Popular Japanese Words (2006)

Taken from the 2006 edition of Imidas

pnjQ (Paris Syndrome, pari-shoukougun)
This new compound was coined by a Japanese psychologist with 20 years experience counseling Japanese ex-pats in France. It describes the psychological problems suffered by a number of young Japanese women who have difficulty adjusting to the language and customs they encounter while living in Paris. Symptoms include forgetfulness, hallucinations, and an inability to coordinate voluntary muscular movements.

] (brain-power, nou-ryouku)
Sales of books, games and puzzles which claim to stimulate adult Japanese brains and improve intelligence are currently booming. This new kanji compound word is a clever play on the homonym \ (ability, nou-ryoku).

ԃt@bV (breast-between-fashion, nyuu-kan-fasshon)
Womenfs magazine Nikita came up with the zippy new kanji compound (nyuukan), meaning gcleavage.h ̒J (the valley in the chest, mune no tanema) is the more traditional term. Nikita encourages its readers to take full advantage of their cleavage in appealing to the opposite sex, through the use of long necklaces and revealing tops.

tpJ (reverse-snapping sound, gyaku-paka)
Young women in the Kansai area came up with this gem, which means to break up with onefs boyfriend. It refers to the drastic action which may be taken by a spurned female when she discovers messages to another woman on her boyfriendfs cell phone: Destroy the phone by bending it backwards at its center.

VAĂ(Russian Takoyaki, roshian-takoyaki)
This culinary take-off on Russian Roulette may be experienced at drinking establishments throughout Japan. You order a plate of takoyaki, one of which has something besides the usual tako (octopus) tucked inside of it, chocolate and wasabi being commonly-used substitutes. The person who finds the godd ballh in his or her mouth is the loser.

ؗ (Chinese-style, faa-ryuu)
Coming hot on the heels of the ؗ (Korean-style, han-ryuu) entertainment boom in Japan is another wave from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, called ؗ (faa-ryuu). Four hunky actors from a popular Taiwanese television serial drama aired in Japan, known as F4, are representative of Chinese-speaking actors gaining increasing numbers of fans in Japan. Note: gFaah is a Chinese pronunciation for , with the Japanese pronunciations being KA/KE (on-yomi) and hana (kun-yomi)

W (local-language, jimo-go)
This is a hip expression referring to the most obscure features--generally understood only by those living in that geographical area--of Japanfs numerous dialects (hougen). W(jimo) is an abbreviation of n (jimoto), meaning glocal.h Instead of trying to mask their dialects when they arrive as freshmen at university, many students are now proudly sharing them with their new classmates. The expressions may even become common lingo among members of social groups, regardless of their hometowns.

qY (Hills-tribe, hiruzu-zoku)
gHillsh refers to Roppongi Hills, a top-end address in Tokyo with eye-popping rents. People who own businesses or live in condos there are known as members of qY. Former Livedoor CEO Takafumi Horie was a representative tribesman until he was arrested on suspicion of securities law violations and landed in more austere digs.

NPOO~Rrj (fresh-100 yen-convenience store, seisen-hyakuen-konbini)
gKonbinih is a commonly used abbreviation of gkonbiniensu sutoah (convenience store). Following the wild success of trailblazer gShop99,h Lawsonfs and other convenience store chains are now rushing to open stores that specialize in selling a wide variety of fresh products, including produce, at a price of around 100 yen per unit.

}C[ (land-miler, oka-mairaa)
With airlines now offering free mileage points for credit card purchases, program participants can accumulate points by buying consumer goods on land as well as by taking to the skies. A person who gains most of their points on land is now known as a }C[.


Did you miss last year's new popular kanji words? Check them out here.

Home Previous Columns Book Reviews Other Articles Reader Response Links