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What do Japanese say after a sneeze?


Japanese culture is rich with traditions and customs that often leave many people fascinated. One such custom is what Japanese people say after a sneeze. In this article, we will delve into this custom and explore why it is so important in Japanese culture.

The Significance of Sneezing in Japanese Culture

Sneezing is believed to be a sign of good fortune in Japan, and thus, it is generally considered to be a positive experience. This belief stems from an old Japanese superstition that states that sneezing expels evil spirits from the body. Therefore, when someone sneezes, it is considered to be a sign that they are getting rid of negative energy.

Japanese Snack Box

The Common Phrase Used After Sneezing

After sneezing, the most common phrase used by Japanese people is “otsukaresama desu.” This phrase roughly translates to “thank you for your hard work.” It may seem like an odd response to a sneeze, but it is a common way of acknowledging someone’s effort or hard work.

Other Responses to Sneezing

While “otsukaresama desu” is the most common response to a sneeze, there are other phrases that can be used as well. For example, some people may say “kazunoko,” which means “congratulations.” This phrase is often used when someone sneezes three times in a row.

Regional Variations

Just like any other aspect of Japanese culture, responses to sneezing can vary depending on the region. In some areas, it is common to say “sanpei,” while in others, people may simply say “excuse me” or “sorry.”

Gender Differences

In some cases, gender can also play a role in the response to a sneeze. For example, women may be more likely to say “kombanwa,” which means “good evening,” while men may say “otsukaresama desu” more often.

Why Do People Say These Phrases?

The phrases used after a sneeze in Japan are primarily meant as a polite acknowledgement of someone’s sneeze. It is considered good manners to respond in some way when someone sneezes, and these phrases are a way of doing so.

Other Customs Related to Sneezing

In addition to saying a phrase after someone sneezes, there are other customs related to sneezing in Japan. For example, it is considered impolite to cover your nose and mouth with your hand when you sneeze. Instead, it is recommended that you use a tissue or handkerchief.

The Role of Sneezing in Japanese Folklore

Sneezing has played a role in Japanese folklore for centuries. There are numerous legends and stories that involve sneezing, with many of them focusing on the idea that sneezing can bring good luck or ward off evil spirits.

How Has Modernization Affected These Customs?

As Japan has become more modernized, some of these customs related to sneezing have started to fade away. However, many people still adhere to these traditions and continue to use the traditional responses after a sneeze.


In conclusion, the response to a sneeze in Japan is rooted in tradition and superstition. While the most common phrase used after a sneeze is “otsukaresama desu,” there are numerous other responses that can be used as well. Regardless of the specific response used, the custom of acknowledging someone’s sneeze remains an important part of Japanese culture today.

What do Chinese say after sneeze?

When someone sneezes in Chinese (打喷嚏 dǎ pēntì), it is not customary to say anything in response. Unlike in English-speaking countries where it is polite to say “bless you,” Chinese speakers typically do not acknowledge other people’s sneezes.

How do you say bless you for sneeze in Japanese?

In ancient Japanese, the phrase “kusame kusame” was used to dispel curses associated with sneezing, whereas in modern times, sneezing is referred to as “kushami.” This sheds light on why English-speaking countries say “bless you” after someone sneezes.

What does 3 sneezes mean in Japanese traditions?

However, there is a Japanese saying about sneezing: 一誹二笑三惚四風邪 If you sneeze once, someone is talking or spreading bad things about you. If you sneeze twice, someone is making fun of you. If you sneeze three times, someone loves you.Apr 14, 2016

What is the proper thing to say after you sneeze?

In the US, it is common for people to say “Bless you!” when someone sneezes, which originated as “God bless you.” While this may also happen in other English-speaking countries, it is not as frequent. The appropriate response to this phrase is “Thank you!”

What do Mexicans say after a sneeze?

In the Spanish language, there are various responses to someone’s first three sneezes, and these differ depending on the region. The most widely recognized version, commonly used in Latin America, involves saying salud (“health”) after the first sneeze, dinero (“money”) after the second, and amor (“love”) after the third.

What do Indians say after a sneeze?

The phrases “Aasha!”, “Not really!”, “Healths!”, or “To your health!” all convey well wishes for someone’s long life and good health, often with the added sentiment of hoping for God’s blessings.

It is interesting to note that sneezing is not the only bodily function that is accompanied by a custom in Japan. For example, when entering a home or a traditional Japanese inn, it is customary to take off one’s shoes and wear slippers provided by the host. Additionally, it is considered impolite to blow one’s nose in public, and instead, people are expected to use a handkerchief or tissue to wipe their nose discreetly.

Furthermore, while the response to a sneeze may be different from region to region and person to person, it is generally seen as a way of showing respect and consideration for others. In Japanese culture, group harmony and collective well-being are highly valued, and this extends to even the most mundane of social interactions.

As with many other customs and traditions around the world, the exact origins of the Japanese custom of responding to a sneeze are difficult to trace. However, it is clear that this custom has been deeply ingrained in Japanese culture for centuries and continues to be observed by many people today.

In conclusion, although the custom of responding to a sneeze may seem unusual or even unnecessary to those unfamiliar with Japanese culture, it serves as an important reminder of the value placed on social harmony and mutual respect. By acknowledging someone’s sneeze in a polite and thoughtful manner, Japanese people are able to strengthen social bonds and promote a sense of community among themselves.

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