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Monzen Barai (門前払い – Turned Away at the Gate)

  • Monzen Barai


    The action of turning away a visitor without meeting them is called monzen barai (門前払い) in Japanese.

    Since mon (門) means “gate,” zen (前) means “front,” and barai/harai (払い) means “to expel,” the literal meaning of this phrase is “to expel someone from the front gate.”
    「門」は “gate”、「前」は “front”、「払い」は “to expel” を意味するので、「門前払い」の文字どおりの意味は “to expel someone from the front gate” となります。

    Originally, this phrase meant the lightest banishment sentence during the Edo period, which involved expelling the offender from the front gate of the magistrate’s office.

    This has evolved over time to carry its current meaning.

    If you are a visitor who is turned away without meeting anyone, you can say something like monzen barai wo kū (門前払いを食う), using the verb (食う), which means “to experience an undesirable situation.”

    Original sentence