ni okeru / ni oite

As you may have noticed, I sometimes like to translate Japanese Wikipedia articles. This post’s grammar topic, ni okeru / ni oite, shows up in a substantial percentage of the Wikipedia articles I read in Japanese.


The meaning of ni okeru / ni oite

Typically, ni okeru / ni oite is translated as “at; on; in; during.”

It is a compound particle used to indicate the place, state, or time of something.

Rather than pretend that last sentence was at all helpful, let’s just grab some examples off of Wikipedia:

“Ochin-chin” is a word used to refer to the male reproductive organs. Particularly, it refers to the penis itself, and it is used in Japanese as baby talk or as slang.

That is one stilted translation (sorry!). Also, maybe not the best sample sentence… oops. Uh, let’s try another one:

[萌とは、] オタク文化におけるスラングとしては、主にアニメ・漫画・ゲームソフトなどにおける、搭乗キャラクターなどへのある種の強い好意など感情を表す言葉として使用されている。
Moe” is a slang word that appears in otaku culture. Generally, it appears in anime, manga, games, and the like, and it is used when referring to a character that one has a strong liking for.

Quick breakdown:

オタク文化におけるスラング = “in otaku culture slang”

アニメ・漫画・ゲームソフトなどにおける = “in anime, manga, games, and the like”

Boring Grammar Breakdown

The two uses:

  1. N において (e.g. カナダにおいて = “in Canada”)
  2. N における N (e.g. 日本における政治 = “politics in Japan”)

What makes ni okeru / ni oite so special?

Ni okeru is versatile.

Ni oite/okeru can be used for both “physical and non-physical locations.” For instance, in the examples above it is used when saying “in Canada (physical)” “in Japanese (non-physical),” “in otaku culture (non-physical),” etc.

Ni okeru is stuck up.

Ni oite/okeru is a highly formal expression. This is why it likes to appear in Wikipedia articles and other often-drab topics of conversation.

As such, it is not used for trivial activities like going out to lunch or having a party.

Ni okeru cannot be used to specify existence.

In other words, you can’t say things like:

*The giant Buddha statue in Kamakura is amazing.

Instead, you’d say something like:

The giant Buddha statue in Kamakura is amazing.

I think that this differentiation is pretty confusing. If anyone can explain it better in the comments, you get 20 Awesome Points.

Also, I know what you’re thinking…

What’s the difference between ni okeru and just ni or de?

Not a whole lot.

Differences between ni okeru and de:

  1. De can’t be used to indicate “nonphysical” locations (e.g. “Japanese,” “otaku culture,” etc.). (By the way, I suspect there are exceptions to this for de… can anyone give an example?)
  2. De, unlike ni okeru, doesn’t mind being used for trivial activities like going to lunch, having parties, etc.

Differences between ni okeru and ni:

  1. Ni oite can’t be used to indicate a specific time. So, you can’t say 2002年において, but you can say 2002年に.

Are ni okeru and ni oite pretty much the same?

For the most part, ya.

The specific-time-use difference given a few lines up, however, doesn’t apply to における when it comes before a noun. So, you are free to write:

The convention in 2002

Also, as you may have noticed, ni okeru can modify nouns (e.g. オタク文化におけるスラング).

When I set out to write this post, I thought it might be kind of interesting, but I think it ended up being just boring. Sorry!

Here’s some of the vocab that came up…


日本語 English Jisho.org
オタク otaku; geek; nerd; enthusiast
(See also: Wikipedia.)
おちんちん penis; wee-wee; weiner Jisho.org
萌え crush (anime, manga term); infatuation
(See also: Wikipedia.)
大仏 large statue of Buddha
(Kamakura Daibutsu Photos)
好意 favor; good will Jisho.org

In the end…

I just hope I didn’t confuse you more! If so, check out some external references:

As always, the comments open the happiness door.

Good luck with your studies, everyone.

Keep swimming!


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