‘U-turn’ is an English expression, but it has a different meaning to that used in Japanese. In Japanese it is used to describe people returning home after a holiday, but in English it is used to describe somebody changing their mind, or reneging on a decision.

An example could be: “The Prime Minister has made a u-turn on his promise to keep tax rates the same.” The expression ‘u-turn’ was often used in relation to Margaret Thatcher during her time as the UK Prime Minister.


I can understand how Japanese got to this way of thinking because in English ‘u-turn’ did originate on the road – it means to turn around and go back in the opposite direction – BUT it means that the driver changed his/her mind about the direction.

An example of this meaning is: “We’re going the wrong way. Make a u-turn and go back to the freeway.”


So, for the meaning that Japanese uses ‘u-turn’ for, we could say simply ‘return’.

an example of this could be: “The expressway will be jammed today due to the holiday return traffic.”