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Particles: が (ga)
An indication of a location
The Japanese particle が (ga) marks the subject of a sentence when it is first introduced to a conversation. が (ga) can also be used for joining sentences, such as the word “but”. However, the Japanese particle が (ga) is technically a different word when using it.
The particle が (ga), in addition, can also be used as a way to emphasize the subject or distinguish the subject from others and can be used as “but” as well.
Although は (wa) is used when question words such as who and where comes after the topic in the sentence. However, the particle が (ga) is used when a question word is the subject or part is a subject in a sentence.
Example白い犬が好きです。Shiroi inu ga suki desu.I like white dogs (as opposed to liking other colors of dogs). この駅で降りたのですが…Kono eki de oritani no desu ga…I want to go see a movie, but…
An indication of but/and
In addition, the Japanese particle が (ga) at the end of the sentence or phrase, means “but” or in some cases “and.” Furthermore, the usage of が (ga) as “but” can be used in the same way as “but” in English, and can also be used when wanting to be cautious.
Example教授と話したいのですが…Kyoju to hanashitai no desu ga…I want to talk to the professor, and/but…
Japanese Particles : から (kara)
An indication of “from”
When the particle から (kara) is placed directly after a noun or a certain time phrase, it usually means “from”.
Exampleアメリカから来ました。Amerika kara kimashita.I come from America. 来週からからゴールデンウイークです。Raishu kara go-ruden ui-ku desu.From (Starting) next week, it is Golden Week.
An indication of “because”
If the Japanese particle から (kara) is placed directly after a verb or an i-adjective*, it usually means “because.” Although から (kara) can also be used as “because” with na-adjectives⁑ and nouns, this can only occur if it is paired with endings です (desu / formal) or だ (da / casual). In addition, から (kara) can be used at the end of a sentence rather than in the middle. As long as から (kara) is still at the end of the phrase, it will be the “reason” part of the sentence.
Example今日は休日ですから、学校に行きません。Kyou wa kyujitsu desu kara, gakkou ni ikimasen.Because today is a holiday, I will not go to school. 静かにしてください。図書館の中にいますから。Shizuka ni shite kudasai. Toshokan no naka ni imasu kara.Please be quiet. Since you are inside the library.
An indication of “after”
When the verb comes before the particle から (kara) and is a -Te form⁂ verb, から (kara) means “after” rather than “because”
Example勉強してから、出かけます。Benkyou shite kara, dekake masu.After studying, I will go out.
*i-adjectives: Always ends with “i”. ⁑na-adjective: Conjugation is same as a noun. ⁂-Te form: a verb with a modified ending
Japanese Particles : まで (made)
Period of time
In the case of the particle まで (made), it described a period of time. In general, the Japanese particle まで (made) was defined as “until”. Grammatically, it is usually attached to the end of nouns and dictionary form of verbs.
Exampleこの授業は１時半から３時までです。Kono jyugyo wa ichi ji han kara san ji made desu.This class is from 1:30 until 3:00. 来年の三月まで教授の授業を受けます。Rainen no sangatsu made jyugyo o ukemasu.I’ll take the professor’s seminar until March of next year.
Point in time
In the case of the particle に (ni) is attached to the Japanese particle まで (made), which indicates the end of an exact point in time. For example, as in “before” or “by the time of”. Simply, the particle まで (made), in this case, was used for phrases mainly of “until I do something”.
Exampleレポートを明日までに提出しなくちゃいけません。Repo-to o ashita made ni teishutsu shinakucha ikemasen.I have to submit the homework by tomorrow. 六時までに電話します。Rokuj made ni denwa shimasu.I will call you by 6 o’clock.
Indication of a location
In this case, the Japanese particle まで (made) is used to express the time or period related to a location. Usually, the Japanese particle まで (made) was defined as “by”.
Example明日までにこのレポートを書かなければならないのです。Ashita made ni kono repo-to o kakanaikereba naranai no desu.I have to write this report by tomorrow. 東京から京都まではどのぐらい掛かりますか。Tokyo kara Kyoto made wa dono gurai kakarimasuka?How long does it take from Tokyo to Kyoto?
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Japanese Particle Ga (が) For Introduction
There are many meanings for Japanese particle ga (が) and one of the common meanings is “but” which is used as a connector of 2 sentences.
