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I am particularly interested in the phrase 「水色時代」. Did it come from the old manga that used the phrase as its title, or has the phrase been carrying that particular cultural connotation long before the manga?

So how and when did the term 水色 start to be associated with youth, adolescence and puberty?

p/s: While on the same topic, I'd like to share this interesting chart on how different cultures interpret different colors: http://www.globalization-group.com/edge/resources/color-meanings-by-culture/

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I do not think that the word 水色 (みずいろ; cyan) is associated with youth, adolescence or puberty in Japanese. As YOU wrote, 青 (あお; usually blue in the modern Japanese, sometimes refers to green) is associated with immaturity and youth. But 水色 does not have this connotation.

I had never heard of the phrase 水色時代. Unless I am much mistaken, it is only used as the title of manga by Yuu Yabuuchi and not a common phrase in Japanese.

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Maybe I just had a wrong impression .. –  Lukman Jun 9 '11 at 4:42
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According to Wikipedia,

日本語の水色は平安時代から見られる色名であり、古くから「水=青い」というイメージが存在していたこととなる。

水色 is used from Heian-Era (794年-1185年/1192年) and have sense about 水 is something like 青い.

and there is some words like 青春 (seishun) which mean youth and 青二才 (あおにさい) about young person (greenhorn), and 青年期 (seinenki) which mean adolescence using same kanji 青, those make 青 associated with youth, adolescence and puberty, I believe.

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This seems a bit of a stretch; the Wikipedia quote only mentions that 水色 refers to blue because water is associated with the color blue. And while 青 does show up in several words related to youth, drawing a link from this connotation of 青 to 水色 on the basis of color sounds rather iffy. It would be like saying "leaf-green" in English stands for youth simply because "green" shows up in the word "greenhorn". –  Derek Schaab Jun 6 '11 at 14:09
    
@Derek Actually, green is associated to "inexperienced beginner" in English, as in "The young man is rather green and does not have enough experience to drive the large machinery." –  Lukman Jun 7 '11 at 5:47
    
@Lukman: Very true, but my point is that the word "leaf-green" is not necessarily associated with the same meaning of "inexperienced beginner" simply because an alternate word referring to a similar color is. –  Derek Schaab Jun 7 '11 at 12:26
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