enter image description hereSo I'm reading a kid's story, where a tanuki with a swollen stomach calls a rabbit doctor.

I believe that both parties are using kenjougo/sonkeigo when speaking with each other. (I'm guessing that this is because one is a customer - thus deserving of respect - and the other is a doctor - also deserving of respect?)

I guess I was assuming that both parties in the conversation come to a similar ranking in this situation...but this story would indicate that this is not always the case.

Am I understanding this correctly? And if so, is this a relatively normal occurrence?

  • are they both using BOTH kenjougo and sonkeigo? Both of them are humbling themselves and elevating the other person? Even after 17 years in Japan, I still have trouble with keigo... Can you take a photo of one page as an example and post it here? Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 23:38
  • I think so Eric. Added image as you suggested. Rabbit doctor enters speaking at upper right. It's the tanuki child that responds first, but the rest of the story seems to be more of the same. 17 years? Gosh I thought my question was a total newb question, but perhaps not. :-) Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 1:12
  • .... don't base any assumptions on my experiences... :P heh. Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 1:37
  • what's frustrating for me is that I can read this and understand it, but I don't really get the nuances of keigo, the when and the why, and the levels of humility or respect... what situations require it, and how it "sets" the positions of the speakers relative to one another... I've always had trouble with it, even when I was avidly studying Japanese. Now that I've let myself "learn by experience" rather than by diligent study, keigo is one of my biggest weaknesses. Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 1:48
  • @ericfromabeno There's nothing deep behind it. They are just keeping protocol because they are not close friends.
    – user4092
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


In this case, the doctor is the customer/guest. (Am I using "customer" wrongly?)

They use keigo mutually because they are outsiders to each other, which is rather normal.

(Incidentally, ございます is not a kenjogo but a teineigo/polite verb, which shows respect to the listener.)

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