In the following example, it is used to connect a positive-meaning phrase and a negative-meaning word into one sentence.
あのレストランの料理はおいしいです が、高いです。ano resutoran no ryouri wa oishii desu ga, takai desu
Meaning: The food of that restaurant is delicious but expensive.
In this lesson, you will see that the particle ga can be used as an introduction in the first sentence without the meaning of “but”. Sometimes it’s also known as ” Introduction のが“.
Let’s see the sentence pattern on how to use が in this case…
(Introduction) Sentence1 が Sentence2
In this sentence pattern, Sentence2 is always what you want to bring out. Sentence1 is just a kind of introduction.
When you are asking a question to someone, normally you will say “excuse me” first, then you ask the question.
In Japanese, you will normally put すみませんが (sumimasen ga) as some kind of introduction before you ask the actual question.
Similarly, you want to ask “how much is this?” to the shop assistance, but you will first say すみませんが (sumimasen ga) as some kind of introduction before you ask the actual question.
More examples on Japanese particle ga が for Introduction
In example 1, you want to say the sushi you have eaten was very delicious.
Before that, you started the sentence by saying you ate the sushi last night – ゆうべすしを食べましたが (yuube sushi wo tabemashita ga). It’s kind of an introduction sentence before you bring out the theme that the sushi was very delicious.
In example 2, your main aim is to ask your teacher to teach you something.
Before that, you started with an introduction sentence that you don’t understand about a portion – ここが分からないのですが (koko ga wakaranai no desu ga), and then continue to ask your teacher to teach you.
You will use this sentence pattern of Japanese particle ga frequently over the phone.
In example 3, when talking over the phone, you first introduce yourself before asking for the person you want to talk to.
In this example, you will say your name is Tanaka (for example) – 田中ですが (tanaka desu ga), then you ask for Mr Yamada – 山田さんはいますか (yamada san wa imasu ka).
In example 4, your want to know “what is that tall building?” – あれは何ですか (are wa nan desu ka).
But before you make the question, you describe what building you are talking about ending with the particle ga – あそこに高いビルが見えますが (asoko ni takai biru ga miemasu ga).
It works as an introduction before you ask the actual question.
In summary, the particle ga が here works as an introduction before you bring out the actual thing you want to say. The native Japanese used this very frequently in their daily dialogues.
Basic Lesson 11: Basic Particles.
Basic Lesson 14: Particles Change in Negative Answers.
Basic Lesson 15: Particles ka (か) and mo (も) with Question Words.
Basic Lesson 16: Particles to (と) and de (で).
Basic Lesson 24: Particles wa (は) and ga (が).
Basic Lesson 27: Particle to (と) for quotation.
Lesson 18: Particle de (で) with more functions.
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The Difference Between The Particles “Wa” And “Ga”
You’ve probably asked about it, maybe even compared a whole range of sentences trying to figure it out, but with no satisfying conclusion.
And do you know why you can never get a simple, straightforward answer?
Because it’s the wrong question to ask.
It does have an answer, but it doesn’t really tell the whole story.
Of course, there’s no way you could have known this. I certainly didn’t, and for a long time had the same trouble finding an answer that really made sense to me.
One day, however, when I was studying at a university in Japan, one of my teachers started talking about these things called “kaku joshi”, or “case-marking particles”. These are a specific subset of particles that, for the most part, are the main particles we use in everyday Japanese – “de” 「で」, “wo” 「を」, “ni” 「に」, and a few others.
As she explained more, it became obvious why I could never get a clear answer. The problem was that instead of trying to figure out the difference between “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」, I should have been asking…
We know it defines the topic, but what exactly is that? And why do we use it in some situations but not others?
Understand this, and the choice between “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」 becomes considerably easier, while also giving you a deeper understanding of the mindset behind the Japanese language as a whole.
Hopefully this article will help you see “wa” 「は」 for what it really is, and as a result, be better equipped to choose between “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」.
Disclaimer: I said easier. Not easy. Not crystal clear, never have to think about it again, but easier. The grammatical concept of the “topic” – which is what “wa” 「は」 defines – is completely foreign to English (and most other languages for that matter), so of course it will take time and effort to fully understand. This article aims simply to remove a large portion of the confusion around it. It’s also somewhat generalised to make it more digestible.
The difference between “wa” 「は」 and the other major particles
What is so special about “wa” 「は」?
The “kaku joshi”, or case-marking particles, I referred to earlier are very simple in terms of their function – they tell us how the word or phrase before them relates directly to the action described by the verb.
And of particular note:
“wa” 「は」 marks the topic of the sentence; it tells us what we are talking about.
Let’s put that side-by-side for clarity:
Unlike the other major particles, “wa” 「は」 does not directly relate to the action in any specific way. Instead, it tells us information about the sentence (or, more accurately, the clause) in which it is used.
The reason “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」 are so easily confused is because in a lot of cases, the sentence is talking about the person performing the action, so the topic and the subject are the same person (or animal or thing).
Let’s look at a really simple example:
Taro bought a book.
Here, the person who bought the book is Taro, so Taro is the subject of the verb “bought”.
At the same time, the sentence as a whole is talking about Taro, so in Japanese, the topic of the sentence would also be Taro.
As such, we could use either “wa” 「は」 or “ga” 「が」 to define Taro’s role:
Both of these sentences describe the exact same activity, and are also both 100% grammatically correct. They are, however, quite different.
To understand the difference, we need to understand the true purpose of “wa” 「は」.
The true purpose of “wa” 「は」
As we know, “wa” 「は」 defines the topic. More specifically:
“wa” 「は」 can be used in place of, or together with, other particles (as well as independently) to define the word or phrase before it as the topic of the sentence or clause.
The topic is basically the thing that we are talking about in the sentence.
But why do we ever need to define a topic, when it doesn’t even exist in most other languages?
Put simply: For clarification.
What does that mean?
Consider that when communicating in any language, there are two main parts:
We talk or write to communicate new information to others, and we do so with a certain amount of already understood or implied background information, or context.
Sometimes there is a lot of context, sometimes there is none, but it looks something like this:
Next to it is the new or important information we are trying to communicate. In any given sentence, this new/important information only relates to whatever is inside the context bubble.
We can demonstrate this with a simple conversation in English:
Paul: What did Taro do today? Susan: He bought a book.
As he asks the question, though, the information in his question gets added to the context bubble for their conversation, which in this case is the person being spoken about (Taro) and the relevant time period (today).
This means that when it comes time for Susan to answer the question, she can just say “he” instead of “Taro”, since the context bubble tells us who “he” is. Similarly, she doesn’t need to say “today” in order for the timing of the action she’s describing to be understood. The constantly evolving context bubble saves us from repeating ourselves.
The same is true in Japanese, but with one small difference. Let’s take a look:
The difference is that in Japanese, instead of using “he”, the context allows Susan to not mention Taro in her answer at all.
In both languages, the information inside the context bubble doesn’t generally need to be repeated for the message to be understood.
In English, however, certain parts of the sentence need to be included for the sentence to be grammatical.
In this case, “he” is one of those words. It is necessary because English sentences must include a subject (the person/thing doing the action) to be grammatically complete. Depending on the verb, they sometimes also need an object (the thing the action was done to).
There are, however, no such requirements in Japanese, so we can just completely leave out the things that are already known.
This is part of the reason that pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, they, etc.) are far more common in English than in Japanese. We need them in English to form complete sentences without repeating the same information over and over again (imagine a five minute conversation in which Paul and Susan have to keep referring to Taro by name, instead of just as “he/him”…). In Japanese, however, these words simply aren’t needed.
Recall what we said earlier – that “wa” 「は」 clarifies the context for the rest of the actions in the sentence.
The context bubble contains the background information we need to understand what we are talking about. The topic is basically just background information that needs clarifying.
In effect, the topic is the context bubble, or at least part of it. It gives us a way to explicitly state what we are talking about.
We would do this in situations where we start talking about something new, or when the context isn’t clear or has changed, either partially or completely.
The best way to illustrate this is to compare the different ways that we can communicate the same idea.
Comparing our options
You’ll recall that for our example, “Taro bought a book”, we had these two options:
As we have seen, we actually also have another option that can be used in certain situations:
The question is, how do we choose between these three alternatives? Let’s look at each one.
The ‘nothing’ option
We already know that we can use the last option (which doesn’t mention Taro at all) when the context makes it obvious that we are talking about Taro, such as when answering a question that is specifically about Taro. This should be relatively straightforward, if not always easy.
“Ga” 「が」 is basically the other extreme. It describes the full action literally, with the subject, object and verb defined in full.
This means that instead of using the context bubble, Taro is included in the new/important information part of the sentence.
Importantly, since it places him in the new/important information part, marking Taro with “ga” 「が」 actually emphasises that Taro bought the book. Not someone else, but Taro.
We might want to emphasise Taro in a situation like this:
In this case, B needs to emphasise “Taro” because that is the answer to the question being asked. Taro is new and important information.
This is also why “dare” should be followed by “ga” 「が」 in the question. The ‘who’ is the information being sought, so of course it is important.
Quick note about this example
After A’s question, the book has, of course, moved into the context bubble…
B: Taro bought it.
B: tarō ga kaimashita.
B: たろう が かいました。
Notice that in English, “the book” is replaced by “it”. The book has moved into the context bubble in English too, but because the English sentence would not be grammatically complete without an object (the thing that was bought), “it” is used to plug the hole.
The inclusion of the verb itself is a bit more optional. Complete sentences need verbs, so whether or not he includes “kaimashita” would depend on whether or not he needs to answer in a complete sentence. If Taro were speaking with someone familiar, for example, he could avoid using a complete sentence answer and simply reply:
B: tarō (ga)
B: たろう (が)
“Ga” 「が」 is optional here, and can help to emphasise that Taro is the person who performed the act of buying the book. It’s not usually necessary, however, when the verb is omitted and it is clear what role Taro played in the action being described (ie. it’s obvious that Taro bought the book, and wasn’t, for example the thing being bought).
“Wa” 「は」 is somewhere in between the other two.
Where the ‘nothing’ option relies entirely on the context bubble, and the ‘ga’ 「が」 option doesn’t use the context bubble at all…
it is not 100% obvious from context who or what is being talked about, AND
the ‘who’ or ‘what’ is not the important information trying to be communicated.
In the sentence…
…”wa” 「は」 is effectively used to define Taro as the topic, so instead of putting him in the new/important information part of the sentence, we are adding him to the context bubble:
Taro is no longer emphasised, and we are basically putting him on the same level as background contextual information. We only mention Taro at all to clarify that he is the person we are talking about.
In effect, “wa” 「は」 shifts the emphasis of the sentence away from the word or phrase it is marking, and onto the information that follows.
Instead of drawing a direct line between Taro and the act of buying, we are referring to Taro more generally. This is a bit like saying, “Speaking of Taro, …” or, “As for Taro, …”, and then describing what he did, as opposed to just directly saying, “Taro did this”.
We could therefore say that “tarō wa hon wo kaimashita” is roughly equivalent to:
Speaking of Taro, bought a book.
Why do the Japanese phrase it in this more generalised way? Because that’s just how Japanese is. It is generally a vague and indirect language, and, as we’ve seen, even information that plays a major part in the action being described can be omitted entirely if it’s understood from context – not even a pronoun is required.
Although communication in Japanese may be vague, it’s important to note that what is actually communicated (eg. Taro bought a book) is usually just as specific as it might be in English. It is only the words used to describe it that tend to be more vague. As such, important information is often expressed in generic-sounding terms (eg. bought a book), with any other details just being implied by context. Then, if the existing context alone isn’t quite enough, “wa” 「は」 is used to clarify it.
Now of course, “wa” 「は」 is not only used at the beginning of conversations to define who we are talking about. It is used throughout conversations in many different ways to redefine and clarify the context bubble.
We can see this if we modify our example a little:
Speaking to Taro and Eriko A: What did you do today?
A: kyō nani wo shimashita ka?
A: きょう、 なに を しました か？
Here, if Taro were to simply say “hon wo kaimashita”, it would imply that both Taro and Eriko bought a book. Because A’s question doesn’t mention anyone specific, the fact that she is talking to Taro and Eriko implies that she is asking about both of them. In effect, Taro and Eriko are both put inside the context bubble implicitly as the question is asked:
We could say that his answer is roughly equivalent to:
Taro: As for me, bought a book.
Taro clarifies that he is speaking about himself, then conveys the important information.
We can see that Eriko then does the exact same thing.
To be clear, if Taro (or Eriko for that matter) were to use “ga” 「が」 in this situation, he would actually be emphasising that he did the act of buying, since this would place him in the new/important information part:
To recap, we have three main ways to describe a simple action that somebody did:
We can say that:
Neither “wa” 「は」 nor “ga” 「が」 is needed if it is obvious who/what we’re talking about
“Ga” 「が」 emphasises the information that comes before it as new or important information
“Wa” 「は」 helps clarify who/what we are talking about, shifting the emphasis to the information that comes after it
Now let’s look at some of the most common situations where “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」 can be particularly confusing.
Sentences with both “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」
Most non-complex sentences (ie. those without sub-clauses) will only contain either “wa” 「は」 or “ga” 「が」, but there are some that contain both. It is these sentences where the context bubble should start to be particularly handy.
“Wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」 usually appear together when we want to communicate information about someone or something, but do so by referring to them in relation to someone or something else.
One common situation is when we describe body parts; that is, we want to describe the body part, but in relation to the person to whom the body part belongs.
Let’s look at an example of this, starting with a sentence where the verb isn’t “desu” 「です」:
Let’s break this down, working backwards.
First, let’s acknowledge the most important element in the sentence, our verb, “nobimashita”, meaning “grew longer” or “lengthened”.
Next, let’s remember what “ga” 「が」 does:
“ga” 「が」 tells us the subject of the verb; that is, who or what performs the action.
So, who or what is it that grew longer? The thing marked by “ga” 「が」 → “ashi”.
Just using what we have so far, our sentence is:
“wa” 「は」 is used to clarify or add to the context bubble.
As for him, the legs grew longer.
This is obviously very different to English, where we would usually define the legs as being owned by him (his legs), and describe the action that his legs are performing (growing longer).
You can do this in Japanese too, so it’s not wrong to say, for example:
His legs grew longer.
kare no ashi wa nobimashita.
かれ の あし は のびました。
This, however, isn’t a very natural way to express this kind of idea.
One thing I would like to point out here is that there is a major difference between this sentence and our example with Taro. The difference is:
Taro performed the act of buying the book.
“He” did not perform the act of growing longer.
Yet, both were marked by “wa” 「は」 (at least in some cases).
The reason this is possible is because all “wa” 「は」 did was tell us who the sentences were about. The important information was something else related to these people. In one case (Taro’s), it was what that person did. In the other, it was an action done by something else (his legs).
Now let’s see how this works with sentences that use “desu” 「です」, both for body parts and various other things.
Using “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」 when the main verb is “desu” 「です」
“Desu” 「です」 may be a special verb, but in terms of “wa” 「は」 and our context bubble, nothing really changes.
Let’s look at an example sentence:
We can break this down the same way we did a moment ago, except we need to clarify something first.
With adjectives, such as “nagai”, we should look at this as being grouped together with “desu” 「です」 to form a single phrase meaning “being long” or “is long”. If we do this, we end up with a phrase that is comparable to other verbs, such as “nobimasu” (grow longer) from our previous example.
If we put them side-by-side…
This is simplifying things a little, but in order to make the highly irregular verb “desu” 「です」 somewhat comparable with every other verb, we will group “nagai” and “desu” 「です」 together to be a single phrase that describes a certain act of being.
Who or what is it that is “being long”? The thing marked by “ga” 「が」 → “ashi”.
As for him, the legs are long.
Now, let’s apply this approach to a few more confusing situations.
Coming from English, “suki” (like), “kirai” (hate) and “hoshī” (want) probably take some getting used to because they are adjectives, while their English equivalents are verbs. They are also often used in sentences that include both “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」, so let’s see how we can apply the context bubble to make better sense of them.
If we break this down as we did before, we can see that the same rules apply.
Who or what is performing that action? The word or phrase before “ga” 「が」, which is “sushi” 「すし」.
Our sentence so far is therefore:
Sushi is liked.
sushi ga suki desu.
すし が すき です。
Lastly, who or what are we talking about? The word or phrase before “wa” 「は」, which is “watashi”.
I hate natto.
watashi wa nattō ga kirai desu.
わたし は なっとう が きらい です。
Again, this is obviously very different from English, where these ideas are expressed as actions that we perform – we like, hate and want things in the same way that we do things. Hopefully, though, you can see how this is entirely consistent with other Japanese expressions, and that the roles of “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」 are clear and consistent. They just take a bit (or a lot) of getting used to.
Bonus: The ~tai ～たい form of verbs
Verbs with the ~tai ～たい ending, such as “tabetai”, also work the same way as these adjectives because that’s exactly what they are. Let’s see an example:
I want to eat sushi.
Here’s what that looks like:
The verbs “arimasu” 「あります」 and “imasu” 「います」 can also be a little tricky, as they share similarities with “desu” 「です」 as well as all other verbs. We can, however, apply all of the principles we’ve covered so far in the same way.
Let’s start by looking at an example where “arimasu” 「あります」 is used just like any other verb that isn’t “desu” 「です」:
The first thing we need to make absolutely clear – just to be on the safe side – is that even though the English translation here uses the verb “is” or “to be”, it has a distinctly different meaning to when “desu” 「です」 was used.
While “desu” 「です」 is essentially used to equate two things as being the same (A = B), “arimasu” 「あります」 describes existence (as does “imasu” 「います」).
As such, we could kind of translate the above as, “Her bag exists in the classroom”. We could not, however, change our “desu” 「です」 example sentence to “His legs exist long”. These “to be” words mean very different things.
Now, if we put this “arimasu” 「あります」 sentence side-by-side with our example from earlier, we can see that they are very similar:
tarō wa hon wo kaimashita.
kanojo no kaban wa kyōshitsu ni arimasu.
かのじょ の カバン は きょうしつ に あります。
Who/what is performing the action in each of these sentences?
As these are the person/thing performing the action, they could be marked by “ga” 「が」, but as we have learned, this would emphasise them too much.
Instead, we use “wa” 「は」 to define them as our topic, essentially demoting them to the context bubble. Then, using that context bubble, we describe the important information that we actually want to communicate:
However, “arimasu” 「あります」 and “imasu” 「います」 are also sometimes used in sentences that include both “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」, and this is where it can get confusing.
Fortunately, our same rules apply – “wa” 「は」 defines/clarifies the context bubble, and “ga” 「が」 defines the thing that is performing the act of “being” (or, if it’s easier, “existing”).
This reflects a broader cultural and linguistic difference that actually shapes the way we view the world. Generally:
In English, people do and own things.
In Japanese, things happen and exist.
I’ve often thought about the chicken-and-egg situation that this represents – did the Japanese culture of indirectness evolve due to the structure of the language, or did the language evolve to make vague expression easier? I suspect the answer is both, as ultimately, language is culture.
Here are the main lessons I hope you can take from this article:
Particles like “ga” 「が」, “wo” 「を」 and “ni” 「に」 define how certain things relate to the action, while “wa” 「は」 tells us what is being talked about in the sentence
There are two main things that determine the meaning of what we communicate – context, and new/important information
Marking something as the subject using “ga” classifies it as new/important information, giving it emphasis
“wa” 「は」 allows us to redefine or clarify some or all of the context before stating new/important information
“wa” 「は」 shifts the emphasis of the sentence away from the word or phrase it is marking, and onto the information the follows
Of course, this doesn’t cover absolutely everything. Entire books have been written about “wa” and “ga” 「は」 and 「が」 simply because there are so many different variables at play in any given situation.
Hopefully, though, you now have a better understanding of the difference between these two essential particles, and will be able to apply these lessons much more widely than I have here.
Gà Chọi “Made In.. Thổ Hà”
(BGĐT) – Thổ Hà, xã Vân Hà, huyện Việt Yên (Bắc Giang) được biết đến với nhiều nghề truyền thống nức tiếng gần xa. Nơi đây cũng lưu truyền không ít câu chuyện kỳ thú về thú chơi chọi gà. Thậm chí, nghề nuôi gà chọi ở Thổ Hà nổi danh không chỉ trong nước mà còn ra cả nước ngoài.
