Questions tagged [culture]

文化. Where the linguistic aspects of Japanese culture and the cultural aspects of the Japanese language overlap.

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88 views

Would it be okay to create Gijinkas of the Japanese Kanji? [closed]

I know this isn't specifically a question about the Japanese language, and I apologize if I'm taking poor advantage of this website, but I really want an answer to this question. Would there be ...
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774 views

Meaning of もったいないお化けがでる

I came across もったいないお化けがでる What does that mean?
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63 views

How should I start learning Japanese as a total beginner and a native English speaker? [closed]

I am thinking of moving to Japan in the future, and I know that I will have to pass JLPT exams in order to get a job. So how should I start learning?
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Trying to make sense of a sentence in Akutagawa's “Hell Screen”

Towards the end of chapter 10 of Akutagawa's Hell Screen, その度にばさ/\と、凄じく翼を鳴すのが、落葉の匂だか、滝の水沫とも或は又猿酒の饐ゑたいきれだか何やら怪しげなものゝけはひを誘つて、気味の悪さと云つたらございません。 Source which translated to The flattering of wings is ...
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579 views

Is there a story behind drawing a face with の as eyes, も as a nose and へ as a mouth?

In the first episode of the Zatoichi series there is a scarecrow whose face is drawn using various hiragana. When I seen it it occurred to me that I've seen that done somewhere else before. Is there ...
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107 views

ゆ has connotations for hot water and bathhouses, are there other examples of this shorthand?

You often see hiragana ゆ in bathhouses, and after reading this answer, I think I understand why. I have noticed hiragana nu ぬ at festivals on banners, and wondered what do these characters represent ...
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107 views

Definition of 'Scramble Road'

I was watching an MMD on YouTube called 'Tokio Funka' created by PizaCG and quite enjoyed the fact that they included an English language translation in the Closed Captions. I was able to lookup most ...
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95 views

Help me understand the first three lines from 松任谷由実’s 「甘い予感」

あなたの耳のむこう 夕日がきれいね 息をかけたら消えそう Source: http://j-lyric.net/artist/a000c13/l00f5ed.html Song on the Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9Zm8sorINQ Translating the three lines literally The sun ...
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163 views

Cultural question: Why「本当?」and「んだ?」are so popular?

This style of communication is very different from English. When saying something to someone, 本当?? is a common response. Also, for example if someone said 決めた!, a common response might be 決めたんだ! できた!...
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149 views

Why is “学校があるからお休みが染みるんだなあ” a poem?

I was reading a web manga, and came across this panel: The spring break (春休み) has just started for this character, and apparently she refers to the following as poem (as in 詩を詠んでしまった): 学校が ...
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Small あ after は?

I’m trying to read a book but I came across a sentence where there are small あs after はs and I’m not sure why. Do you know why that is and what it means? その時【とき】、子供【こども】たちの声【こえ】が聞こえました【きこえました】。 「...
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Do Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi have a collective title in Japanese?

When reading up on Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi I often see them referred to as the "great unifiers" but I can't find what (if anything) Japanese people call them? Is there ...
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1answer
439 views

Is there a meaning associated with upside-down kanji?

I'm watching an anime ("The Irregular at Magic High School"), and in one scene (Season 1, Episode 23, 0:45), the kanji 福 ("good fortune": https://jisho.org/search/%E7%A6%8F%20%23kanji Colors are ...
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116 views

A question about 依り代

I was reading a few articles about 依り代 and there's one thing I'm wondering about. Most of what I read say that 'yorishiro' are objects or sometimes people that attract kami. The following is just my ...
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Did the Japanese have a concept of “Asia” apart from the Eurocentric definition?

