February 22, 2006

和 (Wa)

和 (Wa)

Japanese noun that does not translate into English

The dictionary definition of wa is "harmony" but it is more than simply peace and balance. Wa is embraced as the most fundamental Japanese principle. It is the cornerstone for the extensive consensus gathering that takes place in nearly every Japanese activity. Wa is also used as a prefix to describe Japanese things: wafuu is Japanese-style, washoku is Japanese food, wafuku are traditional clothes like kimono, wagyuu is Japanese beef, wa-ei jiten is a Japanese-English dictionary.

Kristen McQuillin

Halvard Johnson adds:

It might also be noted that "wa" suggests conformity: e.g., if all cars but one in a company parking lot are parked head in, then the one that is parked head out is said to be disturbing the "wa"; which also brings to mind the Japanese saying "The nail that stands out is hammered down."

Posted by dwaber at February 22, 2006 02:53 PM