・JST, Tokyo (UTC+09:00)
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Japanese are generous with a kind word; a cornerstone of the veritable O-Mo-Te-Na-Shi hospitality house which is Japan. Smiling faces await; leaning in, looking up at you, earnestly awaiting your insight and hanging on your every word. A litany of canned compliments will ensue; Politeness for politeness' sake: Omoshiro~i (Very interesting), Atama ii~ne~ (You're so smart). First time visitors or newcomers to Japan are particularly susceptible to the fussing and fawning. Unfamiliar with the phenomena, they will quickly forget themselves and become unwitting victims of Yasashii~ (kindness). Outgoing types exhibiting any degree of karisuma (charisma; japanglish!) will receive the lion's share of flattery, but the less clever will benefit, too, undoubtedly returning home with enhanced self-confidence. The praise will carry on when you're gone; ii~hito desu ne~ (What a nice person!).
For those who stay awhile new acquaintances and customers will likely show up to meet you with a friend-or-two in tow who will pour your drinks, feign interest and laugh at your jokes, whether or not they understand your words (probably not) or get the joke (probably not). If you happen to be from New York City you'll hit a trifecta, usually in quick succession... 1: Kakkoii~ (Cool )! 2: NyūYōku dai~suki (I love New York)! 3: NyūYōku Ikita~i (I wanna go)! Schenectady? Close enough; you can still say you're from New York: New York State. It exposes a related phenomena of incidental insensitivity, though forgivable as endearing naiveté: a shallow New York Worship (and London/Paris) inherent to contemporary Japanese culture, part of the act or not (probably not). And if your hometown happens to be far from any internationally recognizable city or destination such as Miami or Route 66? This may work to your benefit; pre-packaged politeness becomes easier to recognize in uneasy reactions.
Japanese people rarely criticize; a commendable approach to life, and a welcome relief to westerners who face it daily. If and when criticism does appear, you can bet it'll be a matter with which the moral majority are already in agreement. More likely, though, a bright side suiting a given situation will be found. Lost that big game? Yoku gambatta kedone~ (but you did your best )! And you probably looked Chō (very) Kakkoiiout on the field in your snazzy uniform regardless! But after living in Japan long enough, standing on the receiving end or overhearing it often enough, the compliments become transparent and sincerity is sapped. Before long, it's clear: everything is Kakkoii~ and anything Sugo~i. Sure, you're special, just not that much. Perspective is recommended; consider who is paying the compliment and what the compliment is. How old are you? Ehhh~ (reaction of disbelief; always stretched~; rising pitch for added emphasis) Wakai ne~ (No way; You look so young)! Context: look so young for your age, keeping in mind: Japanese people say this to anyone between the ages of 10 and Death. New outfit? Kawaiiiii~ (Cute)! New shoes? Kakkoii~ ! Context: The person who just gushed over your sense of style also praises Lady Gaga's fashion sense. Prize winner? Sugo~i(Wow/Great )!… Context: The person who just commended your talents also thinks Kanye West is a genius.
Many such automated observations exist in Japan, conditioned throughout childhood and ingrained by the time they enter high school, until it would seem hardwired into their DNA. Mastery of these phrases may actually be required for graduation; the Lip Service SATs. Such knee-jerk niceties can fill magazines and do sell merchandise. Quantities of automated Japanese-isms are casually exchanged amongst themselves as well; between family, friends and co-workers alike; business associates can spend an hour closing a conference until they've run through their script of accolades. The attentive foreigner will have heard so many of these words so often they'll become the first Japanese learned in their new favorite country. Then, before you know it: Nihongo jōzu da ne~ (Your Japanese is very good)! Just like a Japanese! >sigh< Enough to make any visitor go home feeling like a king, ego satisfactorily stroked. God complex; what better way to end a vacation? Sugo~i!
Join us next time when we offer new, alternate usages for yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Soredewa.
by L. Mace posted March 21, 2014
all content © by respective contributors &/or japanglish.org / Mahozawari Unlimited
terms with a direct association to Japanese culture
AIDORU \ idol \ アイドル
Japanese pop star or teen "idol".
ANIME \ animation \ アニメ
Animated films. Abbreviated form of the English word ANIMAtion. The term has come to define a very distinct style of Japanese animation demonstrating specific characteristics. One of several internationally recognized terms which have been adapted and in common use within foreign lexicons.
BĀJINRŌDO \ virgin road \ ヴァージンロード
The matrimonial "aisle" as in a western world church-style wedding ceremony. Nuanced combination of unrelated English words, transliterated with a Japanese accent.
BURUSERA \ bloomer-sailor \ ブルセラ
Contraction and conjoining of the English words BLOOmer and SAILOR. A term of fetishism referencing two aspects of Japanese school girl uniforms; the bloomer style shorts worn for physical education classes (see next dictionary entry) and the classroom uniforms which stylistically resemble American Navy uniforms, both of which are common ANIME and AV motifs.
BURUMA \ bloomer \ ブルマ
The shorts worn by girls for physical education classes. English word transliterated with a Japanese accent.
CHERĪBŌI \ cherry boy \ チェリーボーイ
Sexual inexperienced boy, usually connotating "virgin".
GERIRA GOŪ \ guerrilla rainstorm \ ゲリラ豪雨
Scattered formation of storm systems; the unpredictable downpour of heavy rain they produce. Nuanced combination of an English and Japanese word.
GŌRUDEN'UĪKU \ golden week \ ゴールデンウィーク
Nuanced use of English words denoting a week in Springtime during which a number of Japanese holidays occur, usually signifying a "Spring break" vacation of sorts.
HOWAITODĒ \ white day \ ホワイトデー
Japan's equivalent to western culture's Valentine Day, in which men present chocolate or gifts to their sweetheart (on Valentine Day of February 14 in Japan girls present chocolate or gifts to their sweetheart).