Japan had contact with China, India and the Mongols, among others. Is there a term they used for Asia (in the sense of "land mass where China is" or such) before "アジア"?
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Honorifics in Japan

I learnt alot of korean and also the fact that a younger girl would call an older girl 'eonni' or and older boy 'oppa'. Also a younger boy would say Noona (older girl) or hyung (older boy). Do ...
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Understanding censorship in the game “Vivid Army”

Recently I played a game which is call Vivid Army and there's a little conversation between me and this guy but I found that there's some word is censored. 7873 is me. As you can see I have written "...
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1answer
175 views

What Japanese term would be used to describe the image that Japanese see when they look at the moon? [closed]

What do Japanese see when they look at the moon? In America, we see the face of a man. Is it the same in Japan? A fellow Japanese learner asked me this question online.
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Translation struggles - Kuroshio Current being mentioned in a patriotic song

I'm trying to make sense of an old Japanese patriotic song 五・一五事件 昭和維新行進曲 陸軍の歌, and there's a line that contains a reference to the Kuroshio Current. The event this song was written about (the so-...
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What are the special coins and notes used that honor the Olympics and the new Emperor called? [duplicate]

I understand that some new Olympic and Imperial coins/notes are being introduced into general circulation. I just want to know what these special Olympic and new Emperor coin/notes would be called.
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160 views

What are the social implications of being too polite lingustically?

Reviewing some basic keigo forms, I was wondering what happens if you express yourself too polite... I heared that is not uncommon for (elder) couples to use keigo to express their uttermost respect ...
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149 views

Difference between the words kakemono and kakejiku

Does anyone reading this site know of any nuance(s) differentiating these two words? Numerous online sites say that kakejiku is more commonly used, but I have found no information about whether the ...
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130 views

圧が強い what's the meaning?

What exactly means to describe someone saying "圧が強い" (atsu ga tsuyoi) . I know that's something related with "the person has a strong pressure" or "the pressure in that person is strong" but I was ...
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104 views

Word games in Japanese (similar to Newspaper games in English?)

I am a big fan of what I would call "word games" that are often found in English newspapers like crosswords, cryptograms, scrambled word games, etc. Usually games like these somehow involve ...
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354 views

How would you express the sentiment of “Happy New Era” [duplicate]

Something like 良いお時代を。? Or would you specifically say 令和? If not that, what would be a literal English translation?
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132 views

Is しかたない a characteristically Japanese response to a question?

It has been suggested in a comment here: How is しかたない an opinion about a product feature? that しかたない might be a characteristically Japanese response to a question (that a Western person might never ...
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Why is ostracism called 村八分【むらはちぶ】?

While doing some reading of old questions, I stumbled upon the term 村八分【むらはちぶ】, which is apparently means ostracism. I'm curious what the 8 parts (八分) are and how this relates to ostracism.
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What are the stereotypical qualities of a gaijin trying to speak/write Japanese to a Japanese person?

There are plenty of stereotypical qualities of a Japanese speaking person trying to speak English, so, would I be correct in assuming the reverse is also the case, and if so, what would the most ...
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Why are Japanese fonts different to Chinese?

I’ve noticed that Japanese and Chinese writing tends to use different fonts. Japanese fonts tend use wider lines and more curves. Chinese fonts tend to use narrow angular lines and there are ...
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368 views

How to express that somebody apologized on behalf of somebody else

To help describe my issue, let's imagine following situation: A foreigner comes to Japan. He is in the company of a native Japanese person. Suppose they are friends. During the day, the foreigner ...
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233 views

What do you say when you want to reject a gift without offending anyone?

If you are offered something that you don't want, what do you say to reject it politely?
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567 views

How do Japanese people think/talk about socioeconomic classes?

Every society has its own way of talking about socioeconomic class. In America/Canada, people talk about the "poor", "(lower/upper) middle class", and "upper class", as well as the "1%" and ".1%"; ...
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153 views

Appropriate terms for indigenous people

I'm often asked about my home country by Japanese people and wish to discuss the unique polynesian culture of the indigenous people there. How do I describe them in Japanese? I understand that this is ...
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How do you say “hello” properly in Kyoto?

