Regardless of what level of proficiency you’re at in Japanese, there is just some stuff that they won’t teach you in textbooks. In any language, people use slang words. Most of the time, they’re the younger crowd. But slang words are what make your conversational skills more natural.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 cool Japanese words that the kids are saying today. By the end of the article, you’ll be chatting like one of the cool kids!
The first of the list of Japanese words is osu (おっす). This is used as a greeting among friends. Back in the day, this type of greeting was a military greeting. It was considered very formal. Nowadays, it’s as casual as it can get. So don’t go greeting your bosses with this!
Osu is used in the same way we use “what’s up?” in English. I’ve heard a lot of my friends using it, but it’s mostly guys that say this to each other. It’s definitely fine if a girl says it, but it does have a more masculine ring to it.
This next Japanese word is pretty common. Chō (超) is translated to “super” or “very”. Instead of using “totemo” (とても), you can use this Japanese word in its place. For example, if you want to say something is very fast, you can say it as “chō hayai” (超早い).
It’s said that it’s more commonly used in Eastern Japan, but I hear it all the time. I even use it myself. Japanese people use it on a daily basis. Alternatively, you can use the Japanese word “meccha” (めっちゃ), which has similar meanings.
“Hanpa nai” (半端ない) is commonly used among the youngsters. The word “hanpa” has the meaning of something that is incomplete, but when you say it in this phrase, it’s used when describing something is insane, figuratively speaking.
It’s not to talk about someone that’s insane in the head, but for situations. Hanpa nai can be use for good and bad. If it’s raining so heavily and you’re thinking, “the rain is insane!” then you can say it as “ame hanpa nai!” (雨半端ない)
This next Japanese word is one that I like to use often: maji (まじ). This word can have a few different meanings. The first one is when you’re exclaiming like “are you serious?”. You can say that as “maji de?” (まじで？)
The other meaning to it is the same meaning as chō , which means “very”. So if you want to say something is so insane, you can say it as “maji de hanpa nai” (まじで半端ない).
One Japanese word that kids nowadays like to use is “gachi” (ガチ). This word translates to “seriously”. It’s kind of similar to “maji” in that sense. However, “maji” can be used on its own but “gachi” can’t. It has to be attached to something.
For example, if you want to say that something is seriously funny, you can say it as “gachi de omoshiroi” (ガチで面白い). Impress your Japanese friends by saying that sentence next time!
6. Ukeru (ウケる)
“Ukeru” (ウケる) literally translates to “to take”, but the kids these days have been using it as a slang. It’s used as a reaction to something that’s funny. Although it’s classified as a verb, it can be used as a verb as well as an interjection.
If your friend said something so hilarious, you can laugh at him and then add “ウケる” at the end. It’s like saying “haha, you’re hilarious!”
Our next Japanese word doesn’t have a direct translation to English. “Bimyō” (微妙) can be translated to as “questionable” or “doubtful”, but the kids today are using it as slang for something that’s neither good nor bad. Most of the time, it’s closer to being bad than google
Say you’re trying on some clothes and asking your friend what she thinks about it. If she responses with “bimyō”, it means she doesn’t really think it’s that great…but not super bad either.
8. Dasai (ダサい)
You might have heard of this one in anime or Japanese drama. They do use this word in real life, too! “Dasai” (ダサい) can refer to both looks and action, and it’s a way of expressing that someone or something is ugly.
If someone is doing something bad or inconsiderate, you can respond to their action with “dasai”. Similarly, if you see someone on the street wearing rugged clothing and it looks awful, you can say that it’s “dasai”.
9. Uzai (うざい)
If you’re feeling a bit annoyed by something or someone, use this word: uzai (うざい). Say you’re pointing to a person and wants to say that they’re annoying, you can say it this way: “ano hito, uzai!” (あの人、うざい).
Another way of saying something or someone is annoying is by using the word “mukatsuku” (ムカつく). The word has more of a meaning of “irritating”. This one can be used in a sentence or on its own, too.
Last but not least, the Japanese word you should have at the top of your Japanese vocabulary list is “yabai” (やばい). This word translates to “terrible” or “awful”, but in slang term, it doesn’t necessarily mean bad. It can also be used to refer to positive things.
You can use “yabai” to describe just about anything, good or bad, person or thing. It’s like a reaction phrase. If you see something incredible happening in front of you, you can react with a “yabai!” If your food tastes bad, you can also describe it as “yabai”.
