Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Favorite Japanese Words - "The Bar-Code Ossan"

Ok, time to try and get back to normality and not only post quake related posts, we're all getting a bit fed up with that, ain't we?

This time I thought I should bring up to a wider audience one of my favorite Japanese words: "バーコードおっさん・baakoodo ossan" which translates into something like "Bar-code old geezer". "Ossan" means middle-aged man, but has a bit of a derogatory flair to it and the "bar-code" comes from the, not too unusual, fantastic comb-over hairstyle which, depending on the richness of the hair, can give an image of a bar-code when viewed from above.

I think that in most developed countries, it is a common belief that a comb-over is not a dignified way of trying to cover up one's hairloss, but in Japan it is still quite widely accepted and not at all unusual to see. However, before you start thinking of doing this yourself on the basis of "it's ok in Japan", I should warn you that being a Bar-Code Ossan is not perceived as something positive in Japan among the younger people although among fellow Ossan Salarymen and politicians, it could help you melt into the crowd.

(1. Oh yeah, speaking of looting, apparently a neighbor of us had a break-in in the days past the quake when a lot of people were hiding in their hometowns over the weekend and we're pretty far away from it... 2. Supposedly I'm in that #Quakebook thingy and I will blog about it but don't see much point until the book is out, check it out here meanwhile)


BiggerInJapan said...

haha, that playkit for the boys is hilarious! Could use one though :-(

Chris said...

I just sent the Quakebook links to my looting posts. What are the odds it makes the 2nd ed?

Sorry bout the neighbors.

I am tired of all things quake so I'm off having BBQ's again :)

A comb over or a good wig.....I hope that's never a internal struggle I have. I'd just go "Hagi" ;)

Blue Shoe said...

Heh, good vocab to add to the word hoard. I don't have any of those guys at either of the schools I work at, but I'll keep an eye out for a chance to bust out this one. =P

Mr. Salaryman said...

BiJ - But isn't it too late for you? I get the impression that you're all grown up already?

Chris - Well, better them than me ;)And yeah, the only honorable way to go is to shave it off, maybe a ponytail works if you're a biker, but only then. I do find it a bit odd that they're working on the 2nd edition when they still need to get the first one out and make some money...

Blue Shoe - What? Are you serious? A school with no bar-code ossan at all? That's a staple for headmasters I think? Just don't say that to their face!

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