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

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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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2answers
331 views

What was the origin for the term 水{みず}色{いろ} to be associated with youth, adolescence and puberty?

I am particularly interested in the phrase 「水{みず}色{いろ}時{じ}代{だい}」. Did it come from the old manga that used the phrase as its title, or has the phrase been carrying that particular cultural connotation ...
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487 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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137 views

Confusing use of 減る

Maruko is complaining that mum is buying seaweed as a new year's present. Mum replies: 「のりは食べる機会が多くてすぐに減るからもらったらありがたいもんなのよ。」 There are plenty of opportunities to eat seaweed, and because they ...
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2answers
1k views

What are valid responses to the expressions 「はじめまして」 and 「よろしくおねがいします」 used in introductions?

I came across a learn-Japanese book from the 1980s and wanted to know what you guys think. The book gave a general formula for introduction and here is how it goes: Someone says their name with any ...
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3answers
157 views

How to politely inform other people of acceptable alternative ways of addressing you?

Being a foreigner often comes with having a name/surname that doesn't quite roll off the tongue in Japanese. So for example if my name/surname is "ABCDEFG", I'd like to say (after introductions) ...
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1answer
986 views

Why does Japanese TV News and magazine programs have “mandatory” subtitles/legend?

(I never thought I would ask one of these questions and even considered if it was off topic but this is a very distinct feature of the language as it is really used. Is it due to some characteristic ...
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1answer
116 views

How many よろしくお願いします to say during job interview?

Let's say I have an interview with 3 people. Each interviewer does self-introduction followed by よろしくお願いします. When they say it I say it too, kind of, in response. Then I say my self-introduction and ...
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1answer
171 views

Cartel, syndicate, anti-competitive practice

I've heard this story from several foreigners in Japan: I hired Japanese Company A for a service. I didn't like Japanese Company A, so I went to Japanese Company B in the same industry and tried ...
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1answer
839 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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1k views

Accepting compliments (without rejecting them)

I find it much more sincere to accept compliments and show how grateful I am rather than to belittle myself. Therefore I would like to know some phrases in Japanese to accept compliments and show my ...
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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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1answer
232 views

What is the implication when a girl refers to herself using “うち”? Is it meant to be more or less feminine? Neutral? Tomboyish?

I realize it is a kind of Kansai-ben but how does it compare to the other forms of "I" in terms of how they want to represent themselves?
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1answer
1k views

Thank you note to Japanese professor

I just finished an introductory Japanese class, and the class bought a small gift for the professor. I'm planning to drop the gift off at the professor's office, so I need to write a brief tag saying ...
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1answer
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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2answers
180 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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93 views

“Uncle's jokes !?”

I recently heard about something that would be roughly translated as “uncle's jokes” (the Japanese word for it should be something like 伯父ネタ or 伯父ガル but I can't remember correctly what I heard the ...
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74 views

「この笑顔なくしていいの?」 on a board by the road (photo)

This is a board by the road (similar to tobidashibōya). It should mean "shall I stop smiling?" but seeing this I am not even sure. Does it really mean that? Why? Is it a warning for drivers? Is it a ...
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370 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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2answers
166 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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438 views

Please help me understand [予習]{よ・しゅう}

tl;dr The word 予習 is strange to me. Is its usage related to cultural difference? Does the user's knowledge of the material have something to do with it? I've always had trouble understanding ...
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1answer
220 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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1answer
99 views

How to say “Cultural Identity”

I want to say, "Okinawan people have a very strong cultural identity". Any idea on how to say this concept in Japanese? Would it be 「沖縄の民族は文化のアイデンティティがつよいです。」?
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Is the 300 yen price for a “shuin” stamp linguistically related to お参り?

Prevalent price (朱印代) for a stamp in a shrine or a temple is 300 yen, although there are exceptions. Wikipedia confirms this Shuin 朱印. I wonder if the amount bears an association of 参百円{さんびゃくえん} with ...
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205 views

Can 交番 (koban) be used for old British-style/Dr Who police boxes?

When Dr Who is translated into Japanese, do they translate police box as こうばん? I've seen こうばん in Japan, and they aren't anything like old British police boxes, so if that's how it's translated, is ...
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1answer
956 views

How to address and greet Japanese people in an english email [closed]

I am aware that in Japanese it is considered to be rude to address other people with just their first name, but I wonder if this is only true for communication in Japanese, of if this still holds true ...
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1answer
261 views

Calling someone older brother/sister and the implications on relationships

If a Japanese person calls you older brother/sister(お兄さん, お姉さん), in addition to implying closeness, does it also mean that they are implying a platonic relationship?
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95 views

What is the meaning of 絶対零度の怒り?

