Japan - from Asahi to Zen
Traditional terms, and a pop culture glossary through the eyes of a raw gaijin.
Glosary Index            Mail Me            Home

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  

Face,   Flags,   Floating World,   Flower Path,   Frustration,   Fugu,   Mt. Fuji,   Furigana,   Furin,   Furo,   Fusuma,   Futon

This is a very important concept for the Japanese, and unfortunately it's one that almost no foreigners have heard of, let alone understand.

It's very important to remember here that all Japanese people have a Face .    Usually you can see it just below the hairline, and just above the neck.    It's important to look at someone from the front though, or you might end up missing the Face altogether.

Remember that having a Face is very important so that you can look a Japanese person in the eye.

The National Flag The national flag of Japan (known as the hinomaru) is the no-doubt familiar red circle centered on a white background.    The red circle represents the Rising Sun, since Japan, in Japanese, is Nihon - meaning Sun Root.    However, some people don't like this flag since it was also the symbol chosen by the Kamikaze fighters in WWII.

military flag Worse again is the old military flag, the Sunburst Flag, displayed prominently in Japan's aggression in Asia and the Pacific around the time of WWII.    This flag does NOT carry the same cultural cuteness cache as say, the old Confederate flag from the US.    Displaying this flag is a sign of ultra-nationalism, and is best avoided.

The Floating World
The pleasure districts, where an evening's entertainment could be found in the tea-houses of Old Japan.    The Gion and Ponto-cho areas of Kyoto were the classic examples, serving cultured young court lordlings, and later on, wealthy up-and-coming merchants.

The modern equivalent consists of streets bustling with Izakayas, restaurnats, massage parlous, and more neon than your eyes can handle.

See Also: Geisha,   Soaplands,   Ukiyo-e

The collective noun for a group of English teachers.

Fugu ( poisonous blowfish )
The translucent and very bland novelty fish of Japan.

inflatable blowfish Basically, it's not really worth the money on the basis of taste, but people choose this expensive dish, knowing that there's a small but real chance that it may kill them.    Chefs train for seven years before they can obtain a license to prepare this dish.    Nevertheless, some people do die each year.

See Also: Sashimi

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji (Fuji-san, Fuji-yama)
Japan's tallest mountain, at 3,776m.

Mt. Fuji is famed throughout the country for it's isolation, snowy peak and perferctly conical form.    It is Japan's most holy mountain, and was frequently climbed as an expression of faith, especially in the Edo Period.

The climbing season is form April to August, although it may be climbed outside of these months at your own risk.    At all times you need to be careful not to fall victim to altitude sickness, as you're ascending from the flatnes of the Kanto Plain.

See Also: Shinto,   Ukiyo-e

The Japanese Bath, traditionally wooden and round.

traditional furo The Japanese bathe far more than most Westerners.    Indeed, from their first contact with gaijin they've thought that we were a stinking unwashed lot.    In fairness, maybe European sailors who'd just spent two years at sea, were not our paragon's of cleanliness. :-)

man Nevertheless, the Japanese do bathe more often than we do, on average, and here's how.    You scrub yourself vigourously, hose yourself down and get thoroughly clean, before you enter the bath.    In this way the bath water remains clean, and many people can re-use the same water.

See Also:    Onsen,   Ryokan,   Sento,   Toilets

Paper-covered sliding doors, more substantial than Shoji.    They are used to seperate rooms, or for cupboards.

See Also:    Futon,   Genkan,   Irori,   Kotatsu,   Shoji,   Tatami,   Tokonoma,   Windchimes

A padded quilt used for bedding.

Many westerners find that they need two or three of them underneath just to get comfortable.    And some Japanese use a 'real' bed, and then a futon on top.

The concept of a "futon" here is therefore totally different to the idea of a fold-out couch / bed denoted by the same word in the West.

See Also:    Fusuma,   Genkan,   Kotatsu,   Shoji,   Tatami,   Tokonoma,   Windchimes

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  

Top Of Page Glossary Index Melmoth's Home Page