指切り+ 約束 ( = yubikiri+yakusoku ) (Mini Lesson ) 


= Yakusoku ne! Yubikiri shiyo!

= Let’s make a promise with pinkie?


= Hari senbon kaa…

=Um…(if I break my promise, I need to swallow) one thousand needles, huh?

Today’s word is 指切り = yubikiri

:rrrr: = yubi = fingers

:rrrr: 切り = kiri = cutting

Yes, it’s about cutting fingers. Are you scared? I am! :)

The verb form is


= yubikiri suru



= yubikiri wo suru

It is a gesture to make a promise or to swear to keep one’s words by interlocking one’s  pinkies.

You might have seen some Japanese kids stick out their pinkie saying,

:rrrr: 「約束だよ!」

= Yakusoku dayo!


It is mainly for children but sometimes even grownups (usually women) say this when they want other people to make a promise,

:rrrr:「じゃあ、指切りしよう!」/ 「指切りね!」

= Jaa yubikiri shiyou! ? /Yubikirine!

OK, then let’s make a promise and swear with pinkies.

We hook pinkie with each other like this :u:

and sing this “oath” ,

!onpu! 指切げんまん(=拳万)、嘘ついたら針千本呑(=飲)ます!

= Yubikiri genman uso tsuitara hari senbon nomasu.

= Yubikiri genman ( = Cutting fingers- punching with fists 10,000 times), if you lie, I will make you swallow (drink) one thousand needles.

拳 = gen = it is read as “kobushi “= fist (supposedly to hit someone with one’s fist)

•  = man = 10,000

• 嘘ついたら = uso tsuitara = (conditional) If you lie

•  = hari = needles

• 千本 = senbon = 1,000 pieces (of needles)

We count sticks or long items with   ( = hon/bon/pon)

( !to right! Go check my counter lesson)

吞ます(or 飲ます)= nomasu = to make someone drink/swallow

Sometimes it follows with a line,

!onpu! 指切った

= Yubi kitta

= Have cut a finger!

So you will see how dangerous it will be if you lie. You have to swallow a thousand needles or you will get ten thousands fist punches. Oh my… :roll:

!kirakira! Cultural Note : This is a traditional children song that everybody in Japan knows.

But it is said that the origin of 指切り ( = yubikiri) goes back to 江戸時代 ( =  Edo jidai), Edo Period.

Some 遊女( = yuujo) prostitutes in 遊郭 ( = yuukaku) the red-light district cut off the tip of their  pinkie and gave it away to their important customer to show their loyalty and love.

(Some says they actually faked it buying a pinkie of cadaver and gave it to their customer.)

I am so happy that I don’t have a pinkie…

So, when children swear something with their friends or parents, they do 指切り ( = yubikiri)


= Maggie chan watashitachi wa zutto otomodachi dayo.

= Maggie, we are going to be friends forever!


= Un jaa yakusoku!

= Yes, then let’s make a promise.

And hook our pinkies, and while shaking the interlocked pinkies up and down, we sing

!onpu! 指切りげんまん(=拳万)、嘘ついたら….

= Yubikiri genman, uso tsuitara….

Now “promise” in Japanese is

:rrrr: 約束 = yakusoku

verb form is

:s: to make a promise

:rrrr: 約束する

= yakusoku suru


:rrrr: 約束をする

= yakusoku wo suru

Ex.  「お父さん、どうして遊園地に連れて行ってくれないの?約束したじゃない!」

= Otōsan doushite yūenchi ni tsurete itte kurenai no? Yakusoku shitajanai!

= Dad, how come you don’t take me to the amusement park? We promised!

:ee: to keep one’s word, to keep one’s promise


:rrrr: 約束を守る

= yakusoku wo mamoru

The negative form is

!to right! 約束を守らない

= Yakusoku wo mamoranai

Ex. 彼はいつも約束を守らない。

= Kare wa itsumo yakusoku wo mamoranai.

= He always fails to keep his promise.

:kkk: to break one’s promise is

:rrrr: 約束を破る

= yakusoku wo yaburu

!kirakira! Note : 約束 ( = yakusoku) also has a meaning of engagement, plans, appointment or a date with someone


= Kyō wa tomodachi to ranchi no yakusoku ga aru.

= I have a lunch date with my friend.

Ex. 6時にちょっと約束があるからもう行かないと。

= Rokuji ni chotto yakusoku ga arukara mou ikanaito.

= I have some plans at 6 o’clock so I gotta go.

:i: If you have an appointment for a beauty salon, dentist, doctor, etc, we call it 予約 = yoyaku = reservation

マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Minna mainichi kono burogu ni kite ne. Yakusoku dayo!

= Come to this blog every day! We promise, OK?


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  1. Good morning Maggie Sensei,

    What’s the word for “Favor” in japanese?

    like saying “I want to return the favor to you” or “repay you back”

    Thank you

    1. @Manju
      to return the favor is 恩返しをする=ongaeshi wo suru Or you can simply say お返しをする
      Ex. いつかあなたに恩返しをしたいです。
      Ex. あの時のお返しです。

  2. Interesting lesson. I think the “prostitute story” will make it easier to remember the expression. Sometimes you need to be able to link a word to something else in order to remember it properly. But I’m a bit confused of who it is that makes these lessons. Has Victor nothing to do with it besides promoting it? And is Maggie and Yukari the same person? Sorry if I’m asking stupid questions, but I couldn’t find any explanation anywhere… But great site ;)

    1. @Keekii
      Hi! Thank you for visiting this lesson. All the lessons are created by Yukari. Maggie is Victor’s dog. she wants to help me but she only has paws so it is hard to type. But she gave me a great inspiration. Victor has been helping me promote and proofread the lessons. He is great!

  3. 久しすぎたね、先生:) This lesson was great, I haven’t had the time I used to—I’ve been lurking though:)The part about the prostitutes was funny in a strange way. I love learning about the etymology of words and expressions.



    1. @Amelie
      Great! Now you are 常連さん= jouren san = regular ( a person who comes visit frequently.) :)

  4. I can’t make a promise that I cannot keep, otherwise I’ll have to swallow 1000 needles lol
    But I will stick around for sure.

    PS: I like to colors of the website, very balanced, you designed it yourself Victor ?

    1. @Mari

      Hi Mari! Thank you for visiting this site! Victor has been helping me a lot to promote this blog but actually Maggie and Yukari are making lessons and Depointless designed the website for us.
      We really like it!

  5. Haha, the prostitute part was random and kinda disgusting :S
    THANK YOU for another wonderful lesson!!!

    1. @Aki

      I know…it was scary and disgusting but when we do or say 指切り, we almost NEVER think about the origin of the word or we don’t even know how it started. It is just a cute way to make a promise.
      You are the ideal visitor of this site! But do come back!

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