Learning Japanese? Beware these 19 loan words—they’re not what they sound like!

Speakers of certain languages sometimes get a leg-up when learning Japanese. For example, Japanese includes Chinese characters, which means Chinese speakers can often get the gist of a text even if they don’t understand the grammar. Similarly, Korean speakers might find that Japanese grammar is kinda similar to theirs. And we native English speakers get a huge helping hand from the hundreds of English loan words that have been adopted into modern Japanese.

But sometimes, these loan words aren’t really our friends at all. Instead, they’re what’s known as false friends – words that sound similar in two languages yet have a completely different meaning. In co-opting English words into Japanese, sometimes our crafty Nihonjin pals have assigned our words to things that actually mean something totally different. It’s almost like they’re trying to trick us!

Join us for a quick primer on some Japanese loanwords you might have heard before, and what they really mean!

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Talk with your hands — Mr Sato tests your knowledge of common Japanese hand gestures【Video】

For English speakers, the Japanese language can be difficult to master. The writing system is completely alien, sentences sound like something Yoda would say thanks to the order the words come in, and while it makes perfect sense once you get the hang of it, the Japanese’s habit of omitting pronouns can make conversations almost impossible to follow.

The good news is that for short visits to Japan you can usually get by with very little Japanese since people are usually extremely patient and accommodating. A bit of miming here and a “please” and a “thank you” there will get you a long way.

But if you’re not familiar with Japanese hand gestures, you may end up in a sticky—or at least rather embarrassing—situation…

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Survey reveals the top five times Japanese travelers realise just how Japanese they are

Whether we like to admit it or not, where we were brought up has a huge impact on the person we become. From our way of thinking to what foods we prefer, it’s hard to deny that our environment shapes our personal identity.

While some people come from nations that are veritable melting pots of backgrounds, languages, and cultures, others come from a country with much more homogeneity. Japan is one such country, and its people have a strong sense of identity—though they may not readily admit it.

But often during a trip to a foreign country, there comes a moment of self-realization where they become aware of just how Japanese they really are. A recent survey asked Japanese travelers to identify the five moments they felt most Japanese when abroad. The results are really quite telling.

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Lingerie for girls with smaller breasts: feast’s new collection “Glossy Ribbon Mermaid” is too cute

Celebrating its first anniversary, feast, the lingerie brand designed by Gomi Hayakawa and known for targeting women with smaller chest sizes, has released a new lingerie collection, called “Glossy Ribbon Mermaid”.

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New range of futons for cats feature traditional Japanese patterns, made with tails in mind

One of the great pleasures of visiting Japan is the chance to sleep in a futon, traditional Japanese bedding that’s freshly laid out on the floor every evening. When you’ve got a nice thick mattress pad, a fluffy, quilted duvet cover and a compact buckwheat pillow, a night sleeping on tatami straw floors is a night few foreigners forget.

Now you can share the traditional Japanese bedtime experience with your feline friends, with a gorgeous new range of futons created especially for the discerning four-legged customer. From the gorgeous Japanese prints to the matching pillow and the ergonomic, tail-friendly design, this is the best chance yet for obliging humans to finally reclaim their beds!

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Step up your selfie game! 10 popular poses Japanese girls will whip out

Selfies taken on smartphones are one of the must-dos for the young girls nowadays, and Japan is no exception. As popular Japanese pop icons or teen models post their selfies on social medias, Japanese young girls would fire up their camera apps and pose the similar way. They do this not just to be like the icons they admire, but also to figure out the best poses for looking good on Twitter or Instagram.

With this in mind, today we have listed 10 selfie poses that young Japanese girls are likely to do on Twitter and Instagram! Maybe you’ll learn a new move or two?

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Artist creates unique badass Stormtrooper covered in Japanese tattoos

Recently, we brought you news of the amazing Star Wars Movie Realisation Series of figurines, which have perfectly transformed Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Stormtroopers into awesome-looking samurai warriors.

But if you’re itching for a Japanese-styled Star Wars character of your own, you might want to do what this clever artist did and simply make one yourself. All you’ll need is a plain figure, some coloured pens and a little—make that a lot—of talent and patience.

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Japan’s heart and Mickey Mouse-shaped bubble wrap is the cutest thing you’ll ever pop

Bubble wrap lovers everywhere were dealt a blow this summer with the devastating news that the company behind the world’s favourite air-filled packaging was launching a new, unpoppable bubble wrap. Sealed Air Corp., the inventors of bubble wrap back in the 1950s, have come up with a new design for an air-filled wrap that doesn’t burst under pressure.

But here at RocketNews24, we probably won’t be buying regular boring old round bubble wrap ever again anyway, because we’ve discovered that Japan has bubble wrap shaped like hearts and Mickey Mouse heads.

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7 more things foreigners do that Japanese people find amusing

As a foreigner in Japan, have you ever experienced a slightly awkward yet somehow humorous interaction with a Japanese person? Perhaps you were curious to know more about some aspect of Japanese culture and asked someone a rather random question, or conversely, a Japanese person was curious to know something about your culture and came to you for all the answers. Or maybe you were just out on the street and happened to witness an amusing exchange between some natives and the local gaijin.

Last year, we brought you 10 such tales of comical intercultural interactions, and today we’d like to introduce seven more fun, quirky, and interesting anecdotes as shared by Japanese Twitter users about their exchanges with foreigners. Have you ever been in a similar situation to one of these yourself?

