69 - Plum Blossom Adventure

In about a week, Rei and I are going to go visit her sister in Jeju (that island to the south of South Korea).

Oh yeah, her sister is Korean, by the way.

No, Rei doesn't speak Korean.

And neither do I.

I've been trying to cram some elementary Korean into my brain so I can talk to my little niece and nephew.

It's gonna be a disaster.

Here's me trying to write their names in Korean:

Rei took a picture and sent it to her mom! (Oh, her mom's also Korean, by the way.)

I was like, No, stop! She'll quiz me! Agh!

I'm pretty shy, and telling all of these Korean people that I'm studying Korean is just too much pressure.

Annnnnd, I've gone off on a tangent.

The reason I bring this up is that I've been trying to get ahead with work (both my real job [boo] and these daily lessons [yay]).

So yesterday I woke up at like 5 a.m. and did a ton of work so I'd have all evening to get ahead.

And I thought, Hold up.

Look at all these hours of free time.

Must. Explore. Japan.

Next thing you know, Rei and I are on a train headed down past Yokohama, then on a bus to 三溪園(さんけいえん, Sankei-en [Gardens]):

Here's the English Wikipedia page: Sankei-en.

Here's the Japanese Wikipedia page: 三溪園.

Here's the official (Japanese) home page.

And here's the Japan Guide page: Sankeien Garden.

We went because I read online that plum blossom season is at the end of February.

The word for plum is 梅 (ume).

Instead of "blossom," we can just say "flower," which is 花 (hana).

So a "plum blossom" is...?

ume no hana
plum blossom(s)

So I was talking to Rei about how one would say:

"I went to see plum blossoms yesterday."

For example, imagine that someone asked this question:

kinou nani shiteta?
What did you do yesterday? // What were you up to yesterday?
(Literally: "yesterday + what + were doing?")

To answer that question, I want to say, "I went to see plum blossoms."

This was my first guess:

Non-Native B:
ume no hana mi ni itta.
I went to see plum blossoms.
(Literally: "plum + の + flower + went to see.")


Then she told me that this would be more natural:

Super-Native B:
ume mi ni itta.
I went to see plum blossoms.
(Literally: "plum + went to see.")

I went to see... plums?


That seems crazy to me.

But I won't argue with the natives, I guess.

I was told that including の花 (no hana) does not sound especially strange, but it sounds like you're stressing that you saw specific flowers. Not that you just went to see plum... trees?

I don't get it.

Let's Grammar

What's with this 見に行く (mi ni iku) business?

Fancy books say:

❈ 💀 ❈ 💀 ❈
Masu-Stem-VERB + に行く
= Go to VERB
❈ 💀 ❈ 💀 ❈

So "I went to see a movie" would be:

watashi wa eiga wo mi ni ikimashita.
I went to see a movie.
(Literally: "I + は + movie + を + see + に + went.")

I'm allergic to fancy, though.

So I would use casual language:

eiga mi ni itta.
I went to see a movie.
(Literally: "movie + see + に + went.")

(Note: Yeah, in the casual version, you can remove 私は and the particle を. Also, 行きました becomes 行った. Remember that we can't just go assassinating particles in written or formal Japanese [your teacher will kill me]. But they just get in the way half the time in casual conversations.)

hon kai ni itta.
I went to buy a book.
(Literally: "book + buy + に + went.")

ima kara tomodachi mukae ni iku.
I'm just about to go meet my friend (at the airport). // I'm just about to go pick up my friend (at the airport).
(Literally: "now + from + friend + go to meet.")

(Note: 迎えに行く [mukae ni iku] is quite common, so you might want to remember it as a set. It's used any time you go to meet someone who is arriving from somewhere. For instance, meeting someone at the airport when they come visit you in Tokyo. Also, if you're writing or speaking formally, the person you're picking up will be marked by the particle を. So that would be 友達を迎えに行く. You can also say it if you go to someone's house to meet them.)

Plum Quiz, Babe

Now, I actually went to see plum blossoms when they weren't "in full bloom" (which is called 満開 [mankai], by the way... you'll hear it often when talking about 桜 [sakura / cherry blossoms]).

That's why my photos are a little barren and pathetic.

Also, it was freezing!

( ↑ Rei in a horrific battle with the harsh winter breeze. ↑ )

But let's pretend for a second that our blossom-viewing experience was all we ever wanted, all we ever needed.

As such, I would be dying to tell you all about it.

Sadly, you don't ask me 昨日何してた?


And now I have no reason to tell you. (T_T)

Whateverー I'll tell you anyways!

So how would I say this:

"So yesterday I went to see plum blossoms."

Think time: スタート!

kinou ume mi ni itta n da.
So, yesterday I went to see plum blossoms.
(Literally: "yesterday + plum + went to see + んだ.)

It's the dreaded んだ, the 『だ of explanation』!

Yeah, you can say the exact same thing we had in the A-B Convo, only this time we're adding 昨日 (kinou), "yesterday," to the front and んだ (n da) to the back.

For the full low-down on why we do that, check out, "How to Say 'So I was thinking' in Japanese" ...which often feels like my most-referenced article.

Shameless Deluge of Poorly-Lit Pictures

Man, that place must be beautiful in spring.

Maybe I'll get my life together and go back for cherry blossoms in a month or so.

Oh yeah, while we're talking about plums, learn these words, too:

梅酒 (umeshu // sake with plums; plum sake)

梅干し (umeboshi // dried plums)

Foodies and boozers will need those words when partaking in... uh... tradition... and local delicacies... and stuff.

Bonus Phrases

きのう よこはま の さんけいえん って とこ いった んだ。
Yesterday I went to a place called Sankeien Garden in Yokohama.

きのう なに した の?
What did you do yesterday?
Note:This is asking for actual details about what a person did. For example, you might know that your friend went on a date, but if you want to know what they did on the date, you could ask this.

さくら まんかい だ。
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

あたし うめしゅ に する。
I'll have umeshu.

うめぼし サワー ください。
(I'd like an) Umeboshi sour, please.

Complete and Continue