Japanese

Nose songs, bug teeth and dirt sticks: 10 Japanese words translated way too literally

As anyone who has studied Japanese for any length of time will tell you, leaning lists of vocabulary can be tough. On some occasions, the very first time you’ll meet a word will be on paper; some abstract or complex term that’s almost impossible to remember as it’s so rarely used in the real world. Other times, you’ll have heard–or perhaps even used a word yourself–in conversation, but when encountering it on paper for the first time it may appear completely alien due to the characters with which it’s written.

Thankfully, though, since kanji characters are based on meaning rather than speech sounds, it can be easy to decipher a written word even if you’re still not sure how to pronounce it. But sometimes, translating a word too literally can land you in all kinds of trouble, or at the very least leave you chuckling to yourself while native Japanese speakers are left wondering what’s so funny…

Read More

Chinese university gets hot new Japanese teacher; internet goes crazy

Ask any group of students why they like a particular class and you’ll probably get a range of sincere-sounding answers professing love of learning and enthusiasm for the subject matter. While those things may well be true, in real life our reasons for making even the most crucial of life decisions aren’t always particularly noble or earnest.

When a beautiful young female teacher named Ms. Du took charge of Japanese language classes at one Chinese university this year, so many students turned up that she had to move to a larger classroom. Now, the stunning sensei at China’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics has even become an internet sensation after photos of her were posted online.

Read More

“A pig that doesn’t fly is just a pig”: 8 of Japan’s favourite Ghibli movie quotes

Studio Ghibli movies are adored worldwide for their character and heart. When a contributor to a Japanese online message board asked users for the best, wisest, most famous lines from a Ghibli movie, the responses range from the beautiful to the bizarre.

Here, we bring you our pick of the best! Why not choose one and stick it on your wall above your desk next to your Totoro mug and your framed photo of Mr. Sato?

Read More

“Office lady in heels walking on tatami”: The mysterious world of Japanese fetishism

When I left England for Japan in 2011, I received a card from four schoolfriends of mine. “Keep in touch!” the girls had written. “Have a great time!” The one guy in the group had a slightly different message for me: “Enjoy the tentacle rape porn!”

While for many, Japan evokes imagery of ancient temples, plates of sushi, and Shinkansen, it is also known as the land of crazy weird sex stuff.  (Tentacle erotica, by the way, is much older and, I might add, much rarer than you might think). So when we stumbled across (I know, right! I can’t remember what we were looking for in the first place, either!) a Japanese blog post about surprising sexual fetishes, we knew it was worth sharing.

What’s your fetish? An introduction to the fetishes you won’t believe exist” runs the title of the list, compiled by 26-year-old Japanese NEET Nura Hikaru. We bring you our top three, plus a few bonus ideas for good measure.

Read More

Turns out women STILL don’t want to see men’s nipples through their shirt

Eighty-four percent, apparently, is the magic number. And there I was thinking it was three all this time.

When we brought you the news last year that 84 percent of Japanese women said that not wearing an undershirt to work was “totally gross and, like, we can see your nipples, ewwwwww…”, little did we expect that some eighteen months later, a completely separate survey – this time with seven times as many participants – would not only confirm a general freaking-out about male summer nipple protrusion, but also come up with – get this - exactly the same number of non-nipple-showage fans: 84 percent.

This time, though, there’s a but. We should’ve known! There’s always a but.

Read More

Speak like a samurai with these four antiquated words

The age of the samurai makes one of the best thematic settings for any Japanese movie or TV show. There are so many great historical figures to profile, and even more fictional characters to imagine ourselves as! We might have the look, but how did they talk? What words did they use?

The Japanese language has a word for this “samurai language” called monofu-go. An accidental de gozaru (samurai for “to be”) and a parting katajikenai (samurai for “grateful” or “indebted”) is only the beginning of being “old school” cool. Well fear not, RocketNews24 brings you level two! Here are four more phrases and words that were used back in the day that will help you expand your monofu-go vocabulary!

Read More

Be careful how you talk about “spaghetti” in Japanese — you may sound unhip

Although Italian in origin, the words pasta and spaghetti are now everyday words in English. Thanks to the foods’ proliferation around the world these words can also be found in Japanese, pronounced pasuta and supagettī respectively.