Rosetta Stone, which I use for learning, uses konnichiwa (こんにちは?) as a generic "hello". But when visiting Kyoto and places around there, I have never heard anyone actually saying it, not even a single ...
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358 views

Saying “I have no need for 'that'” ('that = insert any phrase') in three different circumstances and in various degree of politeness

Situation1: My close friends offer me 'something' that of no use for me. So I want to reject it by saying 'I have no need for 'that'. (Situation 1-1: I want to sound really rude to my close friend as ...
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210 views

Why do people use the word “くそ”? [duplicate]

I don't know if it's written in hiragana but I have knowledge that kuso means "shit". Why do kids use that term so much? Isn't it offensive or considered a bad word? I am asking this because it's not ...
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95 views

Can i use 戻りました or 帰って来ました after being offline for a long period to say i'm back online?

What do i say when i want to say i'm back online after being offline during a long period of time? Can i use 戻りました and/or 帰って来ました?
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113 views

How to answer to 精一杯頑張ってきます?

I was talking with my japanese penpal and he wrote to me 精一杯頑張ってきますよ! after I wrote him おはようございます!お仕事頑張ってきてね! because he told me he was going to work. I don't know if there's an answer or not. In ...
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306 views

Does a bear sh*t in the woods? Rhetorical affirmations in Japanese. Is there any?

I could not find anything on this website nor with a (quick I admit) search on Google. Does Japanese have any "yes phrase" (or more technically rhetorical affirmation) used to answer questions whose ...
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5k views

Why are police boxes labeled Koban (in roman letters) in Japan?

I understand that the word for police box is Koban or 交番 in kanji, but why is the signage always in roman letters - Koban. My guess would be to make it easier for foreigners to read, but wouldn't ...
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266 views

Correct spelling of “Gemu Otaku”

In studies on contemporary Japanese culture, they use "Gemu Otaku" in the sense of "video game nerd", "game freak". Is this an academic term only or do people actually use this term in Japanese ...
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802 views

What is the term used for a baby's age at birth?

Is a babies age determined by date of conception or date of birth? What is the term used for determining the age? A Japanese friend told me that a pregnancy is 10 months. I have always used tanjoubi ...
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What are the equivalents of millionnaire, multimillionaire and billionaire in Japanese?

I'm talking about the "cultural" ones, because with the yen currency the scale is completely different (millionnaire with yen is only about having approximately 10 000 usd so I don't think it's the ...
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191 views

Formality when talking to ex girlfriend

I am a 32 year old American male. I dated a Japanese female from Kobe for three years. She is now 35 years old, married with a baby. I met her in Kobe, where I lived as well. We haven't spoken in ...
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231 views

Implications of ヒロイン (Heroine) in stories

I've read that ヒロイン , meaning 'heroine', can also imply a romantic interest to the hero pretty much by default culturally in Japan's stories. I can't seem to find any definitive source for this from ...
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112 views

Is it strange to say おはようございます to family members at home?

My teacher said that it is strange to say おはようございます to parents, brothers and sisters at home. Is it true?
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What does rubbing a finger under one's nose mean?

Ash Ketchum sometimes does this: I'm sure this macro is simply ignorant of some Japanese body language he's using. Another example is here: I can't recall any other anime character who does ...
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2answers
600 views

Appropriate Honorifics for Fan Letter

I wrote a fan letter to Japanese actors that I admire. It was compulsory to write his name on the envelope, so I just simply put Xさん However, I later noticed that everyone seems to address him as ...
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1k views

When you introduce yourself to someone, do you say your first name first, or your last name first?

title says all basically if someone (i'll use the name bob smith as an example) were to introduce themselves, would they call themselves "smith bob" or just "bob smith"
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234 views

Naming things after people

European languages seem to name things after people (or people-like things) on a very regular basis. We have everything from 'Mount Everest' and 'Washington, DC' to 'Robert A Welch Hall'. Places named ...