KAPUSERUHOTERU \ capsule hotel \ カプセルホテル
Transliteration corresponding to both words' English definitions; nuanced use of "capsule" to imply confined containment.
KARAOKE \ karaoke \ カラオケ
Code-switching combination of the Japanese "kara" (空 empty) and the English ORCHEstra. One of several internationally recognized terms which have been adapted and in common use in foreign lexicons.
KOSUPURE \ costume play \ コスプレ
Contraction and conjoining of the English words COS tume and PLAY. Defines the act or practice of dressing in costumes specific to an occupation (police officer, nurse, et al), usually for fetishistic purposes but also as mere playfulness, or as part of a Japanese subculture known for emulating the costumes of favorite ANIME or manga characters. Widespread usage, though not as internationally recognized as other similar terms.
MAZAKON \ mother complex \ マザコン
A recognizably strong attachment of a boy to his mother; an Oedipus complex. Usually used in a condescending manner to mean "unmanly", but often simply as a "sensitive" boy.
NAVI \ navigation \ ナビ
Denotes a "guide" or "how-to". Abbreviated form and nuanced usage of the English word NAVI gation.
viewpoints you will never hear from Time Out Tokyo
mounting FUJI by T. Norgay originally posted March 1, 2014
Climbing season: beginning of July through the end of August. Expect peak traffic (pun intended) at the end of July, with fellow climbers taking advantage of photo-ops causing tie-ups as you approach the summit. Japanglish.org is no travel site but by virtue of experience we can provide basic considerations for those who feel the pull of the peak.
You'll arrive during Summer temperatures at the base, but you'll be wise to keep in mind: at 3,776m above sea level (12,389 ft.) it's always Wintery at the summit = prepare accordingly! Facilities are minimal, overrun & understocked = BYO toilet-paper! Packing the contents of your rucksack in plastic bags is smart (cameras etc); rain can appear at any moment! Oxygen is also a realistic concern; you won't know whether you are, in fact, Superman until you're most of the way up, at which point even oxygen canisters may be of no help = better-safe-than-sorry, Superman! Kryptonite's a bitch.
With Fuji-san's designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June, 2013—interestingly, for its cultural heritage rather than natural—a suggested fee has been imposed to help with maintenence to keep up with the high volume of traffic now ascending the mountain every year. Paying 1000円 at the 5th station trailhead gets you a snazzy button and the feeling of pride knowing you're helping preserve Fuji's beauty for future generations. We suggest you hush up, pay up, then climb up. The fee may already be benefitting; we hear there's been improvement to many facilities along the climbing trails. And while you're at the 5th station, buy a wooden walking stick and have it fire-branded at the dozen some-odd rest-area huts along the climb. The stick will cost 1000円; then 500-or-so円 for every brand, but the bragging rights you'll get from it (not to mention decorative value) are priceless!
To see sunrise from-the-top (御来光: goraikō: arrival of light, around 4am in July/August) you'll have to depart from the fifth station well-before sunset the prior evening = the earlier you embark, the more casually you may proceed (remembering: crowds form as you approach the peak!). Common sense alone dictates: the choice of climbing-a-mountain-to-see-the-sunrise or just-climbing-a-mountian, is no choice at all: see the SUNRISE! You can celebrate with a jar of non-alchohol Sake and a warm bowl of Ramen among fellow climbers in the makeshift summit food court. Regardless, groups of elderly visitors gather for all-the-above = you-too-can-do-it! Part of an oft-quoted adage says "only a fool climbs Fuji twice", but plenty of people have climbed more than once, and only fools heed old adages = if you can't make it this time, try again!
PĒPĀDORAIBĀ \ paper driver \ ペーパードライバー
A person who possesses a driver's license but rarely, if ever, drives.
PURIKURA \ print club \ ポケモン
Contraction and conjoining of the English words PRI nt and
CLU b. photo booth photo-stickers exchanged between friends. OUTDATED; the equivalent of the "selfies" now exchanged between friends.
POKEMON \ pocket monster \ プリクラ
Contraction and conjoining of the English words POCKE t and MON ster. A term which has gained worldwide recognition on the basis for which the term was coined: the popular manga and ANIME characters.
RABUHOTERU \ love hotel \ ラブホテル
Hotels which offer short-stay terms catering to after-hour, illicit rendezvous; colloquially closest Japanese equivalent to a western culture "no-tell-motel".
RORIKON \ Lolita complex \ ロリコン
Male sexual attraction to a female of notably younger age, directly referencing the film/story "Lolita".
SARARĪMAN \ salaryman \ サラリーマン
Businessman; office worker. Nuanced compound of the English words, transliterated with a Japanese accent.
SHIRUBĀSHĪTO \ silver seat \ シルバーシート
Priority seating for elderly passengers on trains and buses. Nuanced combination of unrelated English words, transliterated with a Japanese accent.
TARENTO \ talent \ タレント
Rank and file Japanese entertainer, usually television personality; not always possessing any discernible "talent" per se. Origin of this nuanced usage of the English word is tied to entertainment contracts whereby the signee is referred to as "the talent".
YŪTĀNRASSHU \ U-turn rush \ Uターンラッシュ
Traffic phenomena of people returning to urban areas from rural areas after holiday periods such as Sho-gatsu (New Year), Golden Week (Spring) and O-bon (summer).
DICTIONARY UNDER EXPANSION © 2014 japanglish.org
overheard "In my youth there was only one hair color; Black. No such thing as a Blonde-hair, Blue-eyes, Sun-tan Japanese Girl"Japanese 'sempai' to Japanese 'kōhai' (coworkers) 2012