Language | WELL SAID

Joining up contradictory conditions in Japanese with 'ippo'

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Fudan-no seikatsu-wa setsuyaku-suru ippō, o-iwaigoto-wa hade-ni suru. (They economize in their daily lives on the one hand but pull out all the stops for celebrations.)

Situation 1: Ms. Shiba’s friend Ms. Kida is marrying a man from Nagoya.

木田:  名古屋の人って、ふだんの生活は節約する一方で、結婚式やお祝い事はすごく派手にするそうじゃ ない?心配だなあ。

芝:  名古屋の人がみんなそうだというわけじゃないでしょ。

Kida: Nagoya-no hito-tte, fudan-no seikatsu-wa sugoku setsuyaku-suru ippō-de, kekkonshiki-ya o-iwaigoto- wa, sugoku hade-ni suru-sō-ja nai? Shinpai-da-nā.

Shiba: Nagoya-no hito-ga minna sō-da-to iu wake-ja nai-desho.

Kida: They say people in Nagoya economize in their daily lives on the one hand but pull out all the stops for celebrations, don’t they? That worries me.

Shiba: Not everyone in Nagoya is like that, I guess.

Last week we introduced the noun 一方 (いっぽう, one side/the other side). This week, let’s look at how to use 一方 like a conjunction particle. X(phrase/clause)一方(で)、Y(phrase/clause) expresses the idea that X and Y contradict each other but happen at the same time, as in Ms. Kida’s sentence in Situation 1.

Situation 2: Section chief Mr. Okubo reports to his boss about a meeting with clients introducing a new product.

大久保: AB社は、こちらの言い値で扱ってくれると言っていますが、販売はアジア圏に限られます。一方、スミス商事は欧米も含みますが、値段を下げろと言っています。

Ōkubo: AB-sha-wa, kochira-no iine-de atsukatte-kureru-to itte-imasu-ga, hanbai-wa Ajia-ken-ni kagiraremasu. Ippō, Sumisu-shōji-wa Ōbei-mo fukumimasu-ga, nedan-o sagero-to- itte-imasu.

Okubo: AB Co. says it would handle the product at our suggested price, but sales would be limited to the Asian region. On the other hand, Smith Trading says it would include Europe and North America, but they’re asking us to lower the price.

一方 can function as a conjunction linking two different sentences X and Y in formal or businesslike situations, as in Situation 2. One more example: 兄(あに)は読書(どくしょ)が好(す)きだ。一方、弟(おとうと)はスポーツが好きだ (My elder brother likes reading. On the other hand, the younger one likes sports.)

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Tamachi complains about her mother, who lives in their hometown, to her colleague Ms. Gray.

田町:  母(はは)ったら、何(なに)を考えているのかわから ないの。いつも「仕事(しごと)がんばって」って言(い) ってくれる一方(いっぽう)、私(わたし)がいなかに帰(かえ)ると「早(はや)く結婚(けっこん)して親(おや)を安心(あんしん)させてよ」なんて言うのよ。お見合(みあ)い写真(しゃしん)を撮(と)れって、うるさいし。

グレイ:  両方(りょうほう)とも、お母(かあ)さんの本当(ほんとう)の気持(きも)ちよ。娘(むすめ)の仕事(しごと)はもちろん応援(おうえん)したい気持ちがある一方、早く孫(まご)がほしい。私はとてもよくわかる。

田町:   ボーイフレンドもいないのに、結婚(けっこん)できるわけないでしょ。

グレイ:  だから、お見合い写真を撮るように言うのよ。作家(さっか)の林(はやし)真理子(まりこ)は恋愛(れんあい)小説(しょうせつ)をたくさん書(か)いているけど、 お見合い結婚だったそうね。日本(にほん)のお見合いシステム、最近(さいきん)は流行(はや)らないそう だけど、私はすごくいいと思うな。

田町:  私は、お見合いなんか、いや!グレイさん、うちの親が勧(すす)めるお見合い話(ばなし)に乗(の)ってみれば?

グレイ:  あ、それもいいかな…?

Tamachi: I don’t get how Mom’s mind works. She’s always telling me, “Do your best at work.” But at the same time, when I go back home, she says, “Get married soon so we can stop worrying.” Also, she’s always bugging me to get a matchmaking photo taken.

Gray: Both are your mother’s true feelings. Of course she wants to support her daughter in her career. On the other hand, she also wants grandchildren as soon as possible. I really understand how she feels.

Tamachi: But I don’t have a boyfriend. How can I get hitched?

Gray: That’s why she tells you to have a matchmaking photo taken. I heard Mariko Hayashi, who wrote a lot of romance novels, got married through matchmaking. Recently it’s seen as unpopular, but I think Japan’s matchmaking system is really good.

Tamachi: No way! Why don’t you try getting matched with someone based on who my parents recommend?

Gray: Hmm, that’s not such a bad idea …

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