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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

表現 Break: 猫被り

If ever there was a 諺 to keep out of a google image search bar, this one is it.

猫被り  ・  猫を被る
ねこかぶり ・ ねこをかぶる
neko kaburi ・ neko wo kaburu

Literal: Wearing a cat.
1. Wolf in sheep's clothing.
2. Feigned naivete.
3. Pretending to be innocent to lure someone in.

Origins for this one are pretty standard. Felines are pretty universally accepted as being kind, when it suits their purposes, and being a generally manipulative animal.

If you like cats, (and NOT in the way that a certain sect of Japanese オタク likes cats: there are CAT maid cafes!), then check out this site, which lists pretty much every Japanese 諺 where cats make an appearance.

And since we're discussing 猫被り, I'd like to raise a point for discussion: Is 猫被り a trait that is considered desirable in a Japanese woman? Culturally, I mean.

(These are some of Yuri's friends. They made this video as humorous presentation for their friend's wedding. We've seen lots of these (they're a common practice) and trust me, in terms of the choreography and production quality, this is on the high end of the scale.)

Back to the matter at hand, according to "Pink Samurai," which is a non-fiction book, not a smutty manga, thank you very much, Japanese males are attracted to the ingenue more than the experienced woman, which explains the obsession with underage girls. The book even analyzes the number of occurences of the phrase 「優しくしてね,」 in personal ads for girls who work in the ヘルス massage industry as a kind of 猫被り, analogous to a western pro saying "Be gentle," with the pretext of inexperience implied.

On a personal level, Brett and I have witnessed a couple of examples of conversations where Japanese girls have claimed to not understand a patently obvious joke about things of a sexual nature. One even claimed to not be able to imagine how the person in this picture (who shall remain nameless) kind of looks like he's violating the karaoke tv.

A Japanese woman whose opinions I value told me that Japanese women do pretend to "not get it," at least in front of other men.
I'd love to hear what Japanese people, or non-Japanese women (koff koff Cassie) who have lived in Japan have to say. I know the foreign female Japan experience and the foreign male Japan experience are very different, and I wonder what kinds of insights my gender might not be privy to.

In the meantime, I think that 猫被り is a good opportunity to revisit some earlier posts and make some clarifications:

  • 猫を被ること would go well with the idea of 海千山千: someone who looks like a kindly, wise, Dragonheart-dragon might actually turn out to be a wicked, ravenous, Reign of Fire-dragon.
  • 猫を被ること would NOT go well with 衣ばかりで和尚はできぬ, which is more often used to mean "You can't become a monk just by getting the robes," than it is to mean "Appearances can be deceiving."

That Daily Yoji site is a wolf in sheep's clothing, don't you think? Oh sure, they'll ask for female "input" all nice and polite, but is it for real? The truth is, they're always posting dirty pictures, and Brett's writes sexist comments... And did you see those nanpa posts? Suspect! Sure, this time they're trying to get women involved, but somehow I doubt that it's a woman's "opinion" that they're interested in.


Anonymous said...

I didn't get the TV picture at first -- I only realized what it's about after I read the part talking about it...

I mean, people shagging TVs isn't exactly common knowledge, is it?

AzzidisRidden said...

Fair enough. This picture might not look dirty at first glance, especially to people who aren't as depraved as I am.

But in each of the situations we mentioned, the women in question (all adult women possessed of carnal knowledge), continued to claim that they didn't understand right up until explanations started to get embarrassingly explicit.

Trust me, it's much funnier when you can be like "Look at Nick going to town on the tv," instead of having to say "Due to the angle of the photograph and the placement of Nick's body, it appears as though his hips are aligned in such a way as to suggest that he is in some way penetrating the tv, forcefully as the positioning of his hand indicates. Furthermore, from the expression on his face and his wide-open mouth, one might infer that he is enjoying the act thoroughly. It is, therefore, an unintentionally humorous photograph."

Kind of takes the funny out of it.

AzzidisRidden said...

Oh, and mentally replace every instance of the word "Nick" with "Someone who isn't Nick."

Nirav said...

I have 2 questions:

How do you know that those women were possessed of carnal knowledge?

Also, can I meet Yuri's friends? Preferably while I'm in my cups. You know, so they can see the best possible side of me.

AzzidisRidden said...

You already met the one in the middle. That's Namiko, who took tons of embarrassing pictures of us during Karatsu Kunchi when we were, indeed, in our cups.

Nirav said...

Oh right, I knew that. I also remember how wonderfully that one went.

archipelagic said...

This actually may be a situation where, as a foreign woman, I was privy to less knowledge. In general, I was pretty guarded among Japanese women because I was afraid of exposing myself as a brazen hussy. The Japanese women I was close with were usually 1) older and 2) really weird. I would have welcomed a shimoneta turn of conversation, but I never even considered it as a possibility. Why would I be talking dirty with Japanese chicks? We talked about cooking and stuff.

So this reminds me of a couple anecdotes. The first happened back in 2006, and it was literally my third day in Saga, and my first time hanging out with Mark. Colin, Mark, and I were at Suisho, and Mark was macking on these two girls. We were all talking, and our conversation was the first of a pretty typical conversation I'd have with many young Japanese women:
"You're cute!"
"No, you're cute!"
They were pretty enamored with Colin and I, and when we left early, they asked if we were going to something. It was some expression I'd never heard before (third day!), and I'm not really sure what it was. Maybe something fake-onomatopoetic like chu chu, that basically meant hold hands and kiss. We got clarification on the meaning, and Colin, who was really drunk, repeated the phrase, and added a finger going into other finger-hole sex gesture. The girls freaked out. They emitted a horrified "Kyaaaaaa!" and I also feigned embarrassment. The thing is, we went home and went to bed, but they stayed at the bar, with Mark. I have no idea what happened after that, but if they were continuing to hang out with him, I think they knew what was up.

The other thing I think of is when I was in high school, doing my homestay in Okinawa. Pretty much all of the high school girls freaked out about the idea of boyfriends, some of them scandalously accusing me of having one. Anyway, we joked around a lot, and for some reason there was this one girl we always teased about being a slut. I remember as we were messing with her, my friend Ryoichi (who actually did have sex with his girlfriend) asked, "Do you like sex?" Her response was a rather apathetic "No", so I said, "Really? Why so much then?" The general response was "Aww, snap!" but in Japanese. Now that I think of it, Yuki probably totally was a slut! She always got all mad and denied it, but it totally makes sense. It makes me feel kind of bad for slut-shaming.

I hope you enjoyed my novel. In short, yes, they are being coy. Of course. I got the impression Japanese women tended to be more private about their sexploits, even with friends, but maybe I just wasn't at that level with my friends. And I did it too. I totally fronted about being more proper and innocent than I am, when hanging with J-girls, because it seemed like the right thing to do.

archipelagic said...

Oh and that picture of not-Nick was borderline pornographic to me.