Yasuke Adventures in Japanese: Addressing People ( textbook supplement)

(The following study material can be used to add more “meat” to the lesson on “addressing people” on

あなた わたし “you” “I” – these are words that are seldom used by the Japanese. In a language where context is of the utmost importance and ほんね/たてまえ (本音/建前) rules the day, how can a mere mortal foreigner make their way through these complexities to the golden shores of Japanese proficiency…? This lesson wants to help.

First things first, reading through “addressing people” on is a must. This is an essential step in understanding the basics and uprooting any well-meaning but wrong use of あなた わたし.

Next for the self-learner or teacher/class to tackle is an understanding of  うちそと (内外)and ほんね/たてまえ (本音/建前).

To start on that journey I recommend watching/showing the students this informative video about the concept –

and if you are bored you can also watch this one…

(it’s an explanation of how tatemae exists in other cultures too)


Use this handy PDF I created with lesson exercises on “uchi/soto”  うちそと (内外)and “honne/tatemae” ほんね/たてまえ (本音/建前).

(it’s good for making the lesson a bit more advanced)


lastly to help students understand what this concept would equate to in English, you could use this chart: 


フレーズ 真の意味
Thanks [This phrase doesn’t have a meaning per se]
That’s a great idea, but… That’s a bad idea
Good job! You didn’t fail
That’s a good question I don’t have an answer


And for advanced examples of Tatemae and what Japanese people might actually be feeling, this is a funny video:

That’s all friends!

Happy Lessons!

(P.S. This tip will be included later in Full Yasuke! Our textbook of Japanese and Guide to teaching Japanese. Check it out!)