Japanese has many contracted words. Anything that can be said shorter and easier is stripped down to its bare bones.
Odawara Express Electric Railway, 小田原急行電鉄 Odawarakyuukoudentetsu becomes 小田急 Odakyu
The immigration office, 入国管理局 Nyuukokukanrikyoku becomes 入管 Nyukan
Toshiba is a contraction of “Tokyo Shibaura”, and Nissan is a contraction of “Nippon Sangyo”.
Most borrowed words are shortened to create;
||family computer (Nintendo)
Tongue twisters You may have mastered Hiragana and Katakana but trying to link them together and make your words sound fluent and flowing is hard.Japanese pronunciation uses very little inflection and is very flat. its always good to practice out loud. Here are some great Japanese tongue twisters to help you. となりのきゃくはよくかきくうきゃくだ （tonari no kyaku wa yoku kaki kuu kyaku da） The customer next to me eats kaki very well. -or- なまむぎなまごめなまたまご （nama mugi nama gome nama tamago） Fresh barley, fresh rice, fresh eggs -or- よりどりみどりきみどりさつきみどり (yori dori midori kimidori satsuki midori) “yori dori” is used when there is many of something to choose from. kimidori is yellow green Satsuki Midori was a singer in the 60s. Happy Japanesing!
本音 (honne) and 建前 (tatemae).
Honne is ones true feelings and desires while tatemae is behaviour and opinions one displays in public.
Japan is a small, mountainous island whose population was 15million in 1800. As space was always an issue and living, working and playing quarters were close, the idea of social harmony was key to a successful and easy life
Even today Japanese people go to great lengths to avoid conflict and arguments with each other and social obligations are considered more than personal beliefs.
Tatemae (literally ‘façade’) is a social institution. An example would be going to an acquaintances house for coffee and being asked to stay for dinner, a tatemae response would be “I’m not hungry but thank you very much” (even if you are starving). Tatemae did help society when people lived and farmed together in self-sufficient communities but in today’s interactive and international world the pressures of tatemae can have more dangerous consequences. Social commentators have attributed the violent and fantasy driven nature of Japan’s notorious pornography to the desire to voice the oppressed honne. Another depressing result is the hikikomori who shut themselves away from the world and hide away from any form of social interaction including (but not always) their parents who they still live with.
In 2011 when Japan was crippled by the earthquake and tsunami and the country was on the brink of nuclear meltdown, tatemae was blamed for the shocking cover up of how serious the problem was.
Princess Mako of Akishino, first born granddaughter of reining emperor Akihito has announced her plans to study fine arts at the University of Edinburgh.
Princess Mako became an unlikely Internet superstar in 2004 when pictures of her in sailor fuku where broadcast on TV.
She will continue in a long line of Japanese royals to study at UK universities. Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife Crown Princess Masako both studied at Oxford colleges.
花金 (hanakin;.Flower friday 金 is the kanji for Friday and gold)
Hanakin is バブル時代 bubble-era (late 80s) word for Friday.
n the years after the Second World War, The Japanese government encouraged people to save their income. With more money in banks, loans and credit became easier to obtain, this allowed local companies to invest in capital resources much more easily than their competitors overseas, which reduced the price of Japanese-made goods.
with so much money available for investment, overconfidence and euphoria about the economic prospects resulted in aggressive speculation of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the real estate market. The Nikkei stock index hit its highest on December 29, 1989. Additionally, banks granted increasingly risky loans.
Prices were highest in Tokyo’s Ginza district in 1989, with properties costing over 30 million yen (about $200,000 US dollars per square meter).
People had more money than they had ever had before. Nightclubs and restaurants were filled with the new rich and ボディコン (bodycon, tight dresses and big hair) was all the rage. Another result of this huge increase in disposable wealth was the creation of Japan’s airports. Japan (a country the size of California) has 98 airports, most of those which run in the red.
Trillions of dollars were wiped out with the combined collapse of the Tokyo stock and real estate markets in 1991.
I’ve been told that to catch a cab, you had to wave a 10,000 yen bill ($100) in the air and my boyfriend’s uncle was given a 70 million yen end of quarter bonus.
So if you feel like being retro this friday night, throw off the rat race and have a happy Hanakin!
冗談は顔だけにして (jyodan wa kao dake ni shite) Or The only joke you need to worry about is your face.
Japanese is super lacking in any kind of swears. It’s not uncommon to hear in a fight between two rather butch looking men
“no, you are a fool!”
“you are a STUPID fool!”
So when you find yourself around a wasted Japanese salaryman who is making jokes about the size of your stereotypically large penis (we’ll talk) or someone thinks they are being funny when really they are just annoying you ; you can use “jyodan wa kao dake ni shite”
Nobody is pretending that Japanese is an easy language to learn.
Take the verb ‘to wear’ for example.
In English you wear trousers, you wear a T shirt and you wear a hat.
The Japanese like to mix it up a little.
To wear trousers you would use 履く (haku)
To say you will wear a t shirt you would need the verb 着る (kiru)
For a hat it would be 被る (kaburu. Another use of this verb is to suffer, hat hair?)
Accessories use the verb 着ける (same kanji as above but said tsukeru)
Rings are 嵌める (hameru. The old verb for make love, I’ll leave the visual up to you)
Taking off is a little easier, tops and bottoms are 脱ぐ (nugu).
Hats, scarves and gloves are 取る (toru).
And accessories are 外す (hazusu)
So there you have it, enjoy putting on and taking off your clothes.
Japanese speech is peppered with mimetic words. These have no formal translation but are the most useful and easiest way to describe the world around you (and sound more fluent while you are at it)!
These words can be used to describe the state of things, feelings, emotions and actions. they range from the standard to the ridiculously precise.
Here are a few of he best ones.
- ペラペラ （pera pera）this is used if someone is talking extremely quickly or fluently.
- ザアザア (zaa zaa) the sound of heavy rain falling.
- ポツポツ (potsu potsu) a light rain or drizzle.
- フワフワ (fuwa fuwa) describing something light and fluffy like a cloud or bread.
- カリカリ (kari kari) describing things that are brittle like chips or the skin on a gyouza.
- サラサラ (sara sara) smooth things like stroking a cat.
- カサカサ (kasa kasa) dry, rough things like chapped lips.
- ウキウキ (uki uki) to be cheerful, happy and light spirited
- ドキドキ (doki doki) to throb or beat fast, used to describe a beating heart
- ワクワク (waku waku) to tremble through nervousness or excitement
- チャラチャラ (chara chara) to mess around and show off
- ゴロゴロ (goro goro) to be lazy (goro goro is the Japanese equivalent of a frog’s “ribbit”).
There are far to many to post in one article. If you have a favourite I would love to hear it in the comments section.