I encountered the following example sentence in a book describing the uses of 反面:


Since I quit my job, I do have more free time but I also lost my nervous feeling. (I'm aware this might be too figurative)

That translation sounds unusual to me because I do not think "not having a nervous feeling" and "having more free time" contrast each other enough to be joined with "but". I think they should be joined with "and". However, all the sources I found state that 反面 is used to present different sides.

My questions are:

  1. Does the Japanese sentence, by virtue of using 反面 (and probably しまった), imply that the speaker believes "緊張感もない" is a negative consequence?

  2. Is 緊張感 considered a positive emotion in Japan?

  3. Would the sentence make sense if the clauses were combined with だけでなく or just the て形?

EDIT: My reasoning behind question 3 is that, based on the translations of 緊張感 (Jisho.com reference), "仕事を辞めて自由な時間が増えただけでなく、緊張感もなくなってしまった" would mean "...not only do I have more free time, I also lost my feelings of nervousness." Is this not a natural way of using だけでなく?

  • 1
    Not sure where you're thinking of using だけでなく. Could you give an example of what you mean?
    – A.Ellett
    Jun 29, 2017 at 2:49
  • @A.Ellett I have added a little clarifying the だけでなく part. My reasoning is that, at least as far as I know, だけでなく has a "not only...but also" meaning.
    – G-Cam
    Jun 29, 2017 at 15:00

3 Answers 3

  1. Does the Japanese sentence, by virtue of using 反面 (and probably しまった), imply that the speaker believes "緊張感もない" is a negative consequence?


  1. Is 緊張感 considered a positive emotion in Japan?

Not always. It depends on the context.
緊張 usually has a negative connotation, but 緊張 is often used in a positive meaning. And here in your context, it is used as a positive emotion.

  1. Would the sentence make sense if the clauses were combined with だけでなく or just the て形?

「仕事を辞めて自由な時間が増えただけでなく、緊張感もなくなってしまった」 doesn't really make sense. 「仕事を辞めて自由な時間が増え、緊張感もなくなってしまった」 doesn't sound too good, either. I would rephrase it as:


  • Thank you for your answer. I have added a small line to the end of my post regarding using だけでなく. I do not quite understand why だけでも does not make sense. Is it the unintentional aspect of しまった? Does the following make sense: ~増えただけでなく、緊張感もなくなった。
    – G-Cam
    Jun 29, 2017 at 15:04
  • 1
    So, what does 緊張感 mean? My dictionary offers only a definition of 緊張 as strain and tension, hence my answer in which I said 緊張感 was a feeling of stress. All the examples of 緊張 seem to make this out to be a negative concept, so similarly I would expect 緊張感 to be negative. I'll happily remove my answer, but I'd also like someone to clarify what this word means/implies in Japanese (since I'm apparently getting it wrong).
    – A.Ellett
    Jun 29, 2017 at 15:24
  • 1
    @G-Cam 自由な時間が増えただけでなく、緊張感もなくなった still doesn't sound good... It's like "Something good increased, and what's more, some other good thing decreased."
    – chocolate
    Jun 29, 2017 at 16:08
  • 1
    @A.Ellett 緊張感 in a good sense is like... concentration, intensity, seriousness, diligence... みたいな感じですかね・・・ a feeling/atmosphere that keeps your concentration / keeps you alert みたいな・・・?
    – chocolate
    Jun 29, 2017 at 16:38
  • @A.Ellett I've added a few more thoughts in my answer, if you are still interested.
    – Joel Rees
    Jul 1, 2017 at 5:04
  1. Yes.
    反面 is used to contrast two things. In the sentence, "自由な時間が増えた" is mentioned as a positive consequence of quitting the job so "緊張感もなくなった" is the opposite. しまった here adds the nuance of "regrettably."

  1. As Chocolateさん said, it depends on the context and 緊張感 is often used in a positive meaning. 緊張感がない usually means "not be careful," or "being careless."

  1. No. The two clauses are contrary, so you cannot combine them with だけでなく or て-form.

Try, reading 「緊張感もない」 as "nothing to keep me on my toes."

It definitely does not mean "nervousness" here. "Energy" would work better, similar to the way understanding Japanese use of 「テンション」 works better if you think in terms of the German word, and not the English.

緊張 is a tension between opposing forces, like the tension on a spring or piano wire.


Checking the meanings of 緊:



I like the explanations in Japanese better than the ones in English, because they seem more clear to me. (You can switch to Japanese on both of those.)

「[引き締める]{ひきしめる}」、 for example.

and of 張:



「張る」 comes quickly to mind, anyway -- ca. 「[気を張る]{きをはる}」。

It's very clear that 「緊張」 maps well to tension.

In physics, tension can be a very useful thing.

The first time I heard a teacher I was working with say, 「今日はちょっとテンションアップしましょう。」 in a classroom, I did a double-take, because she was clearly not using it in an ironic sense. She was asking them to focus on classwork.

Even so, when she said on a different day, 「おマエら、ちょっとテンションダウンすぎるよ!」 I did a second double-take, for two reasons. One, if they were American kids, the atmosphere would have been just about perfect for a really good session of unplanned exploration.

(I'm always happy to use side-tours to reinforce principles I'm working on.)

But she wanted them significantly more focused that day. We had a good lesson.

This was a good teacher. She was strict, but she also knew how and when to loosen the reigns. I could not do the things she did in class, at least not until many years later, and I still go at it a different way.

Tension means something to the Japanese that it doesn't mean to most Americans, and probably most people from the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.


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