受験者( 58 ):男性
 

Good morning! (ドアを開けてにこやかに)
A, B: Good morning.
B: Please take your seat. (イスを指示)

Thank you. (と言ってカバンをイスの横に置いて座る。今日はとても暖かい日で、コートを着ていかなかったので、特に荷物についての指示はなかった。)
B: May I have your name please?

My name is .........
B: Where do you live?

I live in ..........district of .........., near .......... airport.
B: How long did it take to come here?

About an hour, I think.
B: (うなずく。目で A に合図してバトンタッチ)
A: (「..........」と聞いて怪訝な様子だったが、..........空港の部分で合点がいった顔で) I have some questions for you today. Suppose I’m planning to visit a hot spring in this area, where would you recommend?

In this Kanto region, I will recommend.. (言い掛けたところで遮られる)
A: Wait, wait. What is the “Kanto region”?

The Kanto region is the place where the Kanto plain is situated, in other words a big plain where Tokyo is located.
A: Oh, I see. Go ahead. (東京近辺の温泉に限定したかったような様子、箱根と言って欲しかったのだろうか?)

In this Kanto region I will recommend you to visit the Kusatsu hot spring. It is one of the oldest spa rich in tradition around here and it is relatively close. It keeps good reputation in terms of healing effects, too.
A: How far is it specifically?

It is about a 2-hour ride on a train.
A: O.K.; talking about the health effect of hot springs, what can I expect for this one?

Kusatsu-onsen or hot spring is famous for helping people with rheumatitis. (リューマチの英訳をいい加減に推定してそれっぽく言ってしまったが、後で調べたら本当は rheumatism という。まったく問題なく通じてはいたが…) It is also good for sore knees and elbows and so forth. (若い試験官だったので、もっと若い人向けの効能(疲労回復など)の方が良かったのだが、一般論となってしまった)
A: Do people visit a hot spring on their own, or with others?
Usually, people go to hot springs with their family or with close friends. Another style, though a fading-away tradition, is to go with your company colleagues in a company-organized excursion.
A: (社員旅行に興味を示したようだが、話題を移す) What will people do at hot springs?
In a typical schedule, a tourist will arrive somewhere around 4 p.m., have a small rest and then go to the hot springs, shared with other guests at the hotel. After bathing, dinner will be served, and many people also like to go for a second bathing time before they go to bed.
A: Tell me about the historical origin of hot springs.

(温泉の歴史と言っても、うんと昔からあるので何とも言えないな〜、と思いつつ) Many famous hot springs, including the Kusatsu hot spring that I’ve mentioned right now, are known for more than thousand years. It is so long a tradition that I would say it is a pre-historical practice to go to a hot spring. I believe that there is no firm founder for this tradition, either. (湯治場から行楽地への変遷を言うべきだったか。)
A: I’ve heard that you have to take all your cloth off during bathing. Is that so? I come from Canada and that’s very different from our customs. Don’t Japanese people feel odd about this?

It is true that you do need to take everything off in a hot spring. Since almost all Japanese people experience either a hot spring or a public bathing house as small kids, the feeling of being together with others without clothing is probably not considered problematic.
A: So you say it is a sort of a cultural difference, right?

That’s right (まぁ、端的に言えばそうなのだが、「文化的違いだ」というだけではぶっきらぼうかと思ったので。もっとも締めくくりとしては、そういう文言は必要だったと思う)
A: Talking about public bathing house, is it still a regular practice for Japanese people?

The answer is yes and no; it depends among the personal situations. For instance, I’m not married and I live in a worker’s district where a lot of Sento, or public bathing house, are still in business. Therefore I go there on a regular basis. However, for families living in the suburban areas where they usually have a bigger bathtub in their housings, the story is different. I assume they seldom make a visit to a public bathing house.
A: Is there a quality difference in these hot springs? And if so, how can I tell the difference? May be looking in the guidebook?

