Don’t miss an opportunity when kikkake comes knocking

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Kore-o kikkake-ni futari-ga nakayoku naru-to ii. (It would be nice if you took this chance to get to know each other better.)

Situation 1: In the morning at the office, Ms. Gray talks to Ms. Tamachi, who has just arrived at work. (Gray knows that Tamachi really likes Mr. Tian, but her love is unrequited.)

グレイ:  ティエンさんと一緒に歩いているのを見たわよ!これをきっかけに二人が仲良くなるといいと思って、私、別の道を通って来たのよ。どうだった?

田町:   それが…、なかなか話のきっかけがつかめなくて…。

Gray: Tien-san-to issho-ni aruite-iru-no-o mita-wa-yo. Kore-o kikkake-ni futari-ga nakayoku naru-to ii-to omotte, watashi, betsu-no michi-o tōtte-kita-no-yo. Dō-datta?

Tamachi: Sore-ga … , nakanaka hanashi-no kikkake-ga tsukamenakute …

Gray: I saw you walking with Mr. Tian. I thought it would be nice if you took this chance to get to know each other better, so I took a different route from you. How’d it go?

Tamachi: Well … I couldn’t really find the opportunity to start a conversation …

Today we will introduce the meaning and use of the noun きっかけ. This word identifies a clue, trigger, motivation or cause to start something, as can be seen in the way Ms. Gray and Ms. Tamachi use the word, or here: そのことが事件(じけん)解決(かいけつ)のきっかけになった (That turned out to be the trigger that solved the case). きっかけ is used not only for the trigger of a positive outcome but also a bad one, as in 友達(ともだち)の一言(ひとこと)がきっかけで、彼(かれ)はダイエットを始(はじ)めた (Just those few words uttered by his friend spurred him to start dieting). Ms. Tamachi’s きっかけをつかむ (to get a chance to do something) is a kind of set phrase.

Situation 2: A news announcer is talking about the coming liberalization of the electricity market.


Anaunsaa: Denryoku-no ko’uri-ga shigatsu-kara zenmen-jiyūka-sare, katei-de-mo denryoku-gaisha-o eraberu-yō-ni narimasu. Kore-o keiki-ni, katei-no denryoku-shiyō-o minaoshite-mite-wa dō-deshō-ka.

Announcer: Sales of electric power will be liberalized from April. Why not take this opportunity to reconsider how you use electric power at home?

契機(けいき) is a more stiff or bookish word that can be used instead of きっかけ, as in the announcer’s sentence. But it cannot replace きっかけ in the set phrase きっかけをつかむ used in Situation 1.

Bonus Dialogue: Yuri, Mr. Sere’s girlfriend, is chatting with her good friend Sayaka.

さやか: ねえ、どうやってセレさんと知(し)りあったの?

ゆり: ふとしたきっかけよ。

さやか: もったいぶらないで、教(おし)えてよ。

ゆり: もったいぶっているわけじゃないよ。ほんとに、ちょっとしたきっかけなのよ。道(みち)で、前(まえ)を歩(ある)いている人(ひと)が、ハンカチを落(お)としたの。

さやか: それで、前を歩いていたのがセレさん? ハンカチを拾(ひろ)ってあげたのがきっかけ? ずいぶん古典的(こてんてき)な手(て)ねえ。昔(むかし)の映画(えいが)みたい。

ゆり: 「手」って…? わざとじゃなくて、ほんとに偶然(ぐうぜん)。セレは、そんなふうに小細工(こざいく)のできる人じゃないから。

さやか: いやだ、2年間(にねんかん)も、そう思(おも)い込(こ)んでいたの?ゆりって、なんてピュアなの!

ゆり: あ、じゃあ、ほんとはどうだったのか、明日(あした)、セレに聞(き)いてみよう。

さやか: [ひとりごと] もう!ゆりって、ピュアを通り越して、 エベレスト級にピュアだ!。

Sayaka: Yuri, how did you get to know Mr. Sere?

Yuri: I got to know him just by chance.

Sayaka: You can’t just brush over it like that. Tell me, please!

Yuri: I’m not trying to get away with anything. It really was by chance. As I was walking along the street, the person in front of me dropped his handkerchief.

Sayaka: And the man in front of you was Mr. Sere? Your relationship started when you picked up his handkerchief and handed it to him? That’s such an old-fashioned trick, like in an old movie.

Yuri: Why do you say “trick”? It wasn’t on purpose; it was completely coincidental. Sere is not the type of person to play cheap tricks.

Sayaka: No way! Have you believed that for the past two years? Yuri, you’re so naive!

Yuri: All right then, I’ll ask him tomorrow what the truth is.

Sayaka: (To herself) My goodness! She’s much more than just naive, she’s as pure as the driven snow! [Literally, “She’s Mount Everest-level pure.”]