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君子 jūnzǐ is a word/concept from the Chinese Confucean culture, which means "the person of virtue", it acts as a code of conduct. https://www.britannica.com/topic/junzi

In China today, this term is still often used, as attested (for instance) by the existence of another term constructed on it, 伪君子 wěijūnzǐ, 伪 wěi meaning 'fake'.

Some websites explain what 伪君子 means in plain terms "A 伪君子 wěijūnzǐ is someone who puts a veneer of morality on their immoral behavior." http://edu.iask.sina.com.cn/bdjx/6iqWuyyNIum.html (adapted DeepL translation)

Looking at my Japanese electronic dictionary, 君子 is recorded, and it is defined, in line with the Chinese word/concept as "man of virtue, wise man, (true) gentleman", indicating that this same word/concept exists in the Japanese language. Nonetheless, 君子 kunshi appears quite at the bottom of the entries for the kanji 君 kun, and only three sentence examples are given for 君子 kunshi.

The Wikipedia for the concept of 君子 jūnzǐ exists in English, Chinese, and 15 other languages, but not in Japanese.

Searching for the term 君子 kunshi on Japanese Google, it gives definitions by some dictionaries, explanations of 君子 as a Confucean concept, or kind of a webpage of products sent by a company called 六君子.

There is also the Japanese importation of the Chinese drama 君子盟 "A League of Nobleman".

That's pretty what I found.

And of course, the Japanese kanji 君 is used for "you" or "mr"/"ms".

Question:

Is the word/concept 君子 pervasive in the Japanese language?

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    Note that the "you" sense of 君 is pronounced as kimi, not kun. Commented Feb 15 at 18:52
  • 1
    @EiríkrÚtlendi thank you, I corrected
    – Starckman
    Commented Feb 16 at 1:42

1 Answer 1

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The word 君子 is widely recognized as part of a few proverbs and set phrases:

Outside of these, this word is virtually nonexistent in contemporary Japanese culture. In everyday conversations and TV shows, Japanese people never use the word 君子 to discuss morality, manners, or someone's personality. (Of course this is unless they happen to be hardcore fans of 三国志 or Chinese philosophy and know many Chinese-origin proverbs.)

I suppose most people do not recognize this term beyond something like "a rare word that is probably related to Chinese history and used in some proverbs and such to denote a great or wise person".

The word for 伪君子 in Japanese is probably 偽善者.

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  • Are these proverbs containing 君子 (e.g. 君子危うきに近寄らず, 君子豹変す, 聖人君子) frequently used in Japanese?
    – Starckman
    Commented Feb 15 at 13:32
  • @Starckman They are not super common, but you can assume most (if not all) educated adults understand them.
    – naruto
    Commented Feb 15 at 13:35

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