There are many Japanese words or phrases, in my opinion, that perfectly describe a fleeting moment. We don’t quite have the equivalent in English, so I am always happy to learn of such words or phrases, which usually correspond with nature, holidays or a special moment in one’s life. I learned of such a phrase yesterday from my kind co-worker, a Japanese teacher who often speaks to me at school.
After a week of gorgeous spring-like weather, snow fell once again in Toyama. It wasn’t heavy, but it was enough to lightly dust the ground the next day, cover my jacket in snow as I biked to work and make me a little grumpy. As I walked to my desk Tuesday morning dripping from the icy bike ride, my co-worker looked up and, “Oh, good morning Miss Sheila.” He smiled and gazed out the window for a moment. “This is nagori yuki,” he explained. “It’s…the last snow before spring.”
Intrigued by the phrase and its beauty, I searched for more information about it online. I knew that yuki meant snow, but I did not know what nagori meant. After doing a little research, I discovered it means “a trace; remains; a vestige; parting; farewell; memory.”
As this final (hopefully) snow melts, I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to the snow-covered rice fields of winter, and hello to the sakuras of spring.