Japanese Milk Men?

When I got back from shopping yesterday there was a Japanese man standing at my door patiently ringing the bell. I said hello and he jumped back startled as if he had just been spoken to by some sort of alien. And really he had. He should have been expecting an alien though as the name plate on the door would strongly indicate that I am not going to be Japanese. I don’t blame him though for looking startled and distressed as I had also considered hiding until he went away as I had spotted him whilst walking up the hill. It turns out that he was trying to sell milk delivery services.

I often joke with my language teacher about the words that have been imported into Japanese as they often seem like things that the Japanese should have their own word for. One of these was “milk”. When I asked my teacher if they hadn’t always had milk she quickly pointed out that they hadn’t. Cow milk wasn’t drank at all in Japan before the second World War.

I really wasn’t expecting there to be milk men in Japan but apparently they have had these for years. I also found it strange and I can’t imagine what milk would be like if you left it sitting outside someone’s house in the heat. But I was told that the Japanese get up really early in the morning and that the milk would just be sitting outside for a few minutes.

5 Responses to “Japanese Milk Men?”

  1. Tony Says:

    I think there’s a difference between “Milkmen” and “Milk Men”. The latter implies some sort of strange superhero types made entirely of milk. I was expecting a much more surreal post from that title 🙂

  2. Geoff Says:

    OK, does this blog handle Japanese characters?

    I presume he was trying to sell you “miruku” [ミルク] as opposed to “gyuunyuu” [牛乳], which is the word I’d come across before.

    Is there a subtle difference in usage or is it simply a case of style/modernity?

  3. karen Says:

    I meant to ask Ohata-sensei today but I forgot. I’m not really sure about the difference. I know, that in the grocery store, cartoons have the word 牛乳 but if you go into a restaurant they may well offer you ミルク for your tea or coffee.

  4. Endrew Says:

    “Cow milk wasn’t drank at all in Japan before the second World War.”

    Shouldn’t this be:

    Cow milk wasn’t drunk at all in Japan before the second World War.


  5. karen Says:

    This should indeed be “drunk” and not “drank” because I used the passive voice.