In Japan, the Start of a Woman’s Period Is Called ‘The Arrival of Matthew Perry’
Imagine if, every time a woman felt the first murmurs of menses, the first thought that ran through her head was, “Hi, I’m Chandler. I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable.”
Across the world, women have crafted different ways of wittily indicating that their period is upon them — that time of the month, on the rag, riding the cotton pony, the crimson tide and, my personal favorite, checking into the Red Roof Inn are all used by English speakers who need something more titillating than a tampon to mark the beginning of the monthly ordeal. Like any idiom, these fun phrases can oftentimes get lost in translation as non-native speakers wonder why so many women have aunts named Flo and why they need to visit so often.
Well, one such saying that the Japanese use has Friends fans wondering what Chandler Bing ever did to the women in the Land of the Rising Sun — apparently, the Japanese call the beginning of menses “The Arrival of Matthew Perry.”
Anyone well-versed in Japanese history knows that, sadly, Japanese women aren’t talking about that Matthew Perry — Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States Navy led the notorious Perry Expedition between 1852 and 1855 which strong-armed the Tokugawa Shogunate into ending Japanese isolationism and opening up the country to international trade. Toni Brannagan, the writer who compiled a list of period euphemisms across the world, said of the event, “This was extremely disruptive to Japanese society, and caused a huge shift in its history. I’m starting to understand the metaphor now.”