Let’s Learn Japanese: Kuuki Yomenai

I found this really useful piece of cultural advice on another blog. Click the link to see the original post.

Let’s Learn Japanese: Kuuki Yomenai

A very useful (yet difficult-to-translate) Japanese phrase is kuuki yomenai. Literally translated, kuuki yomenai means “can’t read the air.” It is used to describe people who lack social tact. The written phrase looks like this:


Always the innovators, Japanese young people have recently abbreviated kuuki yomenai to the Roman alphabet letters “K.Y.” But sometimes just saying that someone is kuuki yomenai doesn’t do justice to that person’s lack of social skills. Sometimes you need to take it up a notch. At times like these, you have to use chou kuuki yomenai:


That means “REALLY can’t read the air,” and is abbreviated “C.K.Y.”

I want everyone back home in the US who reads this to try using “K.Y.” or “C.K.Y.” in daily conversation. When someone asks you what it means, tell them what it means, then tell them to start using it.

The English language needs a phrase like this.

Chorus, Isolate, Confirm: Let’s Learn Japanese: Kuuki Yomenai