Have you ever been to Japan? You may have noticed that several of the common gestures used by Japanese people are actually quite different from the ones used in your home country. Here is a picture guide of the most commonly used gestures in Japan, along with their meanings!
1. Me/ I
In Japan, this meaning is conveyed by putting your index finger to your nose. This is how people indicate themselves, or ask “Me?” Usually, people also say “Watashi?” (わたし) which means “Me?”
2. Come Here
To gesture for someone to come to you, put your hand up with your fingers down, and beckon for them to come! This can be done with one or both hands. Usually, Japanese people also say “kochi kitte!” (こっちきて）which means “come here” or “kitte, kitte” (きて！きて！）which means “Come! Come!”
To make the gesture for “please”, put your hands together with your fingers up as if you are praying. This gesture is used when asking for something, or making a request. The Japanese for “please” is “onegai” (おねがい). It’s a very polite gesture!
The word for money in Japanese is okane (おかね). The Japanese gesture for money is a circle made with the thumb and index finger, with the fingers out laying flat. The origins of this gesture aren’t commonly known, but it does look a bit like a coin and some bills!
When Japanese people use their arms to make a big X across their chest, that’s the gesture for wrong, or not allowed. The Japanese word for this gesture is “dame” (だめ), which means “no” or “not allowed”. If you’re answering a question and the answer is wrong, this gesture can be used as well, along with the word “batsu” (ばつ), which means “incorrect” or “false”. There’s also an emoji of a woman doing this gesture on iPhone!
If this gesture reminds you of a demon, then that’s right! In Japan, this gesture is commonly used to express when someone is angry (okotteiru, おこっている) or irritated (ira ira suru, イライラする). It’s supposed to resemble the horns of a little angry oni (おに), which is a demon!
7. I Don’t Know
To make the gesture for “I don’t know” or wakarimasen (わかりません) in Japanese, tilt your head as if you are thinking, and bring your closed fist up to your chin. Many Western countries indicate that they are unsure of something by shrugging their shoulders, but not really in Japan! The gesture pictured below is what Japanese people use to convey they don’t know.
8. Excuse Me/ Coming Through
When passing through a crowd, or trying to walk by someone who is in their path, Japanese people will lower their head and make this gesture to indicate they are coming through. The word for “Excuse me!” in Japanese is “sumimasen!” (すみません), which is almost always said when doing this gesture.
The Japanese word for “cute” is one of the most-used words in the entire language: “kawaii” (かわいい) is the Japanese word used to describe all things cute. It’s only natural that there is a gesture to go with this popular word! To make the gesture for “cute”, point your fingers to the dimples of your cheeks and smile. It’s also common for younger girls to do this gesture while puffing out their cheeks in a cute-sy way.
This is a very Japanese gesture! The word koibito (こいびと) in Japanese literally translates to “love person” in English, and refers to someones’ lover, boyfriend, or girlfriend. When Japanese lightly refer to a boyfriend or girlfriend, they often stick out their pinky finger and point to it. This gesture indicates a lover or significant other!
This gesture is commonly used in many countries. Japanese people often wave enthusiastically with two hands to convey hello or goodbye, especially with close friends or family. When used as a greeting, Japanese people often pair this gesture with hisashiburi (ひさしぶり！！), which means “long time no see!” And when saying goodbye, instead of using the formal sayonara (さようなら), it’s much more common for people to just say “bye bye”!
Japanese Gestures LIVE:
We recently did a Facebook live in which we talked about the above Japanese gestures, as well as interacted with you guys in the comments! People all over the world participated and told us about the different gestures in their own countries. It was one of our most popular Facebook lives ever! Watch it below:
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