More than one way to use ‘ippo’ in Japanese

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Futago-no ippō-ga tarento-dattara … (If one of the twins is a TV personality …)

Situation 1: Mr. Sere and his girlfriend, Yuri, are watching TV.

ゆり:  あのタレントの双子の弟が今度国会議員に立候補するらしいね。

セレ:  双子の一方がタレントだったら有利だなあ。もう一方は何もしなくても広報活動しているようなものだから。

Yuri: Ano tarento-no futago-no otōto-ga kondo kokkaigiin-ni rikkōho-suru rashii-ne.

Sere: Futago-no ippō-ga tarento-dattara, yūri-da-nā. Mō ippō-wa nani-mo shinakute-mo kōhō-katsudō-shite-iru-yōna mono-da-kara.

Yuri: It looks like that celebrity’s twin brother is going to run for the Diet.

Sere: If one of the twins is a celebrity, that’s got to be a help, because the other one is kind of getting free public relations without having to do a thing.

Today, let’s look at the noun 一方 (いっぽう, one side/the other side). 一方 can mean “one of the directions,” as in そのへやは、 一方だけが外(そと)に面(めん)していた (Only one side of the room was facing outside). It can also mean “one of the two,” as when Mr. Sere used it to talk about each of the twins. The compound noun 一方通行(つうこう) means “one-way traffic.” It is used metaphorically when referring to a situation, often disparagingly, as in 一方通行の話(はなし), a “one-way conversation.” Its na-adjective form is 一方的(いっぽうてき)な. Example: 一方的に責任(せきにん)を押(お)しつけられてしまった (They laid all the responsibility on me).

Situation 2: Ms. Tamachi is complaining about her diet supplement to her colleague Ms. Gray.

田町: 高いダイエット用サプリを飲んでいるのに、太る 一方で、困っているの。

グレイ: あのサプリは糖分が多いから、そのせいじゃないの?

Tamachi: Takai daietto-yō sapuri-o nonde-iru-noni, futoru ippō-de, komatte-iru-no.

Gray: Ano sapuri-wa tōbun-ga ōi-kara, sono sei-ja nai-no?

Tamachi: Despite drinking that expensive diet supplement, I’m just getting fatter and fatter.

Gray: That supplement has a lot of sugar in it. Isn’t it because of that?

The pattern X(verb)一方だ/です expresses that X has been steadily increasing, as with Ms. Tamachi’s ふとる一方. Here, X is the dictionary form of a verb that expresses change — usually something undesirable. An example: 状況(じょうきょう)は悪(わる)くなる一方だった (The situation was getting worse and worse).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba (Tatsuhiko and Sanae) are driving to Sanae’s aunt’s place. The aunt has a daughter, Rika.

妻:  あっ、そこ、左折(させつ)して!

夫:  だめだ、ここは一方通行(いっぽうつうこう)だよ。 入(はい)れない。

妻:   じゃあ、たぶん次(つぎ)の道(みち)。オーケー、左折して。

夫:  おばさんが招待(しょうたい)してくれるのはうれしいけど、「娘(むすめ)に彼(かれ)との結婚(けっこん)を諦(あきら)めさせてほしい」っていうのが目的(もくてき)だろ? ちょっと気(き)が重(おも)いなあ。

妻:  おばは彼を悪(わる)く言(い)うけど、おばの一方的 (てき)な話(はなし)だけじゃなく、里香(りか)ちゃんの話も聞(き)かなくちゃね。

夫:  うん。たとえ彼が、おばさんが言うように悪い男(おとこ) だとしても、親(おや)に別(わか)れさせられるより、自分 (じぶん)で決(き)めるほうが、里香ちゃんは人間(にんげん)として成長(せいちょう)できると思(おも)う。

妻:  達彦(たつひこ)は、ずっと親の敷(し)いたレールを歩(ある)いてきた「いい子(こ)」だったのよね。 だけど、ご両親のもってきた縁談(えんだん)を断 (ことわ)って、私を選(えら)んでくれた。

夫:  だけど、両親(りょうしん)は早苗を見(み)て、結婚(けっこん)に大賛成(だいさんせい)したんだ。だから、ぼくは、それからあんまり成長しなかった…

Wife: Oh, there, turn left.

Husband: No, this is a one-way street. We can’t take it.

Wife: Well, maybe the next road. OK, turn left.

Husband: I’m glad your aunt invited us, but the whole point is so we can persuade Rika to give up on marrying her boyfriend, right? It’s kind of depressing.

Wife: Auntie speaks ill of Rika’s boyfriend, but we should hear Rika’s story out.

Husband: Sure. But even if he’s as bad a man as Auntie says, I think that Rika will grow as a person if she decides by herself rather than being forced by her parents.

Wife: Tatsuhiko, you were a “good boy,” walking the path your parents had laid out for you. But you refused the girl they had planned for you and chose me.

Husband: But they saw you and wholeheartedly agreed to the marriage. So I haven’t grown up much since then.