The Three Kubari’s: Expressing Consideration for Others

I recently started studying for N2. Today, my Japanese coworker explained the three くばり’s to me. They’re all related to taking care of something or someone, and they sound similar, so let’s look at their differences. We can understand and remember them by recognizing the meaning of the first kanji in the word. And, because I just got a WACOM tablet, as a bonus you receive crude, crappy drawings! Please enjoy~.


配り (めくばり)

This one is pretty straight forward. (め) means “eye”. This means to keep watch of something or someone. For example, this is used to talk about how a parent watches over a child.

The next two are really similar in meaning. They roughly translate to “to be considerate” or “to be thoughtful” of others. What’s the difference?

配り (きくばり)

The first kanji, (き) has several meanings, but here the most appropriate meaning is “atmosphere” or “mood”. The connotation of this word is that you see a situation now and you are considerate in the moment. For example, if you see your coworker is struggling with a situation, you might step in and help them. In essence, you are reading the atmosphere of a situation and being considerate of it.

配り (こころくばり)

The first kanji in this one, (こころ) means “heart” or “mind”. [CULTURE NOTE: In Japan, the heart and mind are the same. Whereas in Western culture we often feel with our heart and think with our head, in Japanese culture thoughts and feelings both come from the heart.] The connotation of 心配りis that you are always considerate of a certain person. For example, you might have a very close friend, lover, or family member who you are always thinking about and being considerate of no matter what. That person is always in your heart.

Made in America: The difference between 産, 製, 作, and 品

I was recently studying for the JLPT N3.  For those of you who don’t know, this stands for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The lowest level is N5, and the top level (equivalent to a native speaker) is N1. The level I took is N3, around intermediate level. While it’s not quite where I hoped to be after four years of university and two years of living in Japan, if I pass it I’ll be grateful.

I stressed and crammed a lot. After I finished a test and checked my answers, I always analyzed why I got a question wrong so that I could try to avoid the same mistakes on the actual test. I have many practice test books. The good ones have the answers as well as an explanation of each answer. However, the official JLPT N3 practice test, does not have explanations (not so helpful for students studying alone).

(Me trying to understand Japanese by myself)

I turned to my Japanese co-workers for help.

Made in America

In the book, the following sentence appears:

このオレンジはアメリカ (  ) です。

This means

This orange is (     ) America.


The answer options are:

産(san)         製 (sei)          作(saku)          品(hin)

From what I could tell, they all mean a product. I looked each one up in the dictionary to find out the difference.


Native of; product of

-made; make

Work, production, harvest, yield

Item, article

Even after looking up the meanings in the dictionary, I was still pretty lost. My Japanese co-worker was able to clear it up for me.

This mean “product”, but it refers to a natural product, like a crop or resource.

This mean “made”, as in “man-made”. So, this is used to signify a product that was made by humans, like bags or TVs.

This is another product made by people. It usually refers to a work of art, like a statue or painting.

This means a “product”, but it’s not used after a country’s name. The best way my co-worker could explain it to me is that “It’s simply wrong”.

The Answer!

While they all mean roughly the same thing, their usage is difference. In the above example, because the product is “oranges”, we have to use  because it’s a natural resource of the U.S.


I hope this helps clear up this question for you guys!



(This post has nothing to do with Trump–sorry if I mislead you).