文化. Where the linguistic aspects of Japanese culture and the cultural aspects of the Japanese language overlap.

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How can I tell whether a Japanese company's name is in hiragana or katakana?

So today in class, I actually learned that the Japanese game company "Sega"'s name is actually written in Katakana, not Hiragana. I learned the same also applies to some other notable companies, such ...
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2answers
490 views

Is Japanese one of the Buddhist canonical languages?

The languages of oriental Buddhist traditions, be it Theravada or Mahayana, do not always provide complete and entire canonical texts. Up to now, I am aware of Pali, Chinese and Tibetan versions of ...
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253 views

Does the word 津波 (tsunami) have negative connotations?

Or is it just a neutral term for tidal waves? (I'm considering naming a JavaScript library tsunami.js – would it be offensive?)
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852 views

Are there stereotypical speech patterns or inflections associated with gay Japanese speakers?

This is not intended to be a controversial or provocative question. In English, there are "commonly accepted" stereotypes for how gay people sometimes speak. Are there corresponding characteristics ...
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179 views

What is the background of the phrase 背中で教える, and where does the meaning “to teach with one's back” come from?

I came across this phrase today while doing a lookup on 背中. 背中で教える I checked several sources, and all listed the meaning, amongst others, "to teach with one's back". It seems related to ...
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431 views

What is the significance of number of Kanji in a name?

There are several one-character surnames: [林]{はやし}  [森]{もり}  [堤]{つつみ} Most surnames have two-characters: [鈴木]{すずき} [山田]{やまだ} [藤井]{ふじい} [酒井]{さかい} [松村]{まつむら} A few surnames have three-characters:...
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374 views

How would I respectfully disagree with a peer?

This is probably related to How would I respectfully disagree with a superior? however the context is a tech forum where the thread starter is asking for someone technically advanced to help, and the ...
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1k views

Are there any issues with sexism in the Japanese language?

The only example I can think of/that I know of at the moment that has ever been of controversy with regard to sexism in Japanese was the change from 看護婦 to 看護師. I'm sure there are probably many more ...
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513 views

Colour connotations in Japanese language?

In English cultures there is a thin line (that usually isn't crossed) between symbolism (usually used in visual arts) and lingual connotation which is usually used in creative writing, and colour is a ...
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2k views

Did the Japanese have a word for surrender before WWII?

I had always thought that the Japanese didn't have a word for surrender before WWII. It seemed to be plausible given their culture. However, I can't seem to find any solid evidence of this. Is it just ...
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395 views

Do Chinese loanwords have special connotations as foreign words?

I once heard that the Japanese like to use words like 「トイレ」 and 「お手洗い」 to refer to the water closet/bathroom because they are neutral and don't have dirty connotations, especially the English loanword,...
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How should I bid farewell to a superior?

My boss is leaving soon after years of service. What would be a good way for me to express my gratitude for all of his guidance and help? I am somewhat familiar with the expression お世話になりました but am ...
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754 views

Is -さん used when referring to a celebrity or historical figures?

When referring to a celebrity or historical figure, do you use -さん? I am listening to Yoko Shimomura. Would it be:"下村陽子さんを聞いている。"? Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president. Would it be:...
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How do I “understand” kaomoji? (Japanese smilies)

When I see something like this: ヘ(´∀`ヘ)ヘ(´∀`ヘ)ヨイヨイ(ノ´∀`)ノ(ノ´∀`)ノヨイヨイ♪ I think some voodoo demon wants to say something to me. o_O My Japanese friends often use kaomoji. But, when they add (´▽`) ...
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219 views

What is the best expression used by an employee to appreciate his/her employer?

Assume that the employer gives a presentation to the public audience. After the presentation, you as the employee want to appreciate it. What is the best expression used by an employee to appreciate ...
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2answers
6k views

How and when do Japanese children learn kanas and kanji?

I wonder how exactly Japanese children learn to write. It may help a foreigner to know what is important to memorize or not. The only thing I know is that first of all, hiragana are learnt, and then ...
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170 views

What is 日本橋{にっぽんばし}?

