Nihongo no Kokoro Part 122



When minors tread down what society considers the path of deliquency, for example if the picked up a smoking habit or if they developed unsavory ways of having fun, the word we use is “gureru”. I looked it up and discovered that this word had an interesting way of coming about.

Back in the Edo period, there was a game where people match two hamaguri (clam) shells and see if the different sides fit with one another. If they do, it’s a proper hamaguri but if they don’t, then the name is flipped to become “gurihama” to reflect the mismatch. “Gureru” was apparently coined from this flipped version of the Japanese word for clam.

I find it fascinating how a word born from wordplay that’s more than 200-years old is still being used today.