I heard that “nonsexual” means non-aro ace and “asexual” means aro ace in Japan. I’m still confused about general Japanese terms in the ace community. If you don’t mind, could you please explain the most commonly used terms?
hi, anon. you heard correctly, “asexual” (Aセクシャル) doesn’t mean what it means in English in Japan.
at the moment, what commonly used terminology there is regarding asexuality is mostly imported and translated directly from English, generally with their English meanings (more or less) in tact, although there are exceptions, of course. that said, compared to the extensive terminology that exists in English to describe various identities / orientations on the asexual spectrum, there is significantly less terminology available in Japan and even less that is in “common” usage… although that is changing every day.
at the moment, i’d say that these are (some of) the most commonly used terms with (approximate) English translations of commonly used definitions:
- Aセクシャル / アセクシャル / Aセク / asexual / ace OR 無性愛 / museiai: experiencing neither sexual nor emotional attraction. 【ie. “aromantic asexual”】 《 → Aセクシャリティ / アセクシャリティ / asexuality》
- ノンセクシャル / ノンセク / nonsexual OR 非性愛 / hiseiai: not experiencing sexual attraction while still experiencing emotional attraction. 【ie. “(allo)romantic asexual”】 《 → ノンセクシャリティ / nonsexuality》
- 性的指向 / seiteki shikou: describes who one experiences sexual (and/or romantic) desire or love towards. 【ie. “sexual orientation”】
- 友情結婚 / yuujou kekkon OR 友婚 / yuukon: marriage based on reasons that does not involve “love” or sex. 【ie. “ marriage of convenience”】 it’s common for there to be talk of such marriages in some ace spaces.
- 婚活パーティー / konkatsu party: speed dating events, many of which cater to those seeking a marriage of convenience.
- 婚活する / konkatsu suru: actively looking for a relationship, generally by going to / participating in 婚活パーティー / konkatsu parties.
- カミングアウトする / kamingu auto suru OR カムする / kamu suru: to come out of the closet.
that said, as i noted above, ace terminology in Japan is changing every day. i feel like it’s no exaggeration to say that the language that Japanese aces use is very much in a state of flux right now. compared to in the past, i’ve noticed a huge uptick in people on Twitter using the split attraction model and other words that had previously been uncommon in Japanese, but had long since been common in English, such as:
- グレーセクシャル / graysexual OR グレーアセクシャル / グレーアセク / gray asexual / gray ace: similar to asexuality, but experiences sexual attraction to some degree / in some way. 《 → グレーセクシャリティ / グレーアセクシャリティ / gray (a)sexuality 》
- デミセクシャル / デミセク / demisexual: someone who does not experience sexual attraction unless a strong emotional bond is formed. 《→ デミセクシャリティ / demisexuality 》
- グラデーション / gradation: spectrum. 【eg. Aセクシャリティにはグラデーションがある。 / asexuality ni wa guradeeshion ga aru. / asexuality exists on a spectrum. 】
- △△セクシャルで〇〇セクシャル / Y-sexual and X-sexual: usage of this predates usage of the SAM in Japan and is still used by some people today. the first word (△△セクシャル / Y-sexual) is usually used to denote the gender(s) that a person may experience some form of attraction to, with the latter word (〇〇セクシャル / X-sexual) generally being a word on the ace spectrum to denote that person’s experience (or lack thereof) with sexual attraction. 【eg. バイセクシャルでノンセクシャル / a bisexual asexual】
- 恋愛指向 / renai shikou:describes who one experiences emotional (romantic) love towards. 【ie. “romantic orientation”】
- 〇〇ロマンチック / 〇〇ロマ / X-romantic / X-ro: someone who experiences romantic love (attraction) towards people of X gender(s). 【ie. パンロマ(ンチック) / panro(mantic)】
- △△ロマンチックの〇〇セクシャル / △△ロマ〇〇セク / Y-romantic X-sexual / Y-ro X-sexual: since the advent of the SAM in Japan, more and more people are beginning to identify themselves in this way, which again, mirrors the word usage in English-speaking ace spaces. 【eg. AロマンチックのAセクシャル / aromantic asexual, with Aセクシャル in this instance being used to refer specifically to (lack of) sexual attraction, even though it’s still very common to use Aセクシャル on its own to refer to both romantic and sexual orientation… and as an umbrella term… confusing, right?】
it’s really hard to talk about Japanese ace terminology in definitive terms because of the aforementioned state of flux that such terminology is in. in fact, i’m sure this very post will become dated not long after posting it!
furthermore, the Japanese ace ““community”” isn’t really a singular, coherent “community” at all, but rather just people who know people who know other people mostly online… which could be said of a lot of “communities” and thus is in no way unique to Japan’s ace community, but like…. imagine if the English-speaking ace community didn’t have Tumblr or AVEN, instead we only had a highly disjointed, disorganized site like Twitter and a dying equivalent to MySpace (ie. mixi). things that are common among some people on one platform may not be common among other people on that same platform, meanwhile on the other platform things may change in a completely different way if they even change at all. this is why i hesitate to say that even half of the above is actually common at all, because “common” is relative…
also, i feel like i can’t make a post like this about ace terminology in Japan without also commenting on how mixed i personally feel about it as a native English-speaking ace who constantly finds themself stuck between a rock and a hard place because of all this importation of English words into the Japanese language…
yeah…. a rock and a really hard place.
….actually it’d probably be best if i gave that subject a post of its own. later. will come back and edit this post if / when i do. sorry for inadvertently running away with your ask, anon.