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The sentence in question:

私は日本からあそびに来た友達にロンドンをあんないしてあげた。

My translation - I guided my friend who is coming from Japan around London.

I know that あそぶ can be used to mean 'hang out with', and that’s what I'm guessing it means here, but I'm struggling to translate it into English and have it sound right with the rest of the sentence. You wouldn't say for instance "I guided my friend, whom I hang out with, who is coming from Japan around London" - It just sounds odd.

Could it be translated as "A friend whom I hang out with is coming from Japan and I guided him/her around London"?

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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think here あそびに means something like "for fun" or "for leisure". In other words, they came on a pleasure trip, not for business or studying.

What may be confusing is that it's natural to express this in Japanese directly when you'd express it only indirectly in English. Phrases like "came to visit" or "went to see" generally imply that it's for pleasure and not for business. You don't need to say "My friend came to visit me for pleasure" because it's implied by the phrase "came to visit".

As a result, the most natural translation here doesn't include words like "for pleasure":

私は [ 日本からあそびに来た友達 ] にロンドンをあんないしてあげた。

[ my friend who came to visit from Japan ]

But it's natural to express it explicitly in Japanese with 遊びに. Phrases like 遊びに行く and 遊びに来る are very common.

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遊びに来る just means 'come to visit' or 'come to see someone'. It's a common phrase. Don't be too focused on 遊ぶ, it doesn't really mean 'play' or 'hang out' per se. I would translate it as: "I showed my friend, who came to visit from Japan, around London." or some variation of that.

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