When I studied Japanese this morning, I found this word 皮切り in my dictionary:

Example sentence: それを皮切りとして欧州の詩や文学を多数紹介するようになりました。

Translation: With that as a start many European poems and much literature came to be introduced.

From the example sentence, I don't find the usage 'sensitive'.

Sources: https://jisho.org/search/%E7%9A%AE%E5%88%87%E3%82%8A

However, after some research, I find this to be interesting:

Opinion of user1



Basically it's from the two Kanji used that give the feeling of "cut skin".

My guess: This word is related to a circumcision, thus labelled as 'sensitive'.

Opinion of user2

I have never thought of 皮切り as a sensitive word. I use it, people use it.

It seems that some publisher put this word on their list of sensitive words at some time because they thought it might remind the readers of circumcision, and therefore might sound vulgar.

In my opinion, it's far-fetched. Again, people use the word.

Opinion of user3

There are lots of words to do with cutting, leather, flesh, and butchery which might have connotations that moderns no longer feel.


Note that Entertainers were even below them, considered non-human, whereas Burakumin were cast out, but still considered human. It gives more context to "The Izu Dancer", that.

Additional information:

In JMDICT history: This word seems to be included in 放送禁止用語 or banned words in TV. It's on the NHK list of things to be avoided or used carefully. It seems it can be confused with circumcision.

My questions:

1.Are their opinions correct? I mean that the reason of the word being sensitive? Why do you think so?

2.What do you feel when using the word i.e.: 皮切り, is it truly sensitive to your native ear?

3.One of the meaning is 'beginning with/starting with' and I think it's pretty neutral. Is this correct?

Thank you very much!


  • 1
    Your link --> reference column for マ◯コ... lol
    – Tommy
    Nov 16, 2018 at 6:42

2 Answers 2

  1. I am not sure. 皮切り derives from the usage in 灸, and my monolingual dictionaries do not have any relevant information (about its being sensitive). I don't really imagine it can be incorrectly linked to circumcision. I was not able to verify that it is prohibited on TV at all.

  2. It is never sensitive for me. In fact, it is often used in news, including NHK.

  3. It is neutral.

Some usages:

  • 16世紀、太閤・秀吉が進めた城下町の開発を皮切りに、江戸時代から急速に水運が発達した大阪 --- NHK
  • 日本勢は清水宏保がスケート500mで「金」に輝いたのを皮切りにメダルラッシュ --- Yomiuri
  • ソチ五輪の競技始まる スノボ男子予選を皮切りに --- the title of an article from 日本経済新聞
  • 昨年2月に岩手県で開会式典が行われたのを皮切りに, --- 文化庁
  • 上海の百貨店を皮切りにテナント展開 --- JETRO, Japan External Trade Organization

As you can see, many sources with status uses the expression. It being sensitive is a minority view, if not an urban legend.

  • Wow, thanks a lot for your insight. So, this whole debacle about being sensitive is not true, then? Even the NHK things is untrue? I'm glad I asked then. This is used in more in news/written language then. Is it used in daily conversation?
    – Flonne
    Nov 17, 2018 at 6:25
  • 1
    @Flonne I'm a native speaker, and haven't noticed anywhere it's treated as sensitive. About the NHK things; I can find rumours in Japanese that it's listed, but wasn't able to find any reliable source. It is more written than spoken, as YuuichTam said.
    – Yosh
    Nov 18, 2018 at 3:02
  1. I didn't know 皮切り is a word that is not allowed to be used on the air. If that is true, they may think 皮切り make people think of circumcision. I don't think of any other reason.

  2. I don't feel anything unnatural about that.

  3. 皮切り is sometimes used as the meaning of "beginning with/starting with", especially in news or written language, though it is rarely used in daily conversation.

  • 4
    somewhat similar to the idea of "cutting one's teeth" on something, which is a reference to babies' teething time, and is used to indicate the early stages of some activity. "When he became interested in acting, he cut his teeth at local improv stages before getting up the nerve to move to Hollywood." We use the phrase relatively frequently in English, but it doesn't necessarily remind us of babies teething... Nov 16, 2018 at 12:38
  • This may be connected to your 'cutting one's teeth" > english.stackexchange.com/questions/115064/…
    – Flonne
    Nov 21, 2018 at 17:16

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