365 Days of Japanese Day #8

Yesterday I showed that one of my friends had correctly figured out the location of the Toba pictures.

I gave a quick translation of his comment, but let’s look at the individual parts today. We’ll learn some useful words!

“rei no shashin ni tsuite, machigainaku Isewan ferī no mokutekichi Toba-shidarou”
Regarding the picture in the example, it is definitely the destination of the Ise-wan ferry, in Toba city.

例 = “rei” = example

の = “no” = possessive (a bit like “apostrophe s” in English)

写真 = “sashin” = photo

In my translation I translated 写真 as a “picture” rather than the more accurate “photograph”. I think that’s OK, but for full accuracy it should be “photo” or “photograph”.

に = “ni” = a useful particle/preposition

に has a few different literal meanings (including “to” and “into”) but in this case we will content ourselves with the explanation that it is the “correct” preposition for connecting “example photo” to the following verb:

ついて = “tsuite” = about, regarding

間違いなく = “machigainaku” = definitely

伊勢 = “Ise” = The City of Ise, in Mie prefecture

湾 = “wan” = bay

フェリー = “feri” = Ferry (note that this is written in katakana, as a loan word)

Observe at this point that 伊勢湾フェリー gives us “Ise-wan Ferry”, or “Ise Bay Ferry”. Ise is home to the Ise Grand Shrine which is a very important Shinto shrine and so the Ferry is named primarily as a means for people to get to Ise itself, not just Toba where the ferry docks.

の = “no” = possessive (a bit like “apostrophe s” in English) [same explanation as earlier]

目的地 = “mokutekichi” = destination

鳥羽市 = “Toba-shi” = Toba city

だろう = “darou” = A way of saying something probably is or probably will be or probably will happen etc. The more formal version is “deshou”.

After I showed him yesterday’s entry, Philip said “Oh gods are you going to analyse my grammar in the next one?”

I didn’t really analyse the grammar, we just looked at the words in isolation. But that last bit about “darou” could definitely use some more explanation as well as the particle “ni”. Perhaps another day.

That’s all for now; thanks for reading!

I made a bit of a blunder with this entry and scheduled it for the wrong day. I “retroactively” corrected that but if you didn’t see this here on the right day that was my fault. I think I’ve got the hang of scheduling entries now and they will typically go live each day at 3.30pm UK time.


  1. 例の「例の写真について」について…
    ‘Rei no X’ is a great phrase if you want to refer to something but don’t want to name it directly. Put aside the basic meaning of ‘example’ for 例 for a moment: ‘rei no X’ is closer to ‘the X in question’ or ‘a certain X’. The implication is that either both speaker and listener know what it is, or that the speaker is taking care not to name something directly.

    In the sentence you deconstructed here, therefore, I was saying ‘regarding the photo in question’ as a way to answer without explicitly spelling out the question you had asked (and thus making it too obvious to other readers.) Another example would be if A wants to tell B something in front of C without telling them all about it: “About that matter…” – “例のことですが…”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am in the office today so I’ve dug out my undergraduate notes for a good use of “rei no X”. The very first time I came across it was in a short story we were set to translate in the holidays after first year, Hoshi Shinichi’s 重要な任務 (“An Important Mission”), in which two would-be members of a secret society are transporting a box (contents unknown) to one of the organisation’s branches. Shortly after setting off with it, they are ambushed:

        “Oi, don’t make a sound. Stay quiet and hand it over, or else….”
        We stopped in surprise. Who were these guys? They were talking about the item. Had they been following us since we left headquarters? I answered with feigned casualness:
        “Haven’t you got the wrong people? I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. Seriously, what’s this ‘item’ you’re talking about? As you’ve not told me what you’re actually looking for, how am I supposed to answer?”

        I’ve put the uses of ‘rei no mono’ in bold so you can see how it works in the Japanese and in my hasty translation. As you can see, it offers an obliqueness which is great for spy stories and which is hard to replicate in English. I could have translated each use as “the item in question” or “that certain item”, but these come across as a bit stiff and formal in this context. Needless to say, the ambiguity of the phrase works in the protagonist’s favour here!

        The exchange also has the excellent dramatic phrases さもないと (samonai to…) meaning otherwise/or else (e.g. 動くな!さもないと撃つぞ ugoku na! samonai to utsu zo – “don’t move or I shoot!”) and of course 人違い(です) hitochigai (desu) “you’ve got the wrong guy!”

        Liked by 1 person

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