Sannen-buri-ni Shibuya-ni ittara, zuibun kawatte-ite bikkuri-shita-yo. (I went to Shibuya for the first time in three years and was surprised how much it has changed.)

Situation 1: Mr. Mita meets his old colleague, Mr. Simon, who is working in Singapore now.

サイモン: 3年ぶりに渋谷に行ったら、ずいぶん変わっていてびっくりしたよ。

三田: ああ、最近、新しいビルができたり、古い建物がなくなったりしているからね。

Simon: Sannen-buri-ni Shibuya-ni ittara, zuibun kawatte-ite bikkuri-shita-yo.

Mita: Aa, saikin, atarashī biru-ga dekitari, furui tatemono-ga nakunattari shite-iru-kara-ne.

Simon: I went to Shibuya for the first time in three years and was surprised how much it has changed.

Mita: Oh, that’s because recently new buildings were built and old buildings were pulled down.

Today, we will introduce the meanings and proper use of suffix ぶり, which comes after a noun that shows a certain length of time.

The pattern XぶりにY [phrase] expresses that someone does Y, or that Y is occurring again after the interval of X. The speaker believes that X is a long time, as in Mr. Simon’s remark. Another example is 2週間(にしゅうかん)ぶりに雨(あめ)が降(ふ)った。(It rained for the first time in two weeks.)

Even when the speaker believes that X is a long time, despite X being objectively short, Xぶり can be used as in エレベーターに閉(と)じ込(こ)められていた人(ひと)たちは5時間(ごじかん)ぶりに救出(きゅうしゅつ)された。(The people who had been stuck in an elevator were rescued after five hours.).

When Xぶり comes before noun, the pattern XぶりのY [noun] is used as in 10年(じゅうねん)ぶりの優勝(ゆうしょう) (The first victory in ten years).

Example: この本(ほん)は、かれの7年(ななねん)ぶりの新作(しんさく)で、とてもよく売れている。(It’s been seven years since his last book and this new book is selling well.)

Situation 2: Ms. Tamachi joins the conversation from Situation 1.

田町: サイモンさん、久しぶり! 会うのは何年ぶりだっけ?

サイモン: 3年ぶりの来日だよ。田町さんも元気そうだね。

Tamachi: Saimon-san, hisashiburi! Au-no-wa nannenburi-dakke?

Saimon: Sannenburi-no rainichi-da-yo. Tamachi-san-mo genki-sō-da-ne.

Tamachi: It’s been a long time, Simon! How many years has it been since the last time I met you?

Simon: This is my first trip to Japan in three years. You look well!

久(ひさ)しぶり can be used as a greeting when the speaker meets someone after a long time, as in Ms. Tamachi’s remark. The pattern 久(ひさ)しぶりにY [phrase] means to do Y for the first time in a long time.

Example: 久(ひさ)しぶりに映画(えいが)を見(み)て、泣(な)いてしまった。 (I cried during a movie for the first time in so long.)

Bonus Dialogue: After work, Mr. Mita, Mr. Tamachi and Mr. Simon go for a drink.

サイモン: こんなにおいしいやきとりを食(た)べるのは何年(なんねん)ぶりかな。この雰囲気(ふんいき)は日本(にほん)じゃないと味(あじ)わえないね。

三田: そう。よかった。ぼくも1週間(いっしゅうかん)ぶりのお酒(さけ)だよ。

サイモン: へえ、珍(めずら)しいな。三田(みた)くんが1週間もお酒を飲(の)まないなんて。

三田: うん、健康診断(けんこうしんだん)があるから、お酒を控(ひか)えていたんだ。やっぱり焼き鳥(やきとり)にお酒は最高(さいこう)だね。

田町: 三田さん、健康診断のためにお酒をがまんするなんて、ほんとにおじさんね。

サイモン: 久(ひさ)しぶりに会(あ)ったけど、田町(たまち)さんも全然(ぜんぜん)変(か)わっていないなあ。ははは。

三田: うん、相変(あいか)わらずぼくにはきびしいんだ。まあ、しょうがないかな。

Simon: This is the first time I’ve been able to eat such delicious yakitori in many years. I can’t enjoy this kind of atmosphere unless I come to Japan.

Mita: Really? That’s good. This is the first alcoholic drink I’ve had in a week.

Simon: Oh, it’s unusual for you to not drink sake for a week.

Mita: I didn’t drink any alcohol because I had to take a medical exam. But there is nothing like yakitori and sake.

Tamachi: You didn’t drink alcohol to get a medical check? You’re a true old man!

Simon: This is the first time I’ve seen Ms. Tamachi in a long time and she hasn’t changed at all! Ha ha ha.

Mita: Yeah. She’s as tough as ever on me. But, it can’t be helped.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.