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I was in Japan recently and am trying to remember the name for a small towel the Japanese may use to wipe the sweat off their faces in the summer. I was hoping to buy one for myself in the U.S.

Do these towels have a name in Japanese? If so, what would be the transliteration in English?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I am not sure which one you are talking about, but hope it is one of these below. I doubt it is either of the first two, but 手拭い seems too long for what you describe as "a small towel".

  • タオル 'towel'
  • ハンカチ 'handkerchief'
  • 手拭い (tenugui) Similar to handkerchief, but longer
  • 脂取り紙 (aburatori-gami) piece of paper-like tissue that absorbs oil from the surface of the face.
  • おしぼり A small towel that is slightly wet and sterilized with vapor. Served at restaurants or bars before meal
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My vote goes to ハンカチ, as in ハンカチ王子. – Derek Schaab Jul 19 '11 at 13:53
@Derek Thanks for the edit. I just came up with another, so I am further editing. – user458 Jul 19 '11 at 13:56
Thanks @sawa! I think it's ハンカチ 'handkerchief' – Amelio Vazquez-Reina Jul 19 '11 at 14:38
@AmV Good that you found it in the list. Actually, ハンカチ is the transliteration of handkerchief, not the other way around. Does ハンカチ sound that different from handkerchief to the native ears? :) – user458 Jul 20 '11 at 5:14
nope it sounds exactly the same lol – Pacerier Jul 20 '11 at 5:59

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