Japanese words you should know (part 2)
Today we come back to our series about common Japanese words that might come in handy to people from abroad. Here we’re going to list some words that are used on a daily basis in Japan, and some that have no direct translation to English or are very hard to define for those who don’t speak the language. In this article we’re going to focus on words that are used to describe things or people.
この 記事では、日本で ふつうに 使われている「物」や「人」を 表す 言葉で、英語に 言いかえできず、理解が とても むずかしい 言葉の 説明です。
This is just the word for “cute”. However, a lot of things are kawaii in Japan and you’ll especially hear young Japanese girls use this word when out and about, especially when shopping. Being kawaii is a very desirable trait, that’s why every prefecture has a kawaii mascot and you’ll see plenty of kawaii products in shops.
Similar to kawaii, this is used describe a ton of things, and means “cool”. If you’re a foreign man, you might get called kakkoii for no particular reason, as being non-Japanese is enough to score some kakkoii points! If you’re quiet, mysterious, or dreamy, you’re even more likely to be described as kakkoii.
A very hard to define word, but this is something you normally don’t want to get called. If you are charai, it means you’re overly talkative, shallow, goofy, or flirtatious, and not serious enough. Being too extroverted can be considered a negative in Japanese culture, so whereas quiet people are kakkoii, smooth talkers are charai.
A perfect word for the business world, majime can be translated to something akin to earnest, diligent, or hard working. Needless to say, this is a really good trait for a coworker to have and a strong compliment for anyone, including friends. While diligence is not the first thing we would compliment someone about in English, it’s very common in Japanese.
This word translates to something like “full of energy”, but also “fine”. You can use it in a question to ask “how are you?” (元気ですか genki desu ka), or you can use it to say you’re fine (元気です, genki desu). It’s also used for kids or pets that are full of energy, or people who are chipper, without being charai.
Next time you have to describe someone to a friend in Japan, give these a try!
Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
My email is ” firstname.lastname@example.org “, by all means contact me about anything!
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