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28 votes
Accepted

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

The answer is right on the 警視庁 (metropolitan police department)'s website. Basically it says that it is common to use foreign words as-is if there is no similar cultural counterpart, using sumo and ...
Jimmy's user avatar
  • 3,023
23 votes

No word for "time" until 1871?

I think the word [時間]{じかん} was created in the Meiji era, but the word [時]{とき} is older. So it's definitely wrong that "the Japanese didn't have any interest in clocks (until 1871)". I searched in an ...
Faily Feely's user avatar
  • 5,378
20 votes
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No word for "time" until 1871?

Addendum The word 時{とき} is probably the oldest native Japanese word for "time". This term appears in the 万葉集{まんようしゅう} written in Old Japanese and compiled from poems composed from the 300s through ...
Eiríkr Útlendi's user avatar
19 votes

How do attendance checklists in Japan deal with multiple possible name readings?

It's like this: Teacher: 「野田{のだ} 努{つとむ}さん。」 野田: 「はい。」 T: 「いわい 隆{たかし}さんですかね?しゅくさんですか?」(the surname reads 祝) 祝: 「はふりです。」 T: 「はふりって読むんですか。珍しい名前ですね。はふり たかしさん。」 祝: 「はい。」 This conversation has ...
user19858's user avatar
  • 774
17 votes
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What are the stereotypical qualities of a gaijin trying to speak/write Japanese to a Japanese person?

I'm not sure if this is within the scope of your question, but the following is about highly stereotyped traits of "gaijin-speech" found in manga and net forums. They are explained in pages like this, ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
15 votes
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Why is ostracism called 村八分【むらはちぶ】?

During the Edo period, villages traditionally had 10 communal activities: 冠 - 成人式 - coming of age ceremony 婚 - marriage 建築 - helping with building/repairing 病気 - helping when sick 水害 - ...
Ringil's user avatar
  • 8,524
14 votes
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Why are Japanese fonts different to Chinese?

I assume you're specifically talking about kanji/hanzi glyphs. (Hiragana are obviously more cursive.) Basically the overall appearances of typical Chinese hanzi and Japanese kanji fonts are not ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
14 votes

Did the Japanese have a concept of "Asia" apart from the Eurocentric definition?

Short Answer: As for the Japanese language, we didn't have such a word and I don't think we should have had. Ancient Japanese only knew as far as India, that means they only knew one "landmass" in ...
broccoli forest's user avatar
14 votes
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In what unit is the length of Japanese texts measured?

The length of a text written in Japanese is usually measured in characters (e.g. 400文字). One often writes handwritten assignments at school/university on 原稿用紙 genkō yōshi (lit. "manuscript paper&...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 48.2k
13 votes
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How do you say "hello" properly in Kyoto?

Perhaps you have to give up on the idea that "there should be a perfect equivalent of hello in Japanese (or in Kyoto)". Different languages have different sets of greetings. Some common phrases like ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
13 votes

回{まわ}り as a counter for 12 years?

It is a measurement of time based on the zodiac cycle. There are 12 zodiacs and each year the zodiac changes to the next. Every 12 years the zodiac repeats; two people have the same zodiac sign if ...
TGPNG's user avatar
  • 131
12 votes
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What does it say on my Japanese alarm clock?

I think this is all you need. 午前 AM ・ 午後 PM 日 SUN ・ 月 MON ・ 火 TUE ・ 水 WED ・ 木 THU ・ 金 FRI ・ 土 SAT 先勝 sensh­ō ・ 友引 tomobiki/y­ūin ・ 先負 senbu ・ 仏滅 butsumetsu ・ 大安 taian/daian ・ 赤口 shakkō ¹ モニター display ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 48.2k
12 votes

How do attendance checklists in Japan deal with multiple possible name readings?

Well I don't know about school per se, but every form I've seen so far (Foreign registration, tax, social security, subscription to various utilities...) asks you to not only write your name, but ...
Urukann's user avatar
  • 2,736
12 votes

What does rubbing a finger under one's nose mean?

