I saw this on an advertisement outside the construction site of a company that makes wooden houses:


I'm trying to think of a way to translate it other than:
Live with a wooden house. (sounds like the house is your roommate)
Spend your life with a wooden house. (a bit weird)
Experience a wooden house. (too different from the original)

I have a sneaking suspicion that the copywriter was aiming for a variation on the construction ADVERB + と + VERB, for example, ゆうゆうと暮{く}らす or ぎりぎりで生活{せいかつ}する. This would make the meaning something resembling "Live, wood-house-ly" or "Live in a generally wooden-house-ish fashion."

Any ideas?

P.S. The best part was that the actual attempt at translation was "Feel Wood." I took a photo (of course).

  • (This is something in which I'm not confident so I am just commenting but) Perhaps it is "quotative と" as in 「右へ」とつづく? [I was taught と has 4 fundamental uses which are equivalent to: &, with, "when" as in AするとB, and 「 」 but if someone can contradict /explain this I am all ears.]
    – Tim
    Mar 26, 2013 at 15:52
  • Yes, that's exactly where I was going with the adverb idea! The only problem with it is I can't think of any other situations where there's a noun or noun phrase before と+VERB. Usually it's an onomatopoetic word like ガンとする or のんびりとする or a spoken phrase (as in your example). Maybe a native speaker could offer some insight as to whether it's possible to 木の家と暮らす or not.
    – sebu
    Mar 26, 2013 at 15:59
  • Agreed. (My example includes へと which is another interesting variation I should like to ask sometime.)
    – Tim
    Mar 26, 2013 at 16:06
  • 3
    I think「木の家と暮らす」is like「木の家(=木でできた家)と、一緒に暮らす/(これからずっと何年も)ともに暮らしていく/(家族のように大切に)そばに感じながら、暮らす。」 I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it but we often say 「木(or木材)は生きている」wood.co.jp/kinokokoro/no11/inochi.htm
    – user1016
    Mar 26, 2013 at 16:40
  • If it's not clear from my answer I basically (tried to) say the same thing as Chocolate.
    – ssb
    Mar 27, 2013 at 1:22

1 Answer 1


There's no adverbial trickery going on here. Indeed in a normal sentence it would be something like 木の家で暮らそう, or "let's live in a wood house." Taken at face value it may seem like it's just saying that you should live with a tree or 'with' a wood house (like a tree as a roommate, as you say), but this is advertisement speak. The effect of saying it this way is ultimately emphasis on the woodiness of the house. It is telling us to live with the wood house in a deeper sense of the word. My opinion would be that saying と evokes more of an image of living 'naturally' with your house rather than living in it, that is, with natural materials rather than something synthetic. I don't know how many would share that opinion, so take it for what it is! Chocolate's comment above seems to corroborate this, too. It's a way of placing value on wood, on trees, and invoking a consciousness of that in your daily life.

But at any rate it's not using 木の家 as an adverb. It just wouldn't really make sense that way, or at least it makes less sense than the alternative interpretation. If all else fails defer to Occam's Razor here.

The translation question is probably off topic considering there isn't going to be a right answer for it. The idiosyncratic nature of the phrase makes a translation that captures the nuances in the same way impossible and would probably be left up to a marketing team rather than translators to choose an alternative (I guess, anyway!). Because there is no solid equivalent every situation will require a different translation that captures that sentence's unique meaning.

  • Thanks for the reply! It's a pickle, isn't it... I guess the adverb idea sounds odd, but the fact that they wrote "Feel Wood" as a translation makes me wonder. Maybe the reason for と was to express "with" in the sense of "Live with a wood house (in your life)" i.e. "make it a part of your life". I'm hoping we can make a good translation instead of 'finding the right one.' That's the fun part of these weird, idiosyncratic Japanese expressions.
    – sebu
    Mar 26, 2013 at 15:50
  • 99% sure the reason they used "feel wood" is because a Japanese person translated it with absolutely no native guidance. It's a marketing phrase, and as is the case is not going to translate well literally (try translating 'got milk?' in to Japanese (牛乳ある?) and you won't get the same nuance at all). Feel wood is just awful though.
    – jmac
    Mar 27, 2013 at 3:55
  • Exactly, @jmac – I was trying to guess what they were trying to convey. The fact that they used "feel", although awful in English, suggests they wanted to express something sensory/emotional in the original Japanese.
    – sebu
    Mar 27, 2013 at 5:20
  • 2
    Are you sure "feel wood" is an attempted translation? It looks like its purpose is to sound cool to Japanese people, and it might not even be intended to convey the same thing.
    – user1478
    Mar 27, 2013 at 5:31
  • 1
    The issue is cultural, not linguistic. The point is that they have this concept of a "feeling" of living with your house / wood being alive which doesn't exist in the same way in English. It would be like translating "Wood houses age like wine" in to Japanese, which is going to cause all sorts of problems because of a (general) unfamiliarity of the concept of wine aging well. They translated the meaning while ignoring the cultural hurdles.
    – jmac
    Mar 27, 2013 at 5:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .