第309課: Centering: ～を中心に（して）
The noun 中心 means “center,” and it may refer to the “center” of concrete and abstract entities. It is also most notably used in the grammar pattern ～を中心に in which it translates as “with a focus on.”
The Noun 中心
As stated above, 中心 is at its simplest understanding a basic noun that means “center.” This meaning applies in various situations including the center of physical objects, the center of abstract concepts, the center of something in geometric terms, or even the center of someone’s heart/mind.
The school that I go to is in the center of town.
At its center, Taro-kun and Shinta-kun are standing off.
When I think of the center of Japanese culture, I’d say it’s Kansai.
I live in the center part of Kamaishi City.
The pattern that 中心 is seen the most is “N +～を中心に（して）”, which may translate to “with a focus on/focused on/centered on/primarily/focused around X (N).” You may also see the pattern rendered as ～を中心として. Its nuancing can be summarized as follows:
- With X (the noun) at the center of said scope, A (the speaker) performs Y or Y occurs without the aid of A but with X at the center.
- X (the noun) is the most important thing to take note of, and Y is being carried out under that circumstance.
To directly modify another noun, you must modify the pattern to～を中心[に・と]した. The choice between に and と is one of formality and tone with the latter being more formal with a succinct tone to it.
I would like to travel abroad, primarily focusing on Europe.
Shops are lined up and centered around the train station.
Let’s discuss overseas expansion as the center topic at today’s meeting.
A suspension of electrical power occurred primarily in the Kanto Region.
Today, I will have (everyone here) debate with next year’s budget as the focus.
It’s best to switch to a diet focused around fish and vegetables.
From the onset, England has developed with manufacturing as its focal point.
That country had achieved advancement with arms trade as its focal point.
Please make it have an atmosphere in which you have them conversating with this character placed in the centerfold.
These “dash roads” had a number of split-offs that went east, south, and west with Kofu at its center; therefore, every adjacent province – for instance, Hojo, Tokugawa, Oda, and Saito – never had a time they were not having diplomacy with him, not fighting with him, not quarreling with him – going on day in and day out.
From 『上杉謙信』by 吉川栄治.
In the midst of repeated dialogues centered around working parents, currently as of January 2023, our company’s paternity leave percentage is at 45%, growing to an average days taken to 110 days.
West Japan, with Kyushu at the center of it all, has been hit everywhere with heavy rain since last due to a seasonal rain front.
Grammar Note: When directly modifying another noun, the する may stay in the non-past. This is because the use of した is not meant to be interpreted as past tense but as “continuous state” or even an “affirmation of the current state.”
Identical in meaning, the use of the verb おく helps add the meaning of “to put/place,” emphasizing how X is being put at the centerfold of action Y.
I would like for us to proceed with our review with that issue at the center.
By earnestly engaging with people at the center (of what we do), new possibilities will surely open up towards the future.
A paraphrase that will often show up in explanations on this grammar point is ～を基点［に・と］して, but this is not quite the same thing as ～を中心［に・と］して even in the literal sense. Whereas 中心 is the literal center of activity, 基点 is a base point chosen as the reference.
I will investigate supermarkets within a 10-kilometer radius with the train station as my base point.
The Noun 焦点
The word for focus is 焦点. However, to say “to place the focus on X,” the particles may not be what you expect. Instead, you get Xに焦点を当てる. Imagine if nothing were said after ～を中心に, then phrases utilizing 焦点 would have that effect. Meaning, there is no concurrent action being implied as the “focus” is X.
To place one’s focus on handling COVID-19.
This tour of visitation places its focus on matters involving children.
The focus in the Diet right now is on the acceptance of foreign laborers.
Although very similar, 集中的, seen either as an adjectival noun meaning “intensive/focused” or as an adverb meaning “intensely/concentratively,” but unlike ～を中心に, speaker A is simply doing action X intensely. Whether that is being done amid an overarching situation is simply not touched.
I am currently intensively studying English.
We will proceed with intensive repair work involving the suspension of trains that operate during the night.
The verb form 集中する “to focus/concentrate” is also of the same vein and is not about a sub-event being done amid a larger phenomenon.
Anyone has times when they can’t concentrate on work.