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Advanced Japanese Lesson:緑か黒か


さらに、つやのある美しい髪のことを「緑の黒髪」とも言います。緑色なのに黒い…? どんな色の髪なのか想像できませんね。実は、この「緑」とは緑色ではなく、木や草の若葉を意味しているのです。一説には、「みどり」の語源は「芽出る」だと言われています。確かに、新芽はつやつやとした緑色をしていますよね。


Have you ever heard of the expression “the color of a crow’s wet wing”
This indicates a shiny black color like when the crow’s feathers get wet. Right, it’s a description for the hair of Japanese women.

Furthermore, beautiful hair with a glossy look is called “Green black hair”.  It’s black even though it’s green…?  You can’t really imagine what color the hair is.  Actually, this “green” is not the color green, but means the young leaves of trees or grass.  In one theory, the etymology of “green” comes from “to sprout”. It’s true that a bud is a shiny green color.

By the way, do you know the expression “midorigo” which contains the word “green” in it?  This does not indicate a child that is green in color, but rather a baby. The kanji is also written as 嬰児 eiji and not 緑子. The kanji 嬰 is a configuration of  “貝+貝+女” or “shell + shell + girl”, and depicts a young girl with a string of shells for a necklace. There’s also a theory that ei is an onomatopoeia for the en en sound of a baby’s cry. A new born baby is young and fresh like a bud of a plant, and is full of vitality. From this image the word “green” is used.

Going back, “Green black hair” is the kind of black hair that has the glossy shine like a bud. However, nowadays with the popularity of hair dyeing, there are fewer women who fit the adjective of “Green black hair.”