Breath Ass Method

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From Becki Kanou:

Explanation from Nathan Hopson:

Cover of a book [in Japanese] that is being sold on Amazon. The difference between the two photos (above and in the Amazon link) is that the one Becki provided has the obi (I don't know what that is in English, and Wikipedia only notes that it's sometimes called a "belly-band" in English, which is more a term I associate with keeping your pet dog from peeing on the carpet — but I digress).

The pink reads:

1-3. With the 3-minute daily Breath Ass Method
4-6. Make a stomach you'll want to show off even your V-line*

Breath Ass

Ichinishi sanpun no
Breath Ass
Method de
made misetakunaru
onaka o tsukuru

*V-line: I posted before that letters of the alphabet are commonly used to describe shapes in Japanese. The V-line is the "bikini line," which is why she's showing it off. This is one of several alphabetic euphemisms to describe parts of the female body that are variously hidden, shown, depilated, etc. The Google Image search is more or less SFW, though you might have a hard time explaining it….  The clearest — ergo least SFW explanation — might be this one.

Anyway (I digress again)…

The last two lines are the names of the author and cover model, Tsuchiya Anna (土屋アンナ) and the "exercise creator" Takahashi Yoshito (高橋義人).

Tsuchiya is a bit of a "bad girl" type, and one of the early successful ハーフ ("half-Japanese") celebrities in contemporary Japan. Her English-language Wikipedia entry opens with this amazing bio:

Anna Tsuchiya (土屋 アンナ Tsuchiya Anna, born March 11, 1984) is an American Japanese singer, actress and semi-retired model of Polish and Irish descent. Since 2005, she is primarily known as a singer.

In this photo, she's showing off her postpartum six-pack abs at age 35. That's the substance of the white obi text, which follows:

1. Tsuchiya Anna
2. at 35 years old
3. "postpartum six pack!!"
4. Just tighten your ass
5. And move while breathing
6. It works your abs!
7. [This] easy slimming method [all] in one book!

Tsuchiya Anna
Sanjūgosai de
"sango ware"!!
oshiri o shimete
kokyū shinagara ugoku dake de
onaka ni kiku!!
kantan yase mesoddo ga issatsu ni!


Essentially, she's advertising a cure for "mom bod."

What intrigues me [VHM] about this cover is the riot of different scripts and their orthographical presentation:  Arabic numerals, kanji for Japanese nouns and verbs, Japanese grammatical particles in hiragana, English in Roman letters with katakana ruby phonetic annotations (furigana), letter of alphabet to indicate shape, English in katakana (largest type on the cover), personal names in kanji or kanji plus katakana,  Western punctuation.  It's almost as though they're showing off the plethora of different components in their writing system.  Is there any other writing system in the world that can compete with Japanese for complexity?


  1. David Morris said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 12:15 am

    I read this within minutes of talking to a Japanese student about the complexity of Japanese writing.

  2. Narushi said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 9:21 am

    A subtler quirk is the use of quotation marks for emphasis rather than actual quotation or sarcasm. Which could turn out disastrously:

  3. Jake said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 10:51 am

    Any regular solver of (American) crosswords knows that an obi is a kimono sash.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 12:07 pm


    Thanks for the suggestion. I'm 100% certain that Nathan Hopson knows that an obi is a kimono sash, but he was uncertain what to call it in the book publishing business.


  5. Ethan said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 1:34 pm

    I believe the one on a book is called a "wrap-around band".

  6. Chris said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 6:02 pm

    We use “obi” in Iaido (I think the kanji is 帯), in english we call it simply the “belt” – I would think “sash” is also appropriate, it is simply a length of fabric we use to tie up our gi. I’m not sure if this is the same thing

  7. Jim Breen said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 7:52 pm

    While I don't disagree with Nathan's explanation of Vライン (V-line), it's worth mentioning that there are in fact two Vラインs in Japanese. One is the "bikini line" he mentions, which is also called a ビキニライン, and the other refers to pubic hair visible around the lower edges of a bikini bottom. You can find plenty of pages such as the one at which discusses the removal of V-line hair (Vライン脱毛).

  8. Victor Mair said,

    August 18, 2019 @ 9:21 pm

    Wikipedia on obi in publishing:

  9. Jim Breen said,

    August 19, 2019 @ 6:45 am

    Cancel my previous comment. There is only one ビキニライン/Vライン. I hadn't, er, examined the evidence closely enough.

  10. Narmitaj said,

    August 20, 2019 @ 4:18 pm

    The exercises mentioned seem to be similar to some in today's Times… but behind a paywall.

    "Six ways to tone up without breaking a sweat (no gym required)". They refer to techniques such as buttock clenching and stomach vacuuming ("hollowing out and sucking in — or vacuuming — your stomach can help you to get an impressively flat and toned torso. Experts say it activates the transverse abdominis"). Some of them sound like "4. Just tighten your ass 5. And move while breathing"

    Other exercises include shoulder shrugging and having a good laugh.

  11. Benjamin E Orsatti said,

    August 22, 2019 @ 7:57 am

    I've always wondered about languages' (my own mama loshn's included) use of borrowed foreign terms; specifically, the point at which the term no longer sounds "foreign" to the ear. For example, I don't begin thinking in French whenever I hear the term "maître d'", I think of the concept (help me out here, semiologists!) of "head waiter" without the _words_ "head waiter" ever springing to consciousness. Similarly, I'm sure that your average Japanese L1 speaker hears the term "ワイシャツ" (dress shirt) without ever thinking of the English words "white" or "shirt", or even the Japanese native term for "dress shirt" (I imagine there would have to have been one at some point).

    But I wonder about the seemingly chaotic Japanese use of borrowed English in order to (I'm guessing) sound more "international" or "cosmopolitan" (in much the same way as we would use French), without paying any particular attention to whether the usage would be either acceptable or hysterical to an English L1 speaker. Surely, the English use of "maître d'" sounds funny to a French L1 — "maître de" quoi, exactement? — but "maître d'" is one of those terms that's been in common usage for so long that it's been effectively "nativized".

    But the term "breath ass method" can't be one that has been au courant in Japanese for very long, can it? You would think, then, that a publisher, running copy utilizing a recent linguistic borrowing, might just want to pull aside an English L1 and say, "Hey, Steve, how's this look to you", at which point Steve might reply, "The juxtaposition of stunning physical female beauty with an invocation of stunningly pathological halitosis creates a distinctly unpleasant sensation in the reader that I do not believe you have intended".

    But they don't do that. Is it for the same reason that so many of us wind up with "chicken fried rice" hanzi tattooed on our shoulders — that we don't really think about language in this way, or is there another explanation?

  12. Stuart Luppescu said,

    August 22, 2019 @ 12:13 pm

    Ah, yes. ワイシャツ。Eleanor Jordan told us a long time ago that she saw a men's clothing display with signs showing "Y Shirts" (by the dress shirts) and "T Shirts" by the … you get the idea.

  13. Benjamin E. Orsatti said,

    August 22, 2019 @ 8:21 pm

    _The_ Eleanor Jordan? Zounds! Well, if you should happpen to speak with her again, please tell her that her masterful book is probably the only reason why I continue to punish myself by learning this astoundingly difficult language.

  14. Jonathan Silk said,

    August 27, 2019 @ 3:12 am

    One tiny correction of an evident typo: 1日 = ichinichi, not *ichinishi

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