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Counting in Japanese just became a whole lot easier with this handy infographic

One of the beautiful (or painful, depending on how you look at it) aspects of the Japanese language is its complex system of numbers and counting methods. For starters, there are two commonly used systems of numbers–often referred to as the Sino-Japanese numbers and the native Japanese numbers–that are used in different contexts, as well as a seemingly limitless number of counter words. Confused yet?

So how the heck do you become a master of Japanese numbers? Well, a good way to start is by checking out this handy-dandy infographic put out by Japanese Video Cast! 

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The more you know Mario: The unusual Japanese names of Nintendo’s Super Mario characters

If, like me, you grew up playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES, then you’re no doubt super excited for the launch of Super Mario Maker this coming September. Exclusive to Wii U, the game allows players to build their own worlds, using every block, enemy and power-up (plus a few new ones) from a whole host of Super Mario games, then share them with players all around the world.

For those of us who never quite gave up on our childhood dream of making games for Nintendo especially, Super Mario Maker is shaping up to be the ultimate celebration of 30 years of Mario, and the thought of throwing all your favourite bad guys into bizarre platforming situations has us positively giddy with excitement.

With that in mind, today we’ve decided to take a quick look at some of the characters we know and love from the Mario franchise. To spice things up, though, we’re going to be introducing you to their original Japanese names and explaining a little about the meanings behind them. Think you know Mario? Let’s find out!

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“A snowman tolerates while freezing.” Mystery product’s label is questionable and hilarious!

First impressions are very important, not only for people but for products too. A product’s packaging and labels can make or break a deal depending on whether the design and text on it appeals to the consumer. And, as you know, some companies choose to scrimp and save on hiring a professional to handle their translation needs. In many of these cases, the joke’s on them because they end up with hilarious gibberish on their products.

A Japanese Twitter user recently shared a photo of a Chinese product that had Japanese written on its warning label, and the text was so bad we couldn’t even imagine what product that label was supposed to be on! Take a guess and join us after the break!

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Language fail: 22 funny and embarrassing tales of Japanese language missteps

They say that one of the main reasons so few Japanese people master the English language is because they’re worried about making mistakes or embarrassing themselves. While we do wish more Japanese would break out their English a little more often (get a couple of drinks into your coworkers and you’ll be amazed at how much English they actually know), at the same time we can’t really blame them for being reluctant to speak, because learning a second language as an adult can be tough.

After all, when our words fail us, it can not only result in confusion, but very often shock, laughter, and even anger. Just ask the kind folks who were good enough to share with us their most awkward and memorable mistakes made when speaking – or rather trying to speak – Japanese.

Join us after the jump for 22 tales of language mishaps. Oh, and maybe make some notes while you do so that none of these ever happen to you!

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10 Japanese quirks we could live without

As much as we at RocketNews24 love living in Japan, and have learned many life lessons here, we can’t deny that there are some things about the country that simply drive us crazy! It turns out some of these points are universally dreaded by foreigners living here–little quirky things that we just can’t really get used to no matter how long we’ve been in the country.

These are not things that are any big deal overall, but if you’re already having a “bad Japan day” where nothing is really going right, or you’re missing your family, food and cat back home, then encountering  just one of these things can be enough to push you over the edge.

After pooling some common quirky Japanese things we “love to hate,” now allow us to get a few of these things off our hairy chests!

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“Don’t touch my moustache!” Japanese that sounds like English but isn’t, and vice versa!

When you start learning another language, like, say, Japanese, it’s common to come across certain words that sound like English words, but aren’t. For example, the Japanese word “hai” which means yes, sounds a lot like the greeting “hi” in English. Another example might be that “ohayou” meaning good morning sounds a lot like the US state of Ohio.

But, naturally, this goes both ways. There are also plenty of examples of Japanese speakers finding “Japanese” meaning in English words that a native English speaker would never think of…

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Japanese language test-takers flip out over Engrish bathroom sign, get correction-happy

The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is a test of Japanese as a second language knowledge and is held twice a year in Japan and many other countries around the world. Since the test is entirely in Japanese, it can be taken by anyone regardless of English ability.

Even so, the organization decided to put up English translations on bathroom signs at a test location in Japan, and some irritated English-speaking members of the Grammar Police decided to do a little editing work whilst sitting on the potty.

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Here’s what angry girlfriends yelling at you in six different languages sounds like!

Even the happiest of couples has the occasional argument, and some people even genuinely enjoy a good squabble with the other half in order to keep things exciting and blow away the cobwebs every now and then. But what does it sound like to have an irate ladyfriend berate you in different languages?

In this video from YouTuber The World of Dave, poor Dave himself endures the screams of seven ranting ladies as they give his ear a good bending in their native tongues. Which would you least like to be on the receiving end of?

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Enjoy a little lesson in Japanese sign language – it may prevent serious misunderstandings someday

I always thought sign language had a certain elegance and grace to it, and I always wanted to learn it. But like many other things in life such as fashion design and ice sculpting there was never a pressing need master it, especially with my busy schedule of eating wasps.

Luckily, short programs often shown on TV and many videos online teach a few useful words in sign language and allow me to pick it up bit by bit. Now, I’d like to share a few of these so that we can all learn and better ourselves just a little bit.

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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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“Supreme Court Beef” and other translation fails from the new Taco Bell Japan website

Media in Japan, us included, have been all over Taco Bell’s return to the country this week, but talk hasn’t been entirely of tacos. The Taco Bell Japan website was also making news when Japanese speakers noticed it had some pretty terrible and funny English-to-Japanese translations.

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