Words that express mind of Japanese people

Words that express mind of Japanese people in Japanese and in English

in Japanese
in English
侘び (わび)
austere refinement

A frame of mind in which spiritual richness can be found in the simple and tranquil. This mentality forms an important basis of the traditional tea ceremony.

寂び (さび)
quiet simplicity

A poetic ideal fostered by Basho in haiku in which profound meaning can be found in the datached and the dispassionate. Evocations of sabi in painting are seen in scenes of desolation.

本音と建前 (ほんねとたてまえ)
(hon-ne to ta-te-ma-e)
real intention or motive and stated reason

Honne refers to a person’s real intention or motive. The Japanese are reluctant to to reveal the real intention and motive in public. Tatemae refers to the Japanese inclination to follow conventional principles or take a fixed course of action.

根回し (ねまわし)
prior consultation
groundwork within the company

The practice of discussing in advance the proposals that will be made at a meeting. Dicision making generally requires unanimous agreement in Japanese companies, hence the necessity of maneuvering behind the scenes to reach a consensus beforehand.

粋 (いき)

An aesthetic ideal fostered by the urban commoners in the Edo period (1600-1868). “I-ki” reflects refined and elegant beauty in one’s demeanor, with undertones of tasteful sensuality.

世間体 (せけんてい)

An acute consciousness among the Japanese of how they appear to others. They have a reluctance to behave differently from the socially accepted norm because the main goal is keeping their reputation intact.

恩 (おん)
appreciation of favor

A feeling of gratitude toward a person from whom one has received a favor or gift.

義理 (ぎり)
social obligation

An obligation to return favors in certain social situation or to persons from whom one has received particular favors. Neglecting this obligation to reciprocate will often cause one to lose the trust of others in Japanese society.

洒落 (しゃれ)

An aesthetic sense like i-ki, fostered by the urban commoners in the Edo period. The aesthetis sense reflects an intriguing trendiness and something captivating in dress, mannerisms and speech that differ from the norm.

内と外の意識 (うちとそとのいしき)
(u-chi-to-so-to no ishi-ki)
insider and outsider mentality

The Japanese mentality of differentiating between those inside and outside one’s own group and treating them accordingly, that is to say, maintaining distance towards people outside the group.


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  2. Suppon (soft-shelled turtle) on the run

  3. Japanese Proverbs used in Japan

  4. Roses at Hanaasobi on May 20, 2016 (Part 2)

  5. Cherry Blossom in 2014 and 2016

  6. We visited Rose Festival at Hanaasobi on May 20, 2016

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