I encountered this phrase and after a bit of Googling, it seems to describe the action of crowding around a particular thing or object (people crowding around someone, trees crowding around a building) but doesn't 取り囲む itself also describe that action? Does omitting the 周囲 change the effect of its use in sentences or is it more similar to an idiomatic set phrase?

The sentence i saw it in was:


  • 1
    There's also 周囲を取り巻く.
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 21:47

1 Answer 1


Japanese motion verbs utilize the particle を for both object and place the action takes place. So you can equally say:


but not:

× 彼を周囲を取り囲む。 (same case particle cannot be repeated in one clause)

In my opinion, the 周囲を取り囲む version has slightly more "completely surrounded" nuance, but it barely matters in the usual case. Also, the 周囲 can be used as good as a "dummy noun" to bypass obvious pronouns like him, her, it etc. in English. We hate pronouns.

If you'd look for similar expressions in Japanese, they abound:


Of course, you don't want to translate them literally.

enter image description here
(from http://www.inquisitr.com/6826/for-restrooms-go-back-toward-your-behind/)

  • I upvoted, though where is the proof that 周囲 could be a "dummy noun"????????? Ex, when you speak "ビルの周囲", that denotes the space surrounding the building. As I said, I bet this would be the crowd of people itself, = mass = since it is like a far stretching fence. So like you said, it comes to denote "completely surrounding".
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:17
  • It might sound to you as a "dummy noun", however it is not. Why it sounds you so could be because the size of the "space" is not specified. If it is a dummy noun, it is so categorized in the dictionary too. kotobank.jp/word/%E5%91%A8%E5%9B%B2-526234. However, sorry, it is not. So it denotes "surround certain but unspecified size of space"
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:24
  • So, for example, we say, "周囲4kⅿに渡り”, denoting "expanding 4 square kilo meters", this implies the word 周囲 does not specify the size of itself.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:41
  • 3
    I don't think any dictionary categorize something as "dummy", because it's function rather than grammar. You know, we say "live a life", "dance a dance" or "laugh a laugh" in English, where the latter nouns are almost empty in meaning. I tried to explain these kind of matters with "dummy", in analogy of dummy pronouns. Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 6:08
  • 1
    Yes, I know about the "dummy pronouns", like "I think it is nice for you to play here"'s "it". And what is the relationship between the question and the photo you uploaded???
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 8:22

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