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Ouran High School Host Club Cultural Database

A database explaining Japanese culture and vocabulary from the anime


Ouran High School Host Club Cultural Database
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We are a group of university students doing an anime project for our Japanese course. The best way to learn is to explain something to someone, so we have decided to create this cultural database to explain various cultural-specific terms which popped up in the anime.

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ouran host club characters

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Episode 2
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盆踊Bon Odori

bon odori

Bon Odori is a traditional dance performed during the festival of Obon. The hilarity of Haruhi comparing the western style dance party that the host club is holding to Bon Odori is because this festival is a Buddhist custom that honours the spirits of ancestors who had passed away. It is a dance that is used to welcome the spirits of the dead.

南国 (nangoku) tropical country
Lit. "southern country", possibly because the tropics are located south of Japan
episode2

"Tropical paradise" was the theme for the Host Club in Episode 2.

The idea of having a theme for a restaurant/cafe in Japan is not uncommon. There are countless concept cafes, ranging from rabbit cafes (where rabbit lovers get to play with rabbits provided by the cafe)  to high-school themes cafes (where staff are all high school girls in uniforms and foods on the menu are foods high school girls usually make, like curry rice).

Here are some interesting videos (bilingual in English and Japanese) about various themed cafes in Japan.
Rabbit cafe
High school cafe
Sengoku cafe
Train themed izakaya

家柄 (iegara) Family Lineage/pedigree
iegara

家柄 refers to the social ranking system of prestigious families that has been around since the 5th Century in Japan. It is a concept that measures one's home environment, academic achievement, economic power and ancestral lineage.

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Episode 9
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ヅカ部 (Zuka Bu): Zuka Club
tsukaclub800px-Paris_Sette-Takarazuka1930
The Zuka Club is an allusion to the宝塚歌劇団 (たからずかかげきだん). This was an all female musical theatre troupe that formed in the early 19th Century performing the extravaganza of Western Musicals. It acted as a female counterpart to kabuki. Similar to how kabuki actors took pride in using male casts to play female roles, Zuka members took pride in playing otokoyaku (male roles). The Takarazuka kagekidan is consisted of five troupes: Flower troupe, Moon troupe, Star troupe, Snow troupe and Cosmos troupe.  In particular, the Hana (flower) troupe was famous of their performances of otokoyaku.

We can also note that the names of the characters who were in the Zuka Club were play on words based upon Japan’s traditional views of花言葉 (Hanakotoba: The language of Flowers) but not only that, it is an allusion to the Hana Troupe who were famous for the performances of otokoyaku. In this sense, the girls of Lobelia are challenging the members of Ouran Host Club claiming that they are lacking as they can only fulfil male roles whereas the ladies of Lobelia can fulfil both roles.


天草紅緒 Amakusa Benio
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Nickname: 紅薔薇の君 (The Lady of Red Rose)

The nickname given紅薔薇 is a pun on the meaning of the red rose which has connotations to passion, romance and love in Japanese culture.
This reinforces her character as the romantic male lead of the Zuka Club.


舞原千Maihara Chizuru

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Nickname: 鈴蘭の君 (The Lady of Lily)

In particular white lilies represents purity, chastity. In taking on the title of 鈴蘭の君 ,she is effectively flaunting the amiable qualities promoted by the Zuka club and suggesting that the Host Club are lacking in these areas.


石蕗雛子 Tsuwabuki Hinako

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Nickname: 雛菊の君     (The Lady of Daisy)

In the Language of flowers, daisies represented faith.



ハーフ (Haafu): Half (of mixed heritage)
half
Haafu refers specifically to a person who is half-Japanese and half non-Japanese, usually the offspring(s) of international marriages in Japan. In the case of its usage in 桜蘭高校ホスト部、it is referring to Tamaki’s mixed heritage of Japan and France. 

Sidenote: this is different from the usage of ニュー・ハーフ (New-Half) which refers to transgender in Japan.


オマケ (Omake):Bonus/Extra 
omake
Omake usually refers to extra or bonus in anime and manga, for example deleted scenes.  However, in the case of 桜蘭高校ホスト部、it is referring to bonus gift received when Haruhi went grocery shopping. This is a marketing strategy often used in Japan by magazine companies as well as supermarkets alike. It entices the customer to purchase a certain amount or a certain product with the lure of オマケ ‘special bonus gift’.

ポイント (pointo sei): Point System point system
The ポイント mentioned by Kyoya in this episode is another popular marketing technique used in Japan. Customers collect points by purchasing goods or service depending on the conditions set out in the Point System. This is recorded on a loyalty card presented to the customer or membership cards. As points accumulate, customers can redeem them in return for ‘special’ gifts and services. ポイント is the Japanese equivalent of the English “Loyalty Program”.

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Episode 10 & 12
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Episode 10 \\ Episode 12
Episode10 "A Day in the Life of the Fujioka Family!"
"Fujioka-ke no Nichijō" (
藤岡家の日常)

庶民の集合住宅 (Shomin no shūgō jūtaku) Commoner's housing complex

In this episode, members to the host club goes to visit Haruhi who they deem as a "commoner" because she is not from a high-class social background. At first, Honey and the Hitachiin twins, having rarely been to middle-class suburban area, mistakes the whole block of units to be Haruhi's home, but Kyouya explains that in fact, Haruhi's home is one of the many joint units.

