A two-dimensional definition of beauty

In 3D it’d be 26方美人?

八方美人
ha-.ppou.bi.jin

Literally: eight – direction – beauty – person

Alternately: Trying to be all things to all people. Originally this compound was read literally as a beautiful person who was without flaw no matter what angle or perspective you viewed them from. Over time, though, it took on a negative meaning. In contemporary Japanese, a happoubijin is someone duplicitous (octoplicitous?), who in their desperation to be universally loved, take pains to seem agreeable to everyone they meet. Apparently this derive comes from the Meiji era, when it was used to describe politicians who refused to allow their actual beliefs to be pinned down and identified.

Notes: The idea of “eight directions” crops up repeatedly in Chinese and Japanese, these days often in a martial-arts context. The four cardinal directions around a person (north, east, west, south), plus the four directions that fall halfway between those, are thought to sufficiently describe a full circle. This motif can be found everywhere from the Bagua octagon to contemporary karate’s tendency to move, turn, or point in multiples of 45 degrees.

HaPpouBiPun

発砲 (happou) is “to fire a gun,” of course. From this blog, which muses about 美人-related topics.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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