Back to Back Issues Page
Nifty Nihongo - Cool Japanese Expressions and Proverbs. #5 Aizuchi o Utsu
July 26, 2019

Nifty Nihongo E-Zine Proverbs & Expressions # 5

Hi Folks,

Thank you for subscribing. In our newsletter we focus on the most common and widely used proverbs or kotowaza as they are called in Japanese. We also mix it up with expressions that are not technically proverbs but are commonly heard sayings. Regardless, if they are not commonly used, we don't write about them.

We will also keep vocabulary within common limits as the point is to teach how the expression is used and not to inundate the reader with words that he or she probably won't use. I am not sure the last time I used "covalent bond" in English. And I bet I won't use it in Japanese.

Words in parenthesis are in translations in order to make the English translation not sound awkward, but normally would not be said in Japanese because they give an oddness to the nuance.

The use of "X" is like in mathematics. It means a variable. Something, someone, somewhere, somehow etc.

For those of you who have an interest in studying katakana and hiragana, these translations are also provided in addition to romaji or roman letter translations and they are in a blue colored font to increase readability.

Aizuchi O Utsu

Here's a very useful expression with a rich history. So let's rip into the background and then ramp things up so you can get it into use.

The Background Meaning & a Bit More Depth

So let's rip into the background and then ramp things up so you can get it into use.

Aizuchi by itself literally means "hammer". Utsu means "strike". Putting them together they would mean "a set of striking hammers."

Originally it was used to describe blacksmiths. When the master would train an apprentice in the trade, the master would rain a blow on the hot iron, then the apprentice would follow through with his hit. And in succession, one after another, they would shape the iron. Bang...bang...bang etc.

In modern usage it means to fill a conversation with what is essentially meaningless utterances.

Aizuchi O Utsu And Its Modern Use

So what this means in its modern day usage is to "chime in" or "echo" what someone said. It is note worthy that nothing of real value is being added into a conversation. Fluff.

Picture if you will the following. Say for example a boss and his subordinate are talking. The boss says something (x) is becoming a problem. The subordinate "chimes in" with "I see." or "Yes, I know what you mean" or "yeah". No opinion is offered nor is advice being given. No stance is taken and no countermeasures are given to fix the problem.

Clear so far? Okay now that we understand it conceptually, let's move on to the next step of actual use.

Let's Roll Out Some Common Examples, so you can use them in conversation.

Situation #1 setting. In an office where two co-workers are talking to each other.

Person A: Why don't you talk to Mr. Sakamoto about the problem?

Person B: I really don't see the point in it as he never does anything about the situation but chime in.

Person B's Response: Soreha, aizuchi o utsu bakari de, kare ni konomondai o kaiketsu dekinai to omottakaradesu.

それは、あいづち を うつ ばかり で、かれ に このもんだい を かいけつ できない と おもったからです。

それは、相槌 を 打つ ばかり で、彼 に この問題 を 解決 できない と 思ったからです。

Situation #2 Setting. Friends or co-workers talking.

Person A: I really wish you would say what you feel instead of simply chiming in.

jibun no iken o iu kawari ni aizuchi o utsu nodehanaku, chanto hatsugen shitehoshii.

じぶん の いけん を いう かわり に あいづち を うつ のではなく、ちゃんと はつげん してほしい。

自分 の 意見 を 言う 代わり に 相槌 を 打つ のではなく、ちゃんと 発言 して欲しい。

Situation #3 Setting. Persona A is kind of trash talking a bit about a co-worker to person B

That person’s story wasn’t interesting, but I listened while throwing in the occasional “uh huh” or “yeah I know what you mean .”

anohito no hanashi wa zen zen omoshioknakatta keredo, ichiou "un un" toka "yoku wakaruyo" to aizuchi o uchinagara kiiteita.

あのひと(B) の はなし は ぜんぜん おもしろくなかった けれど、いちおう 「うんうん」とか「そうですね、よく わかるよ」と あいづち を うちながら きいていた。

あの人(B) の 話 は 全然 面白くなかった けれど、一応 「うんうん」とか「そうですね、良く解るよ」と相槌 を 打ちながら 聴いていた。

Situation #4 Setting. The company president is talking to his general managers.

"I didn't call this emergency meeting to hear the managerial staff chime in, I called the meaning to find out what is really going on with the merger."

kimitachi (toukatsu buchoo tachi) ga aizuchi wo utsu nowo kikutame ni kinkyuukaigi wo hiraita nodehanaku, gappei ni yotte, donnakoto ga jissai ni okotteiru noka wo shiritakatta kara nanodayo.

きみたち (とうかつぶちょうたち) が あいづち を うつ のを きくため に きんきゅうかいぎ を ひらいた のではなく、がっぺい に よって、 どんなこと が じっさい に おこっている のか を しりたかった から なのだよ。

君達(統括部長達) が 相槌 を 打つ のを 聞くため に 緊急会議 を 開いた のではなく、合併 に よって、どんなこと が 実際 に 起こっている のか を 知りたかった から なのだよ

Vocabulary Notes:
統括部長 とうかつぶちょう GM
緊急会議 きんきゅうかいぎ emergency meeting
合併 がっぺい merger

Hey folks be sure to check out our sponsors at Japanese Pod 101.Com
for dirt cheap lessons and a pile of free stuff! They run specials quite regularly.

Click here to learn Japanese with

Okay that's it for now, so until the next time take care and crack them books!

To your Success in Japanese,
Back to Back Issues Page