But in recent years, it seems as if the word “spaghetti” has been falling out of favor in Japan, being replaced by the word “pasta.” Although in English the distinction between “spaghetti” and “pasta” is pretty clear (pasta being the foodstuff, spaghetti one of its many varieties), it seems there is a whole other world of nuances when the words cross over into Japanese.

Read More

Cuss like a pro with this handy guide for Japanese speakers

Everyone knows that there are certain nuances in every language that you just can’t learn from school. Humor, for instance, but also cursing. Sure, you might know the definitions of a few key words, but stringing them together is a task unlikely to be perfected except by those who have spent some time with folks who are native speakers.

A recent book written by MADSAKI and published by Transworld Japan is giving Japanese speakers the fine opportunity to learn how to creatively curse in American-English. Titled, How to use F*** Correctly: 99 Phrases Using F***, S***, D***, and H*** that Schools Won’t Teach You, Handle with Care, it promises 176 pages of illustrated cursing, with examples.

Read More

Things Japanese girls do that make foreign guys run for the hills

Are you a Japanese girl? Are you terrified that your implausibly popular foreign boyfriend might run off after one of those other girls that are constantly throwing themselves at him? Japanese website Madame Riri has come up with a whistle-stop guide to things Japanese girls do that make foreign guys back off. Avoid these pitfalls, and you too can have a fairytale ending with your Price Charming… Apparently. Let’s see what they came up with!
Read More

Learning Japanese? All you really need is this one word…

Japanese is not an easy language to learn. Though, we have to say, we’re not sure that any language is easy to learn when you’re a beginner! But for English speakers, Japanese is certainly one of the most difficult languages to pick up. Anyone who’s taken a class will surely remember the first time they opened their textbook and saw two massive charts full of squiggly lines and realized that they now had to learn two more alphabets! And then start on kanji…

However, it looks like one Japanese-speaking UK native has found the key to Japanese using just one word!

Read More

Everyday Japanese names that make English speakers chuckle

Funny things, names. In Japan, I am lucky enough to share mine with a delicious kind of stick-chocolate treat, which not only means that I can introduce myself as such: “Fran – you know, like Pocky, but not as cheap”, but also means that I often get given chocolates with my name on the packet, which I can confirm is something of a win-win situation.

My family name, however, is a terrifying mix of Rs, Ls, Ys and Ws that tends to provoke confusion and mild panic here in Japan. I have a good stock line for accurately communicating its spelling and pronunciation in the UK (“Wrigley, like the chewing gum”), and another one for Americans and/or baseball fans (“like Wrigley Field”). I’ve never come up with a good line to use on Japanese people, though, except to awkwardly mutter “um… yeah, sorry, it’s kind of a difficult name. Don’t worry, people in England can’t pronounce it either.”

But what if your name means something embarrassing or just downright odd in another language? Today, we bring you five kinds of Japanese names that make English speakers do a double-take, or a little snort into their coffee.

Read More

Put away your textbooks, kids – the key to learning Japanese is Minecraft

We’ve talked countless times about how to learn Japanese. Heck, we’ve even brought you lists of essential applications and resources to help you in your quest to master the language. But we’ve always maintained that the best way to learn Japanese, or any language for that matter, is to make practical use of it and make it relevant to your own life.

And what better way to use your newly acquired Japanese than making friends all over the world while avoiding being crushed to death by spiked ceilings or knocked into a bottomless pit?

Read More

Nine celebrities who speak Japanese… or some variation of it

It’s no surprise that in the field of entertainment many talented individuals have found work in Japan and many more have expressed an interest in Japanese culture. But beyond those who stop by Japan and utter a simple “oishi” in a beer commercial or create a music video wearing a cupcake skirt, are a select few who have learnt or are well on their way to learning the Japanese language. Here are a few of them representing the fields of film, sports, and music.

Read More

“But we’re speaking Japanese!”: Humorous video confronts lingering stereotypes in Japan

One of the most frustrating parts about living in Japan was when I would go out to dinner with my husband. No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to read the menu or because I don’t like Japanese food – it was because more often than not, the server wouldn’t speak to me.

