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In a survey carried out late last year, Japan’s Shonan Beauty Clinic asked 1,400 Japanese men and women what their favourite words were. The results were remarkably wholesome.

If you ever wondered how Japanese people truly think, or thought for a second that the stern expressions worn on busy commuter trains each morning were accurate representations of passengers’ inner feelings, you were way off the mark.

The survey was carried out between December 22-24, 2013, with people from all over the country aged 15-77 asked to give their favourite word in the Japanese language.

While we’d definitely agree that Japan is a great place to live and that its people are, on the whole, very positive, we can’t help but wonder whether those who took part in this survey were feeling unusually chipper that day or simply aiming to please, since there isn’t a negative or childishly rude word among them.

Here are the top 10 results, complete with their English counterparts:

1. ありがとう arigatou thank you (76 votes)

2. 努力 doryoku exertion/great effort (74 votes)

3. 愛 ai love (72 votes)

4. 思いやり omoiyari consideration (55 votes)

5. 前向き maemuki looking forward (33 votes)

6. 一期一会 ichigo ichie once in a lifetime opportunity (32 votes)

7. 笑い・笑顔 warai/egao laugh/smiling face (18 votes)

8. 健康 kenkou health (16 votes)

9. 平和 heiwa peace (13 votes)

10. なんとかなる nantoka ni naru “We’ll get by some way or other.” (12 votes)


Perhaps I’m just being cynical here. Perhaps, as I sit in my candle-lit drawingroom, stabbing at the keys on my vintage typewriter and yelling at local children for playing too close to my wrought iron gates, the rest of the world is all sunshine, smiles and free refills. Or perhaps the folks at the clinic who conducted this survey sought only to interview people who have personalities similar to Barbie from the Toy Story movies? Either way, this is by far the most wholesome set of “favourite words” that this writer has ever seen.

Japan, you bring warmth to my otherwise cold, unfeeling heart.

Do you have a particular Japanese word that you’re fond of? Let us know in the comments section below. I”ll start the ball rolling with “dekoboko”, which means “unevenness”, but is written using two of the greatest kanji ever conceived of: convex and concave 凸凹.

Source: Niconico News via 俺的ゲーム速報

Title image: Shutterstock