Posted by: yoko | March 5, 2004

Words From Childhood 2.6

Today’s phrase: hidari giccho

Hidari means “left”, giccho is a (redundant) slang word for “left-handed.” The usual phrase is hidari te, where te means hand. Giccho carries negative connotations, which I suppose is within the context of a largely right-handed society.

When I was a kid, I didn’t realize the connotations. My parents always described me as hidari giccho, so when I had referred to myself by that phrase to a Japanese teacher some years later, she was taken aback, and had to explain to me that it was a derogatory term.

I am the only left-handed person in my family, and in my extended family as well. I supposedly have two cousins who had initially shown left-handed tendencies, but they were taught to use their right hand when writing, so now they are right-handed.

I’m glad that my parents didn’t try to force me to be right-handed, but it did create problems learning to write in Japanese, where the lines must be done in prescribed directions and order; and when I was learning any kind of craft like knitting or origami.



  1. You’re lucky to have avoided the experience of being forced to write right-handed. At the Catholic school I went to, the nuns felt that left-handers needed to be “cured.” I think it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

  2. oh man, Lila– I didn’t think they still did that in this day and age! It’s like medieval torture, isn’t it?!

  3. I’m glad that i’m left-handed. I always got my own scissors during craft time. There would be ten righty scissors and one lefty pair, and as the only lefty, i’d have no competition for cutting time.


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