Dianthus superbus

Yamato nadeshiko (やまとなでしこ or 大和撫子) is a Japanese term meaning the "personification of an idealized Japanese woman."[1]

Name Origin and Connotations

Yamato (大和) was an ancient name for Japan and, therefore, has nationalistic connotations. The name also contains a floral metaphor. The word nadeshiko refers to Dianthus superbus, a frilled pink carnation.[2] The word nadeshiko (撫子) also means beloved or dear child (lit. "child being petted"). The combination of these two meanings indicates a flower of the Japanese nation, that is, a standard of female beauty that is uniquely Japanese.[2]

While the term refers to the Japanese ideals of femininity, possessing grace and beauty, it also describes the Yamato nadeshiko's inner strength.[3] She exhibits delicacy and deference, as well as quiet determination.[4] Both dignified and modest,[5] the Yamato nadeshiko is believed to embody characteristics of delicacy and fragility, as well as elegance and sturdiness.[6] Though outwardly submissive and obedient, she is internally strong.[7] As the Yamato nadeshiko is one of mature character, she has a nurturing yet uncompromising personality.[8]

Modern Use of the Term

The term Yamato nadeshiko is often used to describe a demure young woman and, in a contemporary context, nostalgically of women with good traits which are perceived as being increasingly rare.[9][10]

Modern Media

Though Yamato nadeshiko is no longer considered an ideal for women to reach for, it's still referenced in pop culture media such as novels, manga, anime, TV dramas, and movies.[8] It is typically used to refer to female characters that possess traits of maturity, modesty, gentleness, grace, uncompromising determination, while also being nurturing.[3]

The Yamato nadeshiko character type is often portrayed in anime. Attractive due to having a more mature personality than the other characters, she is often slightly older, sometimes even represented as a teacher or a mother. Her appeal lies in her sexual maturity and traditional Japanese virtues of a caring yet subservient nature.[8]

Nadeshiko Japan (なでしこジャパン)

The official nickname of the Japan women's national football team is Nadeshiko Japan (なでしこジャパン) which was derived from Yamato nadeshiko.[11]

Despite being more successful than their male counterparts, Samurai Blue (サムライ・ブルー), Nadeshiko Japan gets significantly less recognition; instead, the media trivializes their impressive skills and success by emphasizing the femininity of the members of Nadeshiko Japan.[4] For example, although they emerged as champions at the 2011 FIFA World Cup, the team was bombarded with comments about their "femininity" or "lack thereof."[12]

In order to combat the assumed incompatibility of sports and women, in 2004 the Japanese Football Association chose the nickname, Nadeshiko Japan (なでしこジャパン), based on a contest of around 2,700 entries. It was chosen because it embodies femininity and athleticism, features presented in the media as contradictory, as well as a nationalistic identity.[12] The team's decision to keep the name was to promote the "hidden image" of strength and boldness that the Yamato nadeshiko possesses.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Kenkyūsha's New Japanese-English Dictionary (5th edition, 2003)
  2. ^ a b Kakihara, Satoko (2014). Flowers in Contradiction: Japanese Imperialism and Gender Construction Through Women's Writings, 1895–1945 (Thesis). ProQuest 1551196516.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b Ashikari, Mikiko (January 2003). "The memory of the women's white faces: Japaneseness and the ideal image of women". Japan Forum. 15 (1): 55–79. doi:10.1080/0955580032000077739.
  4. ^ a b Kelly, William W. (2017). ""From Gender Binary to Sport Androgyny? Female Athletes in Japan's Modern Sportsworld."" (PDF). Manufacturing Masculinity: The Mangan Oeuvre-Global Reflections on JA Mangan's Studies of Masculinity, Imperialism and Militarism.
  5. ^ 小笠原敬承斎 (2008-06-13). 美人の〈和〉しぐさ: 大和撫子のマナー (in Japanese). PHP研究所.
  6. ^ Becke, Carolin (2022). "Negotiating Gendered Identities Through Dress: Kimono at the Coming-of-age Day in Contemporary Japan" (PDF). University of Sheffield.
  7. ^ a b The Asahi Shimbun Company. "なでしこと大和撫子 - ことばマガジン:朝日新聞デジタル". 朝日新聞デジタル (in Japanese). Retrieved 2024-05-21.
  8. ^ a b c Starr, Rebecca L. (February 2015). "Sweet voice: The role of voice quality in a Japanese feminine style". Language in Society. 44 (1): 1–34. doi:10.1017/S0047404514000724.
  9. ^ ゆーゆ (2010-03-25). "大和撫子なんているの? | 生活・身近な話題". 発言小町 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2024-05-29.
  10. ^ Frank, Diane (2003). Blackberries in the Dream House. 1st World Publishing. ISBN 978-1-887472-68-5.[page needed]
  11. ^ Kietlinski, Robin (2011). Japanese Women and Sport. Bloomsbury Academic. doi:10.5040/9781849666701. ISBN 978-1-84966-340-3.[page needed]
  12. ^ a b Ho, Michelle H. S. (April 2014). "Is Nadeshiko Japan 'Feminine?' Manufacturing Sport Celebrity and National Identity on Japanese Morning Television". Journal of Sport and Social Issues. 38 (2): 164–183. doi:10.1177/0193723513515891.

External links and references