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12 December 2007 @ 09:39 am
"Happy Ice Cream" - The Art of Jinxing in Japan  
I passed one of my (Japanese) coworkers in a tight area between desks today and we both said 'Sumimasen' (Excuse me) at the same moment. The first thought that came to my mind immediately after was 'Jinx!' I was rather delighted that I had dredged up that old childhood memory that I wanted to share it with her. However, I had no idea if there was a Japanese equivalent. Most likely not as those kinds of gems are cultural, not essentials like saying you're sorry.

I hit my English-Japanese dictionary and looked up jinx. Lo and behold, there it was. And not only was it there, it was listed in katakana as ジンクス! SAY WHAT!? Could it be possible Japanese people might know this word in its original form? No way.

Jumping over to a collegue fluent in English, I asked her. 'Oh sure,' was her reply. 'Jinx is jinx. I know what it is.' An older coworker next to her, said she did too! Get out of town! The older lady could have been my mother!

So we looked it up in one more dictionary, and sure enough, there it was... jinx. Listed as an American slang term in reference to superstition. Holy cow.

But that wasn't the best part. I then began to explain to the younger coworker how I used to use it as a kid to solicit free favors from people ala 'JINX! Buy me a Coke!' (Or simply 'jinx'. There are probably as many ways to say it in the US as there are Americans.) And she then said, 'OH! HAPPY ICE CREAM!'

Come again?

'Happy ice cream' is what people in this part of Japan say in lieu of the word 'jinx'. The idea being that the loser must pony up said ice cream.

Happy ice cream. Indeed.
Mamapduckmamapduck on December 12th, 2007 12:48 am (UTC)
That is awesome! I'm going to start shouting "Happy Ice Cream" at appropriate moments. :)
A.D.Puchalskiiamdollface on December 12th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
Interesting... while we used "jinx" pretty often as kids, it was only as an adult that I encountered the "Jinx, now buy me _____" thing. Our version involved the looser of the jinx standoff not being allowed to talk until someone said their name. This meant my sister (always the winner) would tell anyone around not to say my name. Surprisingly, my mother always went along with this, but hey she was a little sadistic. I like the happy ice cream version better.
Made in DNAmopedronin on December 12th, 2007 07:55 am (UTC)
Ah yes, I remember the name thing too. My sister and I would do that for hours on end.
Peterpetermarcus on December 12th, 2007 02:11 am (UTC)
A jinx in general (in English) means a bad luck kinda thing -- like a minor curse, which would translate well into Asian philosophy, from what I understand. A black cat crossing your path is a jinx.

The "happy ice cream" thing is fun, though. It's really interesting that there might be a "happy fortune" for synchronicity in two completely different cultures.
Made in DNAmopedronin on December 12th, 2007 07:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, I explained it the same way, it's a curse.

Actually, it's not so much that it's a happy thing (though it wasn't a curse either), just that there is the chance that they are happy because they can solicit the ice cream from someone.
Sharronlownote on December 12th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
Just had to add that a black cat crossing your path is considered good luck in these parts (UK)
Made in DNAmopedronin on December 13th, 2007 12:25 pm (UTC)
no way!!!!!!!!
Sharronlownote on December 13th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
Yup, lucky black cats make it onto good luck cards along with four leaf clovers and horse shoes. A black cat coming towards you is even luckier. As far as I am aware the UK is alone in this one though :D
内出血死の蜂鳥crystalplumage on December 12th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
Do you say Happy Ice Cream in Japanese, or English ?

ureshii ai-su kuremu .. ??
Made in DNAmopedronin on December 12th, 2007 07:52 am (UTC)
You say Happy Ice Cream as-is. =)
内出血死の蜂鳥crystalplumage on December 12th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you ..this is a new one for me.,.
Pika, pika.... pikachupacabraagntprovocateur on December 12th, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
so very cute!