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How do you say “catcall” in Japanese?

May 16, 2015, By: Audrey

It’s easy to jump to conclusions and make broad generalizations about “Japanese culture” based on limited experience. For example:

Usually the construction crew Elsa and I walk past 3-4x/wk seems to ignore us. I found myself thinking, “Wow, Japanese construction workers are so different from American construction workers. They never make untoward comments or catcalls at a lady walking by.”

But one day this week, one worker stopped hammering and called out, “Ohayo!” (Good morning!) I nodded and kept walking. A full minute later, we were almost out of the line of sight when I heard, “OHAYO GOZAIMASU!!” from the bottom of the hill. Another guy had dropped his nail gun, clambered down the scaffolding, and ran out into the street after us to holler “GOOD MORNING!” in very polite Japanese.

When I related the incident to Evan, he laughed. He has witnessed much more, shall we say, “forward” behavior from Japanese construction crews towards female passers-by.

I’m thankful for the local guys’ politeness when the kids and I are on our way to/from the grocery store. But I’ll probably be less likely to make such sweeping cultural assumptions in the future!

Still better than whistles, I think.