Here in Massachusetts, fake summer is upon us for a mere two days. Temperature in the nineties, but then we will return (hopefully) to the so-called futsū May otenki—though in our world futsū has ceased to exist.
There’s a Japanese word called “gokko.” It’s a suffix that you can add and it means to pretend something. The other morning I put together a typical Japanese mōningu setto for myself and did kissaten-gokko. If I can’t go to Japan right now, I can pretend I am in Japan. It’s a custom in my family.
For example, when my kids were younger and we were living in the USA, we’d sometimes get a bootleg copy of the New Year’s Eve song program called Kohaku Uta Gassen. We’d gather in front of the tv at the kotatsu I brought back from Japan with Japanese snacks and a Japanese meal and do ōmisoka gokko. To do it properly, we’d need mikan of course….
Today, perhaps, I’ll go out and get my hatsu aisu kōhi and do natsu gokko. Because, come tomorrow we’ll be back in spring and since this is New England, even another frost is not out of the question!
- futsū – 普通 normal, average, expected
- otenki – お天気 weather
- gokko – ごっこ pretend. A suffix used to indicate playing at something
- mōningu setto – モーニングセット morning set. Often a special set served with coffee, toast and an egg and perhaps a small salad. There are infinite variations on this. It’s an economical choice as well.
- kissaten – 喫茶店 coffee shop. but now refers to an old style coffee shop as opposed to a cafe. Us old folks like this style much better. Hipsters do not. Yet.
- Kōhaku Uta Gassen – 紅白歌合戦 A big song contest that has been broadcast by NHK tv since 1953 on New Year’s Eve. It pits the men (white team) against the women (red team) and has huge viewership. It goes until almost midnight and then the scene solemnly switches to the chiming of temple bells all over Japan as the new year is welcomed.
- kotatsu – 炬燵 a low table that is used as a heating device. More about that later.
- ōmisoka – 大晦日 New Year’s Eve
- mikan – みかん Japanese tangerines
- hatsu – 初 first or beginning. Used to modify so many things. There’s hatsukoi 初恋, or first love and hatsumimi 初耳 or “first I’ve heard” which is literally first ear.
- aisu kōhi – アイスコーヒー iced coffee
- natsu – 夏 summer