It’s an all-rounder word that’s used by many young people in Japan. I’ve met older Japanese people who don’t understand why the kids today are using the word in that context. But hey, we’re out here trying to sound cool.
While we only list 10 cool Japanese words, there are so many more that’s used as slang. When you’re travelling to Japan, hang out with some of the locals and listen in. You may hear a word or two that you never knew about!
We know that the Japanese language has borrowed more than a few words from the English language. But what about the other way round? Are there any English words that are actually of Japanese origin?
There are, actually. In fact, there are quite a few words that we use often. Of course, the usual suspects “ramen” and “sushi” are obviously from the Japanese language, along with “samurai” and “kimono”. But there are a handful of words that aren’t as known and obvious.
We’ve compiled a short but interesting list of 10 English words that are actually really Japanese. Keep scrolling to find out what they are!
The paper-folding craft, known to us as “origami”, is actually of Japanese origin! The word is made up of two Japanese words: “ori” (おり) to mean “fold” and “kami” (紙) to mean “paper”. When put together, it means “folded paper”. In Japanese, though, “origami” refers to a folded official document like a certificate.
Originally, the names for this paper folding craft include “orimono”, “orikata” and “orisue”. The change to “origami” is still unclear to this day, but it’s believed to start around the 20th century. Some say it was easier for Japanese kids to spell during Japan’s kindergarten movement in the late 19th century. Others say it might be because the English translation for the word makes more sense to use it.
Will we ever know the real reason?
If you don’t know it yet, a typhoon is a rotating giant storm of wind and rain. It’s similar to a hurricane as both are kinds of tropical cyclones. This word actually comes from a Japanese word for the same thing: taifu (台風). The kanji used “風” actually means “wind”.
Did you know that word for the small symbols you type in messages is actually Japanese? “Emoji” is used to express your emotional attitude on electronic devices like smartphones and laptops, and often gives a more playful tone.
The word comes from the Japanese word “moji” (文字) which means “character” or “letter” and “e” (絵) which means “picture” or “drawing”. When put together, the meaning is like putting a picture in a letter. And now we have our beloved smiley faces.
Rickshaws are light vehicles that often have two wheels and are pulled by a person. Usually, the person is either pulling it while on foot or on a bicycle. You often see this in Asia, and first used in Japan in the late 1800s.
Originally, the word “rickshaw” (which is also spelled as “ricksha”) had another syllable in front of it. The original word was “jinricksha”, sometimes spelled as “jinrikisha”. This word comes from the Japanese language. It’s a combination of three words: “jin” (人) to mean “man”, “riki” (力) to mean “strength” and “sha” (車) to mean “carriage”. When you put it together, it means “strong man carriage”.
If you like puzzles, then you probably have played sudoku before. This 9×9 grid of squares contains 3×3 boxes. Each box has the numbers 1 to 9, and every row of the grid also has to contain the numbers 1 to 9.
The word “sudoku” is actually the short form of the Japanese phrase “sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru”. This means “the numerals must remain single” — it’s saying that the digits can only appear once. The word “sudoku” itself only made it into English publications early this century.
Maybe not all of you know this word — heck, I didn’t — but “skosh” means “a small amount”. This word was introduced by the US soldiers who were stationed in Japan after World War II. They learned the word from the Japanese word “sukoshi” (少し). This Japanese word, when spoken, is pronounced “skoh-shee”.
Is your boss at work a hotshot? Then he’s a “honcho”. This word refers to the person in charge of other people. It was introduced by the Americans who were imprisoned in Japan during the Second World War.
“Honcho” comes from the Japanese word “hanchō” (班長) to mean “squad leader”. “Han” refers to “squad” and “chō” refers to “head” or “chief”.
That cotton-filled mattress on your bed, couch or chair is known as a “futon”. This is a word we all commonly use, but did you know it’s actually a Japanese word? Futon, spelled and pronounced the same in Japanese as 布団, is a staple of small apartments and dorms.
In English, futon is something that you sleep on, but in Japanese, it can refer to a thick comforter.
Don’t mistake this word for the tropical cyclone. A tycoon is someone who is a top leader, usually in politics, or a very wealthy businessperson. This word is often used in the latter meaning.
