Kakun (家訓) literally means “family precept”, and refers to the principles that an individual Japanese family lives by.

These might consist of a list of rules for children to follow – run-of-the-mill stuff like “treat others as you would like to be treated”, “don’t tell lies”, and “respect your elders” – or, a family’s kakun might be a single defining motto that applies to all family life. Kakun might be written on parchment and framed on the wall; or it might just be a phrase your mother (or father!) yells at you when you forget to put your socks in the wash again.

Japanese site Naver Matome recently put together a collection of Japanese Twitter users’ interesting and unusual family mottos. Here’s our pick of the bunch!

“Live long, live healthy, die suddenly – that’s our family motto.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/kinakogeho2/status/504974048237850625 align=center]

“You’re still married until you divorce.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/Altereal/status/505671652529537025 align=center]

“As long as you strive to be popular, you will remain unpopular.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/aster55142/status/489389404478140416 align=center]

“Our family motto is ‘He who does not work, neither shall he live.‘”

(Someone’s been reading their scripture! This one appears to be an even harsher version of the original Biblical quotation “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.“)

[tweet http://twitter.com/21297E/status/565155297199542272 align=center]

“For some reason, in our family, we have a custom that as soon as they are old enough to walk, boys must help with the housework. It’s been that way since the Meiji era [1868-1912]! All the guys in my family are housework pros. Even my grandfather who was born in the Taishō period [1912-26] makes breakfast every morning and cleans the bath.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/kingfisher11500/status/486822065899458560 align=center]

Underwear was a recurring theme:

“You never know what’s going to happen, so always make sure your bra and panties match.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/disco_sss/status/565169065627369475 align=center]

“New Year, new underwear, new chopsticks, new toothbrush. That’s our family motto! Especially the part about new underwear.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/fukukumama/status/416530754680545280 align=center]

‘Welcome the new year with new underpants’ – that’s the rule in our family. So I even bought a new silky peach-coloured slip. It’s exciting to buy something special that’s a secret. I’m blushing…”

[tweet http://twitter.com/chihacenti/status/544702102086221825 align=center]

As is food:

“One of our family mottos is: “whether something is ok to eat or not can be decided after eating.'”

[tweet http://twitter.com/n_a_m_e_n_o/status/562111068470669312 align=center]

▼ Or, to put it another way, “eat first, think later”. Which, incidentally, is one of our rules here at RocketNews24 too!


“Our family motto? ‘You can scrimp on everything else, but always buy high-quality condiments.'”

[tweet http://twitter.com/spritzer_/status/559385560138006528 align=center]

“Eat katsu (pork cutlet) like it’s ramen.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/crazySK8CH/status/421601315437805569 align=center]

“Our motto is ‘You never know when you’re going to die’. So, the night before we are going to be apart for a while, we eat a special meal. Tonight’s was sukiyaki…so tasty.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/taguchi_12/status/558933982402719744 align=center]

▼ In my family, we often eat a special meal before someone goes away too, but I’d never thought of it specifically as being in case one of us dies…


The best thing about these mottos and rules, though, is the insight we get into the fun and games of family life:

“We have a family rule that cartoon characters must be called -san at all times. We taught our kids to always say Mickey-san; Donald-san; Thomas-san [the little engine is pretty popular in Japan]. Minnie is Minnie-chan. I never thought about it being weird until I got older!”

(Unlike real people, characters in Japan don’t usually get the respectful suffix “san” tagged on the end of their names, so these kids can look forward to being laughed at when they’re the only one in their class that calls Mickey Mouse “Mister Mickey”.)

[tweet http://twitter.com/kikutani_music/status/461266942288875521 align=center]

Thou shalt not read up on Wikipedia before watching an anime.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/Solo_Ginger/status/560812508617789440 align=center]

“No matter how busy you are, always stop for morning and afternoon tea breaks, and have a beer in the evening. I thought everyone did this until I went to elementary school.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/jojo_takizawa/status/262923432692420608 align=center]

Presumably, the kids were drinking kodomo beer…

“My parents were pretty lax – I never really had a curfew or anything, but we did have one family rule: Neither toss nor be tossed into the air. I’ve never even gotten close.”

[tweet http://twitter.com/migawari25emmy/status/535599367403470848 align=center]

▼ Dou-age (胴上げ), throwing someone into the air, is one way that Japanese teams and other groups celebrate winning, graduating, or just about anything really. It’s not without its dangers, though, as many a concerned parent can testify.


If there’s no punch line, don’t bother talking; when someone feeds you a line, run with it to the bitter end; and never let a drop of alcohol go to waste. These kakun are the reason why, for me, being told I’m funny is the highest praise.

[tweet http://twitter.com/ikooo15/status/243392285180575745 align=center]

And some were just plain heart-warming:

‘When something’s bothering you, first look at yourself. Then, imagine you’re the other person, and try to see your actions from their perspective.’ Our family motto! Thanks to these words, I’ve often been able to figure out what’s really important. Thanks, mum!

[tweet http://twitter.com/kanachin1130/status/565149587774517248 align=center]

What’s your family motto? Which is your favourite out of these kakun? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Naver Matome
Featured image: Hatelabo: Serif