Thursday, March 24, 2011

John's Guide to Japanese gestures

Here's John explaining all of the Japanese gestures we've adopted in the last 14 months.

This is how you point to yourself - you point to your nose, not your chest.

This is how you indicate that you're kidding - wave hand back and forth in front of yourself.

This is how you beckon some one to come. Josie remembers her kyoto-sensei (vice principal) motioning to her like this in her first week. For a second she couldn't figure out why he was shooing her away until she remembered that's "come" in Japanese gestures. It's reminiscent of the Bulgarians who reverse the head nodding and shaking gestures. Confusing! To think, now we use this with each other even.

This is how you say "no" or "none". Do we even have a gesture for this in the US? Maybe just 2 fingers crossed? This one is the vegetarians' best friend. We use it to order food without meat a LOT.

This is how you indicate where you're going, like if you're going to pass in between people and you want them to move. You move your hand forwards. Old guys use this one a lot.

It's funny because we took these pictures back in March but haven't gotten around to this post until now. John's had a MAJOR haircut since this.


  1. Hi there :)
    I was wondering if you could help me.
    Do you know what does the gesture performed in the following way mean?
    :forming an O, or better to say O- shape with your hands, sometimes the hands are lifted above the head in (also making an O-shape).
    Some people say it means something like "maruu"- "correct, yes that´s correct."
    But I am not sure.
    So what´s your opinion ?
    Thank you very much.
    Ivica S.

  2. Yes, that's right - in Japan X means no/wrong and O means yes/correct!