Nagori Yuki

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.”

Nagori Yuki is also the name of a popular song and 2002 film by Nobuhiko Obayashi.

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.

Author: Sheila Burt

Writer.

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