Clear Skies Over Tsukuba and the Rest of Japan- Nippon Ba-reh ( 日本晴れ) !
By Avi Landau
Perfectly clear skies, ideal temperatures, and deliciously aromatic air. In other words, GLORIOUS WEATHER!
I ran into a Japanese acquaintance of mine, a gentleman in his seventies, and greeted him with one of the most typical (and mundane) of all Japanese expressions: II TENKI DESU NE(It’s a fine day, isnt it?). Of course, I was expecting the set-pattern response of SO DESU NE (It sure is!). Instead, this older and cultured man responded with an expression rarely used in regular conversations these days (though it is still sometimes used by the weather-man), which struck a chord and has lingered with me since he said it.
After I greeted him he looked up at the sky with a pleased look in his eye and said: “Nippon Ba-Reh!”, which could be directly translated as, “There`s not a cloud in the sky over Japan!”, or “It’s a beautiful Japanese Day!”
It’s too bad that this powerful expression has been falling into disuse with the younger generation (maybe it sounds too old fashioned or too patriotic), because I think it is a profound and uniquely atmospheric way to express the joy of being in Japan when the weather is this good.
You might also find that when you use this expression a Japanese friend might repeat what you say- but with a slight variation. pronouncing it as NIHON BAREH (instead of NIPPON) in an effort to show you that they are not overly nationalistic ( NIPPON , instead of NIHON, is often used by Japanese to express national pride)*.
By the way. Nipponbare is also the name of a variety of rice.
Let’s enjoy this delicious weather and hope that it lasts!
and if you are interested, here is a song that I wrote: CLEAR SKIES- recorded by the Tsukuba based band The TenGooz:
* The great difference in nuance between calling Japan NIHON and calling it NIPPON poses a near impossible problem for the translator!