Interesting Japanese - 暗黙のルール

Posted on February 27, 2014 | genkijacs

In relation to our previous post about the so-called "rules" of Valentine's Day/White Day, an interesting term came up when we did some research on the topic: "暗黙のルール" (あんもくのルール - "anmoku no ru-ru").

Many of you have probably heard of 暗黙の了解 (あんもくのりょうかい - "anmoku no ryoukai"), the unspoken/implicit agreements that allow fan-artists in the manga industry to create doujinshi and other fan works. This term applies to a lot of social interactions as well - for example, when you can't (or don't want to!) go to a party, you respond "ちょっと・・・" to the invitation, and it is implicitly understood that you're declining, even though you never directly said "no".

Along the same vein, 暗黙のルール are certain social "rules" that everyone somehow knows about, but no one actually ever teaches. These kind of "implicit rules" can be things that are considered so obvious there is no need to speak about them (like the fact that you're not supposed to blow your nose in public, or eat while walking on the sidewalk).

So with Valentine's Day/White Day, the "rules" are considered obvious, so no explanation is added along any of the candies/gifts on display at the shops.

Every culture and society has these kinds of rules, and they differ from country to country, but Japan does seem to have a lot of them! Can you think of any other interesting 暗黙のルール? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook!

Valentine's Day and White Day

Posted on February 24, 2014 | genkijacs

One of our Japanese language students recently asked us what the appropriate way was to give return gifts on White Day. This is an interesting question indeed, and one we think a lot of foreign guys probably wonder about around this time of year.

First, it's important to note that Valentine's Day is split into two parts in Japan - Valentine's Day on February 14 and White Day on March 14.

In Japan, only girls are supposed to give gifts to guys* on Valentine's Day. The kind of gift - size, cost, etc - you give depends on who the guy is in relation to you. For example, you can give inexpensive 義理チョコ (ぎりちょこ "obligation chocolate"/"appreciation candy") to your co-workers and friends, but expensive or handmade chocolate is reserved only for that special someone. Or, your dad. Or brother. But definitely not your teacher.

Sound complicated? Like a lot of social interactions in Japanese society, there are a few "rules"** that have to be kept in mind when buying or returning gifts for your loved ones. As if the stress of giving a gift to your crush on Valentine's Day wasn't already bad enough!


So what is White Day?

White Day is celebrated one month after Valentine's Day, on March 14. On this day, men are supposed to return gifts to the women who gave them gifts on Valentine's Day.

The same gift "rules" apply for the men - "appreciation chocolate" for co-workers or friends, expensive candy (or jewellery, flowers, etc) for that special someone. Guys are technically only supposed to return gifts to girls they received gifts from - and we know all the girls reading this are shouting "that's not fair!" right now, but bear in mind that the guys are also supposed to return a gift 3 times the monetary value of what they were given. This is called 3倍返し (さんばいがえし - sanbai-gaeshi).

(Relatedly, here is some interesting Japanese: the practice of 3倍返し is often said to be similar to "海老で鯛を釣る" ("えびでたいをつる" - ebi de tai wo tsuru). Literally meaning "to throw in a shrimp and pull out a whale", the idiom of a small gift bringing a great reward has never been more accurate...)

Good luck to everyone trying to find a gift for White Day... We won't be giving any advice on what exactly to give as we think it best you give a gift from the heart. And that's all for today's blog post of entirely unuseful information by people who are not helpful at all!

*We're not sure how the "rules"** work where people who identify outside of the heteronormative binary are concerned. We assume they can receive gifts on both days... Lucky!!

**The term "rules" is used only loosely here. First and foremost, it's the thought that counts - any gift you want to give is sure to be appreciated a lot by whomever you give it to! As a famous pirate once said... "They're more like 'guidelines' anyway!"

"Berry" tasty and "berry" sweet!

Posted on February 16, 2014 | genkijacs


Strawberry-picking is a much-loved activity in Japan from December to May, but it is especially nice during the spring months, when the strawberries are ripe and sweet and the weather is not too cold or too hot to spend the day outside.

3 of the best 5 strawberry-growing regions in Japan are in Kyushu, with Fukuoka coming in second overall, so our Fukuoka Japanese language students who love strawberries should definitely make a point of going strawberry-picking while in Japan!

A lot of sites have special guides on strawberry-picking, with tips on how to find the tastiest berries, but here are two that have some good information in English, along with a list and map of famous strawberry-picking spots around Fukuoka:

- Japan Hot Now!
- Fukuoka Now.


Posted on February 07, 2014 | genkijacs

We recently received a HUGE box filled with sweets, cookies and chocolates all the way from Germany, from one of our frequent Japanese language students, Dieter-san.


Thank you so much for the amazing and generous gift, Dieter-san!
The teachers and staff were soooo happy to get so many yummy treats! We'll have to take special care to keep them hidden, otherwise they'll never last the week!!

If you look up "sweet tooth" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of GenkiJACS' teachers and staff...

Setsubun 2014

Posted on February 04, 2014 | genkijacs

Setsubun is a special Japanese event marking the last day of winter. The event is celebrated by casting "demons" (ill luck, or bad happenings) out of the home, and welcoming good fortune into the home. This is done via the custom of 豆まき (まめまき, "mamemaki"), where beans are thrown at a person wearing a 鬼 (おに, "oni" - demon) mask, and yelling 鬼は外! 福は内! (おにはそと!ふくはうち! "oni wa soto! fuku wa uchi!" - demons out, good fortune in!). This is supposed to bring good luck for the next year to come.


It is also custom to eat your age in beans on setsubun, for good fortune (although if you're very old, it might be a good idea to go easy on the beans...)

Another setsubun custom is to eat 恵方巻 (えほうまき, "ehoumaki"), a special kind of sushi roll which is eaten standing, facing in the "lucky direction" of that particular year. This year, the "lucky" direction was East-Northeast.


When eating ehoumaki, you're not allowed to talk or laugh until the whole maki is finished. Harder than it sounds!


There are more Setsubun photos on our Facebook page, so check it out!
Fukuoka school setsubun.
Tokyo school setsubun.