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Thread: The concept of "tayorigai"

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    The concept of "tayorigai"

    I have asked in the Japanese section what the meaning of "tayorigai ga aru", as it seems to me that there is no English (or French, Italian, etc.) translation. The dictionary translates it as "reliable" or "trustworthy", but it doesn't fit at all in the way I have heard it used by Japanese.

    I also asked why quite a few Japanese girls in their twenties like men in their 40ies or 50ies, as they seem to have more "tayorigai" than those their age.

    Here is the translation of what "Kara" replied to me and which I think is very interesting (hope I didn't mistake in the translation ) :

    "Tayorigai ga aru" means in short that someone that does not make his partner (girlfriend/wife) uneasy/anxious (therefore, it is a bit different from "attractive"). It is judged from these 3 points : 1) social life, 2) personal life, 3) response to emergencies.

    1) Social life
    Social life means in short "money", which is assessed by a) financial possessions, b) high-income job, c) stable job (little risk of losing one's job or having one's salary reduced). But maybe without considering the money inherited from one's parents). Or else, apart from money, it is probably assessed from being polite and well-mannered, as a member of the society.

    Furthermore, it is also important to be seen as educated and having some knowledge of politics, economy, history, religion, hi-tech or the different things of society, being a realistic and honest person.

    2) Personal life
    Personal life is assessed by the psychological stability. That is, a person who gives effective advice when a woman is prey to anxiety, or basically a man who does not let a woman feel uneasy. Then, it is also important to be able to handle home carpentry or electric appliances, drive a car or being able to deal with other typically "male jobs".

    Furthermore, especially in recent years,it is important for a man to give the image that he can live by himslef without a woman behind him, i.e. for cooking, do the washing, cleaning, etc.

    Then, it is important that a man help women with difficult work, with his male abilities, especially his muscular power. If he is tall, muscular and has a fine body, he will also be said to have "tayorigai".

    3) Reponse to emergencies
    A man will get a good evaluation is he can manage to respond appropriately in case of earthquake, fire, traffic accident, etc. Or else, (though it isn't really an emergency), being good at fishing or camping-related issues may also have an influence.

    Moreover, a "reliable person" (tayoreru hito) is the general image of a man with "tayorigai". However, a man who combines all the above surely cannot be bad. Consequently, for women too value reliable men even only for worrying about small things (e.g. carry heavy luggage, work all night to cover one's subordinate's mistakes, take care of a crying strayed child, as organiser of "hanami" do the chores more quickly and efficiently...), which invites goodwill. If there are women who who start going out with such men and be happy, there are also some that wouldn't.

    In this way, (I appreciate as a man) the system of misunderstanding [?] works, as there is no point in having women who care only whether a man is "reliable or not", I think that girls in their twenties who like men in their 40ties or 50ties are a minority. However, there may be lots of women who like middle-aged or elderly man, not as lover or husband, but as a counselor. Again, for this minority of girls who like older men, it seems that the reason is not that they like "money", but that because they suffer from a "father complex", lots of them seek men who look psychologically "big" and broad-minded.


    [I had some trouble translating the last paragraph above]



    What do you think about it ? Isn't this way of thinking unique to Japanese ? Is it due to their high "uncertainty avoidance" (i.e. they tend to worry about the future and need to make sure how things are going to happen the way they want to, such as keeping a stable job, planning one's overseas holiday in the minutest detail, preparing a meetings with great care, etc.) ?

    The key word about Japanese women who seek men with "tayorigai" is 不安 (fuan : anxiety, uneasiness). It's a word I often here in Japan. Japanese (esp. women) tend to worry a lot about small things. Things like "oh dear ! it's raining and the laundry is still hanging outside, but what on earth are we going to do !" or "I am going to travel one week in Europe next month and I haven't reserved my hotels and trains yet ! Aargh, maybe I should just cancel !" , when I personnally never reserve anything in advance, don't even bother to change money or buy T.C. before travelling and can't see what difference it makes if wet clothes get wetter because it rains. So of course, I have trouble understanding why Japanese can get uneasy (不安 ) about other things. For example, I have heard that it was better having a fixed (i.e. "stable") salary rather than being paid for one's works or performances, and getting much more money some months and a bit less other months (but in average higher), just because the "fixed" salary gives more "anshin" (安心, "peace of mind", opposite of 不安 ). I can't understand that. But that must be the reason why it's so important for Japanese to work for a (big) company, rather than being self-employed. No wonder there are so few lawyers and the majority of them work for companies. I guess this has to do with the group mentality and strong gregarious instinct ; "inside the group = safe", "alone = uneasiness".

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  2. #2
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    self translation with poor English

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Here is the translation of what "Kara" replied to me and which I think is very interesting (hope I didn't mistake in the translation ) :


    Moreover, a "reliable person" (tayoreru hito) is the general image of a man with "tayorigai". However, a man who combines all the above surely cannot be bad. Consequently, for women too value reliable men even only for worrying about small things (e.g. carry heavy luggage, work all night to cover one's subordinate's mistakes, take care of a crying strayed child, as organiser of "hanami" do the chores more quickly and efficiently...), which invites goodwill. If there are women who who start going out with such men and be happy, there are also some that wouldn't.

    In this way, (I appreciate as a man) the system of misunderstanding [?] works, as there is no point in having women who care only whether a man is "reliable or not", I think that girls in their twenties who like men in their 40ties or 50ties are a minority. However, there may be lots of women who like middle-aged or elderly man, not as lover or husband, but as a counselor. Again, for this minority of girls who like older men, it seems that the reason is not that they like "money", but that because they suffer from a "father complex", lots of them seek men who look psychologically "big" and broad-minded.


