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Friday, March 21, 2008



Setsunai...I don't think there's an exact English translation--but I know I've felt it. "Wistful" is OK...but setsunai seems to me like a stronger emotion that you can almost feel physically. I think "setsunai" really is like having a "sweet-sore" feeling or place in your heart.

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hi there thank you very much for comments. setsunai means wistful, bittersweet or melancholy. hmmm interesting thank you very much!

Ben in LA

Hi Mari,

Thanks for this post. I'm very interested in Japanese nostalgia. I'm still waiting for the movie "Always" to show up in America!

Maybe the English counterpart of "setsunai" could be "wistful," which means "characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning." It's not commonly used in everyday speech but English speakers will recognize it. So basically, I think "setsunai" is a much better word. We should adopt it!


Deb's suggestions for "setsunai" are quite good. If I were looking at those images, I might say something like "pics that make you feel longing or heart-ache", or something like that. But I don't know if that describes the landscapes or old buildings very well... Maybe a feeling of "loss" is part of it? It's hard for me to narrow down to a single word.


Hi Mari,

I like the Nikkei style housing that you have shown there. I live in England and we have similar problems to Japan namely lack of space. I love the way Japanese make the best of use of such small spaces.

It is Easter holiday over here in Europe and I am having a lazy few days too!


Hi Mari! I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and I really like it! :) Haven't left a comment until now. I think some English words to describe "setsunai" might be "bittersweet" or "melancholy"?
For instance, my first kiss I look back at fondly but also with a bit of sadness at the passage of time/innocence, if that makes sense?

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