etymology

W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 Japanese words with cool ancient origin stories【Weird Top Five】

Words about corrupt grocers and reading people’s minds? Sign me up!

Read More

Why do the Japanese call the UK ‘Igirisu’?

Amerika. Itaria. Kanada. The majority of countries are known in Japan by names that sound vaguely similar to their native monikers. So why on earth do the Japanese call the UK ‘Igirisu‘?

Read More

10 everyday English words that were originally Japanese

While Japan’s bank of English loan words has grown to the point where “context” and even “paradigm” can be understood by most people, there seems to be only a handful of Japanese words that have been sprinkled into the modern English vocabulary. Of course, there’s things like “manga”, “sushi,” and “karate,” which English speakers can instantly recognize as comics, a Japanese food, and a way to kick ass (in that respective order), but there are also some sleeper agent Japanese words traipsing about our English conversations. Let’s take a look at Japanese words, like “honcho” (as in “head honcho”) and “tycoon” (as in “oil tycoon”), that we use in English.

Read More

What’s in a name? The 10 most common surnames in Japan (and their meanings)

It’s a little-known fact that until the Meiji era (1868-1912), the ordinary men and women of Japan did not have surnames. Rather, those names were reserved for people in positions of power, nobility, or those of noted artistic ability.

There are an estimated 100,000 family names in Japan — much more than in many Western countries, and vastly more than in neighbouring Korea and China — however what’s curious is that of these surnames 10 are incredibly common, with millions of people sharing the exact same moniker. If you’re on your way to Japan or learning the language, knowing how to read and pronounce at least a few of these will almost certainly get you out of a jam at some point or other, so allow us to introduce Japan’s 10 most common surnames, their meanings, and a few fun facts on top, just because we’re nice like that and we like your face.

Read More