The Japanese language (nihongo) uses several writing systems:
Kanji are pictograms equivalent to Chinese characters (hanji in Chinese).
Kana are phonetic syllabic characters.
Hiragana are curvalinear.
Katakana are linear and boxy. Katakan is often used for foreign words.
Romaji characters are Roman characters used for non-Japanese words and the romanization of Japanese words. There are three main systems of romaji:
Hepburn. Japanese syllables are the free standing vowels, the free standing N, and consonants combined with vowels. Each syllable is stressed equally whereas Chinese is tonal. Most Japanese vowels are short vowels. The occasional long vowel is equivalent to two continuous short vowels and is usually represented with an over-scored letter. Over-scored letters are not cross platform, so they are frequently just assumed. EG: "Kyoto" is assumed to have overscores on the o's.
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:
Unicode. Probably utf-8 or utf-16 (i.e. utf-16LE).
Lolita complex. Ephebophilic Japanese anime and manga.
Voice actor. Seiyu are more significant in Japan since they make so many animated movies.
Aka shojo; shoujo. Refers to anime and manga that appeals to young females. See also: shōnen.
Aka shonen; shounen. Refers to anime and manga that appeals to young males. See also: shōjo.
Stand-alone, decorated folding screens used to divide rooms.
Solid room dividers that often slide. Contrast with shoji.
"arranged flower". Aka kado = the way of flowers. The Japanese art of flower arrangement.
"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.
A small water room for tea ceremonies in a washitsu.
Traditional Japanese fabric dividers hung at doors, windows, or on walls. Usually slitted and decorated.
The outer layer of tatami mats. Otome is often used in tameshigiri, test cutting.
Paper doors, dividers, or walls. Contrast with fusuma.
Wooden or bamboo screens.
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.
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.
A traditional Japanse room. It typically has tatami, tokonoma, mizuya, and fusuma.
(ah-my) indulgent love; the oil of life
(1) Male sexual pervert.
(2) The action of male perverts feeling up women while on the train.
chokkan to ronri
intuition vs. logic
"dating for assistance". A Japanese practice of older men paying adolescent girls for date or sex or both.
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.
(hone-nay) honest voice face. See also tatemae.
reason for living; that which makes one's life worth living.
Japanese monsters as featured in The Power Puff Girls.
'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]
dropping dead at your desk
Cute. The name used for all the cutesy stuff they market like Hello Kitty by Sanrio.com.
A flat wooden stick or slat used during periods of meditation to remedy sleepiness or lapses of concentration.
A group of friends, neighbors, or others who gather together regularly to support each other --socially, emotionally, and financially.
Buddhist impermanence. The bittersweet impermanence of things.
無心. "Empty mind"
Ceremony to welcome new employees to the company where they will probably work their entire career
Sushi served on a naked woman. Nyataimori is sushi served on a naked man.
"what is higher"
it boggles the mind
(sheen-yoe) trust, confidence, faith
(1)"Beginner's mind". Seeing things fresh with many possibilities.
(2)"Correct truth". Refers to a genuine signature, as opposed to a faked signature.
(tah-tay-my) facade face. See also honne.
(1) Abbreviation for Tokyo Daigaku (University of Tokyo).
(2) All you can eat sushi bar.
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.
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).
"darkness". The space, the gap, the mysterious, the pause, the austere.
残心. "Remaining mind". Continuity. The reverberations of a gong.
100 E. Algonquin Road (& Arlington Heights Road)
Arlington Hts., IL 60005
9:00AM - 8:00PM
Formerly known as Yaohan
Toguri J Mercantile Co. Japanese Gift Shop in Chicago, IL. They have Toakaido/Nozawa gis. A great place to get gifts too! Conveniently located under Sensei Sugiyamas dojo (JKA Chicago). 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL 60657, 773-929-3500.
Dentokogei.com. "devoted to showcasing the work of the shokunin, or artisans, still working and carrying on the traditions of handcraft production in Japan."