高校デビュー (koukou.debyū) literally means ‘high school debut’, where 高校 (koukou) means ‘high school’ and デビュー (debyū) is a loaned word from “debut”. It is used to describe introverts who aim to change themselves dramatically and become a social and extroverted person at the time when they start a high school. Some people successfully reinvent themselves and fly up the social ladder of high school, while most people fail to keep up the masquerade and fall back to the bottom of the social hierarchy.
Examples of the Way to Debut
Here are some examples of common behaviour when one ‘debuts’ at high school or university:
- use contact lenses instead of wearing glasses
- dye their hair light to offset their gloomy vibe
- be awkwardly hyper to their new friends
- guys using hair wax and girls using makeup
- disparage and shun nerds to show that they are not a part of them anymore.
Some people get carried away or behave quite awkwardly, in which case they’d be mocked by their classmates as a wannabe or poser.
Why people ‘debut’ at High School in Japan?
In Japan, before high school, people usually attend the elementary and junior high school closest to their home, and that means they’ve known their schoolmates very well for a long time since their childhood. Therefore, it can be an ideal time to get rid of their old self and start a new life when they start a high school. Some people who missed the boat try to ‘debut’ later at work or university, which is called ‘社会人デビュー (shakaijin debyū; businessman debut)’ or ‘大学デビュー (daigaku debyū; university debut)’, respectively.
Another Usage of ‘Debut’ in Japanese
In Japanese, デビュー (debut) is used in various ways. Not only does it mean ‘(to make) a first appearance’ as in ‘あのバンドは去年デビューした’ meaning ‘The band debuted last year’, but also means ‘start or experience something for the first time’ when combined with another noun.
Here are some examples of ‘something debut’:
- コンタクトデビュー (contact lenses debut) = start using contact lenses
- 一眼レフデビュー (DSLR camera debut) = start using a DSLR camera
- スマホデビュー (smartphone debut) = start using smartphone
- 漫画喫茶デビュー (manga café debut) = go to a manga café for the first time
- 海外旅行デビュー (trip to a foreign country debut) = travel abroad for the first time
Because I did a koukoudebut (changed myself dramatically in high school), I would never want to meet my friends back in junior high school.
It is my 黒歴史 (painful memory) that I dyed my hair pink for my 大学デビュー (‘university debut’).
Synonyms in English: become a social person when you get into high school
Related Words: 黒歴史
Related words and phrases: 高校 (high school), 大学 (university/college), デビュー (debut)