So I'm doing some exercises in Minna no Nihongo and run across these two sentences: どこで安い電気製品を売っていますか。 大阪の日本橋で売っています。 I looked it up and saw it mean japanese bridge but the way it is in the ...
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181 views

Is ノシ considered 絵文字?

My friend ended a letter thusly: あとでノシ ノシ symbolizes a waving arm. Is this considered 絵文字 or does it have a different name?
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221 views

Is まい as in あるまい really only used in literary texts or TV?

My understanding --admittedly limited-- is that in Japanese, people say as much as they can with as little words as possible. So I wondered why ないだろう would be used in everyday speaking instead of まい? ...
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2k views

What do you mean, “In Japanese there are no words for ”I’m suffering“”?

Today I noticed this article about eating disorders in Japan, which I got to via the News on Japan site. The first line jumps out at me. Supposedly, in an interview, a 25 year old Japanese woman ...
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“Your sniffling is driving me crazy!”

There are people in Japan who seem to think nothing of sniffling their nose indefinitely as they sit in a coffee shop, in an office, on a train, or anywhere with other people around. Sometimes ...
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3answers
22k views

Address someone by their first name, or their last name?

When addressing John Doe, would you say "John-さん", or "Doe-さん"? Does it depend on how polite or formal you're being? Does it also depend on whether the person is a nihonjin, a kankokujin (who have ...
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1answer
274 views

Is it OK to keep saying ありがとう

I was asking a Japanese person for some help and noticed that I kept saying ありがとうございます over and over as they helped me more. Culturally, is it OK to keep saying it multiple times in Japanese? Would it ...
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Expressing “don't work too hard”

I've read at other sites that "don't work too hard" isn't something that's generally said in Japanese. Is there any truth to this? Are there any alternatives if that is the case? In which ...
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279 views

Meaning of “マスオさんする”

What is the meaning of "マスオさんする" in the following self-introduction extract? 家は表参道と近所ですが、特段お金持ちなわけではありません、妻の実家でマスオさんしてます。 My translation attempt: I live near Omotesando, but I am not rich: I ...
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6k views

How to define 羨ましい?

羨【うらや】ましい! You're so lucky!/ I envy you!/ I'm jealous of you! As I learned it, 羨ましい as an exclamation does not carry much of a negative context, so perhaps a combination of these three ...
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8k views

Getting your haircut in Japan

I have been living in Japan now for the last 3 months and my hair is starting to look like it needs a cut. But I have never been to a Japanese barbers before so as you can imagine I am a little ...
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3answers
5k views

Will verbal irony and sarcasm be understood and/or appreciated?

It's a topic of debate to what extent Japanese has sarcasm and irony. In any case, Japanese speakers seem to use a whole lot less of it than English speakers. My question is: whether or not Japanese ...
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5answers
2k views

Why are some words written backwards on trucks

I was driving the other day and say a truck with 一般 written as 般一 on the drivers side door. My wife was telling me that this is often the case with trucks, where it is actually written from right to ...
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Heaven in Japanese

I have found that there are a number of words in Japanese that correspond to "heaven" in English. By heaven I mean the concept of a paradisiacal afterlife. The two most frequent in my limited and ...
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277 views

日本のテレビを見ると、サブタイトルがいつも出てきます。でもサブタイトルじゃなくて。。。何と言いますか?

日本のテレビを見ると、サブタイトルがいつも出てきます。でもサブタイトルじゃなくて。。。何と言いますか? what does one call Japanese "subtitles" that constantly appear in Japanese television and to a lesser extent movies? I'm referring to a sentence ...
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1answer
2k views

Replying to Omedetou

When someone tells you, "Omedetou," what are the different things you can say?
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214 views

Is 音沙汰 not used anymore because communication technology has changed?

