Japanese Palindromes- 回文

(Apologies in advance for the garbage formatting. I’m on mobile :upside_down_face:)

Since the school closure in Japan, desk-warming has spread much like Covid-19 itself and infected even the homeroom teachers and principals at my schools. This morning, one of the ES special ed teachers came over to me incredibly excited to show me her notebook of “面白い” Japanese that she collects things in to teach her students, since they apparently love this kind of stuff. This notebook included insanely specific counters(as in 一個、二枚、三本, etc, but way more specific. Eg pots for cooking, the mortars used for making mochi, tsunamis, kappa, etc), specific kanji for individual reptiles, fish, etc (螈、鰕、翡翠、you get the idea), and my favorite part: 回文, or Japanese palindromes!

From the Oxford Dictionary: “A palindrome is 1. a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backwards as forwards, e.g. madam or nurses run .“
Some of my favorite English examples include:
Do geese see God?
and
Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.

My favorite Japanese palindromes the teacher showed me are probably
悪い子いるわ
ブスにテニス部
イカ食べたかい
But I haven’t seen many yet, so I’ll be killing my desk-warming time looking for more of these :joy:

Here’s a website with a handful of 回文 for your enjoyment

Have y’all ever heard of 回文 before? What’s your favorite? Ever made your own original palindrome (in Japanese, English, or your native language)? Any common ones in your native language (if it isn’t English)?

13 Likes

東大王 does (used to do?) a segment with 回文, where they would show a scene that depicts the 回文 and then they would slowly reveal some parts and people race to guess it first.

6 Likes

Just went and found this on YouTube, I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow once I’m back at my base school tomorrow!

I know you’ve mentioned some other kanji trivia game shows before; is that this show? I don’t have cable connected in my apartment atm so I really don’t watch any Japanese TV, but the local bar always has these on and they seem hilarious.

くりぃむクイズ ミラクル9 and ネプリーグ also do a lot of kanji stuff

3 Likes

А роза упала на лапу Азора.

Palindrome sentence. Translation: A rose fell down on Azor’s paw. (Azor is a name of a pet, maybe dog, obviously to fit the pattern.)

2 Likes

Bah, I was almost hoping the entire definition would turn out to be an palindrome.

For English, I quite like “a man, a plan, a canal: Panama”

Just discovered this one, which I find strangely amusing: “Gate-man sees name, garage-man sees name-tag.”

There’s an image that goes around Facebook on occasion explaining that an “emordnilap” is a word that, when written backwards, is a different word (like stressed -> desserts), and then smugly points out that “emordnilap palindrome” is an emordnilap palindrome. Except it’s not. It’s just a palindrome.

6 Likes

I have never heard “a man, a plan, a canal: Panama” before and I don’t know if my brain has deteriorated from the desk warming or if it’s actually that funny but I absolutely love this!

Edit: Actually the reason for commenting here is so that I can find it again ! :joy:

1 Like

saippuakivikauppias (soap stone merchant) apparently holds the guinness world record of the longest palindromic word.

Apparently there’s also a Finnish palindrome poem that is over 170 000 characters long :open_mouth: It’s made by some guy who specializes in palindromes.

3 Likes

Yeah, I found a guy who’d made a 21,000-word palindrome in English by starting with “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama” and inserting more and more palindromic pairs in the middle. The ends of the palindrome are “A man, a plan, a caretaker,…, Komarek, a ter, a canal, Panama!”

3 Likes

For the geeks out there, Weird Al Yankovic wrote a song containing nothing but palindromes. It’s in Bob Dylan’s voice, and unsurprisingly and appropriately titled “Bob”.

3 Likes

Wo, Nemo, toss a lasso to me now!

I used to have a book of palindromes growing up and that was the title. I showed it to my 4th grade students a few weeks ago, and it blew their minds haha

2 Likes