Sunday, January 30, 2011

My favourite Japanese euphemisms

Japan is a land of euphemisms, some obscure, some humourous, some insulting.

The sex industry has produced many.  In a country where prostitution is actually illegal by law, but is worth 1% of the national GDP,  a whole bunch of eumphemisms have emerged to prop up the facade:

Japanese word or phrase                                   Actual meaning

health salon                                                          brothel
soapland                                                              brothel
pink salon                                                            blowjob brothel
cabaret                                                                lapdance club
delivery health                                                      outcall prostitution
love hotel                                                             sex hotel
gift dating                                                            teenage prostitution
lolita con                                                              paedophilia
telephone club                                                     teenage prostitute club
entertainer visa                                                     sex industry visa
water business                                                     hostessing
image club                                                           fancy dress sex club
happening bar                                                      orgy club
pipecut (this makes me cringe)                              vasectomy
Then there are a number of phrases whose meaning only becomes apparent over time:

language exchange                                               cross-culture dating
education                                                             brainwashing
construction                                                         make-work
restructured                                                          fired
university                                                              killing time
Yes                                                                     No
Maybe                                                                 No
It's difficult                                                           No
We'll think about it                                                No
No                                                                       Fuck off

Of course, Japan has been doing this for a long time.  Here are a couple of gems from the Second World War (Of course, other governments are not immune to this kind of doubletalk, witness collateral damage):

Co-prosperity sphere                                              Empire
Comfort woman                                                     sex slave
Nanking incident                                                   Nanking massacre

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