There are a number of one-word phrases in the Japanese language that, try as you might, just can’t be summed up anywhere near as succinctly in English. ‘Atarimae‘ is one of them. Used to describe a situation, behaviour or feeling that is entirely natural and obvious to all concerned, the phrase has been used with tremendous frequency this week by Japanese reacting to news that people the world over were applauding their country’s football fans for cleaning up their section of the stadium after their World Cup game last weekend. “Why wouldn’t you clean up after yourself?” people asked. “It’s atarimae.”
An article published earlier today on Japan’s WirelessWire News, however, suggests that although in Japan it is considered proper to tidy up after oneself, by doing so at the World Cup stadium these fans may in fact be putting Brazilian staff out of a job, prompting netizens to debate whether they ought to follow suit and leave their trash behind or do what comes naturally to them.