Soused noodles / face

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[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

An unfortunate cultural misunderstanding has occurred in the attached image:

ぶっかけ (bukkake) is the nominal form of ぶっかける.  かける (kakeru) has many possible meanings, but here it is basically "to put on." The prefix ぶっ is an emphatic. Together they mean "to splash (a liquid) on something." And it is the liquid that is the root of the problem.

ぶっかけうどん and ぶっかけそば (bukkake udon/soba) are cold noodles with various toppings and dashi "splashed on," hence the name.

Some readers may be aware that the world of pornography often features other liquids being "splashed on." The Wikipedia entry for bukkake is helpful, beginning with the topline disambiguator:

This article is about the sex act. For the Japanese method of serving noodles, see Udon § Cold, and Soba.

Bukkake (Japanese: ぶっかけ, [bɯkkake]; English:/bʊˈkækbuu-KAK-ay) is a sex act in which one participant is ejaculated on by two or more other participants. It is often portrayed in pornographic films.

Bukkake videos are a relatively prevalent niche in contemporary pornographic films. Originating in Japan in the 1980s, the genre subsequently spread to North America and Europe, and crossed over into gay pornography.

There is even a (NSFW) "artistic interpretation" to illustrate this concept.

Attentive readers familiar with the horrors of Google Translate have probably already guessed which term features in the Mandarin translation for this unfortunate dish.

To be fair, the actual characters are 颜射 (yán shè, i.e. "facial"). My Mandarin is poor, but I don't believe this implies multiple ejaculators; it doesn't in Japanese, at least, though that may be cold comfort for those cold noodles.

It is worth mentioning that bukkake soba/udon, even without infelicitous hanzi/kanji renderings, are already the subject of much omg-ing on the internet from non-natives, which suggests that the pornographic genre may be better known globally than the noodles.

h/t Becki Kanou on FB


  1. Twill said,

    January 6, 2021 @ 2:52 am

    I don't see how the term chosen for translation being slightly broader mitigates the damage; if anything, it's worse than if it were one of the informal, creative Mandarin renderings of Japanese phrases (by the ACG community[?]) I distinctly recall reading about on here but aren't having much luck finding. The biggest question is why nobody picked up on the very questionable translation of the Mandarin: surely even if you aren't sure if 颜射 has the meaning it does in Japanese, it obviously doesn't mean anything like what ぶっかけ should here.

  2. Ian said,

    January 6, 2021 @ 12:19 pm

    Regarding the Wikipedia entry… who in the world pronounces this /bʊˈkækeɪ/ in English? The only pronunciation I've ever heard is /buˈkɑki/.

  3. Luke said,

    January 7, 2021 @ 9:31 am

    I pronounce it /bʊˈkækeɪ/, I find it to be closer to the Japanese [bɯkkake] than the alternative /buˈkɑki/ pronunciation.

  4. Philip Taylor said,

    January 7, 2021 @ 9:57 am

    I have to wonder (and perhaps even to ask) how many contributors to Language Log (or members of the human race, for that matter) have ever had occasion to pronounce "bukkake" other than in their heads ? I for one, have never had occasion prior to today, when I read the lead story over the telephone to a broad-minded lady of almost ninety years whom I knew would enjoy it. Prior to that, I had read the word, knew what it meant, and undoubtedly pronounced it in my mind (do all humans do that, or do some acquire meaning directly from the written form without first needing to mentally speak/hear it ?), but never before used the word in real life.

  5. The Other Mark P said,

    January 7, 2021 @ 3:57 pm

    do all humans do that, or do some acquire meaning directly from the written form without first needing to mentally speak/hear it ?

    I definitely need to "hear" a word mentally. I read a lot of history of Eastern Europe and so often come across names like Pszczyna. If I know the German form I will often use that, so Pszczyna will be pronounced "Pless" to me, even though that is clearly utterly wrong.

  6. Matt said,

    January 10, 2021 @ 2:44 am

    @Phillip: I recall reading about a study a few years back regarding this, and it was normal for most people to hear a voice while they read, but not all… from memory it might have been an 80/20 split, but no doubt a quick google search would find the research in question (or at the very least, main stream news misrepresentations of said research).

  7. Matt said,

    January 10, 2021 @ 2:46 am

    Apologies for misspelling your name with an extra “L”, Philip. I must have been thinking of my uncle.

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