Senpai and Kouhai – Meanings and relationship

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Have you ever wondered what the word Senpai means? Have you ever wondered what Kouhai means? What is the relationship between these two Japanese words? You probably have heard some anime character calling another by those names. Thinking about answering your doubts, let’s investigate the meaning and relationship between these two words.

The words Senpai and Kouhai are honorary of treatments based on status and hierarchy. The difference is that these words are often used with affection and appreciation and not as a position or idea that someone is superior to someone else. In theory there is no literal translation, but it can be explained.

Let’s thoroughly study each of these words. To make your navigation easier, let’s leave an article index below:

The meaning of Senpai

Senpai [先輩]is the equivalent of the Western concept of veteran or tutor. This word is often used to refer to an older and more experienced person, a mentor or senior. It is a respectful treatment for older or more experienced people, a parent, graduated or someone years ahead in school education.

Senpai and Kouhai - Meanings and relationship - senpai kouhai 1

The word senpai [先輩]s the junction of the ideogram sen [先] that passes the idea of future, precedence, head, front, old and first. Along with the ideogram pai [輩] that passes the idea of comrade, companion and person. Literally a companion who has more experience than you.

In Japanese, the person should never call himself a senpai, nor even run after that title as some run after the title of veteran or Boy Scout. Being a senpai means being recognized by others, he is an honorie who needs to be conquered.

Veterans also don’t put their title on business cards as doctors do in the West, nor do they usually force others to call him senpai. This respect is gained and can only be recognized by others. Senpai treatment is similar to sensei treatment (master, teacher), but it’s a level below and you don’t need to be teaching anything.

Senpai and Kouhai - What means and the relationship between them?

The meaning of Kouhai

Kouhai [後輩] is basically the opposite of the senpai, a generic equivalent to freshman in the West. Other meanings and ideas that the word passes is junior and younger people. The ideogram [後] passes the idea from behind, after, rest, successor, heir, anterior and things like that. The word also has the ideogram [輩] it pronounces hai.

Simply put, senpai is used to refer to an older and experienced person, a mentor or senior. Kouhai is a younger, newer or inexperienced person. No one is offended when being called Kouhai, on the contrary, there is a great relationship between the two.

Senpai and Kouhai - What means and the relationship between them?

If you talked or befriended some veteran, you automatically became a kouhai and should call you senpai as a sign of respect. Not using this treatment is like you don’t respect it. Only not all veterans call their kouhais for treatment, but by name or some nickname.

Using the words Senpai and Kouhai

The words in this article are suffixes as well as [san, kun e chan] are used after the name and separated by a hyphen in the Portuguese. The main difference is that the Japanese usually use Senpai and Kouhai as a nickname, without the need to mention the name before.

Senpai and Kouhai - What means and the relationship between them?

There is usually no separation according to age between these treatments. Those who arrived at school in the first year are considered kōhai of those in the second and third year. There is a great friendship between Kouhai and Senpai, who can continue even when they left school or organization.

In jobs a person who is longer than you are considered senpai, no matter if they arrived only a day before, you will still be kohai. The concept is simple only becomes complicated when strange circumstances happen as fail or stop working and come back again.

Some people write in Portuguese without a father, but I hope there’s no one without a father here. It’s not incorrect, but using the word without a father further strengthens the idea of saying that someone has no father. The right thing to write is also kouhai although some romanize as kōhai (the accents are already reached in the Portuguese).

Senpai and Kouhai - What means and the relationship between them?

Relationship between Kouhai and Senpai

Senpai must show compassion, listening and placing himself in place of kouhai, exploring his thoughts and feelings. Many have already felt the relief that results from the conversation with someone who is prearranged to listen to them. Senpais should have the perception that kohais at certain times need help, and should create the conditions conducive to talk. He needs to make himself available whenever he has to.

In Japanese sports clubs such as baseball teams, kouhai usually perform various household chores for the senpai including washing clothes and cleaning. Kōhai cannot participate in all club activities until it achieves some experience.

Senpai and Kouhai - What means and the relationship between them?

In Japanese martial arts, the term senpai usually refers to top-level students, who have a black belt. They are chosen to help sensei with younger or less experienced students.

If you are customary to watch dorama and animes, you must have noticed the relationship between them or noticed several times students refer to older ones as senpai. Some when they become veterans feel proud and satisfied, and do their utmost to help newcomers.

Unfortunately there are many cases, that veterans do not make their roles, and act ignorantly and despicablely, offending kouhai and people of lower levels, where it can also occur ijime (bullying). Hardly people like that will be called by the honoror or receive special treatment.

Senpai and Kouhai - What means and the relationship between them?

The Love between Senpai and Kouhai

It is common for young schoolgirls to fall in love with their senpai, this defined a new concept the word as in the word crush. This even won memes like “notice me senpai” which means watch me or note me, an expression that also emerged from the animes and manga. This expression indicates the need for approval that many people have of older or higher elements.

Unlike crush, which is used for platonic love. Senpai is a level up because we have a little intimacy and we know the person. They take care of the kouhai in a way that they end up falling in love. The fact that kouhai are a level below make them have no hopes of a relationship, especially when kouhai, then suffering is even greater.

Senpai and Kouhai - What means and the relationship between them?

Senpai and Kouhai in animes and manga

Most who fell into this article probably heard the word Senpai and Kouhai through the animes and manga. This is because most animes take place in school, where these 2 treatments are usually used. Not to mention animes that show masters, work or other specific area of life that uses these 2 treatments.

Below we will leave a list of animes and manga that portray the relationship between senpai and kouhai, although most school animes do this:

  • Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – A great example of how not to be noticed;
  • Accel world – An action anime that portrays a little of the subject;
  • Itazura at Kiss! – A beautiful romantic comedy;

If you want to play something related, we recommend Yandere Simulator! But be careful he’s pretty macabre!

There are numerous cases and ways to describe the relationship between senpai and kōhai. I hope this brief summary has helped you understand the meaning of these 2 words.

Senpai and Kouhai - Meanings and relationship - Tada kun wa koi wo shinai anime 2

Videos related to Senpai and Kouhai

To finalize the article, let’s leave some videos related to the words investigated in this article. If you liked the article leave your comments and share it with friends.

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