Yes, I know–the title. It has the word “vagina” in it. It’s just that I just walked in from the neighborhood doctor and the pharmacist and no one could tell me the word in Japanese for “vagina”. Not my girl’s school nurse, either, who offered the word, “oshiko“. Isn’t that “pee” or where one urinates from? What if a mom has to treat her little girl’s body for a possible yeast infection, not bladder? No one knew the word–not five professionals, in total.
My daughter did her best, suggesting “o chingching“, but that’s the word she learned at her Japanese preschool for “penis”. I’m glad I know that much. Imagine learning later that I said my daughter’s penis hurt? Jeez Louise.
It makes me wonder if people feel embarrassed saying it here. Is it taboo? I mean, I wasn’t asking for a sexual word in the context of sex. I asked as a parent for my girl. I asked the pharmacist who in turn, brought out her two sempais, or older “classmen”, her respected seniors. There they were, three female pharmacists, turning heads side-to-side, thinking, wondering, “mutsukashii“, how difficult.
I circled the area on a drawing of a person. I used my daughter’s name and said the Japanese I knew. I am also very good at pantomime. Life becomes a big cherade game when living overseas. Words not known become elaborate pantomimes. Yes, I literally grabbed myself. I said in Japanese, that there are different parts of the body, yes? I pointed and named, “atama (head), ashi (leg),…ba-ja-ii-na (you guessed it)”. No clue.
Finally, the eldest pharmacist wrote out an elaborate kanji (Chinese character) to name it. Or maybe there was big confusion and she wrote out the malady. Seems to me, there is either a) no such word to name the very important body part b) people are too prude, or just too “feminine” to say it.
Am I being weird? See, this is why, at Eckerd Drugstore in the States, I want to buy five Vagisil creams, when I remember, that is. I’ve got nothing in the cabinets.
I haven’t even been able to properly find out the anatomical word in Japanese. Do I really want to wait until a proper emergency comes up to have to pantomime an issue to some dude at my local drugstore in northern Tokyo?
I’m not without technology; I have looked-up the word on Google Translate. It’s just this fear that Google has not supplied the appropriate word. Who wants to sound crass and uneducated when needing to help their little girl or their own body?
That is all for now.
PS I hate to have to switch pharmacies. I thought we were finally used to each other by now.
PSS My amazing Mom-in-Law came through. No shame in the game.
You neighbors of mine in Japan, here is your abridged dictionary, focusing on “gina”, as my pipsqueek daughter says:
vajina wa ちつ（膣）chi-tu .
labia wa 陰唇（いんしん）inshi-n desu.
Also it is “mutsukashii”/difficult, because there are different ways to read the kanji. So yeah…we’ll all just point.
ちょっと、むつかしい はつおん ですから。
Love & good humor,