Khách du lịch nghe giới thiệu về gà chọi Thổ Hà. Ảnh: Trần Đức
Nhiều người cho rằng, do nằm ở vị trí đắc địa, thế đất long chầu hổ phục vốn là điểm giao thương đông đúc trên bến, dưới thuyền ngày xưa nên Thổ Hà là vùng đất có nhiều “kỳ kê” được dân chơi gà khắp nơi tìm mua cho bằng được. Cho đến nay, người dân Thổ Hà vẫn nhắc đến truyền kỳ về một chiến kê “bách chiến bách thắng”.
Vào thập kỷ 60 của thế kỷ XX, Thổ Hà có một con gà tên “Mây” được mệnh danh là “Quỷ kê” của ông Trịnh Xuân Lác ở xóm 4 một thời làm mưa, làm gió khắp ba miền. Con gà này có ưu điểm chỉ cần hai “hồ” là hạ gục đối thủ. Với những cú đá hầu dọc nguy hiểm, nó đã được đưa sang Thái Lan thi đấu với con gà nổi tiếng của nước này và chiến thắng sau một ngày đêm ròng rã chiến đấu không nghỉ.
Minh chứng cho đam mê nuôi và chơi gà chọi ở Thổ Hà là một nửa trong số 800 hộ trong làng có thú nuôi gà chọi. Gà chọi Thổ Hà được ca ngợi như một “dũng tướng” với: Mình công, mào cốc, cánh vỏ chai/Đùi dài, quản ngắn chẳng sợ ai. Những miếng đánh của gà chiến Thổ Hà danh chấn đến nay phải kể tới đá hầu dọc, có thể giết chết đối thủ chỉ sau vài miếng. Sau đó mới đến đá kiềng (đá vào hai đầu cánh gà), rồi đá me (đá vào hai mang tai), đánh dọc (đánh thẳng vào đầu gà)…
Theo những người chơi gà “có nghề” thì để tạo được một “dũng tướng”, việc then chốt là phải biết chọn dòng. Gà mẹ phải được xuất thân từ dòng gà bền bỉ, có sức chịu đòn tốt, gan dạ và nhất là không có thói xấu “trả độ”. Còn gà bố phải thuộc dòng có chân đá hiểm hóc, nhiều đòn thế hay.
Để chọn được một chú gà có tiềm chất cũng rất công phu. Anh Nguyễn Đức Quy, người nuôi gà có tiếng ở làng cho biết, trong một bầy gà vừa nở, thường người ta sẽ chọn con nào tách bầy đi kiếm ăn một mình hoặc đêm về không rúc vào nách mẹ ngủ mà lại nằm ngủ đối mặt với mẹ (gọi là gà chầu mỏ). Còn nếu chọn gà không do mình tự “đúc” thì dựa trên những đặc điểm căn bản như: Cựa nhật nguyệt (cựa đen, cựa trắng), gà lưỡng nhãn (2 con mắt khác màu), gà có bớt trong lưỡi hoặc gà tử mị (tối nằm ngủ sải chân, sải cánh, duỗi cổ như chết)…
Thú chơi chọi gà ở Thổ Hà được ví von là nghề “làm chơi ăn thật”. Bởi đã nhiều người bán được gà với giá 45 triệu đồng/con, còn từ 15 tới 20 triệu đồng chẳng phải chuyện hiếm. Cá biệt có con được dân mê gà trả tới 3.500 USD như con “Hắc kê” của gia đình anh Hoan ở xóm 3. Để duy trì nét đẹp của nghề chơi này, hàng năm hội làng Thổ Hà mở vào ngày 21, 22 tháng Giêng luôn có sới chọi để các chú gà chiến tung hoành, cọ xát.
Đến làng Thổ Hà những ngày này người ta dễ gặp từng nhóm người đứng vòng trong vòng ngoài dưới tán cây lớn hay ở sân đình chứng kiến những trận đá gà đang vào hồi gay cấn. Rồi họ bàn luận, tán thưởng mỗi khi gà ra miếng đánh hay. “Tiếng lành đồn xa”, người từ Hà Nội, Hải Phòng, Nam Định tìm lên, từ Quảng Ninh, Lạng Sơn tìm về xin đấu và mua bằng được những con gà quý. Từ một thú chơi giải trí dân dã, người dân Thổ Hà đã tạo nên một “thương hiệu” mới cho mình. Những chú gà chọi “Made in.. Thổ Hà” đã được nhiều nơi biết đến như một mặt hàng có giá trị cao.
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