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Little japanese girls calling me obasan? 2010/7/22 10:58
I know japan is obssessed with youth and stuff.
I am chinese and I live in canada.
I dont understand japanese but I know the word obasan.
I was working in a YMCA and theres these 2 little japanese girls.
Maybe age 9- 13 years old.
I know one of the girl gestured to the other " I think shes pretty what about you?"
The other one yelled " Obasan" back to her.
I was 16 at the time, but I am really tall and my face looks mature not young.
So maybe they thought I was in my 20's
maybe even over 25 .

So what age is considered old in japan?
and especially what age is considered old by little girls in japan?

( In america, girls in their 20's are considered young. so im guessing in japan, girls in their 10's are considered young?

by Jenny (guest)  

Don't mind 2010/7/22 18:18
Girls of age 10-12 years, just before adolescence, are "enfantes terribles". They will call teens (over 13, junior or senior high school students) Obasan. Older females will be called Babaa (婆)even if they are actually 20 years old.
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2010/7/22 18:22
You said that the two girls were talking between themselves, and one said back to the other "obasan," right? Right off I can imagine the possibility that the second girl called the first girl "obasan" for doing such an un-girlish thing like commenting on another girl's looks openly (which guys might do, or middle-aged people might do shamelessly).

If you think the second girl was referring to you, that was her way of saying "she'd older (than us), she doesn't belong to our age group." That was all.

I'm in my 40s, and I know I can well be called by that phrase lol, but it comes with such plentiful of connotations (what is most likely associated with middle-aged women) that I would hate it if someone said it. But people use it to refer to someone they consider at least a notch older, so that does not determine what's young and what's not young, don't worry :)
by AK rate this post as useful

relatively 2010/7/22 20:42
Every Japanese is shocked at least once with same experience.
When I was twenty years old a little girl had called me ojisan though I had looked young in those days.
She had looked like around 7 or 8 years old. For her oniisan means boys who are age around 10 to 13. Men who are age over 18 are ojisan for her.

Those words don't mean absolute age, but are relative words. For a girl of age 20, obasan is a woman who is age over 30. And she will be shocked called obasan, by a girl who is age 7. Her friend would laugh hearing the episode probably because they had same experience.
by ex-oniisan (guest) rate this post as useful

Dorian Gray or Benjamin Button 2010/7/23 01:20
So what age is considered old in japan?
and especially what age is considered old by little girls in japan?

Interesting question. I remember the news reporting a crime with the criminal unidentified. The police was looking for a male between age 18 to 30 considering that the very young witness discribed the criminal as ''ojisan.''

Now that I'm nearly 50, I consider those 40 and older to be in the ''obasan/ojisan'' range, but I wouldn't dare call anyone ''obasan'' because that would be an insult. A child may call someone that, but I never let my child call anyone ''obasan'' unless the lady is a mother. I assume that when you don't have a child, you are not used to be called ''obasan.'' At least I never was.

But I remember being 18 and thinking that a 30 year old man is a total ''ojisan.'' A friend was getting married to a 30 year old man, and I thought ''What?!'' until I saw his picture which was no doubt an ''oniisan.''

I also recall my junior high school teacher preaching us to ''appreciate your youth'' because ''you don't want to become like those obasans in the senior high school classrooms,'' and we were pretty shocked the teacher called high school students ''obasan.''

But the first time I was ever called ''obasan'' was when I was 21 and the girl who called me that was 16.

