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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Yasuko making gesture for "lover"

Yasuko making gesture for "lover"
Originally uploaded by timtak.
There are quite a few Japanese gestures that are incomprehensible to Britons.

The little finger erect hand gesture is one of these. The little finger erect meaning woman, is part of a pair with the thumb erect which means man. The little finger presumably corresponding to the physically weaker, smaller nature of women compared to men (women have been refered to as 'the weaker sex' as far back as the first collection of Japanese mythology).

The little finger gesture is however more derogatory than the thumb gesture, since it is used to symbolize someone's woman, a girl friend or lover and not just any female. So if someone were to come into a room with a woman that people did not know some one might make this gesture to indicate that the man has a sexual relationship with the woman who he is accompanying. While the thumb up gesture meaning man has largely become obsolete, being replaced with the anglo saxon gesture meaning good, the little finger erect gesture still seems to be used, at least among middle aged Japanese.

I believe the above to be please correct me if I am wrong. STOP PRESS. My wife tells me that the gesture can mean just woman, (not someones woman) but in that case it means a loose woman or perhaps anyone's woman. One does not use the gesture about a lady, or at least not to her face.

The little finger erect gesture is rare in the UK. It might be seen to be representative of effiminate or camp pretension to breeding or social status, by connection with the tendency for some to stick out their little finger when drinking from tea cups. Again, the evil character from the Mike Myers James Bond Spoof also makes this gesture when thinking (evil thoughts) so one might be interpretted as a gesture meaning that the gesturer is plotting something.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.