Japanese language

Is a woman “middle-aged” at 30? 40? 50? Japanese men and women give different answers in poll

You may have heard that Japan is obsessed with youth, which is ironic for a country with an ageing population , this is ironic. In fact, Japan is purported to have the highest proportion of elderly citizens compared to all other countries. With so many older folks making up a vast percentage of the population, why is Japan’s society still often casually ageist, particularly towards women?

A recent poll asked “at what age does a woman become middle-aged?” and the results are extremely telling.

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Five more Japanese words we’d love to import into English

Sometimes, the Japanese language is a pain in the butt. Seriously, how is it that in the millennia over which it evolved, no one ever said, “Hey, guys, why don’t we come up separate words for ‘leg’ and ‘foot’?”, which are both ashi in Japanese?

But speaking Japanese isn’t all frustrating head-scratchers. As we’ve talked about before, it also has some handy, expressive terms and phrases that don’t have direct English equivalents. So today we’re dipping back into our Japanese dictionaries for another batch of words we’d love to import into English.

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Samurai Toothpicks with bite-sized language lessons will help you look and sound like a swordsman

If you watch a lot of samurai movies or TV shows, you might have noticed that a toothpick is about as common a costume accessory as a set of paired swords. The reason isn’t because samurai were particularly fastidious about dental hygiene, though. Many fictional samurai stories re set in the Edo period, when the end of Japan’s centuries of civil war caused the warrior class’ power and prestige to begin slowly but surely eroding.

The samurai were a prideful bunch, though, and were loath to admit the new societal reality that swordsman had suddenly become a far less lucrative profession. So even if they couldn’t afford to regularly fill their stomachs, many would still lodge a toothpick between their teeth to give the impression that they’d just polished off a lavish meal fit for a man of high rank.

Of course, it takes more than just a toothpick to transform yourself into a samurai. You’ll also need to talk the talk, which is why these traditionally made Japanese toothpicks come individually wrapped with period-correct samurai phrases, and even helpful English translations and pronunciation guides.

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Clever textbook for learners of Japanese teaches with drama, romance, and twist endings

Even as a guy who’s spent all of his adult life, and before that a good chunk of his juvenile one, studying Japanese, I’ve never been completely sold on the concept that the process of learning a foreign language has to be made “fun” at each and every stage. While you can break high-level linguistic concepts into intermediate ones, when you get down to a language’s most fundamental components, they’re really just a collection of arbitrary sounds that a group of people implicitly decided to use in the same way in order to give them meaning.

As such, there’s always going to be a certain amount of rote memorization involved with becoming actually proficient with a foreign language. But once those core concepts are introduced, they’re definitely going to stick in your memory better if they’re presented and demonstrated in a colorful way, which might be the logic behind this textbook for learners of Japanese that contains dramatic tales of romance, disease, and devotion.

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The “will boyfriend”: A new title in Japan’s evolving dating scene

The Japanese language takes a lot of cues from English when it comes to talking about romance. For example, “kisu”, the corrupted pronunciation of “kiss,” is about 100 times more common than “kuchitzuke,” the purely Japanese word for locking lips. Found the love of your life? Then it’s time to puropozu (propose), and when your bride walks down the aisle, she’ll probably be wearing a uedingu doresu (wedding dress).

Still, sometimes Japanese goes its own way, and while “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are pretty readily understood, the indigenous terms kare and kanojo are much more widely used. And every now and again, the two languages get mixed together to describe something in the Japanese dating scene, such as with the newly coined phrase uiru kare, or “will boyfriend.”

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Adorable cat inadvertently teaches us Japanese【Video】

If you haven’t noticed by the number of cute cat videos or the famous character Hello Kitty, a lot of Japanese people kind of like cats. In fact, they like cats so much, that many common words and phrases have developed using the word “cat” in them, such as nekoze, which means “hunchback” or “bent back,” (neko is “cat”, ze is “back”).

One Japanese cat owner found their kitty sitting in the exact posture that brought this word about in the first place, but the cat was set straight again by quite a surprising (read: adorable) event.

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Japanese restaurant in Thailand hangs lanterns announcing “I love boobies” and other philosophes

Even after living in Japan for more than a decade, I still get excited when I see a restaurant with paper lanterns hanging out in front of it. The mix of vibrant colors and bold calligraphy is just so uniquely Japanese that it instantly fills me with a sense of excitement.

Of course, just a bit of the eroticism has faded over time, especially now that I can read the calligraphy and tell that it usually doesn’t say anything more dramatic than “draft beer” or “grilled chicken skewers.” But while those lanterns are usually giving the menu highlights in Japan, at this Japanese restaurant in Thailand, they’re instead plastered with non sequiturs, gags, and the occasional philosophical declaration and/or love letter to women’s breasts.

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Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? Part 2: Please refrain from using the bathroom alone

It’s time once again for an episode of Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? If you missed the first installment (which we really should have given a clever name like Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? ~Unexpected Opening to the Truth~) you can check it out here.

Today, we’re taking a look at a hotel in Japan that seems to be clamping down on solo peeing, with a sign posted in its lobby that requests visitors “Please refrain from using the bathroom alone.”

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Students of Japanese despair – you’ve probably been writing some of the simplest kanji wrong

Remember when you decided to study Japanese because kanji characters are just so much fun to learn? No, me neither. While it’s true that kanji can be fascinating, and they do get easier to learn and make more sense as you progress, sometimes you’ll come across something that makes you feel like you’ve been sent all the way back to the beginning again.

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No need to ask for blood types – Find out personalities via first names

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could figure out someone’s personality type without actually sitting down and, you know, getting to know them? Who has that kind of time nowadays? Think of how much less small talk you’d have to go through if you could instantly know the personality of that cute guy over there just by asking his name. Momotaro? No, thank you. Ken? I’m interested.

