Saturday, April 01, 2017

Age-otori and Akihi

Every so often you meet a word that you’ve been waiting to meet all your life, but didn’t know where to look. Researching for the A to Z April Challenge 2017 has introduced me to several such words that I know will become an integral part of my vocabulary. Hopefully, you’ll find them worth including in your vocabulary and conversations too.

One such word is Age-Otori, Japanese for… a word that I really could have used as a child.

I was always the kid that came home from having a haircut, looking like a cat that had had its hair plucked out, scarred for life.

I would come home, praying that no one would see me, then hide the rest of the day so no one but my family saw me. My parents, of course, were hardwired to love me, and not to laugh at me, but my older brother and my friends would regard my haircut as something that I had got for their express amusement.

It felt even worse if I had to go to school in the interim, which is why I preferred to have my haircut during the vacations. Schools in India don’t encourage headgear that might help you to hide the hairstylist’s mistakes. And so I had no option but to look silly for the benefit of the general public.

To this day, I don’t know why the salon people got their greenest recruits to practice their non-skills on my head.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Age-Otori (pronounced Aa-gey-oh-toh-ree) is Japanese for the characteristic of looking worse after a haircut.

So I would endure the laughter and the mocking until my hair grew out and then people moved on, until it was time for another haircut and then just like that, it was Age-Otori, back with a vengeance.

Have you ever been Age-Otori?

The other word I have for you is Akihi. A Hawaiian word that I bet they invented after meeting my husband.

The Husband, and I admire this about him, has an instinct for roads and where they might lead. Even in a new location, he manages to find his way around, with or without GPS.

Which is why, when he comes up short and doesn’t know which way to go, he will stew and squirm in the driver’s seat, wondering what he should do.

Should he go this way or that?

Hither or Thither?

He won’t admit that we are lost, that he is lost, hopelessly so, not even when I insist we are and present the evidence in his face.

What he will do instead is undertake a lengthy period of guesswork, where he attempts to figure out which way is the right one? And then he will drive down that road, and then 10 minutes later, we are back where we started.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I,
I took the one I thought was right…
Because it really didn’t make a difference.

Only then will he condescend to do something that I would have done a full half-hour ago: ASK FOR DIRECTIONS.

Then again the way he asks for directions is not the way we mortals might ask. He will ask a passerby for directions, (and heavy-duty ADVERB alert, be forewarned) listen carefully, nod intelligently, diligently ask the guy to repeat himself, then ask several questions, left or right? Blue wall or green wall? Tall wall or short wall?

Then set the car in motion.

The helpful guide who has pointed us down the right path is still visible in the rear-view mirror when the Husband will turn to me and nonchalantly ask, “What did he say?”

That’s what Akihi is: the act of listening to directions, then walking off and promptly forgetting them.

Have you ever seen Akihi in action? 


  1. Interesting words! I think akihi is very frequent, so I'm glad that it exists a word for it!

    Name: Eva
    Blog: Mail Adventures
    #AtoZ Challenge Theme: Postcards
    Letter A: Adventurers. Because any postcard is a little adventure, isn't it?

    1. Eva, I had no idea that there were so many people that could relate to Akihi. I guess my Husband has company.

  2. Akihi definitely relates to me! But only because I'm SO forgetful, not because I think i know better. I really wish I COULD remember the directions to places. I have to write everything down to have any hope!

    Age-Otori is a fantastic word too! I'm sure I had that happen to me many times.

    Excited to follow along with this great theme!

    Believe In Fairy Stories - Theme - Folklore & Fairy Tales

    1. Akihi would never happen to me. I keep asking directions of each new person I see. It's always nice to have the previous chap's directions confirmed.
      Age-Otori and I are old friends.

  3. Once, when I was about 3, my mom had to step away in the middle of giving me a haircut. I picked up the trimmers and fiddled. I turned them on and off, listening to the humm, watching the blades... and I decided to see if I could feel them ruffling my hair as they moved...

    Age-Otori, indeed. ;-)

    I'm looking forward to your other words!

    1. Wow! Your mom must have been horrified. So glad hair grows quickly when we are young.

  4. Hi Cynthia - sadly I now have Age-Otori all the time ... thinning hair regardless of what happens to it! Age afflicted ... such is life - we all get old.

    They are both great words though ... I don't usually suffer from Akihi though - but I know .. so frustrating when people won't ask or for that matter remember directions ...

    I'll enjoy your postings ... cheers Hilary

    Today’s A - Z Challenge 2017 post

    1. You're so right, Hilary. Age is no defense against the onslaught of Age-Otori. Those bumbling hairstylists still don't know what to do with my locks.
      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. My first permanent left me Age-Otori and my kids would be quick to accuse me of having akihi.

  6. What a lovely post and theme! Look forward to learning more words from you this April :) dropping by from the A-Z Challenge at

  7. Akihi is definitely a guy thing. As for age-otori, I had that happen once. And once was enough.

    1. Oh yes, it is a guy thing.
      Lucky you, you had Age-otori only once? I've lost count of my Age-otoris.

  8. Wow! someone after my own heart, I love new words and learning about them, so looking forward to learn all the new words this month.

    1. HI Radhika, thank you. I hope you enjoy the selection I've cobbled up together.

  9. Absolutely love Akihi. I think it applies very well to my father.

    I look forward to reading more!

    - Anjali

    1. HI Anjali, Good to know you have an Akihi in your family.

  10. When I was 16 I experienced my first Age-Otori - a haircut from my mother's hairdresser friend who was trying a new style. Had to rush off to my hairdresser friend and salvage some diginity. This post had me smiling. Awesome start Cynthia.
    Suzy at Someday Somewhere - Letter A

    1. Hi Suzy, only those who have experienced it know the pain that Age-Otori brings along.

  11. I love both these words. I've definitely had Age-Otori before. I have a bunch of cowlicks on the back of my neck and instead of giving me a Dorthy Hamill wedge once (named after the famous figure skater's hair cut) they gave me a real wedge, which involves shaving the back of your neck. It was awful. Thankfully is was summer vacation and I could mostly avoid the teasing of peers.
    Akihi I have less experience with. My dad and my husband both have that weird ability to know where they are all the time, but they're also willing to admit they need directions and actually pay attention when they're given.

    1. My husband could certainly learn from the men in your life, So it isn't a guy thing after all.
      Your Age-Otori experience I can relate to.

  12. Oh, no, your mentioning Age-Otori reminded me of when I was a teenager, and flat tops were all the rage. I had cultivated mine for a while, then had a haircut where the stylist CUT THE CORNERS OFF! When I got home my brother said it wasn't that bad, maybe I just needed more gel on the corners. Yes, those corners that weren't there!

    Although in good news, that was the end of having a flat top for ever.

    Phillip | G is for Gnome Calendar



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