Inase (いなせ)

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    We sometimes use the word ‘inase‘ (いなせ) to describe a gallant and fresh young man.

    This word comes from a hairstyle called ‘inase icho‘ (鯔背銀杏), which was popular among young people in fish markets in the late Edo period.

    Ina‘ (鯔) means “flathead grey mullet,” ‘se‘ (背) means “back,” so ‘inase’ means “flathead grey mullet’s back.”
    「鯔」は魚のボラのこと、「背」は “back” を意味するので、「鯔背」は “flathead grey mullet’s back” を意味します。

    In addition, ‘icho‘ (銀杏) is short for ‘icho-mage‘ (銀杏髷), which was the most common male hairstyle in the Edo period.

    That is to say, ‘inase icho’ is a hairstyle looks like flathead grey mullet’s back, and young men with such a hairstyle were masculine, so ‘inase’ came to have its current meaning.

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