The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have finally begun, but this year’s scaled-down 開会式 (kaikaishiki, opening ceremony) saw 賞賛もあれば厳しい声もあった (shōsan mo areba, kibishii koe mo atta, voices of both praise and criticism).

With the デルタ株 (deruta kabu, delta variant) of the coronavirus ever-present, Emperor Naruhito found himself in a tough spot regarding his speech. Should he use the term 祝い (iwai, celebration) — which his grandfather Emperor Hirohito used in 1964 — to declare the Games open?

Instead, he chose the term 記念 (kinen, celebrate), which has more of a commemorative nuance: 私は、ここに、第32回近代オリンピアードを記念する、東京大会の開会を宣言します (Watashi wa, koko ni, dai sanjūni-kai kindai Orinpiādo o kinen suru, Tōkyō taikai no kaikai o sengen shimasu, I declare open the Games of Tokyo celebrating the 32nd Olympiad of the modern era).

When asked about his thoughts on the 開会式, prominent comedian Takeshi Kitano made it clear he was unimpressed in a TV interview: “ずいぶん寝ちゃいましたよ” (“Zuibun nechaimashita yo,” “I totally fell asleep”). He followed up by saying, “金返して欲しいですね” (“Kane kaeshite hoshii desu ne,” “I’d like my [tax payer] money back”).

Others were able to find moments of enjoyment, such as when the 光り輝くドローンたちが地球の形で東京の夜空を彩った (hikari kagayaku dorōn-tachi ga chikyū no katachi de Tōkyō no yozora o irodotta, glowing drones in the shape of the Earth illuminated the night sky of Tokyo) while John Lennon’s “Imagine” was performed in the background. One Twitter user remarked, 素直にこれは凄いと思った (Sunao ni kore wa sugoi to omotta, I honestly thought this was amazing).

What did you think? The Japanese will use either the adjective-verb 好き (suki, likeable) or the adjective 良い (yoi, good) to express preference. This will give you the basic structure of saying whether or not you liked something, for example: 大坂なおみ選手が好きです (Ōsaka Naomi-senshu ga suki desu, I like [the athlete] Naomi Osaka).

When discussing the 開会式 at your local cafe, try expressing something you didn’t like and something you liked about the event: オリンピック宣言は好きじゃない部分もあったけど、ミーシャの国家独唱が好きでした (Orinpikku sengen wa suki janai bubun mo atta kedo, Mīsha no kokka dokushō ga suki deshita, I didn’t quite like the Olympic oath part, but I liked Misia’s performance of the national anthem).

As for myself, コロナ禍でも各国選手団の入場行進で笑顔がみられたことが良かった (korona-ka demo kakkoku senshudan no nyūjо̄ kо̄shin de egao ga mirareta koto ga yokatta, It was nice how even with the coronavirus, we were able to see some smiles during the parade of athletes). でも、プロジェクションマッピングが多く使われすぎていたのは好きじゃなかった (Demo, purojekushon mappingu ga ōku tsukaware-sugite-ita no wa suki ja nakatta, But, the performances during the opening ceremony used a lot of projection mapping, and I didn’t like that).

Whether it was Misia’s performance of the national anthem, the parade of nations or 大坂なおみ選手の聖火点灯 (Osaka Naomi senshu no seika tentō, Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic flame), there was a lot to take in at the 開会式.

あなたは開会式についてどう思いましたか (Anata wa kaikaishiki ni tsuite dō omoimashita ka, What did you think of the opening ceremony)?

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