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Monday, September 1, 2008


ていしゅ かんぱく
teishu kanpaku

Before I get started with this one, I'd like to say both thanks and sorry to the people who have still been checking on the website daily despite our truancy. As an admitted internet-abuser, I know what it's like to come time and time again to a site that advertises fresh-baked grammar every day and only produces moldy vocabulary croissants from last week. In our defense, Jeff is pretty much a vagabond right now and I've been trying to fend off a pair of squatters for the past month. Are these two things related? Undoubtedly so. But it's still little excuse for us to let the site go to waste, especially when the summer crawl meant zero classes for me. So again, sorry for the delay, and without further ado...

The way I stumbled upon this one was actually when discussing some regional 表現 with the aforementioned ne'er-do-wells and my girlfriend. The evening's topic : 九州男児 (きゅうしゅう だんじ). Defining this phrase is a bit tricky, and my attempts to get a more exact definition via the internet have only made it more of a challenge. The very first time I was exposed to the term was when I first arrived in Tokyo and went to a bar with some of my future administration. One of them chose to order some shouchu, which is pretty much the strongest native Japanese drink. His colleagues were quick to jokingly call him a "Kyushu Danji", and seeing as that's where I was going to live, I tried to investigate the meaning a little. My Japanese two years ago, however, was a bit stumbly, and all I discerned from the conversation was that Kyushu Danjis love to drink. Given the reputation of many JETs, this seemed like a useful word to know.

But it turns out that being a heavy drinker isn't enough to qualify you for K. Danji-ship. To be honest, I can't entirely say where the next bit of my tutelage came from, but I remember soon learning that the stereotype associated with 九州男児 includes a variety of attributes common to the men of Kyushu. After the drinking, there is also what I can only describe as swarthiness. This is a natural side-effect of living in the most Southern island of Japan (ie. more sun year-round) and also living in what is largely regarded as a rural area (ie. more farms = more time in the sun). The next piece, and arguably the biggest, is the personality. And that's where today's yoji comes in.

1. A man who acts like the king of his house.
2. A chauvanistic and/or domineering husband.

This phrase is closely linked with the 九州男児 image, in which the husband lords over his wife. It's important to note that nowhere has the term "abusive" been mentioned, as it's actually quite difficult to become 亭主関白 without a partner who is subservient by nature (so I'm led to believe). Someone described with this yoji is likely to assume that all the cooking/cleaning is women's work, and they should not need to be reminded of that.

Jumping back to 九州男児, please keep in mind that a regional expression like this will get all kinds of different mileage in different areas and company. In searching for a definition, I found a gay Japanese blogger who defined the phrase simply as "very manly," and in an entirely positive light. I've even met girls here who say 九州男児's are more desirable, labeling their Tokyo counterparts as too effeminate in dress, appearance, and even speech. Whether or not being described this way is good or bad will depend entirely on the speaker.
I think I can nearly fulfill the requirements of being called a Kyushu Danji. Excessive chest hair? Check! The belief that laundry and cooking are women's work? Check! A veritable drunkard? DOUBLE check! The only problem is that my skin's not quite dark enough...maybe I should get out more often?

Note: I actually don't believe that business about a woman's place in the world - except in circumstances where it's comedic gold, or even comedic silver. I am even known to settle for comedic pewter.

Note the Second: Like Jeff said, I'm going to try to give a grammar post every Tuesday AND Thursday starting from this Tuesday. Also like I said before, any suggestions for the topics of said posts is hugely welcome. See you soon!

Note the THIRD: Jeff posted a comment saying how one of the keys of Kyushu Danji is that they do all of the above...without saying a word. They aren't mute, but if you have to vocalize your commands or desires, you are no Kyushu danji.


AzzidisRidden said...

One of the defining characteristics of K. Danji as I understand them, is that they impose their will (on women) WITHOUT having to say anything. I believe that this is key.

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