AIUEO － So (そ) － Souda (そうだ) － I know, Kyoto, Let’s Go!
In this blog – Matsumoto Sensei teaches us the meaning behind one of Japan’s longest running advertising Campaigns.
「そうだ 京都、行こう。」”Sou da Kyoto, ikou.”
(I know, Kyoto, let’s go there.)
This sentence is the copy for a famous advertisement promoting tourism to Kyoto by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen (High Speed Bullet Train). (See an example of the advertisement above.) This same slogan and campaign had been running continuously since 1993.
Each year, before the season of cherry blossoms in Spring or Autumn leaves in Autumn, beautiful footage of the scenery in Kyoto is broadcast as a television commercial with a song called “My Favorite Things” as the ば. and large posters with the slogan are displayed at JR stations.
So this is one famous example of Sou da.
But how can we use the phrase sou da in daily communication?
What does そうだ (Souda) mean?
The “sou da” that most people typically learn at the beginner level could refer to the following –
- (looking at the sky) 「雨が降りそうだ。」 “Ame ga furisou da.” (It seems like it’s about to rain.)
- (listening to the weather report) 「雨が降るそうだ。」”Ame ga furu sou da.” (Apparently it’s going to rain.) …And so on.
Unfortunately, the “souda” in “Sou da Kyoto, ikou.” belongs to neither of these. This “Sou da”, however, is used when a good idea popped up in your head and can be used when there is a need to emphasize something.
(“Sou da” turns up nothing in the dictionary.)
Examples of そうだ (Souda)
Sou Da used in Sentences
“Onaka ga suita na. … Sou da! Senshuu katta kappu ra-men wo tabeyou.”
(I’m so hungry. …I know! I’ll eat the cup ramen I bought last week.)
“Kono nihongo no shukudai, muzukashii naa. Doushiyou. …Sou da! Issho ni arubaito wo shiteiru Kimura-san ni tetsudatte moraou.”
(This Japanese homework is so difficult. What should I do? … I know! I’ll get Mr. Kimura, who I work part time with, to help me.)
Back to the Promotional Sentence…
「そうだ 京都、行こう。」 is a short line of text that only consists of ten characters, even with a comma and period. However, I’d imagine that many factors would have been taken into account before this slogan was being decided on.
For example, this slogan is neither
「そうだ、京都行こう。」 (I know, let’s go to Kyoto.)
「そうだ！ 京都行こう！」(I know! Let’s go to Kyoto!).
When written horizontally, there is a little half-width space character in between 『そうだ』”Sou da” and 『京都』 “Kyoto.” Also, Kyoto is in the middle. It is then followed by a comma and 『行こう』”Ikou” (Let’s go).
◎ 「そうだ 京都、行こう。」”Sou da Kyoto, ikou.” (I know, Kyoto, let’s go there.)
⇒ Emphasizes on thinking of “Kyoto.”
△ 「そうだ、京都行こう。」 (I know, let’s go to Kyoto.)
⇒ Emphasizes on thinking of “going to Kyoto.”
When writing like this, it leaves behind a stronger impression of “Kyoto” in the reader’s mind.
Even when written vertically, it gets split into three lines. “Kyoto”, remains to be in the center of the graphic. Take a look at the example below.
Thus, there are times when Japanese is written not just with emphasis placed on word choice. Thought would also be put into thinking about how the reader would feel whilst reading the text.
For example, amongst the passages written in novels, the impression left on the reader changes. This depends on whether the same word is written in Kanji, Katakana or Hiragana.
(Example … “Hito” (Person): 『人』 『ヒト』 『ひと』)
While Japanese is difficult, don’t you think it’s interesting…?
About the Author: Mr. Matsumoto, was a junior high school Japanese teacher for 23 years before joining Coto Japanese Academy. Therefore, he is a Japanese language pro. He currently teaches Coto’s Intensive Courses (intermediate and advanced), Business Courses and the Part Time N1 grammar and reading classes. He is also involved in developing teaching materials at Coto.
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