This gesture, typically seen in fiction such as anime, manga, rather old films or dramas, and typically done by young boys, indicates one's pride, confidence, and/or embarrassment. In Japanese ...
chocolate's user avatar
  • 65.6k
11 votes
Accepted

What does 次行ってみよう mean?

次{つぎ}行{い}ってみよう is a famous phrase used by a Japanese comedian いかりや長{ちょう}介{すけ}. IIRC this phrase caught on in the late 1970's. He used this catchphrase frequently in his TV comedy show, at the end of ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
11 votes

A formal/informal way to say I don't want anything

If the scenario were saying "I don't want anything" in response to someone offering you something (food, drink, etc.), you could also use (私は)[結構]{けっ・こう}です。 → I'm fine/all right.
istrasci's user avatar
  • 44.2k
10 votes
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What are the general patterns of child-directed speech in Japanese?

This question is quite broad, but of course child-directed speech also exists in Japanese. You probably know ~さん → ~ちゃん is said to be both children's speech as well as child-directed speech, but it ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 48.2k
10 votes
Accepted

How do attendance checklists in Japan deal with multiple possible name readings?

First, even native Japanese adults can correctly guess the reading of the kanji names of, say, only 90% of students, at most. Quite a few people have names (either first names or surnames) with really ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
10 votes
Accepted

What should I say when a senior colleague is leaving before me?

According to デジタル大辞泉, the Agency for Cultural Affairs (文化庁) conducted a study on this topic and found that 69.2% of people used お疲れ様 to someone of a higher rank vs. 15.1% for ご苦労様. To someone of a ...
Blavius's user avatar
  • 8,105
9 votes
Accepted

Why are most Japanese newspapers, magazines and books read from back to front?

Japanese can be written in two directions. in columns each column is written from top to bottom columns are arranged from right to left in rows [as in English] each row is written from left to ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 48.2k
9 votes
Accepted

What is the Japanese meaning of the name "Kakka"?

"Kakka" is far from popular; it's virtually nonexistent as a Japanese person name. But there is a word 閣下 ("kakka"), which is a word used to address heads of government/state. It's like English "Your ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
9 votes

Why are Japanese fonts different to Chinese?

I basically agree with @naruto's answer - the main reason is that if a Japanese designer chose a relatively unique Japanese font for design aesthetics, it is normally a challenge to get a matching ...
dROOOze's user avatar
  • 9,110
9 votes
Accepted

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

It sounds like you are referring to Henohenomoheji (へのへのもへじ). It is sometimes used on Japanese scarecrows (かかし) and teru teru bōzu (てるてる坊主) dolls. The name refers to the Hiragana characters used to ...
Ambo100's user avatar
  • 909
9 votes
Accepted

Meaning of もったいないお化けがでる

If you don't finish your plate, then the leftover food will come to life and this you call もったいないお化け. Apparently, this concept originates in this TV spot and as far as I can tell is also nowadays a ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 48.2k
9 votes

Stubbornly gender-neutral way to address or refer to your older sibling? (Wait a minute...what about non-binary?)

First of all, nearly all Japanese sentences are naturally gender-agnostic, so you never have to be "stubbornly gender-neutral" when speaking Japanese. In English, it is very challenging to ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
8 votes
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Special Katsudon table with a light?

「デスクランプのあるテーブルを挟んで座る」(Sitting face to face at a table/desk with a desk light on it) reminds us of 警察の取り調べ室 (police interrogation room), which is often depicted in fiction like this: And 取り調べ室 often ...
chocolate's user avatar
  • 65.6k
8 votes
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Confusing use of 減る

What decreases is the stock on hand. In other words, Maruko's mother is saying that, since people eat nori on so many occasions, one's supply runs out very quickly, and so one is happy to receive it. ...
どっかのおっさん's user avatar

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