How the word came to be associated with the meaning of a political leader is interesting. The first time an American consul came to Japan after the country opened up its borders, the shogun (the military deputy) was assumed to be a secular emperor. The American thought the shogun’s title was “taikun”, like the Chinese characters “dà” to mean “great” and “jūn” to mean “prince.” The spelling “tycoon” became popular in America to refer to political leaders, but began to fade in usage.
It was revived in the 1920s in journalism to refer to wealthy businessmen.
Our last word is something you wouldn’t quite expect to be of Japanese origin. To be honest, the origin of this term is still a mystery to this day. “Hunky-dory”, as we all know, means “fine” or “satisfactory”.
The term “hunky” came from the Dutch “honk” to mean “home”. In the 19th century, this became an adjective to mean “all right” or “safe and sound”. A theory of how “dory” came about is when American sailors were stationed in Japan. There was a thoroughfare that the sailors often used and described it as “hunky”. The Japanese word for “road” is “tori” or “dori” (取). It could be said that the sailors might’ve combined the two words to refer to that as a “satisfactory street”.
Which word surprises you the most?
As we said earlier, there are more English words that are derived from the Japanese language, but I think that these 10 are the most unique ones. Out of them all, which ones did you not expect to be of Japanese origin?
When you’ve spent quite a bit of time in Japan, you soon realise that it’s easier to say no in Japan than in most Western countries. But here’s the catch: it’s much more difficult to ask for an explanation or reason.
If someone asks you out for a drink in Japan, an indirect “I have something else to do today” is taken as a decline to the invitation and no reasoning is asked for, whereas in Western countries, people feel compelled to have a justifiable reason for declining.
This is all linked to what sociologists call high context and low context culture — Japan is considered to be under the category of a high context culture, so a lot of the time, you don’t need to explain much because there’s an unspoken understanding between people. It all balls down to a unique Japanese custom called “Kūki wo yomu (空気を読む)”.
What exactly is it, why is it so important, and how do we begin practicing it? All these answers and more are just a scroll down away!
Kūki o Yomu: Reading the Air
Kūki wo yomu (空気を読む) translates to “reading the air”. It can be likened to the English phrase “reading between the lines”. You ought to be situationally aware and attentive to not only your own thoughts and feelings but also of the people around you — all without the need of expressing them aloud. It’s one of the most significant and fundamental aspects of Japan’s communication culture.
This Japanese custom is not only about social relations — it applies to business contexts as well. You’re expected to predict the consequences of actions and words when you’re interacting with other people, as well as realising your own social status.
This ability to read the air is not a genetic predisposition or something taught in Japanese schools or by parents — it’s a social trait. You pick it up spontaneously as you go along in life, socialise with others, communicate and most importantly, observe. It’s in the nature of Japanese people to observe their elders and people around them, then mimicking what they see.
It’s an important skill to have in Japanese society — it’s easier for you to make friends, get into a university and get a job. You’ll be more well-liked and fit into the local community easier.
Someone who’s not able to catch the real meaning of other people’s words is often called KY, an abbreviation of “kūki yomenai” to mean “one who can’t read the air”. If you’re unable to understand the environment you’re in, it can cost you — whether it’s ruining a relationship or blowing a huge business deal.
“Kūki o yomu” forces you to pay attention to signals people are putting out, more than usual, and to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Indirectness in Japanese Communication
Reading the air is also present in other cultures, like “reading the room” or “knowing your audience”, but Japanese people are far more sensitive to this custom.
There was a tweet that went viral in Japan back in 2019 about a businessman in Kyoto who met a potential client. The client complimented his watch, so the businessman started explaining the watch’s features. It took him a while to realise that the client didn’t care much about the watch, but more of the time it showed — he wanted the businessman to look at his watch to see the time and wrap up the conversation.
That one situation can sum up the indirectness factor in Japanese communication.
There’s no such thing as a direct answer in Japan, or at least in my experience. You don’t really get a straight-up “no” from anyone, whether it’s a casual or business setting — the politeness within the culture forbids them to. A “maybe” or “it’s possible” is used instead.
I’ll give you an example: I once asked someone if he could direct me to the nearest station, and his answer was “sore wa chotto…” (それはちょっと。。。) This directly translates to “that’s a bit…” but it actually holds the meaning of “that’s inconvenient for me” or “that’s a bit difficult for me to answer.” Basically, he was indirectly telling me no. The sentence was left hanging, but that’s the phrase often used in Japan — people assume you’re able to determine the rest of the sentence and read the situation.
