Is 美人 necessarily female?

Right, sorry I wasn’t clear. I didn’t mean it literally becomes an adjective, just that it’s not uncommon to be expressed/translated that way in English (not in Japanese).

I watch lots of stuff where I’ve heard the word and have never seen it translated that way. :man_shrugging: I’ve only seen such a translation when the phrase uses 美しい.

Either way, regardless of how any random person translates it, thinking of the word that way is not really correct because it’s not an adjective.

I think you both agree: it’s not an adjective but is often translated using one.

I often see “what a beautiful person” in manga and it might not be the word in japanese but it seems to me that on some occasion, it would also be a good translation for it.

That’s the thing with translation: a word might have a certain meaning but it can be translated in many different ways.

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It may instead be using 美しい人 and not 美人. Which if you do a Google Image search you will find it being applied to pictures of both men and women.

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Very nice article! Also interesting to hear about the #KuToo movement in Japan! :slight_smile:
Sad that the newspaper in the end feels the need to distance themselves from the authors opinion though. I am still wondering about this お姉言葉, as well as the おかま term, where it seems all kinds of minority groups are thrown into one box. I heard some maybe older Japanese people don’t know the difference between a gay person and for example a transsexual or crossdresser because of that.

I guess my question would be the same for 美人 then. :thinking:

I’m sure you’re right. At any rate, I’m amazed at how every simple question on this forum sparks in depth conversations about japanese.

It’s beautiful!


That’s interesting! I’m pretty sure everybody’s Google Image search is slightly different, but when I searched 美しい人 and 美人 on Google Images I also saw both men and women. I don’t know if you can use that towards the argument that they can both be used to describe both genders though, because it looked like those were also the titles of TV shows and the men showing up were the main characters of said shows.

If you do a Bing image search, on the other hand, it’s almost exclusively women, and, I’m pretty sure one of the advantages of Bing is that their image search tends to be more accurate towards the results you are hoping to get. (Google and Bing Images are pretty different, unlike the regular web search section).


The image results on Google may differ somewhat depending on the user, but they should largely reflect the language you search in as you get vastly different results by language (and hence target culture), e.g. if you search for car vs. voiture (with results heavily skewed towards French manufacturers such as Peugeot or Renault).

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work as neatly for Japanese if the kanji is also used in (traditional) Chinese, which is why 車 returns lots of Taiwanese results, but if you change the language settings to Japanese, the first few images for 車 should be a スズキ.

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Ohh I see how that could complicate the results. 美人 is a word in Chinese too; I just checked and all the search results were in fact in Chinese. I went and changed the language settings to Japanese though and the results did change. The more you know~

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