My understanding of the word 音沙汰【おとさた】(news, letter) is that in terms of usage, it functions the same way that 連絡【れんらく】(contact, communication) does. It refers to modes of communication between people....
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1answer
689 views

What does this ad say? (Connotations of ガキ大将)

This is a frequent problem that I think many Japanese learners experience. You look at some Japanese sentences, and you understand the words, and most, if not all, the grammar, and yet still, it just ...
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2answers
181 views

Are there names like ワンコイン for the other coins?

So ワンコイン refers to a 500円 coin, but is there other names for the other coins? Also in conversation does ワンコイン refer to any specific currency or only to 500 yen (as in the sense of being a default).
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Does the Japanese language only have negative terms for flirting?

I am looking for terms in the Japanese language which can describe the act of flirting in a positive light. This probably requires inventing terms to close a lexical gap, because as far as I know, all ...
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405 views

How would one convey the concept of “vouching” in Japanese?

Update: There seems to be some controversy here as to whether or not there really is a difference between vouching and guaranteeing, which impacts how it is translated. Please see the discussion I ...
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4answers
1k views

The significance of 前 {まえ} in Japanese language and culture

I noticed that the 前 is a handy kanji character in Japanese language. It is used in many words including but not limited to: 名前 {なまえ} : Given name 手前, お前 : You [当]{あ}たり[前]{まえ} : ...
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2answers
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How should I start an email when requesting something from someone I don't know well?

In English, there is a certain etiquette to follow when writing a business letter. From what I've seen so far, the same seems to be true in Japanese as well. If I was making a business-related ...
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184 views

Who, or what, is Tsunku san? [closed]

Saw this on twitter. つんくさん!いただきます! http://lockerz.com/s/121213710 What does that mean?
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599 views

What is that thing yelled in Japanese when starting something?

When starting some activity, I've heard something like 'Se..inou... ' (I'm not sure what are the specific words for this). The context for this word I'd think is pretty much the same as when saying 1,...
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516 views

A tales and stories children book suitable for adult learners?

I like to read children literature in foreign languages I am learning. I usually do not have troubles picking them in european language, but I would need recommendation for Japanese. I would like a ...
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How can [数]{す}[寄]{き}[者]{しゃ} both mean a tea ceremony master and a “lewd man, a lecher”?

I would like to understand better the etymology or the cultural context surrounding 数寄者 If I believe wwwjdic, this compound is used to denote a tea ceremony master (with a reference to a ...
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2answers
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When and how did USA and UK come to be written as [米]{べい}[国]{こく} and [英]{えい}[国]{こく}?

I know of four countries with a specific kanji besides Japan: China, the Netherlands, the USA and UK. The last two must be quite recent (I presume 19th century) but I wonder on the details and context ...
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4answers
1k views

How would I respectfully disagree with a superior?

If my manager says something that I know to be factually incorrect, how can I point that out without sounding disrespectful? (Is ~違います appropriate in this context or is that too strong?) Is this a ...
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2answers
799 views

Are bookshelves in alphabetical (kana) order in Japanese bookshops and libraries?

How are fiction books such as novels sorted on the shelves at Japanese bookshops? Kana order seems to play a small part but not the whole part. (I'm not asking about nonfiction books since those are ...
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1answer
1k views

Why “社会の窓” (shakai no mado)?

A few years ago I was told by a Japanese friend "社会の窓" (shakai no mado). It was explained after some giggling that this is what is said to a man who has inadvertently left his fly open, and that it ...
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4answers
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How commonly are “あたし” or “[僕]{ぼく}” used?

My friend and I are learning Japanese. For a time, all we knew was 私, but after we learned more words, she started to use あたし when referring to herself, and I began using 僕. What I'm wondering is, how ...
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8answers
1k views

Is the word ハーフ derogatory?

Is the term ハーフ (mixed-race Japanese/other) derogatory? Can you use it in a newspaper article? Can you use it to describe your boss? If it is derogatory, what word(s) should one use instead?
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Does the (USA) English metaphor “Unable to see the forest for the trees” keep its meaning if translated verbatim into Japanese?

The phrase "Unable to see the forest for the trees" implies one is too entangled in a situation to understand what is transpiring from a larger context, and thus, unable to determine the correct ...