馬子にも衣装 (mago nimo isho) “The clothes make the man”

[Shota and Takuya, who are friends from high school, are meeting for the first time since graduation. They entered different universities this spring.]

翔太(しょうた):久(ひさ)しぶり。大学(だ いがく)はどうだ?慣(な)れたか?
Shota: It’s been a while. How is college life?
Are you used to it now?

拓也(たくや):うん、だいぶ。そっちはどうだ い? 五月病 (ごがつびょう)になってないか? Takuya: Yeah, I got used to it. How about you? Are you feeling any “May blues”?

翔太:大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)さ。ゴールデンウ イークはどこか行った?
Shota: I’m OK. How did you spend your
Golden Week holidays?

拓也:特(とく)に。買(か)い物(もの)に出
(で)かけたぐらい、服(ふく)とか買いに。 Takuya: Nothing special. I just did some shop- ping clothes and stuff.

翔太:お前(まえ)おしゃれだからな。
Shota: You always care a lot about clothes.

拓也:どちらかと言(い)うと、お前が無頓着
(むとんちゃく)すぎるんじゃない。
Takuya: Rather, you don’t care enough about
them.

翔太:だって、めんどくさいんだもん。高校(こ うこう)の時(とき)はよかったな。毎日(まい にち)同(おな)じ制服(せいふく)着(き)て ればよかったから、楽だったよ。
Shota: I just can’t be bothered. I miss my high school days, when I could wear the same school uniform every day. That was quite easy.

拓也:そんなことだから、いつまでたっても彼女
(かのじょ)できないんだよ。
Takuya: That’s why it takes you forever to get
a girlfriend.

翔太:関係(かんけい)ないと思(おも)うけ ど。
Shota: I don’t think that’s the reason.
拓也:あるよ。ほら、「馬子(まご)にも衣装
(いしょう)」って言うだろ。
Takuya: It is. You know, "fine feathers make a
fine bird” as the proverb goes.

Notes
★五月病 (gogatsu-byo): Some people feel a bit depressed in May due to fatigue from a new life that started in April. This is called gogatsu-byo, or May blues, in Japan. This is not unlike how some people suffer from the January blues in the West.
★制服 (seifuku): School uniforms. In Japan, junior and senior high school students are required to wear
school uniforms assigned by their schools.
★馬子にも衣装 (mago nimo isho): A Japanese saying, meaning anyone can look good if well-dressed.
Literal translation is “even a horse driver looks good in fine clothes.” English equivalents are “the clothes make the man”, “fine feathers make fine birds” etc.

Natural Expressions

特に(~ない)toku ni (~nai) “nothing special” / “not really”
Example
「今日の予定は?」
「特にないけど。なんで?」
"Kyo no yotei wa?”
“Toku ni nai kedo. Nan de?” “What are you doing today?” “Nothing much. Why?”

どちらかと言うと dochiraka to iu to “rather”
Example
「ラーメン食べにいかない?」

「どちらかと言うと、そばがいいな。あっさりしてるか ら。」
“Rāmen tabe ni ika nai?”
“Dochiraka to iu to soba ga ii na. Assari siteru kara.” “Why don’t we go for ramen?”
“Rather, let’s have soba; it’s much lighter.”

いつまでたっても(~ない) itsu made tatte mo (~
nai)
“take forever to~” / “never~”
Example
いつまでたっても決心がつかない。
Itsu made tatte mo kesshin ga tsuka nai. I can never make up my mind.