#16 deshou ka?
October 28, 2010 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Japanese language question: I am looking for a numerical reference that means one's special trick, or signature gesture.

I thought it was "Juurokuban" but appears not to be, or at least Google has never heard of it. I believe it is rooted in kabuki, and refers to a family secret repertoire. Does anyone know what I'm talking about or am I making this up?
posted by MonkeyMeat to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You were two off.

It's #18, "juuhachiban" or 十八番. It can also be pronounced "ohako."
posted by pts at 8:12 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

After a bit more digging...

Daijirin suggests that an etymology for the latter pronunciation is that one's juuhachiban is something precious that one would keep in a box ("ohako").

The term itself comes from the Kabuki Juuhachiban, a set of 18 Kabuki plays made canonical by Ishikawa Danjuro VII.
posted by pts at 8:26 PM on October 28, 2010

NB: 十八番 is generally used for songs and other performance-type things.

You wouldn't use it for something like a mean curve ball or twirling a pen through your fingers, though. You'd call that a 持ち技 mochiwaza or 得意技 tokuiwaza.

If by signature gesture you mean something like the ゲッツ! thumbs-up thing, then 十八番 might apply, but if you just mean a way of using your hands, like a rotating motion with the hand indicating an impatient desire for someone to get to the point, you'd call that 独特な仕草 dokutoku na shigusa or even 独特なジェスチャー dokutoku na jesuchaa.
posted by luke1249 at 8:33 PM on October 28, 2010

There are apparently a bunch of theories: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/十八番 I only knew about the Kabuki one.

I should also add that おはこ is also used derisively to mean someone's 'usual [sth].' またオハコの自慢話だ 'There she goes bragging like always.'

This is an ironic derivation of the 'performance' meaning I mentioned above.
posted by luke1249 at 8:41 PM on October 28, 2010

Response by poster: どうもありがとうございます!
posted by MonkeyMeat at 9:12 PM on October 28, 2010

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