Speakin’ Japanese: Habu Sssssssssspeak

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa

“Habu” is a native Okinawan poisonous snake whose bite can cause nausea, vomiting, hypertension and possibly death. In fact, every year, from May through June, the local government issues a warning to be on the lookout for habu snakes, as the creature becomes active during that time. Although the snake is dangerous, it is often used to make “habushu” with Okinawan traditional distilled liquor “Awamori.” Since ancient times, habushu is believed to have various medicinal properties, including being a kind of “Okinawan Viagra” for men. So, be careful not to let a habu bite you on your street walk, but enjoy taste of this sweet and tasty liquor.

“Konoatari wa habu ga demasuka?” = Are there habu about around here?
(Konoatari = around here, demasuka? = does make frequent appearances?)

“Ano hebi wa habu desuka?” = Is that snake a habu?
(Ano = that, hebi = snake, desuka? = is it?)

“Habu ni kamare mashita.” = A habu bit me.
(Kamare mashita = got bitten by)

“Byooin wa doko desuka?” = Where is a hospital?
(Byooin = hospital, doko = where)

“Habu shoo wo mini Nanjo-shi no Okinawa World ni ikimashoo.” = Let’s go to the Okinawa World in Nanjo City to enjoy its 
habu show.
(habu shoo = habu show, wo mini – to see, shi = city, ni ikimashoo = let’s go to)

“Kono mise niwa habushu ga arimasuka?” = Do you have hubushu in this shop/restaurant?
(Kono = this, mise = shop/restaurant, ga arimasuka? = is there -?)

“Habushu wo ippai kudasai.” = Give me a glass of habushu, please?
(ippai = a glass of, kudasai = give me, please)

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