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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Translation of 'Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shōmei Shite Mita' is 'Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove It'?

This anime/manga called Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shōmei Shite Mita (seemingly an anime/manga version of the Sheldon and Amy parts of The Big Bang Theory) is translated as 'Science Fell in Love, So ...
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4 answers
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Importance of stroke order and writing kanji

This got me confused: Various kanji learning sites on the Internet and even books on kanji stress the importance of stroke order while learning new kanji, saying it's highly essential to learn to ...
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1 vote
2 answers
230 views

"Struggle to the death" Japanese culture

I read an article and it had the word "shinimonogurui". And this is how it was explained: 「死に物狂い」というのは、「生きるか死ぬかというくらいの覚悟を持って全力で物事に当たるさま」を意味している表現なのです 例えば、「死に物狂いで努力し続けた結果、...
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Don't 不吉, 富士通 sound alike? [closed]

Isn't it an issue that 不吉, 富士通 sound alike? At least for non-Japanese speakers. For Western companies, they would avoid any even slight associations with something negative.
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1 vote
1 answer
174 views

In which year of education is the 々 symbol taught?

A very similar question was asked here: Does 々 have a kanji grade level? but in the end the main question haven't really been answered, and the best answer was "you don't need to know". Well,...
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14 votes
1 answer
350 views

In what unit is the length of Japanese texts measured?

In English, we measure the length of texts in words. 1,000 words for the average college essay, 50,000 for something like a fiction novel. I’m wondering what unit is used to measure Japanese texts. I’...
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Is おたくじじい a proper term to describe an old man who's into anime or is there another slang term for it?

So as the question states, is おたくじじい a proper term to describe an old geezer otaku or is there a better alternative?
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Using nicknames or first name with high school peers

I have a story set in Japan with Japanese high schoolers (around the ages 17-18). One of them is called Kiwatamura (family name) Ryuko (first name). He is Japanese and lived there as a kid but he ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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When is it overkill to use suffix 先生{せんせい} when addressing someone in Japanese?

When I meet a lawyer (弁護士{べんごし}) or physician (医師{いし}) in Japan, I address them using the (augmentative) suffix 先生{せんせい}. To be clear, I am not a lawyer, physician, or teacher. (I read about how ...
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3 votes
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How to write and sing Shigin (Japanese way of chanting poem) properly?

1, Should Shigin be written in Yamato (old Japanese language)? Or an even older version of Japanese? Can I write it in modern Japanese? 2, Are there rules for Shigin? Such as setting rhythms, melodies,...
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Best Bible translation for my Japanese grandmother? [closed]

I will also be posting this in the Christianity site but I don’t feel like it fits very well in either category. If you can think of a better stack exchange site please let me know. Some background: ...
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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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-1 votes
1 answer
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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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2 answers
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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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4 votes
1 answer
908 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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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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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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1 answer
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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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1 vote
1 answer
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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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2 votes
1 answer
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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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7 votes
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300 views

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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7 votes
1 answer
2k views

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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1 vote
1 answer
705 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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1 vote
1 answer
121 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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14 votes
1 answer
257 views

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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1 vote
2 answers
6k views

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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-6 votes
1 answer
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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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2 votes
2 answers
162 views

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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0 answers
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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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2 votes
1 answer
183 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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1 vote
1 answer
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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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2 votes
1 answer
243 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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0 votes
3 answers
233 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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5 votes
1 answer
388 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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2 votes
1 answer
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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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8 votes
1 answer
1k views

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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12 votes
3 answers
891 views

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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9 votes
2 answers
3k views

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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1 vote
1 answer
503 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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0 votes
2 answers
341 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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4 votes
2 answers
744 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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5 votes
1 answer
324 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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3 votes
3 answers
2k views

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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7 votes
1 answer
399 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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5 votes
2 answers
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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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0 votes
1 answer
330 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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0 votes
1 answer
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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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6 votes
1 answer
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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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24 votes
2 answers
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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