As if Bon and the New Year came together”)

Definition:

A lot of good things happening all at once. An insanely busy time. The Bon festival is a big holiday with aspects of Halloween and Thanksgiving (it honors the spirits of the dead; it’s a time when many people travel to visit their families), which means good share of both celebration and work – especially if you’re a festival organizer or plan to participate in one of the dances. New Year’s Eve and Day are also a festival time, with large family meals and dressed-up visits to Shinto shrines. If they both happened at the same time, well….

Breakdown:

(bon) is literally a tray, as in 盆栽 (bonsai). Here, though, it refers to the Bon – or Obon, with the honorific – festival. Next is the particle (to, pronounced “toe”), which has a few disparate functions, but in this case is used to collect multiple nouns into a single group, equivalent to the English “and.” It joins to 正月 (shougatsu), literally “correct month” but more commonly referring to the New Year, or to the first three days of the new year.

The grouping of proper nouns above is connected to a following verb phrase by the subject-marker particle (ga). Before the verb we get the adverbial phrase 一緒に (issho ni), “together,” comprising noun 一緒 and particle , which is here simply to convert the noun into an adverb. (This is the same as being attached to allow certain nouns to act as adjectives.) The verb part is 来る (kuru), “to come.” The form it takes here is commonly taught as simple past in plain (as opposed to polite) speech, but is perhaps more properly described as denoting that an action has been completed.

Finally, the よう (you; rhymes with “dough”) at the end is an auxiliary verb that marks the whole saying as supposition rather than fact – “as if,” in English.

Notes:

一緒に can be replaced by 一時に (ichiji ni, “at one time” – as in time the dimension) or 一度に (ichido ni, also “at one time” – as in the counter word for number of occurrences) without any significant change in meaning. Some people apparently replace 正月 with the more general 祭り (matsuri, “festival”), although I prefer the specific over the generic version.

Example sentence:

「あの家族は、六人兄弟で皆四月生まれらしい。バースデーパーティーは、盆と正月が一緒に来たような気分だろうな」

(“Ano kazoku wa, rokunin kyoudai de minna shigatsu umare rashii. Baasudee paatii wa, Bon to Shougatsu ga issho ni kita you na kibun darou na.”)

[“There are six kids in that family and apparently they were all born in April. The birthday parties must feel like the New Year and Bon festival coming at the same time.”]

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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