I am particularly interested in the phrase 「水{みず}色{いろ}時{じ}代{だい}」. Did it come from the old manga that used the phrase as its title, or has the phrase been carrying that particular cultural connotation long before the manga?

So how and when did the term 水色 start to be associated with youth, adolescence and puberty?

p/s: While on the same topic, I'd like to share this interesting chart on how different cultures interpret different colors: http://www.globalization-group.com/edge/resources/color-meanings-by-culture/

2 Answers 2


I do not think that the word 水色 (みずいろ; cyan) is associated with youth, adolescence or puberty in Japanese. As YOU wrote, 青 (あお; usually blue in the modern Japanese, sometimes refers to green) is associated with immaturity and youth. But 水色 does not have this connotation.

I had never heard of the phrase 水色時代. Unless I am much mistaken, it is only used as the title of manga by Yuu Yabuuchi and not a common phrase in Japanese.

  • Maybe I just had a wrong impression ..
    – Lukman
    Jun 9, 2011 at 4:42
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    @Lukman According to Wikipedia, 水色時代 means "優子の真っ白な「子供時代」と青春の「青」の中間の「水色の時」 ". The author of the manga used 水色 because it was in between blue(=adolescence) and white(=childhood).
    – marasai
    Apr 30, 2015 at 11:49

According to Wikipedia,


水色 is used since the Heian Era (794年-1185年/1192年) and 水 is something like 青い.

There are some words like

  • 青春 (せいしゅん) meaning "youth",
  • 青二才 (あおにさい) meaning "young person" (greenhorn), and
  • 青年期 (せいねんき) meaning "adolescence"

all using the same kanji 青. These words cause 青 to be associated with youth, adolescence and puberty, I believe.

  • This seems a bit of a stretch; the Wikipedia quote only mentions that 水色 refers to blue because water is associated with the color blue. And while 青 does show up in several words related to youth, drawing a link from this connotation of 青 to 水色 on the basis of color sounds rather iffy. It would be like saying "leaf-green" in English stands for youth simply because "green" shows up in the word "greenhorn". Jun 6, 2011 at 14:09
  • @Derek Actually, green is associated to "inexperienced beginner" in English, as in "The young man is rather green and does not have enough experience to drive the large machinery."
    – Lukman
    Jun 7, 2011 at 5:47
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    @Lukman: Very true, but my point is that the word "leaf-green" is not necessarily associated with the same meaning of "inexperienced beginner" simply because an alternate word referring to a similar color is. Jun 7, 2011 at 12:26

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