Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Satogaeri, Going back to home town" in Japan

(posted; Etymology page)
The other day, my friend was talking about her daughter gave birth in her home town (means our city) and she needed to give her somewhat constant help every time her daughter comes back with her beloved granddaughter (who is grown up now). During her talk, she used the word "Satogaeri (里帰り)" many times. This word is now used in a slightly different way from the original meaning here in Japan. 
Originally, Satogaeri (里帰り) means the bride goes back to her home town with the bridegroom, immediately after the wedding to greet her parents. But now, it can just mean "young wife visiting her parents".  Personally, my parent's house is just 10 minutes drive away.  I remember my late mother told me why I didn't visit her if she didn't see me a week, p;)    

pic, from PC
On the other hand, my late mother's home town was 3 hours away from our city, where her 2 younger siblings still live. She only had a couple of chances of going back to home town a year. I remember she spruced up wearing Kimono taking two of us (little kids), using local train with big luggage. Oh, it was half a century ago.
My eyes must have been shining to see how she wears kimono and changed into more beautiful sophisticated lady in front of the special dresser. She treasured the dresser which her Carpenter father made for her when she married (it looked like close to the picture I found from PC).  Well, my post seems to be shifted from the word to the memories with my mother. 
Anyway, language keep changing its meaning.


  1. A lovely post, my dear friend; of the going home AND the wonderful memories of your mom.

    We just live a quarter mile from my parents, and my mom will sometimes say the same thing if she hasn't seen me every other day- why don't you visit more?

    This was such a warm, loving post, sweet Miyako- thank you!

  2. I love your post. I often wonder what life would be if we didn't have our memories. Some are so special and I find as I age they become clearer in my mind than what I did for today!
    Thank you for sharing some of your's.
    Lov & Hugs

  3. Beautiful post my dear friend. I have been thinking of my late mother a lot lately. I left my home town and didn't get back to visit very often so my mother was correct in saying I should visit more. What a beautiful dresser. Your grandfather was a wonderful carpenter. Enjoy your day. Love always, Maddy

  4. Memories are like photo albums of the heart and soul, aren't they?

    Funny how language use constantly evolves...this happens in English too! It must make it all the more challenging for those trying to learn a new language.

    I enjoyed your post my friend!

  5. You wrote a lovely post. I enjoyed your trip down memory lane. It's amazing how one word will trigger a memory, and take you on a whole different path.

  6. What a lovely post, Miyako. In my mind, I see you as a child watching your mother preparing for the trip. How wonderful to have the memories and share them with others. Have a blessed day.

  7. Dearest Miyako,

    No, you did not shift away... You did exactly what language is all about. It means 'living' and thus changing. The greatest gift of our mother-tongue (as it is always called) is that it comes handed down from our parents and their ancestors. So a language very much passes on the culture and traditions of 'that' specific time. Sure, things do change with the newer generations and so does the wording change. But I prefer the more formal use and meaning. Like you have such deeply engraved fond memories of your Mother visiting your Grandmother. A journey home and showing her very best, wearing her kimono and taking her two darling children along. Good for you that those memories stay with you forever!


  8. Hi Miyako, memories of our mothers and fathers always make us feel so special, ans so loved. My grandparents lived with us (my mother's parents) and my father's mother lived across the street! Have a happy week, sweet friend. (hugs) xo

  9. Hi sweet Miyako. Such a lovely post, which I enjoyed very much. I can imagine you, as a young girl, watching your mum change in front of that dresser, into a pretty kimono. Lovely that you still have these memories. Hugs to you.

  10. Dear Miyako,
    Lovely post, thank you so much for sharing. I learn something new each time I'm visiting your blog.
    Big hugs


  11. dressing up doesn't happen so much anymore in any culture - I can remember my mom dressing up to go out for a special evening. Your ride on the train must have been fun. Were your grandparents very traditional?

  12. What a lovely post and such a wonderful memory for you to have I live only about 7 minutes from my parents and see them at least once a week but I also see my mum on Wednesday's when we go and see my grandmother.......

  13. To africanaussie,
    Yes, both side of my grandparents were very traditional people I may say. As a Carpenter and a Farmer family, I think they needed to follow some traditional events and so on. Miyako*

  14. Satogaeri is a lovely word. Going home is usually a wonderful experience. Your mother's dresser must have been so pretty. My mother likes to see me a lot too! I guess most moms are the same.

  15. Hi Miyako san. Very interesting post! As I live in the US, we often use the word Satogaeri to refer to going back to Japan for a certain period of time. As you said, language keep chanhing its meaning. The memory of your mom is beautiful. When I was small, I loved to see my mom does her makeup and changes in a good way:-)
    Thank you for your comment on my blog. We went to Hawaii to get married. I gotta do Satogaeri...and this time the word means "not so young wife visiting her parents." Haha.