(確かにガイドブックにはそういうことは書いてあると思うけど) Well, talking about quality of hot springs, it is generally considered that naturally occurring ones known since long ago are good. Those developed by drilling and pumping hot spring water is not as good. Some hot springs claim that they don’t add water to cool-down the hot spring water, which is also regarded good in terms of quality. I’m not so sure if there is an authentication system in hot spring quality, but as you mentioned a guidebook can be a decent source of information. (良い温泉の見分け方はあるのだろうか。保健所が認定する温泉成分分析表には自噴か汲み上げかは書いてあると思うが、どの道日本語だからなぁ、と思った。後になって、循環式のものは塩素臭がきついから分かるか…、と思ったが、とっさに思いつかなかった). If you don’t stick too much to quality, there are many hot springs even inside Tokyo.
A: But those in Tokyo are ones drilled and pumped-out, right? (ちょっと不満そうな感じで)

Yes, unfortunately they are.
A: Are these drilled hot springs a recent development?

I think so. Although the skill to dig a deep well was developed a long time ago, the development of these “artificial” hot springs is only a new trend; staring around in the 90’s, I would say. (井戸の上総掘りについて触れるとややこしくなるから止めた。)
A: All right. So Japanese people really like to take a bath, I understand that. I’ve heard that many people take a bath everyday. Is that true?

Yes. I think for majority of Japanese people, bathing themselves every night is almost a must-to-do.
A: But isn’t that a waste of water? Filling a bath-tub would consume lots and lots of water, don’t they? This isn’t the only example, but I think that’s contradictory to the environmental conservation movement nowadays. What do you think about Japanese people’s attitude towards environmental issues?

(何やら時事ネタになってきたので困ったなぁ、と思いつつ) First of all, I would like to point out that Japan is rich in fresh water resource when compared to other countries.
A: It must be so. (そりゃそうだろうな、というような感じで納得しつつ苦笑するような感じ)

But I would like to also mention that bathtub water is in many cases reused. For instance, it is used to water plants in your yard. Another popular way is to reuse it for washing cloths. Many washing machines are equipped with such attachments. (それに沸かし直すという方法もあると言おうと思ったが、長くなると思ったので止めた) In terms of people’s consciousness towards environmental issues, I think it is still a bit lower than that in European countries, but I would say it is improving substantially in the recent years. (環境問題はややこしくなりそうなので、余り深入りしなかった)
A: (風呂水が再生利用されていることに感心している様子) You know, when talking about environmental issues, I personally feel Japan is suffering from a typical foreigner’s image that it the environment is dusty and dirty. And actually, the truth is not. I do know that Japan has lots of beautiful places. Why do you think this sort of an image is wide spread outside Japan?

In my opinion, that is probably because Japan is known to the world primarily through its industrial products and electronic appliances exported. I think that brings about the image that the whole of Japanese landscape is covered with factories and high-tech plants. As you mentioned, our landscape is dominated with rugged terrains and most of the land is covered with forests.
A: I myself, before coming to Japan had an image of this country that everyone is wearing a business suit. Now I know that there are lots of other varieties of jobs just like other countries.
Yes, that’s one thing good to actually come and see for yourself. (そのためのお手伝いをするのがガイドである、と言えばいい感じだったが思いつかず…)
A: Do you think the cause of this misconception is outside of Japan, or do you think the Japanese are not promoting enough to overcome it?

(いたずらに外国のせいにするのも良くないと思ったので) I suppose both. But I think that it is mainly due to the fact the promotion by the Japanese people is still not sufficient. (そういうところをアピールする役としてガイドがいるのだ、といって欲しかったらしい。以心伝心とならず、つくづく気が利かず、後悔しきりです。日本人の B さんがこの辺を聞くはずという先入観が良くなかった。)
A: I think it’s about time isn’t it? (と小声で B 女史に話しかける)
B: (何かメモを取っていてそれに気を取られていたので、はっとして、少し驚いた様子で) Yes it is. (私のほうに向き直って、すこし微笑んで) This is all for today. Thank you.
A: Thank you.

(てっきり B さんが何か聞いてくるのかと思っていたので、かなり拍子抜けしてしまったのだが) You’re very welcome. Shall I get out from this door? (と、前の扉を指す。後ろの扉から入って来たのだが、前の人が前の扉から出てきたような気がしたので;後から思えば、実は隣の試験教室の人だったらしい)
B: Ah, no. From that side, please.
A: Oh, sorry.
B: That’s all right. Have a nice day!
A: Have a nice day!

Nice day to you too! Bye.


 

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