nail clipper

Old Japanese Saying About Clipping Your Nails At Night

nail clipper

【 爪切り・tsumekiri 】nail clipper

The オノマトペ onomatopoeia for the sound of clipping nails is

パチンパチン (pachin pachin)
パチパチ (pachi pachi).

These オノマトペ didn't exist pre-nail-clipper days because up until the Edo era, farmers used a ノミ(nomi) chisel, and samurai used their 短刀(たんとう, tantō) dagger to trim their nails. (With a knife, it would be more like peeling an apple.)

Then came the 爪切(つめき)り専用(せんよう)ハサミ nail scissors in the 明治 Meiji Era, followed by ニッパー式(しき)爪切りnail nippers in the 大正 Taisho Era.

It was only after WWII in the 昭和 Showa Era that the modern-type クリッパー式爪切り nail clippers popularized.

There's an old saying in Japanese,


(yoruni tsumewo kiruto oyano shinimeni aenai)

The literal translation is,

"You shouldn't clip your nails at night, or you won't be able to be with your parents when they pass away."

In other words, you will pass away before your parents if you do.

Imagine how back in the day people had to trim their nails with a knife in the dark, especially at night (long before electricity) — knife slip, slice, bleed — oh, the horror. No wonder they came up with such a superstition.

We should be grateful for the invention of the nail clipper. パチンパチン

Some terminology concerning all things nails:

・巻(ま)き爪(づめ) (makizume) = ingrown nail

・さかむけ (sakamuke) or ささくれ (sasakure) = hangnail

・爪やすり (tsumeyasuri) = nail file

・甘皮(あまかわ, amakawa) = cuticle

・掻(か)く (kaku) = to scratch

・引(ひ)っ掻(か)く (hikkaku) =  to claw or snag with your nail

Counting in Japanese with Chocolate


Do you know the different ways of counting these chocolates?

Learn the different ways of counting in Japanese — with chocolate!

In Japanese, we use different counters to count objects (or people, animals, events, and other things) depending on what we are counting,  and these are key in daily conversation.

In this video, along with some sample phrases, we use different types of chocolate (Pocky-type stick chocolate, chocolate-covered almonds, assorted chocolate, and more) as an example to introduce how we count certain objects.

So sit back, relax with a cup of hot chocolate, and let's count some chocolate!

After all the counting you'll be ready for a good night's sleep — and by the morning you'll be counting in Japanese(!)

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Learn Basic Japanese on YouTube

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Learn and practice basic Japanese on our YouTube channel!

Learning a new language is challenging enough, but when you have to learn a new alphabet, it can be overwhelming. Learning the letterforms and pronunciation, memorizing the order — it's a lot of work!

We've been introducing Japanese words with illustrated cards for some time now, but from our own experiences of learning a foreign language, we thought it would be helpful to add sound to the cards and introduce pronunciation as well.

Imagining that not everyone has regular access to a native Japanese speaker around them, we've started a YouTube channel わーい!

Nihongo: The variations of “え”

え?She's walking her pug with her scooter.

The variations of え

In Japanese, we use the variation of え (e) a lot. A lot. When you turn on the TV, all you will hear is 「えー?!」as in everything is shocking and surprising (whether it's medical advice, a cat that talks or a celebrity trying the latest trendy food).

The four variations of え that we most commonly use are 「えー」「え?」「えー?!」and 「ええ」. As I was repeating them in my head, I discovered something interesting.