Scrape it off, scrape it off, woah-oah

(Tabi no haji wa kakisute; “Cast off shame while traveling.”)


When you’re away from home, nobody knows you and so it’s easy to do things that you would have found unthinkable (or at least undoable) in more familiar surroundings with the threat of more impactful social backlash. The idea that bad things you do in a place away from home are limited to that place and don’t follow you home. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Unlike the English version, though, the overall nuance seems to be less permissive and more negative.


A brief imperative sentence, comprising only a topic and a verb. The central noun is 恥 (haji), “shame” or “embarrassment.” It’s marked as the topic of discussion by the particle は (wa), and modified by using the associative particle の (no) to make it specifically shame acquired during 旅 (tabi), “a journey.” The verb, meanwhile, is a compound comprising the conjunctive form of 掻く (kaku), “to scratch,” and the imperative form of 捨てる (suteru), “to throw away.”


It’s a homophone and some computerized auto-kanji may suggest it, but for Pete’s sake don’t replace 搔き with 書き, “to write.”

I can’t help but think that, despite the critical undertones, that this is exactly the feeling that has saved many a small-town nonconformist who fled to college or The Big City and suddenly found the freedom to find themselves. Unfortunately, it’s no doubt also exactly the feeling that has allowed many other people to trash hotel rooms, inconvenience the locals, and otherwise make themselves into poster children for everything bad about tourists.

Example sentence:


(“Kanben shite kure! Hajimete no shucchou dakara mou san, yonkai tabi no haji wa kakisute nante senpai ni iwareteru nsu kedo, dono michi shucchou saki wa jimoto no Kobe dakara sonna no muri ssu!”)

[“Give me a break already! It’s my first business trip and so three or four of my seniors have told me ‘You’re away from home, it’s okay to cut loose.’ But I’m being sent to Kobe, and that’s my home town, so there’s no way that’s going to happen!”]

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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