ドッペルゲンガー (Dopperugengaa) Doppelganger
A gairaigo imported from Germany, the term refers to "a ghostly double or a counterpart of a living person" (Dictionary.com).
As the Hitachiin twins are extremely similar in the way they look and act, they seem like duplicates of each other. Tamaki refers to the twins as "doppleganger" in a tone of annoyance, possibly because he feels that they will intensify the troubles they will cause as they are "doubles".

オカマバー (okamabaa) Okama Bar
episode 10e
Okama refers to male homosexual, effeminate man or male transvestite. The term in Edo period originally mean “buttocks”.

Okama Bar is a bar where the staff is predominately cross-dressing males and homosexuals. It can be understood as what is called a “gay bar” in Western countries, but it seems that cross-dressing males is a prominent feature of Okama Bar.

In this episode, it is revealed that Haruhi’s cross-dressing father works in an okama bar. He also has a feminine alias for his job – 蘭花 Ranka (lit. orchid flower).

フェロモン マシン (feromon mashin) Pheromone machine
The Hitachiin twins cheekily use this term to comically badmouth Tamaki as a playboy in front of Haruhi’s father. Pheromone is a chemical released by creatures to arouse a social response from members of the same species, highlighting Tamaki’s womanising abilities.  

キノコの部屋 (kinoko no heya) Mushroom room 
episode 10h

Mushrooms act as a comical symbol for rejection and angst in some anime. As mushrooms are fungus which grow in dark, damp places, mushrooms in anime depict a character who is wasting away in their misery and angst, rejected and hiding in a secluded, unseen place.

As Tamaki feels judged (because he was caught in an awkward position with Haruhi) and rejected by Haruhi’s father, he resorts to staying in a “mushroom room”.   

タイムサービス (taimu saabisu) Time Service 
Time service in Japan is the best time to get good deals. It is a period when certain products of a shop, such as supermarkets, are reduced for a certain time period. For example, from 7pm to 8pm there is a 50% discount for premade obentos.

Time service is slightly different to weekly or seasonal store discounts in Western countries as the period is usually only for short periods of times (e.g. lunch time) and varies according to the availability of products sold.



Episode 12 "Honey's Three Bitter Days"
"Hanī-senpai no Amakunai Mikkakan" (
ハニー先輩の甘くない三日間)

コスプレ (kosupure) Cosplay
episode 12a
A wasei-eigo (Japanese-made English ) consisting of the words costume + role-play, the term refers to dressing up as a certain character or thing. In this episode, Tamaki asked Haruhi to dress up in a bunny suit.

However, the usage of the term “cosplay” outside of Japan usually refers more specifically to dressing up as a character from an anime, manga or game.


女装 (josou) female clothing


Although 女装 means female clothing, it usually refers to the wearing of female clothing by a man.
Cross-dressing is not uncommon in manga and anime, as characters are often portrayed in an androgynous manner.
 

Throughout the anime, there are several incidents where members of the Host Club had to cross-dress in female clothing, such as in Episode 9, when Tamaki dressed up in an elegant dress to compete with girls from the Tsuka Club.

It is ironic that although Haruhi is a girl, is asked to go, as a boy, in
女装.


二重人 (nijuu jinkaku) split personality
episode 12bepisode 12 explosion
Honey's anger is metaphorically compared to that of a nuclear explosion.

Exaggeration used to describe Honey's tantrum. Contray to Honey's usual cute and innocent personality, his mood becomes violent and foul when he is crossed. For example, when being awaken from deep sleep.

ロリショタ系 (rori-shota kei) Loli-shota type

episode 12i
Honey is described as Loli-Shota because although he is 17 years old, he has the appearance of a young boy.

To understand this term, we must understand the terms lolita “ロリ” and shota “ショタ”.


  • Lolita is a “sexually precocious young girl” (Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition 2009). The term was derived from Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel “Lolita” which the prepubescent protagonist (whose nickname is Lolita) becomes involved in an incestuous relationship with her stepfather. Lolicon describes an attraction to young, usually prebuscent girls. [This is not to be confused with Lolita fashion - various style of clothing inspired by the Victorian-era.]

  • Shota or Shotacon came from 正太郎 (Shōtarō), a character from the 1956 anime 鉄人28 Tetsujin 28-go. It is the variant of lolicon and describes an attraction to young boys

(kei) simply refers to the “type” or “belonging to the category of”.

Depending on the context, loli-shota can have several meanings:


  • It can mean a beautiful young boy with the features of a beautiful young girl. A loli-shota character like Honey is often very kawaii. His high voice, big eyes and child-like speech and actions makes him a very popular host among the customers of the Host Club.

  • A loli-shota complex (loli-shotacon) refers to an attraction to effeminate cute beautiful young boys



チャームポイント (chaamu pointo) charm point
ouran host club characters
Another wasei-eigo made up of the words charm + point. Refers to the most attractive (charming) feature of a person.
Charm point plays an important role in the Host Club, as the hosts each have different charm points to cater to different customers.

(Moe) Specific kind of ‘adorable’ or type of ‘cute’
Moe is a Japanese slang word. People say moe to describe their feeling of burning passion felt for the ‘cute’, ‘adorable’ characters. Moe is also used within anime fandom as an interjection.  
In this episode, Honey senpai refuses to open his mouth because he does not want people to know there is a cavity in his tooth, so Mori senpai(Takashi) takes Honey senpai’s hand and ‘push’ him onto the sofa (like a romantic act between a couple). The girls (costumers) witness this and say moe~ possibly because they find the act overly cute and sweet.
MoeMoe2
moe3

にっこり<3
(Nikkori) Grin

Moe_ouran
Nikkori is a Japanese mimesis (擬態語Gitaigo, words that mimic actions or emotions) which means to grin.

Kyouya senpai grins (possibly because the club could save a bit of money from banning sweets/cakes as Honey consumes many sweets which costs a lot) and reminds the members of the club not to let Honey senpai to eat sweets in any way.


おねだり作戦  (Onedari Sakusen) Begging Strategy
Since Honey senpai is banned from sweets, he thinks of a begging strategy. The first attempt is called ‘Appeal cutely’: Honey senpai tries to convince Takashi that his cavity is gone, swelling is gone but he was unsuccessful. As the episode goes on, Honey finds other targets to obtain sweets.

わくわく(Wakuwaku) Excitement and anticipation
Wakuwaku is also a mimesis, meaning excitement and anticipation.
Second attempt is called ‘Indirect tactic’: Honey senpai acts cutely while he tries to persuade the ladies(customer) that sweet cake goes well with tea.
wakuwaku
京都こんぶ (Kyoto konbu) Kyoto kelp
Konbu is edible kelp. It is often used as a base to make broth/soup.
Third attempt is called ‘Win with tears’: Honey senpai, with tears in his eyes, asks Haruhi if he was a bad person. Haruhi sympathizes with Honey so she gives him a Kyoto kelp (as it looks like chocolate) to make him feel better. As a result, Honey feels disappointed because he thought it was chocolate and realizes Haruhi was a wrong target.  
kepl 2

けちん坊 (Kechinbo) Cheap punk
Honey senpai gets really mad at Takashi and throws Takashi onto the ground and called him Kechinbo because he thinks Takashi is being too strict on him.
kechiibou

やれや (Yareyare) *Sigh*/ Good God…
Yareyare is a Japanese expression/phrase which means good god.
yareyare

Episode 14
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1.
1             2
貝合わせ(kaiawase
It is a
shell-matching game played by aristocrats.  It is very popular during Heian Period in Japan.  “awase” refers to matching or joining.  A kaiawase set consists of 360 pairs of clam shells and each pair has the same image.  The images have various themes such as poetic and seasonal themes.  The shells are usually kept in a multi-tiered box which is called kaioke.
The rules of playing kaiawase: If the game is one using poetic texts, each shell would have half of the poem.  The left shell is the male shell, which is called the “ji-gai” (ground shell); whereas the right shell is the female, which is called the “de-gai” (out shell).  The ji-gai are spread on the floor and the de-gai are left in the kaioke box.  The person has to pick one de-gai from the box and look for its pair (ji-gai) on the floor.  The person who collects the most matching pairs is the winner.             

2. 3          4
やりみず (yarimizu)It is a narrow stream flowing through a traditional garden, especially in Heian Period villa.  During Heian Period, people wanted to have flower petals and leaves flowing on the water’s surface. 
3. 5           6 
羽織(haoriHaori are mid-length kimono coats that serve as light coats to be worn over kimono during the Heian Period.  Haori was originally meant to be worn by men and the main function of haori was to keep the kimono from being exposed to the elements, until it became a fashion for women during the Meiji Period.  Nowadays, haori are worn by both men and women and children, but men’s haori are usually shorter than women’s haori.

4. 7         8  
蹴鞠(kemariIt is a ball game which was originated in Japan during the Heian Period and it was played by courtiers.  Kemari is played on a 6-7 meter square flat ground.  Players have to keep the ball aloft in the air by using their head, feet, knees, back and elbows.  The ball is called “mari”.  Mari is made of deer skin and is stuffed with barley grains, and then it is sewn by using horse skin.  The person who kicks the mari is called the “mariashi”.      
5. 9 
源氏ひかる:
Genji hikaru is the protagonist of Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genjji (源氏物語).  “Genji” is the surname as a noble downgraded from the royalty; and “Hikaru” means shining.  In The Tale of Genji, Genji Hikaru is a handsome man and is the second son of an Emperor.  However, he is relegated to an imperial officer due to political reasons.  The first part of the story is about Genji Hikaru’s romantic life, while the second part of the story focuses on Genji Hikaru’s agony.

6. 11             10 
缶けり(kankeriIt is called “kick the can” game and is a modified version of hide and seek.  The can is placed at a certain place and someone who is hiding should kick it before the tagger/person (おに)touches him/her.  

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