Bodies in Japanese Language

An Introduction to the Polysemous Character of Corporeality

Katja Centonze    Universität Trier, Deutschland; Waseda University, Japan    



This article presents an inspection into the vast arena occupied by terms and signs in Japanese language that designate the word ‘body’. The study is centred around etymons and semantic descriptions offered in selected monolingual lexical sources, thereby revealing slight divergencies that surface when confronting these entries in order to underscore the ambiguity and hybridity that characterise corporeality itself. In addition, part of this study is dedicated to Ichikawa Hiroshi’s semantic analysis of the Japanese word mi (body), to Uno Kuniichi’s discourse on the shintai (body) and to insights on corporeality offered by Kan Takayuki. The purpose of illustrating this diversified lexical treasure that surrounds, sustains and recreates bodies is to draw attention to the central position occupied by corporeality itself in Japanese culture, where the body/bodies emerge as a catalyst of cultural production.

June 30, 2021
May 11, 2021
March 17, 2021

Keywords: KaradaBodyShintaiWordsKan TakayukiIchikawa HiroshiMiUno KuniichiCorporeality and languageNikutai

Copyright: © 2021 Katja Centonze. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.