Exploring Japanese and Japanese words.

Intro

The Japanese language (nihongo) uses several writing systems:

There are dialects of spoken Japanese but they are all mutually intelligible. The Ryukyuan languages around Okinawa are related to Japanese but are not mutually intelligible with Japanese and are considered separate languages from Japanese.

Here are the most popular character encodings used for Japanese:

See also Japanese Karate Glossary.

Glossary

Manga Anime

anime
Japanese animation.
manga
Japanese comic books.
lolicom
Lolita complex. Ephebophilic Japanese anime and manga.
otaku
obsessive geek
seiyu
Voice actor. Seiyu are more significant in Japan since they make so many animated movies.
shōjo
Aka shojo; shoujo. Refers to anime and manga that appeals to young females. See also: shōnen.
shōnen
Aka shonen; shounen. Refers to anime and manga that appeals to young males. See also: shōjo.

Washitsu

byobu
Stand-alone, decorated folding screens used to divide rooms.
fusuma
Solid room dividers that often slide. Contrast with shoji.
ikebana
"arranged flower". Aka kado = the way of flowers. The Japanese art of flower arrangement.
kakemono
"hung thing". Aka kakejiku = "hung scroll". Scrolls unrolled and hung on a wall. Tatejiju are vertical scroll. Yokojiku are horizontal scrolls. Makimono are hand scrolls.
mizuya
A small water room for tea ceremonies in a washitsu.
noren
Traditional Japanese fabric dividers hung at doors, windows, or on walls. Usually slitted and decorated.
otome
The outer layer of tatami mats. Otome is often used in tameshigiri, test cutting.
shoji
Paper doors, dividers, or walls. Contrast with fusuma.
sudare
Wooden or bamboo screens.
tatami
Traditional Japanese flooring. The standard size is 90 cm * 180 cm * 5 cm (35.5"*71"*2" or roughly 3'*6'*2"), and can way 27 Kg = 60 pounds.. A tatami consists of an outer layer (otome) and stuffing. The outer layer (otome) is woven soft rush straw. The stuffing is wara, i.e. rice straw (or foam or fibers). The word tatami (畳) is also jo, the counting word for tatami, hence a room may be 4 jo or 4 tatami. A mat of just the otome is goza.
tokonoma
A raise alcove or altar in a washitsu. Typically decorated with kakemono, ikebana, bonsai, and the like. Stepping or sitting on the tokona is forbidden. Etiquette also dictates that the most important guests should be seated with their backs to the tokonoma.
washitsu
A traditional Japanse room. It typically has tatami, tokonoma, mizuya, and fusuma.

Miscellany

abunai
dangerous
ama
(ah-my) indulgent love; the oil of life
chikan
(1) Male sexual pervert.

(2) The action of male perverts feeling up women while on the train.
chokkan to ronri
intuition vs. logic
enjo kōsai
"dating for assistance". A Japanese practice of older men paying adolescent girls for date or sex or both.
enryo
considering things from a distance
fudoshin or fudōshin
不動心 "Immovable mind". Equanimity. Imperturbability.
giri
personal code
giseisha
(ghee-say-e-sha) victim syndrome
haiku
A form of poem consisting of 17 syllables in three lines: five, seven, and five.
hara hachi bu
Eat until your stomach is 80% full.
honne
(hone-nay) honest voice face. See also tatemae.
ikigai
reason for living; that which makes one's life worth living.
itadakimasu
Let's eat.
jan-ken-pon
(jahn-ken-pone) paper-scissors-rock
kaiju
Japanese monsters as featured in The Power Puff Girls.
kancho
'Kancho is a game or trick often played in Japan by young school-aged children, similiar in spirit to the "undy grundy" in North America. Kancho is performed by clasping the hands together so the index fingers are pointing out and attempting to insert them into someone's anus region when they aren't looking. It has been popular in Japan for years but has recently become popularised by the anime Naruto and called the "Thousand Years of Pain" technique. It is also known in South Korea as "ddong chim" or "dong chim". Illustrated example of a kancho. Illustrated example of a kancho. In Japan, the kancho sometimes includes a punch to the penis, however not the testicles.' [W]
kaizen
Continuous improvement.
karoshi
dropping dead at your desk
kaso
depopulization
kata-gaki
ranking
kawaii
Cute. The name used for all the cutesy stuff they market like Hello Kitty by Sanrio.com.
keisaku
A flat wooden stick or slat used during periods of meditation to remedy sleepiness or lapses of concentration.
kitanai, kiken, & kitsui
dirty, dangerous, & demanding
kokusaika
internationalization
koto to shidai ni wa
circumstantial truth
kurofune
Black Ship
maneki neko
"beckoning cat". One of the most common lucky charms in Japan with many stories and superstitions. The maneki neko sit with a paw raised and bent. See these offsite links: ManekiNekoClub.com, ActionCat.com/LuckyCat.html (send a card) Namaii.com/ManekiNeko/, Store.Yahoo.com/AsianImportStore/ (buy one), and OnMarkProductions.com/html/maneki-neko.shtml.
moai
A group of friends, neighbors, or others who gather together regularly to support each other --socially, emotionally, and financially.
mujo
Buddhist impermanence. The bittersweet impermanence of things.
mushin
無心. "Empty mind"
nozoki
Peeping Tom
nushaski
Ceremony to welcome new employees to the company where they will probably work their entire career
nyotaimori
Sushi served on a naked woman. Nyataimori is sushi served on a naked man.
okami
"what is higher"
onsen
hot spring
shibui
Astringent beauty.
shinjaren
it boggles the mind
shinyo
(sheen-yoe) trust, confidence, faith
shoshin
初心
(1)"Beginner's mind". Seeing things fresh with many possibilities.
(2)"Correct truth". Refers to a genuine signature, as opposed to a faked signature.
tatemae
(tah-tay-my) facade face. See also honne.
todai
(1) Abbreviation for Tokyo Daigaku (University of Tokyo).

(2) All you can eat sushi bar.
uramu
(uu-rah-moo) resentment
Wabi sabi
侘寂. A Japanese worldview or aesthetic that approximates to appreciating the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is somewhat related to the Buddhist three marks of existence that applies to all things except for Nirvana: dukkha or unsatisfactoriness, anicca or impermanence, and anatta or non-self.
yamato damashi
大和魂 "Japanese spirit". This is a culturally and historically loaded word, but I like it in a fighting-spirit sense. First used Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji ) (ca 1021).
yami
"darkness". The space, the gap, the mysterious, the pause, the austere.
zanshin
残心. "Remaining mind". Continuity. The reverberations of a gong.
zuihitsu
follow the brush

Links

Here are links that lead to off-site pages about Japanese.

Page Modified: (Hand noted: ) (Auto noted: )