Around thirty or arasaa

If you are interested in the Japanese marketing culture, you might have come across the expression “arasaa market”. As one can guess, arasaa is not originally a Japanese word, but a Japanese – English made expression, short for “araundo sati”, the Japanese pronunciation of “around thirty”. “Arasaa market” refers to the market of around 30 years old people.

The expression “arasaa” is said to have been used for the first time in women magazines and the fashion industry, GISELe and GLITTER in the 2000’s. At that time, this marketing term was mainly targeting women reaching their thirties. Nowadays the expression is not only used for women but also for men and it is no longer limited to fashion, but also used by other industries such as lifestyle and home equipment, electronics…

The success of this age categorization lies in the drastic changes of lifestyle, social environment and health that people experience when they reach their 30s, 40s and 50s. The division into age segments enables Japanese companies to develop and advertise appropriate products for each targetted group. For example, a magazine targeting “arafif” who are relatively wealthy will show brands like Gucci and Hermes.

Arasaa became such a popular expression that by the end of 2000’s, all the other age group got their “own” Japanese – English made expression. Thus, “arafoo” refers to those near their 40s and “arafif” refers to those near their 50s…

  • アラハタ・アラトゥエ:“arahata” “aratoue” around twenty
    (*the twentieth birthday is also called “hatachi”)
  • アラサー:“arasaa” around thirty
  • アラフォー:“arafoo” around forty
  • アラフィフ:“arafif” around fifty
  • アラカン:“arakan” around sixty (*the sixtieth birthday is called “kanreki”)
  • アラセブ“arasebu” around seventy
  • アラエイ“araei”  around eighty
  • アラナイ“aranai” around ninety

Example 1:

A: Arasaa no toshi ni naruto dou itta fuku o kireba yoi no ka wakaranaku natte shimaimashita.
B:Ki ni shinai de kitai mono kita hou ga ii to omoi masu yo.

A: Since I turned around thirty, I no longer know what is nice to wear…
B: I think you should not worry about what you wear.
Example 2:

A: Kyou wa o tanjoubi da ne. Omedetou!
B:ありがとう。でも、アラフィフになっちゃう ・・・50代はまだ先だけど、50代って楽しいのかな。
B: Arigatou. Demo, arafifu ni natchau 50-dai wa mada saki da kedo, 50-dai tte tanoshii no ka na.
A: Souda ne. Demo kawaranai’n janai? 49 mo 50 mo 51 mo mina onaji da!

A: It’s your birthday today right? Happy birthday.
B: Thanks, but I turned around fifty… I am not yet 50 but, I wonder if it is really fun to turn around fifty…
A: Oh, I see. But does it really change? 49 and 50 and 51, it all the same!

Among those expressions, “arasaa”, “arafoo” and “arafif” are the most commonly used. Nonetheless, one should be careful during conversation, as in Japan, age is a sensitive topic, especially for women. One should avoid asking a Japanese person’s age – even politely, and if you were to dare, a frequent answer would be “it is a secret” (秘密です!”himitsu desu!”). Therefore, when Japanese women refer to themselves with “arasaa”, “arafoo” and “arafif”, it is very often negatively: the unfortunate change of wardrobe following a birthday or the concern of getting old…

Credit CC BY-SA 2.0: ginza_line
source: Flickr

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