In English, we have not just written quote signs like the Japanese have brackets, but we also have the verbal "air quotes" hand gestures. Is there an equivalent gesture for air quotes in Japanese? Or an equivalent way in a verbal conversation to indicate you are using a term ironically? Thank you.

  • 2
    Japanese brackets only occasionally indicate irony in the first place. It took me hours to understand why this was funny.
    – naruto
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 3:25

1 Answer 1


I am going to say that there is basically no equivalent hand gesture in the Japanese-speaking world. Born and raised in Japan, it took me a trip all the way to the U.S. some years ago to witness the air quotes for the first time in my life. When I saw a gentleman do it, I actually thought he was just mimicking a crayfish as he spoke.

What we often do instead is to add the word 「いわゆる」 right before the word/phrase you want to "quote" for whatever effect you intend to create. Again, there is no hand gesture to go with it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .