Cuttings: 下戸 - Lower House 下戸 - Lower House | Cuttings

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November 11, 2013

下戸 - Lower House

Of houses, families and drinking inclinations.



Meaning / Translation

  • Literal: “Small door”
  • Idiomatic: “Non-drinker”
  • Reading: げこ (Geko)

Source: 語源由来辞典.


Among the types of families/houses (literally, ‘doors’) in the Ritsuryou system - namely the ‘large house’, ‘upper house’, ‘middle house’ and ‘lower house’ - this house ranked the lowest.

A ‘house’ (‘ko’) was the smallest taxational unit, and a ‘house’ would be decided according to the number of members in a particular family.

During weddings with alcohol, ‘upper houses’ would serve 8 bottles, and ‘lower houses’ would serve 2 bottles; and from this practice those who could not (afford to) drink alcohol came to be known as ‘lower house’, and those who could came to be known as ‘upper house’.

In China, there are similar phrases to illustrate the stratification of wealth, i.e. ‘large houses’ and ‘small houses’.


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