So what age is considered old in Japan? My hair stylist keeps telling me I need to keep dying my grey hair until I reach 60, because you're not considered old until then. But hey, Mick Jagger is turning 67 next Monday.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

worldwide 2010/11/10 15:46
Hahahaha! I think this is what everyone has to suffer with worldwide. I remember here in the US it was 2 years ago I was 17 and called "ma'am" for the first time by a waiter. I freaked out. I was like "do I look that old?? I'm 17!! I'm not a ma'am!" but my mom said it's just the generic term, and it doesn't mean anything. But still it was like... *unhappy*. It's the same for Japanese, obasan, ojisan, its not such a big deal, just from different perspectives. When I was 10 I thought 19 was ancient! Now if it was obaasan or ojiisan then I would be like oh heck no. XD
by Brighid rate this post as useful

... 2010/11/10 17:39

You seem to miss the meaning associated with the Japanese word "obasan" completely :) It is not the same thing as "ma'am" at all. Ma'am is a polite way to refer to women in general, and the waiter (though he could see you were young) must have avoided "miss" intentionally because some people insist on "ms." instead of "miss."
by AK rate this post as useful

miss in the US? 2010/11/10 19:22
I have only ever heard people calling young women "miss" (i.e. not followed by their family name- "Excuse me, miss") in the UK, never in America- I think it's quite a British thing. "Ms" is never used in that situation because it sounds odd if it's not followed by a surname.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2010/11/10 19:28

Oh, I didn't realize the above poster was from the US. Then maybe "ma'am" was the only word you could use to call to a woman. I know that "Miss" is more often used in the UK to call to a young woman, not quite in the US. And that "Ms" is never used to call to a young woman, but my thought was that rather than risking "Miss," and being told by a woman "You shouldn't use Miss, always Ms!" or something like that, the waiter might have decided to use the more polite-sounding term of "ma'am."

My point was that "ma'am" is a polite, gentle term to begin with, while "obasan" is definitely not.
by AK rate this post as useful

heh heh 2010/11/10 20:06

"( In america, girls in their 20's are considered young. so im guessing in japan, girls in their 10's are considered young?"

Not to little girls in America!

Why are you worrying about this?
by Tilt (guest) rate this post as useful

US and Miss 2010/11/11 06:18
Not sure what part of the US you guys have visited but on the west coast it is rather common to refer to a young woman as miss (with or without a surname attached).
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

old woman/man 2010/11/11 11:01
The use of obasan/ojisan and obaasan/ojiisan in Japan with reference to age whether accurate or meant to insult is pretty loose and I don't think there's a written rule of what age equals what word.

I use obasan/ojisan for middle aged people, but never to their face (I could be wrong, or they have a personal preference).

I use obaasan/ojiisan in reference to fairly elderly people with wrinkled faces, snow white hair (if any). While you might see someone address a perfect stranger as obaasan (like in hospitals), I would just use caution and fair judgment that the person you're talking to is without a doubt worthy of that word.

Here's a list of more words that refer/address people not based necessarily on age, some context may be necessary - use at your own risk:
ojouchan - little miss, milady (female, can also end with chan/sama)
bocchan - little master, young sir (male, also can use chama)
oyaji - pops (male, in media they use this to address strangers as well as familiars)
ossan - pops (male, less familiar, can be rude if used for stranger)
niichan - bro (male, used between familiars and strangers, can also use san)
neechan - sis (female, impolite, similar to niichan)
baba - grandma (can be used normally depending on family, can also mean "old hag/crone")
jiji - gramps, grandad (similar to baba, can also mean "old timer", "old fart")
boku, bouya or bouzu - little boy (used when addressing small boys)
kozou - little boy (but closer to "little runt", "little bastard", "little rascal")
dannasan - sir (can also mean husband)
okusan - madam (can also mean wife/missus)
by jmarkley rate this post as useful

Age 2010/11/12 16:21
This reminds me of the day my younger brother was asking mom about "birds and bees" and for one reason or another said to mom "but you are so old!" she turned beet red in shock..and looked about to cry .
She must have been all of 35 at the very most and I still remember how pretty she looked in those days...
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Little japanese girls calling me obasan? 2014/11/6 22:59
Red Frog,
Your comment reminds me of something my son said when he was about 7. He came home from school one day very excited saying their principal's birthday was next week and that he was going to be 40. He said "Mom that's soooo ancient!" I replied that I was already 42 and he said to me "Yes, but you're young." Wasn't that sweet! So you see age is such a relative thing.
by Lena08 (guest) rate this post as useful

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