What is Akanbe? – Meaning & Origin of This Japanese Gesture

Have you ever come across an unusual gesture or social interaction you didn’t fully understand because it seems to be a part of a foreign culture? Perhaps you’ve been watching more anime these days (listening to the legendary Madara Speech from Naruto for the 100th time) and couldn’t help but wonder why are some characters pulling their eyelid down and sticking their tongue out.

That particular gesture is called akanbe, and it’s a big part of Japanese culture.

In today’s article, we will be taking a look at what is akanbe, how is it most commonly used, and in which cultures.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive straight in!

What is Akanbe?

Akanbe is a Japanese facial gesture that involves pulling down one’s lower eyelid to expose the red underside towards someone, often accompanied by sticking out the tongue. This gesture is used as a taunt and can indicate sarcasm.

Origins and Meaning

The origins of the akanbe gesture are unclear, but it is believed to have originated in Japan. The word “akanbe” is a corruption of “akai me,” which means “red eye.” The gesture is thought to have originated as a way to mock someone who had a red or swollen eye.

The meaning of akanbe has evolved over time and can vary depending on the context. In some situations, it is used playfully among friends as a form of teasing. In other situations, it can be used as an insult or a way to express disdain or disrespect towards someone.

Cultural Significance

The akanbe gesture is a well-known and ubiquitous part of Japanese culture. It is often depicted in anime and manga, and is commonly used by children as a form of playground taunting. However, the gesture is generally considered to be immature and impolite, and is not commonly used by adults in formal settings.

Insulting gestures such as the akanbe are only acceptable in certain situations, such as when a child is doing the gesture to another child, or when an adult is indirectly or secretly doing the gesture to another adult.

Variations Across Japan

While the basic akanbe gesture involves pulling down one’s lower eyelid and sticking out the tongue, there are many variations of the gesture across Japan. For example, in some regions, the gesture may involve pulling down both eyelids instead of just one. In other regions, the gesture may involve sticking out the tongue and making a noise, such as a raspberry.

Overall, the akanbe gesture is a unique and interesting aspect of Japanese culture that has become well-known around the world. While it is generally considered to be a childish and impolite gesture, it continues to be used by children and adults alike in certain situations.

A guy doing akanbe. Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akanbe

Akanbe in Other Countries


In Korea, the akanbe gesture is called 메롱 (mae ron). Koreans use the same gesture as the Japanese, sticking out their tongue while making a prolonged vocalization of “mae” or “me.” This gesture is used to express the same meaning as the Japanese akanbe, which is a taunting gesture.


Tibetans also use a similar gesture to akanbe. They stick their tongues out in the same way as the Japanese and Koreans. However, the meaning behind this gesture is different. Tibetans use this gesture as a sign of respect and greeting. They believe that sticking out their tongue shows their peaceful nature and non-violent intentions.

Overall, the akanbe gesture is a unique and interesting cultural phenomenon that has different meanings in different countries. While it is a taunting gesture in Japan and Korea, it is a sign of respect in Tibet. Understanding the cultural context behind these gestures can help prevent misunderstandings and promote cultural awareness.

Akanbe in Popular Culture

Anime and Manga

Akanbe is a popular gesture in anime and manga, often used by characters to show their playful or mischievous side. The gesture is often accompanied by sticking out one’s tongue and pulling down the lower eyelid to expose the red underside. It is commonly used in comedic scenes or to express frustration or annoyance.

One notable example of Akanbe in anime is in the series “Sailor Moon,” where the character Usagi Tsukino often uses the gesture to taunt her enemies. Another example is in the series “Naruto,” where the character Naruto Uzumaki uses Akanbe to tease his friends and enemies alike.

Video Games

Akanbe has also made appearances in various video games, often as a playful or taunting gesture. In the game “Super Smash Bros.,” the character Kirby can perform Akanbe as one of his victory poses. The gesture is also used in the game “Persona 5,” where the character Futaba Sakura performs Akanbe to tease her friends.

Other Media

Akanbe has also made appearances in other forms of media, such as television shows and movies. In the Japanese variety show “Gaki no Tsukai,” the hosts often perform Akanbe as a punishment for losing a game. The gesture has also been featured in Japanese commercials, such as a series of advertisements for the Japanese snack “Pocky.”

Overall, Akanbe has become a popular gesture in Japanese popular culture, often used to express playfulness, mischievousness, or frustration. Its appearance in various forms of media has helped to popularize the gesture both within and outside of Japan.


To summarize:

Akanbe is a Japanese gesture that involves pulling down one’s lower eyelid and sticking out one’s tongue. It is often used as a taunt or expression of sarcasm, but it can also be considered rude or insulting in certain situations.

While akanbe is primarily used by children, it is not uncommon for adults to use the gesture as well, particularly in casual or playful situations. However, it is important to be aware of the cultural context and appropriateness of using akanbe in different situations.

It is also worth noting that akanbe is not unique to Japan and similar gestures can be found in other cultures around the world. For example, in Western cultures, sticking out one’s tongue is often used as a playful or teasing gesture.

Overall, while akanbe may seem like a simple or childish gesture, it is important to understand its cultural context and appropriateness before using it in any given situation.

More Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed