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I was looking through an article of The Japan Times and the comments on it. There was this one comment that caught my attention. The commentator was talking about a popular sports club and gym in Toukyou (Tokyo) that he goes to and he apparently has to put up with bad attitudes from the members and the staff. He followed it up with a timeline of a typical visit to the gym in question, and the part relevant to my question is as follows:

3:00 pm: I check in at the front desk and go into the locker room to change into gym clothes. Being early afternoon, the entire locker room is pretty much empty, so I choose a vacant locker in the corner. As I am in the middle of changing, another guy comes in, looks at me and loudly utters, “atsui, atsui!” (it’s really hot!) in Japanese. Then, despite the whole place being empty, he selects the locker right next to mine while pinning me in the corner. I finish changing and leave.

As you can see, the commentator romanized 「熱い、熱い!」 into “Atsui, atsui!” and translated it as “It’s really hot!”

But I don’t understand. What did the guy mean when he said that? I get the feeling that he wasn’t talking about the weather.

  • jisho.org/search/atsui The man appears to be very excited。 – JACK Jul 26 '18 at 22:20
  • Maybe he was trying to act nonchalant while encroaching on another's personal space by commenting offhand about the weather? This is not such unusual behavior. Also, it might just as well be 暑い as 熱い. – BJCUAI Jul 26 '18 at 22:28
  • @user27280: It's not unusual behaviour? That's interesting, because I have heard many stories of Japanese avoiding sitting next to non-Japanese on the train. Then again, a locker room is different from a train, isn't it? Still, the fact that the guy chose the locker right next to the commentator and pins him in the corner comes across as quite deliberate and hostile. Am I wrong here? – Micheal Gignac Jul 27 '18 at 1:31
  • @Michael Gignac I would submit that neither purposefully avoiding a person perceived to be a foreigner nor going out of one's way to encroach on the personal space of someone who is perceived to be a foreigner are unusual behaviors. Different people have different ways of confronting their views on foreigners. On the train, I have had people avoid sitting next to me as well as people trying to get too close. – BJCUAI Jul 27 '18 at 3:21
  • Oh, yeah, and I came across this: tokyoadultguide.com/threads/… Apparently, “Atsui, atsui!” is used by some Japanese to mean, “You stink!” Although I have to wonder why the guy would get up close if he thinks he stinks. (Baffled) – Micheal Gignac Jul 28 '18 at 1:55
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I am pretty sure that he was talking about the weather. Simply, it was a hot day, and early afternoon is the hottest time of a day. The correct kanji is 暑い. I don't know his intention, but maybe he was trying to draw the author's attention by saying it.

  • Oh, sorry. I guess I did get the wrong kanji. Still, it's interesting that the two kanji can be translated as “hot”. Is the difference between them the subjects they are being applied to? – Micheal Gignac Jul 27 '18 at 1:24
  • There are many words with various nuances that are expressed with different kanji. In this case the difference is that 暑 relates to atmospheric temperature, while 熱 relates to other things' temperatures. – Leebo Jul 27 '18 at 4:01
  • @Leebo: Hey, thanks for that! Now I know which kanji to use next time when I want to express “hot”! – Micheal Gignac Jul 27 '18 at 12:52

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