Sign up ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I remember hearing this idiom which meant someone was so lowly, they were not even considered a person. I don't know the source, but remember it was referred to as a 'common Japanese idiom'.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it or its origin online. Is this not really an idiom? What is its source?

share|improve this question
There seems to be many tweets describing similar scenarios. Some are simply narrating what actually happened to and embarrassed them. Many others seem to be parodies of a tweet posted in 2012. I personally do not take it as a well-established idiom. – Noir May 18 '14 at 7:19
That might be the case. I'm pretty sure I saw it on TV. Might have been some Japanese drama. I distinctly remember someone being told that and later standing in front of automatic doors which did not open for him since he was such a pathetic person. – Omer van Kloeten May 18 '14 at 7:38
Some people say it but I would not call it an idiom.… – l'électeur May 18 '14 at 9:28

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This humor appeared in the TV drama "Legal High" (リーガル・ハイ), first season, in the first episode. The guy in question is named Sugiura (杉浦).

It doesn't really mean that the guy is lowly, it just means that he's a person who doesn't make his presence felt at all, so even the automatic door doesn't recognize him. The exact explanation in Japanese would be 存在感が無い .

It is not really an idiom. I have not heard of it often, besides the TV drama episode.

(*)BTW, it's a nice TV series and I'd recommend watching it, it's available by VOD.

share|improve this answer
YES! THANK YOU! This has been bugging me for a year now :D – Omer van Kloeten Feb 22 at 16:35

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.