I'm reading the manga "Fruits Basket". On page 89 of the first volume, Shigure informs Yuki during supper that Kyo will start going to the same high school as himself and Tohru. Yuki responds with ...
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2answers
2k views

What do Japanese signatures look like?

Since you often need to write your signature fast it should be something short. I wonder which script, kana or kanji, natives use for writing their signature (in most cases)?
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102 views

Japanese words with を in shiritori?

I've been playing some しりとり recently at http://www.shiritori.org/ and was wondering why no words with を show up. siritori.net suggests there are quite a few nouns starting with を: を をかし ...
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132 views

How do I translate the names of types of school, without reference to the US school system?

Whenever I see Japanese school years translated to English, either in vocab lists or in manga/anime translations, it's always with reference to the US school system (i.e. n'th grade). As I'm not ...
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2answers
157 views

Would educated Japanese people without special training be able to understand Buddhist mantras/真言?

A well-educated speaker of Hindi (a modern descendant of Sanskrit) who doesn't have any special training in Buddhist (or Hindu) liturgy would probably be able to more or less understand the following ...
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1answer
335 views

What are the reasons for the huge amount of loanwords in Japanese?

It seems that Japanese has far more loanwords than any other language I've heard spoken. I understand that English is far-reaching and a global language, but are there many known reasons that English ...
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146 views

When did LOC adopt modified Hepburn?

If I look in Google Ngrams, I see that the transliteration "honbu", meaning HQ, basically didn't exist until 1964. But it didn't surpass "hombu" until 1976. I believe Modified Hepburn was introduced ...
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2answers
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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128 views

Meaning of にまでなる

まあっ、なんて欲ばりな女だろうね。あんたみたいな犬がねぇ、くわえてた肉を池におっことしたって話が、童話にまでなってるよ。 Come now. What a greedy girl. The story of a dog like you which dropped a piece of meat it was holding in its mouth into the pond is ...
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402 views

How to say “person who is consistent” (in romaji) ? Is it a Japanese principle?

I have seen a documentary about a mangaka who would draw her own manga from start to finish and the documentary described that she was applying a Japanese principle of doing things alone, at your own ...
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1answer
1k views

Replying to Omedetou

When someone tells you, "Omedetou," what are the different things you can say?
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250 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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1answer
133 views

Phrase/word for “human to god” love / idolatry?

A Korean friend used a word that I believe was a Japanese loan word, that he said meant a "human to god" kind of love - an 'inferior' being loving or idolizing a 'superior' one. It wasn't a phrase but ...
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1answer
191 views

The usage of 様{さま} (-sama) honorific

I've always heard that 様 is a highly respectful honorific, being used to refer to lords, kings and deities. However, many times I hear people calling someone with 様, without sarcasm or irony, being ...
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1answer
280 views

Equivalent of “That said, Carthage must be destroyed” in Japanese

"Ceterum censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam," the famous phrase with which Cato the Elder used to finish all of his speeches, no matter how unrelated the topic was. It was probably an effective ...
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1answer
653 views

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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508 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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1answer
332 views

Heisig story #30 (Nightbreak) 旦, shouldn't it mean “daybreak” instead?

I believe that the tittle already covers my question, but I will explain it better here. When I was reading the Heisig book (Remembering the Kanji, the sixth edition I believe) I came across the ...
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1answer
182 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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1answer
316 views

What is the significance of the color white? [closed]

I saw a Japanese drama set in the Edo period and the bride was dressed all in white. However, I thought that in Japan white was the color of death and only corpses were supposed to be dressed in ...
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39 views

What is the actual title of this painting, possibly titled “Hokusai Devil” or perhaps 鬼舐頭(きしとう) [closed]

My coworkers and I have been arguing over where I found this image, currently my desktop background. Tineye shows it existing in only 6 places on the internet, including some sort of swag website ...
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1answer
74 views

Is it ok to start learning Japanese? [closed]

I'm not english, and I find my English to be 'good'. I can pretty much live in an English country with a slight boost of vocabulary and a bit of knowledge about the culture. But of course, I'm not ...
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110 views

Heart emoji in Japanese texts?

One of my friends was on HelloTalk for a few days and recently a female partner sent him a few messages with the heart emoji (three times within an hour) which kind of confuses him. Does this mean ...