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Hideously profane Japanese word meaning "vagina." It is never written out in manga or books: instead, they censor the middle "n" with a maru, so it comes out as ま〇こ.

A quick story illustrates the potency of this word. One of my friends was having a deep intellectual conversation with some schoolgirls, and they began comparing English and Japanese. The schoolgirls were arguing that there was no profanity in Japanese whatsoever. My friend mentioned "manko" to them, and they all recoiled in fright. (It was a hilarious sight, by the way. Try it sometime.)

Seriously, though, manko is never heard in female conversation (or at least nobody will admit it), and it is only rarely heard in the roughest male conversation. Asoko ("over there") is usually the preferred euphemism to avoid mass panic.

In the Kansai dialect, the word meko is used in the same way.

My good friend had just begun his stint as a JET. He had been in Japan for only two weeks when he was introduced to all the teachers at the school in which he was to begin teaching. In front of the teachers he was asked by the principal one of the standard questions gaijin are asked - "Can you eat Japanese food?"

"Oh yes, it is oishii!" he replied.

"And what is your favourite Japanese food?" the principal asked.

A small amount of mental turmoil set in. What was the name for that sweet red bean paste that he had been eating for the last two weeks? Something sounding like manju or anko? Unable to quite remember, his brain made the terrible decision to combine those two innocent foodstuffs.

"Manko," he said.

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