I just got a second coffee and a blueberry scone and commented to the Starbuck’s staffer that I was glad the rain had stopped. 雨やんでよかった！She reminded me that it’s especially good news because today’s Tanabata, the Star Festival.
Then she said ‘Milky Way’ in English, and I remembered that according to the legend, two deities represented by stars are separated by the Milky Way, and can only meet on Tanabata night.
I wanted to know how to say ‘Milky Way’ in Japanese and asked her. Heavenly River! 天の川（あまのがわ）. I should be able to remember it it this time. The trick will be to remember this reading of 天. Another example that comes to mind is 天下り（あまくだり, descent from heaven. A colorful expression for the common but increasingly frowned upon practice of giving high level bureaucrats cushy private sector jobs when they retire. What we might call a golden parachute in English.
Because of the similar sound, I think of the word for sweet, 甘い when I see this reading of 天, and then I think of that sweetest of candy bars, Milky Way, and I find a new way to remember how to read this heavenly kanji combination.
あまのがわ、あまくだり。。。。Have you come across of any other examples of this reading for the character 天 in conversation or readings?
Originally posted 2012-07-07 02:38:53.