An interesting chart from a magazine surfaced via Twitter the other day. It describes personality types based on the first sound of your name. It’s geared toward Japanese names, but it may work for non-Japanese names too.

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YouTubers introduce five words you didn’t know were Japanese, we come up with five more!

I’m addicted to following the Instagram and YouTube accounts of foreigners in Japan. Not only can it be really cool to see a different perspective on the country, you can also learn some great stuff, too. Take this video by Rachel of “Rachel & Jun” fame, together with “Texan in Tokyo” (aka Grace) as they explain five words you didn’t know were Japanese!

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Five ways to piss off your older Japanese coworkers at a new job

Going out to see cherry blossoms, regardless of the weather, is by far Japan’s favorite springtime activity. But there’s another tradition that’s almost as enthusiastically followed: veteran employees complaining about the new hires at their company.

The business year starts in April in Japan, which means that right now at companies across Japan older employees are grumbling about how the younger generation just doesn’t get it. But with Japanese homes not having lawns for their upset elders to yell at them to get off of, just what are young professionals in Japan doing that’s rubbing their coworkers the wrong way?

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Anime fan stumbles across the recipe for Dragon Ball Z Parent and Child Rice Bowl

Japanese cuisine is filled with dishes that end in don, meaning “rice bowl.” One of the most descriptive is oyakodon, literally “parent and child bowl.”

Ordinarily, oyakodon is rice topped with chicken and egg. Some sushi restaurants, though, have their own variation which instead uses sliced raw salmon and ikura (salmon roe). And now, one clever anime fan has come up with yet another version, the Dragon Ball Z oyakodon rice bowl.

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Saying “Will you go out with me?” is just a Japanese thing? Well…it’s complicated

Recently, I was talking about relationships with a Japanese friend who is studying here in the UK, and she asked me: “you don’t have kokuhaku here, do you?”

I knew what kokuhaku is – it’s the declaration that marks the beginning of a relationship, the point where one person says to the other “I really like you, will you go out with me?” So at first, I thought it was a bit of a funny question. I mean, we do that in western countries too, right? Declare our feelings, ask and get asked out? Well…yes. But maybe it’s not quite the same.

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Attack on Kansai: manga creators post free comic translated into the Osaka area dialect

There seems to be no stopping the enormously popular manga-turned-anime series (and soon-to-be live-action film) Attack on Titan with fans all over the world who can’t get enough of its terrifying world. Attack on Titan has seen crossovers and fan-made tributes before, but last week the manga creators themselves surprised fans when they published a special online comic of the first issue completely translated into the Kansai dialect spoken in western Japan around Osaka.

Attack on Titan announced the free comic by posting a picture of the redesigned cover showing well-known symbols of the Osaka area, such as the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, takoyaki and of course, purple-haired obachan.

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Watch out for slang: 10 outdated words to make you sound like a “hoddypeak” in Japanese

Words go in and out of fashion just as easily as clothes and video game consoles. What seems “groovy” or “ill” one day will just sound utterly “beef-witted” a few years later.

And the same thing happens in Japanese. What were once extremely common words now just make the people who used to say them cringe. If you want to make your Japanese friends laugh with some seriously dated slang, or if you just want to test your own knowledge on some more obscure aspects of the language, then take a look at this list of 10 “dead” Japanese words.

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Scheveningen or Sukebeningen? Dutch town sounds like “pervert” when pronounced in Japanese

A beautiful Dutch seaside resort has become well-known to Japanese people over the years and unfortunately it’s not due to any special campaigns or travel commercials.

It’s all due to the unfortunate way it’s written and pronounced, according to Japanese language conventions. The town is called Scheveningen, which seems innocent enough to western ears, but in Japan, the way it’s transliterated means it’s pronounced “Sukebeningen,” which happens to mean “lecherous people” in Japanese.

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Romance and ramen in Spanish brand Zara’s crazy Japanese t-shirts that read like remixed Engrish

Walking around Japan, it can seem like every other T-shirt in sight is plastered with English that looks like it was concocted by a tipsy translator. China isn’t immune to these linguistic missteps either, as travelers who’ve run into some of the country’s less-than-clear English signage know.

But this isn’t a phenomenon that only runs from west to east. Recently Twitter users in Japan have found themselves on the opposite end of the situation, snickering at head-scratching Japanese text showing up on clothing from Spanish apparel company Zara.

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Is Japan’s “Daughter in a box” a myth?【Myth-Busters Series】

This is the first article in our brand new “Myth-Busters” series that attempts to provide definitive answers to readers’ questions about Japanese culture, language and concepts. If you’ve ever asked yourself “Is it really true that the Japanese…..?” then just ask us! We’ll let loose the RocketNews24 hound dogs to track down the answer.

Our first myth-busters topic, prompted by a question from a Canadian reader, is hakoirimusume (箱入り娘) or “Daughter in a box,” used to describe a girl who grows up protected by her family, as if being kept in a box. The term originated in the Edo Period (1603-1867), but do such shielded daughters still exist today?

Our hound dogs are on the trail! Results after the jump.

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Six Japanese business terms you already know, even if you didn’t realize it

We’ve talked before about handy Japanese words and phrases we wish we could toss around in English. This kind of linguistic jealousy doesn’t flow in just one direction, though. Japanese businesspeople regularly make use of a number of English phrases, either because they’re more concise, precise, or just sound cooler to their ears than their Japanese counterparts.

Sometimes, though, knowing English isn’t enough to understand these loanwords, since their pronunciations can get pretty garbled in the transition from English to Japanese speakers. Feeling confident in your ability to translate English translated into Japanese back into English? Read on and see how many you can decipher.

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