Are you a dummy in Japan?

Last week Spa! used these three fill-in-the-blank questions, among others, as shibboleths identifying the dummies of their cover story, "Proud women boast: 'My dummy boyfriend!'" (『女が語る「私のおバカ彼氏」大自慢』):

  1. A very short bath is a ______'s ablutions (__の行水)
  2. When something happens suddenly it is a ______ from a thicket (やぶから__)
  3. When your own misdeeds bring misfortune it is ______ from within (身から出た__)

Answers: 1. Crow (karasu), 2. Stick (), 3. Rust (sabi). You can see that what is being tested here is not intelligence so much as knowledge. Other questions asked about the current Prime Minister of Japan, the pronunciation of certain kanji compounds, the third responsibility of the Japanese citizen (after "work" and "education"—it's "paying taxes", incidentally), and so on.

In any nation, in any age, you could step outside and find hundreds of young men willing to offer goofy answers to such questions in order to entertain their friends, and that is what Spa! did. That's journalism!

In closing, a charming story about how dummies fall in love:

When they went to dinner [for the first time], he went to the bathroom and sent her an e-mail from his mobile phone that read "I love you" [in English]. She replied "me too", also from the bathroom. Afterwards they fell into the habit of sending each other mail from the bathroom that read "Dum-dum!" ["ばぁか"]

This is what you call a bakappuru (baka + couple), but at least they keep it private.

Popularity factor: 2


I get 1 and 3, but how, pray tell, does a stick from a thicket happen suddenly?


The idea is that someone's inside the thicket lying in wait for you, and you are surprised when they suddenly thrust out their stick and assault you. Sounds suspiciously like a made-up-after-the-fact story, but that's the only explanation I've ever heard.

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