Thursday, July 12, 2007


JAPANESE GESTURES


Japan has many useful gestures generally unknown in the West, perhaps the most useful being the oddly polite chopping gesture used to pass in front of or between people; very handy. I often use it reflexively when I'm back in the States and people look at me funny, since I thereby assume rights that haven't been granted.

As to another gesture, I remember being a newbie here, having only been in Tokyo for a few weeks, when in Ginza one day I saw an elderly man who had been called to by a stranger on the street point to his nose and raise his eyebrows!' A stranger told him there's something on his nose? What a polite country!' I thought. However, I could see nothing unusual, probosciswise; his nose looked entirely normal. If I'd had this book back then, I would have known what he meant right away...

"Okay, maybe Japanese is a bit hard to learn to speak and write. But there’s a lot you can say in Japanese using just your hands, nose, arms, and other forms of suggestive "body" language. This whimsical look at Japan’s "language of no language" introduces 70 gestures that will help you hurl insults, flirt, agree, excuse yourself, cross the street, and even make promises-—wordlessly!" ---- 70 Japanese Gestures

And as to the other side of the coin, all the many gestures I imported from NY have been of little use here over the years, which has been very disappointing at the reflexive time of use. I've now abandoned most of them, though they return at once when I hit US soil...

4 comments:

Mary Witzl said...

Sounds like a good book, and how nice that people can find, in one volume, all of those intriguing gestures I puzzled over for so long when I first got to Japan.

That useful chopping gesture employed by people who want to cut through a crowd is, I have been told, not considered polite when used by women. I thought it was great when I first learned how to do it, but was soon warned that it made me look very rude. After that I had to rely on verbal skills.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Hmmm, interesting. I'd like to see them come up with a book for the states...even just New York. Of course a lot would be covered with just one gesture....and I think you know which digit I'm talking about.

Annette said...

I've noticed that after having lived in Italy for 11 years, I have adopted a lot of their gestures. That, of course, is no surprise. The funny thing is that I use these gestures even when I'm on the phone...

Bob Brady said...

I know what you mean; I bow over the phone all the time.