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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Japanese Trivia of the day - ナンパ Part 2 of 2

And now the second chapter of our ナンパ series!

If you haven't yet, make sure you catch up on Part 1. It's not essential, but how can you have your pudding if you don't eat your meat?

As promised, let's cover some ナンパ仕方(nanpa shikata), ie "Methods of Flirting" that you might find on the ol` 日本列島.

くどき もんく
kudoki monku

This phrase was first explained to me as "pick-up line," but I've since developed some problems with that translation. 口説き is a noun form of 口説く, which means to seduce or persuade. 文句 simply means a phrase. For example, 決まり文句 (きまり もんく) is another excellent expression to know. It means a set phrase, ie the whole "はじめまして、こちらブレットです。よろしくお願いします" and all that good stuff. It also can mean platitudes, cliches, etc, but that's an explanation for another post. 口説き文句, then, is an expression or phrase used to seduce. While on the surface this matches up pretty well with "pick-up line," there are some fundamentals of each phrase that don't match up.

I didn't gather what said differences were until I gave an assignment to my 英会話 students. I had just learned the expression and was really eager to find a few Japanese examples, seeing as there is no shortage of cheesy/bad American pick-up lines. Alas, my students came up dry, even though I thought two women in their 20s and 30s would be able to recall at least a single 口説き文句 between them. I made it their homework assignment to ask everybody they could think of for a good example of a Japanese pick-up line, and I even gave them a few classic bad American samples for guidance. ("Did it hurt?" "Did what hurt?" "When you fell from heaven") A week rolls by, and here is the one expression they came back with:


I initially thought this was the scariest - and thus funniest - thing you could possibly say to somebody to pick them up at a bar. A lot of American pick-up lines will get a girl's eyes rolling, but few have the police-summoning abilities of this gem.

Sadly, my amusement was short-lived when they explained this is the kind of thing you say to somebody before you intend to marry. It makes a LOT more sense in a context where "till death do us part" is also one of the vows. I'm not sure if the fault lied in the original meaning of the phrase 口説き文句 or in my ability to describe American pick-up lines, but my quest continues.

Jeff reminded me of another one that goes something like "お日明けのコーヒーを飲もう!" or "Let's drink some coffee together at dawn," thus implying sexy times will occur through the evening. However, Google is thwarting my attempts at confirmation... anybody care to verify this one/offer one of their own? There are no words in English or Japanese to describe my disappointment at having no really solid examples of Japanese pick-up lines, and only you can save me.


Although flirting can be a very nuanced process in the States, a lot of the members of the "soft faction" are shockingly forward in Japan. I don't profess to be an expert in either culture and so maybe the distinction is not as pronounced as I imagine it to be. But I would imagine that there is a general American idea of going to a bar to pick up women. There are a few other places, of course - clubs, weddings... funerals?

The big difference with Japanese "nanpa" is that it doesn't really need a venue. It certainly can benefit from one, but it is not uncommon to hear of "street nanpa." Even an idle search on Google for 「ストリートナンパ」 snags an easy 146,000 hits, proving the art form is hardly antiquated. The following is a quick (though on the extreme side) of how things may go down. To lower the sleaze factor and up the funnies, we found a clip where the ナンパターゲット is some random unsuspecting Japanese dude.

Besides simple street stalkings, the other weird place one might observe ナンパ is in front of convenience stores. This anomaly is just as strange as it sounds. We first and most frequently encountered コンビニナンパ when returning home from a long night at the bars. Since the drinking and driving laws are so tight in Japan (thought mostly because we don't really have cars), we always end up walking or riding bikes home. This more often than not results in an obligatory stop at either the 7-11, the Daily Yamazaki (in the days of yore), or both, since Nirav was often compelled to buy milk and cough drops at the last second before we got home. We never knew what happened to either purchase.

Anyway, we soon realized that a lot of the people parked outside of convenience stores would simply hang around, either waiting in their cars or - weather permitting - ヤンキ-crouching out front. Some had come a pretty good distance just to laze around a convenience store, so we investigated, and bam: コンビニナンパ entered our vocabulary. The meaning: trolling around convenience stores looking for women to flirt with. And yes, you guessed it - there's no objective of one day telling your kids you met mommy at the 7-11, though you might have a more interesting story to tell your friends the next day.

This post, like the last one, is beginning to explode out of control, so I'm going to use a shortcut and throw a few links at you for further reading.

These two were some of my main sources for the previous ナンパ post, and they contain a few other bits of information as well.

Number two here is the reason this post was late and nearly made me rethink the two part structure of these posts. It's a guide written by the self-described "nanpazista," some guy (or several guys?) who has devoted a ridiculous amount of his time to both nanpa and teaching the art of nanpa. First warning: It's all in Japanese. Second warning: It OOZES sleaze. Here are some examples of topics: getting a girlfriend by Christmas by taking advantage of holiday spirit, ways to string a girl over to a love hotel, and how to effectively nanpa a girl who already has a boyfriend. Good times! Also, look out for the section on コンビニナンパ, where there are actually diagrams of how to approach girls. Strategic!

If you have any further notes or questions about nanpa, hit us up in the comments. If there is enough interest, we might see the nanpa section live on, if only in the form of translations from the Nanpazista's crazy website!


Broan said...

My japanese professor (who is not native but lived there for awhile) said something about a pick up line similar to the "コーヒー" variety.


While that sounds like "won't you go with me for some tea?" It is apparently used as a pick up line. But perhaps she couldn't remember your example.

Either way, they do use such simple phrases to imply sex.

Then she continued to explain to the next years class about the difference in pronunciation making a difference otherwise "何時間に変える?”  Could be ”何ちかんにかえる?”

Simone said...

=) a lovely pair of posts. I was cracking up. I think the caps lock on the grave line really did it for me.

But I think I missed the first source where you got your information, and I didn't see it linked in part 1 either...

Defendership said...

Oooh - thanks, Broan! I wonder which one is more widely understood? I can honestly see it going either way, since tea is kind of an any-time drink here, and coffee remains more in the jurisdiction of morning affairs... but wouldn't that just mean tea is the any-time euphemism for sex? Choice.

Thanks for the comment, Simone! It was a lot of fun researching and writing these two posts, even if I did get caught up in the shady world of the Nanpazista in the process. Also, you are right about that link -_-; I went ahead and fixed it, even sneaking a third link in there. Browse at your leisure~

SashTheRed said...

Hey, guys. Why don't you update as frequently as you used to? It's hard for me to live without my daily Yoji :) I really love this site!

AzzidisRidden said...

It was 夜明けのコーヒー.

Kind of like the English equivalent, "Wanna come back to my place for breakfast?"

But I'll stick with "あれ宇宙パンツなの?"