Since my Vietnamese-American husband cannot speak or read Japanese, I would always do the ordering. What the servers saw was a woman with a caucasian face speaking Japanese and what appeared to be a Japanese man not ordering for himself. After placing my order in Japanese, the server would turn to my husband (who couldn’t understand anything she was saying) and ask follow up questions about our drink order or any add ons. I would in turn, translate for my husband in English, and then answer our server in Japanese, but any remaining questions would be directed once again to my husband. This language triangle would continue until all the ordering was completed.

Of course, this didn’t happen every time, but enough for both my husband and I to take notice. When relating the story to my friends, many would confirm that they have encountered a similar situation. Some would posit that the server thought my husband was letting me practice my Japanese and was looking to him to confirm that’s actually what I wanted. But no matter the reason, I was always left a little frustrated.

A recent video on YouTube titled, “But we’re speaking Japanese!” confronts this exact situation, bringing light to a lingering stereotype in Japan.

Read More

Let’s talk about cleavage: A mini Japanese lesson for the weekend【Photos】

Have you been neglecting your Japanese studies recently? Maybe you’ve been struck down with a case of the May blues? We have just the ticket to get you right back on track!

We’ve scoured the dark depths of the Japanese internet to bring you this brand new mini-lesson: how to talk about boobs in Japanese on internet forums. Don’t worry, reader – just like last time, there are pictures too. Just to double-check your understanding, of course.

Read More

Aizuchi: The Japanese art of grunting your way through conversations

Chances are, if you’ve ever had a conversation in Japanese – or even any other language – with a native Japanese person, you might have been slightly disconcerted by their constant interjections.

That’s because nodding along, saying things like “I see” (naruhodo), “Oh really?” (sou desu ka?) and just plain grunting is considered a polite way to indicate to a speaker that you’re following along in a conversation.

This technique is called “aizuchi” in Japanese and, sure, it seems common sense in any culture to occasionally give a nod of the head or look up from your riveting game of Candy Crush Saga to indicate you have at least a passing interest in what’s being said, but the Japanese really turn it into an art form.

Read More

Let’s learn Japanese through terrible “American jokes”

If you’re an English-speaking foreigner living in Japan and are prone to cracking jokes, it won’t be long before someone responds to something you’ve said with a shrug of the shoulders and the phrase “American joke”. This used to confuse me immensely (“but, but, I’m not American!”) before I realised that an Amerikan Jōku doesn’t have to be told by an American, or be related to the United States in any way. It’s just what you say in Japan when you have the feeling the person you’re talking to is making a joke, but you don’t really understand what’s funny – and want to avoid the potential awkwardness of explicitly saying so.

Today we bring you 10 “American jokes” posted to Japanese website 2channel. Impress and appall your Japanese friends in equal measure by trying out one of these painful puns on them. Who says humour doesn’t translate?

Read More

Better know a train nerd: 36 different classifications for Japan’s “densha otaku”

You may already be aware that there is a subculture of train fanatics in Japan known as densha otaku, or train nerds. But did you know that there are loads of sub-subcultures within the densha otakus? From those obsessed with train noises to experts in train lunch boxes, we’ve got them all covered for you.

Read More

10 Japanese expressions that sound delightfully strange and funny when translated

A little while ago, we introduced you to the Japanese expression “hana yori dango” (dumplings over flowers), using a picture of one of our capybara friends at the Ueno Zoo as a living example of the phrase. Well, that article got us thinking about Japanese idioms/expressions that may sound strange or funny in a different language when translated literally, and we thought it might be interesting to share a few of them with you. Here are some common phrases that we use in the Japanese language as a matter of course, but could make you laugh if you visualize their literal meaning in your mind. And yes, some of them involve cats!

Read More

Best instruction manual ever? What to do when your washer goes “kiiin”, “shaaa”, or “pokopoko”

Anyone who has spent any length of time in Japan will tell you that onomatopoeia is not just common, but an integral part of the Japanese language. While English speakers might find sentences peppered with additional ‘sound effects’ somewhat inelegant, in Japanese onomatopoeic words are not only considered perfectly normal, but there are mimicking sounds for every possible occasion – including states of being where there is no sound to mimic – and most people know exactly how to write them.

We’d wager than few native Japanese have ever come across an instruction manual that uses mimicking words to explain potential problems with a washing machine, though…

Read More

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,254 other followers