    [I had some trouble translating the last paragraph above]
    I think what I mentioned above is the public image of "tayorigai-ful male" in Japan. But actually, there are hardly any ideal male who can pass all the points above. So females tend to treat small things(e.g. carry heavy luggage, work all night to cover other's mistakes, take care of a crying strayed child, as organiser of "hanami" do the chores more quickly and efficiently...) as the critical evidence of that male's "tayorigai-ness"(instead of searching someone who show his all-round ability to pass all the points.) Such (nonlogical)evaluation often leads them to fall in love. Regardless of this irrationality, some females can enjoy happy life/love with their partners(of course others can't).

    40-50ties may be more "tayorigai-ful" than 20ties as you said, but even so, I think that girls in their twenties who like men in their 40ties or 50ties are a minority. Because 1) first of all, there're another important points for girls except "tayorigai-ness", and 2) as I wrote above, the system of misunderstanding about "tayorigai-ness" works well(so 20ties have many chances to be treated as "tayorigai-ful male"). However, there may be lots of women who like middle-aged or elderly man, not as lover or husband, but as a counselor.

    Again, for this minority of girls who like older men as lover or husband, it seems that the reason is not that they like "money", but that because they are somewhat in the condition of "father complex", most of them must seek men who look psychologically "big" and broad-minded.

  3. #3
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    Hmm, i would pass #2 and #3, except in young and unemployed...

    Theres a few things like this that i think just make japan and japanese more interesting

  4. #4
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    I was thinking about the meaning of "reliable" in English and found out that it was more about a sense of responsability mixed with moral and rationality. The Japanese equivalent "tayorigai" refers to financial and practical things. This is one of the fundamental difference betwen the West and Japan, or even all East Asian cultures.

    Let me develop this. For me a reliable person is someone who does not cause trouble by forgetting about their responsibility (not just according to their social position or function, but a wider meaning of responsibility as human being), common-sense and wisdom.

    In everyday life that could be : arriving on time at appointments, take care of various things of one's own initiative, not making noise when we know that other people are sleeping, turning off the tap or fire when someone has forgotten about it, taking care of one's children or pets appropriately...

    Reliability is also doing something when you accepted a task or said you would do it. For example, if a man is asked by his wife to buy food at the supermarket on his way back from work, and he forgets (esp. because of lack of care), he is not reliable. If the boss ask an employee to do a job, reliability is assessed by how well that employee does the job as requested.

    In my opinion, most of the financial aspects (job stability, high-income, etc.) are not important in the Western sense of "reliability", as long as one has enough money or ressources to survive.

    For Westerners, having money, a good-job, being well-educated, well-mannered, etc. are not connected to the meaning of "reliability", but rather to "status". In my opinion, reliablitity and status are two completely different things. But it seems that the Japanese word "tayorigai" encompasses both meanings and includes other things too like muscles, charm, looks, kindness (to women), and so on.

    But "reliability" has also a more profound meaning in the West, e.g. in politics, when it equates to be humanitarian and selfless. Judging by this standard, lots of politicians are quite unreliable people, caring more about their career and personal profits than about what is "good for the people". That is why people can't rely on them. So, in the Japanese definition of "tayorigai", politicians may be seen as very reliable (for all the reason cited by Kara in "1) Social life", although they would be considered very unreliable using the Western meaning.

    As I explained in the previous post, Kara's 2nd point "Personal life" is so typically Japanese (avoid 不安 or anxiety), that it can hardly be considered as a criterium of "reliability" in the West. Regarding the "home-making" things (cooking, do the washing, cleaning, gardening, electricity, carpentry...), I'd rather put it along with the third point, "Responding to emergencies", in what French call "debrouillardise". There is no translation in English, but it refers to being able to cope with any situation by oneself, or being self-sufficient. Again, it is not what spings to mind when talking about "reliability" in European languages.

    It's interesting to see how different the 2 concepts of "reliability" can be. My wife said that she agreed 100% with Kara's explanation. I would like to hear other Japanese and Werterners' opinions about each definition (Japanese vs Western, as stated in this thread), just to make sure that everyone agrees on this basic cultural difference. What I mean is that I don't expect Westerners to understand "reliability" by the Japanese sense (Kara's), but the Western (my explanation in this post), while the Japanese should find Kara's explanation much more suitable to the meaning of "tayorigai" than my definition of "reliability".
    Last edited by Maciamo; Apr 2, 2004 at 14:19.

  5. #5
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    In my opinion, most of the financial aspects (job stability, high-income, etc.) are not important for Westerners, as long as one has enough money or ressources to survive.
    When I asked my husband to explain "tayorigai" to me, you know what he gave me as his first example? What he immediately thought of?

    "If you had an emergency and needed $10,000(or lost $10,000, whatever), the person who is "tayorigai" would be the person you know you could trust to help you get it back(in other words, loan it to you)."

    Of course, he went on to give other examples, and told me that really it meant trustworthy/responsible/reliable, but I just thought it was interesting that he gave me that as his first example. Especially since I read your last post, Maciamo.
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  6. #6
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    I would agree with you, Maciamo. I think of reliable as being someone on whom you can count to get things done. For instance, if my car isn't working, I would think of calling someone who is reliable to make sure that he could bring me to work on time (or to pick me up) before I would call someone who is "tayorigai."

    However, on the point of young women liking older men, that happens in the U.S. for the reasons of financial stability as well. And women will sometimes choose men who have a stronger financial standing than one whom they love more, just because of the money and security. Although I'm not so sure how proportionate it would be to the Japanese.

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