Sunday, January 11, 2009

Insults via gestures in Japan


A question I recently received via email is: Ranma is frequently sticking up his middle finger, does it mean the same thing in Japan as it does in the US? Several people have also come to this blog, according to statcounter, to find out what hand gestures are negative in Japan.

Ranma is insulting the person who he shows his middle finger to but it is just an insult in Japan. It does not have the sexual connotations or the severity that it does in the United States. A judge in Japan even ruled that the sign of raising the middle finger with the back of one's right hand down is recognized in Japan as an act signifying insult or provocation. The use of this gesture is not as common in Japan as it is in the US.

Some insulting/rude body gestures in Japan:
-Showing the soles of your feet demonstrates disrespect, exposing the lowest and dirtiest part of your body is insulting.
- Spread fingers slightly apart and tuck the thumb into the palm while thrusting your hand into your target’s face is very insulting. It roughly means animal and was used primarily on Koreans.
-Inserting the thumb between index finger and middle finger, in imitation of the clitoris, is the sexual connotation that the middle finger has in the USA.
-Passing an item to someone with one hand is very rude in Japan, two hands should be used when passing things.
-Form a circle with fingers to indicate O.K. - means okay in the USA. In Japan it means money and depending on the context asking for money would be rude.
-Tugging at the eye, often accompanied by sticking out one's tongue, is a childishly offensive gesture.
-there are more.

For non insulting body language see this post: Japanese Body Language which links to a site that explains some Japanese body language.

2 comments:

Paulius Šukys said...

Hey, really interesting read! I'm currently writing an essay about misunderstanding of what is truth and what is false, this helped me a lot.

thank you very much :)

idodeisuke1987 said...

I've seen this sole-of-the-foot-thing first in a article about shoeing in the Wikipedia. In the middle east it's also an insulting gesture.