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Tweet of the Week

Learn Japanese with what's going viral in the Twitterverse.

By 2 min read

From Disney princesses selling a “healthy” yogurt brand to sexy hostesses promoting blue light-blocking glasses to salarymen, gender stereotypes in Japanese advertising are as common as every WTF reaction to Tommy Lee Jones’ long-running stint as an alien maid on behalf of SoftBank.

Fun Fact: Women also like beer

@toriham_1212 shocked the Japanese Twittersphere when she shared a picture of this promotional flyer she received in her mailbox from a local construction company.

なぜパパにはビールでママには洗剤なのか。私にもビールをよこせ = Why are beers for dads and detergent for mums? Offer me beer as well!

The flyer lists prizes that will be offered to families that visit the company’s showroom, with cans of Premium Malt beer being limited to fathers while mothers can enjoy receiving… a bottle of detergent.

Convinced that consumers would be rushing to them in droves, the company went a step further offering a pack of diapers to the first 10 lucky mothers that stop by.

Goodness, they’ve really tapped into female desire with this campaign.

Ways to ask “Why?” in Japanese

Aside from the big ol’ dose of thank you, next that @toriham_1212’s tweet displays, her caption also contains an opportunity to learn different ways of asking why in Japanese.

  • なんで

The most casual expression is なんで, which should be pretty familiar to you if you’ve been in Japan or studied Japanese for a while. You’ll use なんで with close friends or family.

  • どうして

If you want to sound more polite, you can use どうして instead, which is a neutral way to ask why.

  • なぜ

なぜ, used in the tweet above, is quite formal and you’ll rarely hear this expression in your everyday conversation. Keep なぜ for writing or formal speech.

To form your question, don’t forget to add the question marker at the end of the sentence and to rise your intonation.

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
なぜ naze why (formal)
なんで nande why (informal)
どうして doushite why (neutral)
ビール beeru beer
洗剤 せんざい senzai detergent
のか no ka (sentence ending particle) endorsing and questioning the preceding statement
よこす yokosu to send, give
来場 らいじょう raijou attendance, visit
応援 おうえん ouen support, cheering
限定 げんてい gentei limited to

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