I am watching a taiga drama, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and I hear people say kore wa kore wa often. I also here sore wa sore wa.

The translation in the subtitle is "well well".

I am only a beginner with the Japanese language and I hear "this this" and "that that".

Can anyone explain the use of these to me and the difference between the two?

1 Answer 1


You should just think of this as a fixed phrase, rather than something that literally translates to "this, this". If you think about it, "well, well" doesn't literally make sense in English either, so you have to learn it as a unit or collocation with a specific meaning.

The definition listed for the phrase これは is given as a 連語 (fixed phrase), and I would translate the definition as follows:

A phrase used when one feels shocked upon encountering something unexpected.

The etymology of これはこれは should be fairly transparent too -- it probably arose from something like これは何だろう ("I wonder what this is"), repeated for emphasis.

  • Thank you for the explanation! I really appreciate your comments!
    – Bob G
    Apr 27, 2021 at 1:00

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