If a Japanese person makes an “X” for you, better worry!

Gestures in Japan say many things. The country’s culture has a rich body language, which makes a gesture that can be considered harmless in many parts of the world, over there, to be extremely complicated.

So, in this article, we will show you the meanings of making an X with your arms for someone.


Understanding gestures in Japan: the “X”

Especially used to fight misunderstandings between locals and foreigners, the X sign gesture is used in Japan as part of Japanese body language. If you’ve traveled there before, chances are you’ve received this at least once. Or even that some Japanese made this sign for you and you didn’t even notice.

The problem is, if you don’t know what that means, it can confuse you even more.


There are two types of X signs in Japanese body language: the first is when figure X is being demonstrated using the arms. Your arms are crossed in front of your body and you get a big giant X. This translates to saying “no” or that something is not prohibited.

Therefore, it is a prohibition that must be obeyed immediately, even more so if it is a police officer who is signaling you.

For example, if you want to enter a specific area and a guard approaches you with his arms crossed in an X shape, he is telling you that you cannot enter there.


So, you should be very careful in case someone makes this sign for you. Out of respect for the culture of the country, you need to know at least the meaning of some gestures or, at least, try to tell whoever makes the gesture for you, that you are not understanding the meaning.

You may have also seen the emoji with the little doll making an X with his arms. This also concerns a ban, as the origin of emojis is Japanese.

Read too:

Do gestures in Japan like the X have another meaning?

Yes, this gesture will not always mean an interdiction or a ban.


The other type of X sign is the one made with just the fingers. Don’t think this is a way of subtly saying no – it has an entirely different meaning, actually. X with your fingers is telling a restaurant waiter or waitress that you want the check.

Gestures in Japan: the opposite of the X is the O

If there’s an X, there’s an O.

Using the arms as well and linked in a round shape above the head, the O sign translates to approving something or that something is allowed.

If the same guard approaching you makes the O sign instead of the X sign, you can enter the place.

It’s not the same meaning as doing the O-shape with the fingers – with the thumb connecting with the other fingers. This is the gesture for “money”.

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