There’s a collectivist culture in Japan that is probably one of the reasons for this ambiguity. The society prefers conformity over individualism — to directly communicate is like going against this status quo. So they avoid unpleasant interactions and situations to maintain social harmony, and to do that, everyone has to acquire the skill of reading the air.
Tatemae vs Honne
Tatemae (建前) is what one expresses in public and honne (本音) is what one truly feels. It links together with how Japanese communication is epitomised by implicitness and indirectness. People are socially obligated to respond according to tatemae, defined by social expectations and opinion, regardless if it contradicts their own honne.
That’s because importance is placed on demonstrating respect and saving face. If you deny a request directly by saying “no”, Japanese people believe that that’ll cause embarrassment and both the invitee and inviter will lose face. A “maybe” or “I’ll consider it” is the Japanese way of saying “no” — their indication of their honne.
“Hear One, Know Ten”
Something that’s linked closely to “kūki o yomu” is a concept called “ichi ieba jū wo shiru” (一言えば十を知る). This translates to “hear one, know ten”. Subtlety is pretty key when it comes to Japanese communication, so sometimes, social cues like facial expressions and body language aren’t as physically evident.
Japanese people believe that people should be so in tune with each other that the verbal words make up only 10% while the non-verbal ones communicate the remaining 90% — hear one, know ten. Whether it’s a twitch of the mouth or a discreet raise of the eyebrow can be telltale signs of disapproval or reproach.
If you decided to work in a Japanese company, be prepared to get as little guidelines as possible and barely any guidance or feedback — they expect you to already know by “reading the air”. And anyway, take brief communication as positive communication in the office.
What about you, can you read the air? Is your skill as extensive as the Japanese people? Whether it’s by observing people around you or educating yourself with the media, Japan’s high context culture does give you some plus points, especially if you’re planning to live in Japan.
The word “ki” (気) is pretty strong in the Japanese language — it refers to the spirit, mind, nature, air, or all of the above. Regardless of what language we’re speaking in, our inner being, our soul, brings up a lot of opportunities for conversation.
Expressing our deepest darkest desires can become a difficult task — impossible for some. That’s where “ki” comes to save the day. It’s used to convey difficult thoughts and emotions in the Japanese language. So you don’t need to always pour your heart out every single time you need to express something — just use one of these key “ki” phrases!
Here are the top 9 essential key phrases using “ki” (気)!
The Significance of 気
What exactly is “ki”? It holds many meanings and emotions, so isn’t it best for any Japanese language learner to get acquainted with it? One word, tons of usage. “Ki” can refer to a variety of things: air, atmosphere, mind, spirit, heart, flavour, feelings, humour, intention, mind, will, etc.
In the Japanese culture: the kikessui (気血水) concept, making up of three elements: ki (気), ketsu (血, blood) and sui (水, water). Kikessui translates to life force, and in the Japanese culture, it’s believed that the three elements of kikessui are what our bodies are made up of.
The word “ki” becomes ten times more powerful when it’s combined with another kanji or word.
They’re in tons of newbie Japanese words like genki (元気, happy or energetic), tenki (天気, weather), kimochi (気持ち, feelings) and byouki (病気, illness). If you noticed, all of these words encompass concepts of inexpressible feelings that the little package of “ki” can do the job of describing for you.
Let’s now look at the 9 essential key phrases using “ki”!
1. Ki ni iru (気に入る)
The first one is ki ni iru (気に入る). If you literally translate it, this phrase means “to go into one’s ki”. The actual meaning is that you’ve taken a liking to something or you’re showing interest in something. You can compare it to “suki” (好き, like) but the difference is that “suki” implies you’ve already liked it for a while and is an ongoing feeling, whereas “ki ni iru” implies that you’ve grown to like it after hearing about it.
For example, if you say “kono sētā ha ki ni iru” (このセーターは気に入る), you’re saying that you’ve grown to like this sweater. It also subtly implies that you previously didn’t like it. However, if you say “kono sētā ha ki ni iranai” (このセーターは気に入らない), you’re saying that you’ve grown to not like this sweater, which means you used to like it but not anymore.
2. Ki ni naru (気になる)
The second phrase is ki ni naru (気になる). While it literally means to become someone’s ki, it actually holds the meaning of being bothered by or concerned about something.
A simple example is to say that you’re worried about weight: taijuu no koto ga ki ni natteiru (体重のことが気になっている). In that sentence, you switch it to its te iru form, implying that it’s an ongoing concern.
You can also use it in its negative form: watashi ha ima taberu no ha ki ni naranai (私は今食べるのは気にならない). This translates to “I don’t feel like eating now.”
3. Ki ni suru (気にする)
The third “ki” phrase is ki ni suru (気にする). You’ll often hear this in its negative form, ki ni shinai (気にしない) to mean “don’t worry”. Ki ni suru literally means that the “ki” has something done to it, but the actual meaning is that you’re deeply troubled by something. Don’t confuse its meaning with the previous one — ki ni suru is more like giving attention or care about something.
If you’re worried about gossips and rumours, or what other people think of you, then your best friend would say to you, “hito no itteiru koto wo ki ni shinai hou ga ii” (人の言っているのことを気にしない方がいい).
4. Ki wo tsukeru (気をつける)
The next one is ki wo tsukeru (気をつける). This means that you’re being cautious and careful when doing something.
If you’ve watched anime or J-drama, you would’ve heard some of the characters saying this sentence at some point: “ki wo tsukete ne!” (気をつけてね！) This means, “take care!” If you’re done for the day at work or school and parting ways with your colleagues or schoolmates, you can usually say this phrase while parting.
It could also be used for other situations, like crossing the roads. You can say “ki wo tsukete douro wo wataru” (気をつけて道路を渡る). This translates to mean “be careful crossing the roads.”
5. Ki wo tsukau (気を使う)
Now we’ll look at the fifth one which is ki wo tsukau (気を使う). This phrase means to be considerate to someone’s feelings or to pay attention to someone else’s situation.
The global pandemic is the perfect example. We’re all in this unusual new normal where masks is a mandatory piece of accessory as soon as we step out of the house. Of course, it’s for the safety of others and ourselves — it’s being socially responsible. If you see someone who’s not wearing a mask, you can tell them to be more sensitive by saying “ki wo tsukainasai!” (気を使いなさい！)
On the contrary, if you’re too polite or attentive, someone might tell you to “ki wo tsukawanai de kudasai”(気を使わないでください ). This translates to, “please don’t worry about me so much.”
6. Ki wo waruku suru (気を悪くする)
Let’s take a look at ki wo waruku suru (気を悪くする). This phrase means that you feel hurt by something. You’re taking offence at something said or something you saw.
If you accidentally said something offensive to someone but didn’t mean it, apologise and then say, “ki wo waruku shinai de” (気を悪くしないで).
7. Ki ga tsuku (気がつく)
Next we have ki ga tsuku (気がつく). The phrase, a pretty common one, means to realise something or notice something. How many times have you realised you forgot something after heading out the door, or noticed something different about a friend you haven’t met in ages?
If you’ve been playing games for hours on end and lost track of the time, you might say something like, “zutto gēmu wo shiteite ki ga tsuitara juu jikan tatteita. Shimatta!” (ずっとゲームをしていて気がついたら10時間経っていた！しまった！) This sentence means, “I kept playing the game and when I realised, 10 hours have passed, oh no!” Anyone else can relate?
8. Ki ga kawaru (気が変わる)
The next one is ki ga kawaru (気が変わる). Kawaru (変わる) means to change — so this phrase translates to mean to change one’s mind.
I’m a fickle-minded person, so I change my mind more often than I’d like. I would want to take a walk one minute and as soon as I get up from bed, I decided not to. So I can say that as, “sanpo ni ikou to omou kedo ki ga kawatta” (散歩に行こうと思うけど気が変わった).
9. Ki ga suru (気がする)
Our final phrase is ki ga suru (気がする). This is a pretty common everyday ki phrase which literally translates to mean the ki is doing something.The actual meaning of this phrase is to have a feeling, kind of like a gut feeling.
You know when you kind of know that something’s going to happen — like, it’s going to rain today. “ame ga furu ki ga suru” (雨が降る気がする).
So there you have it — 9 essential key “ki” phrases that you can use every day to express your feelings. Why not give one of them a go the next time you practice your nihongo?
This style of outerwear has been blowing up the streets and Instagram feeds. And when fashion enthusiasts (and even those who are not) find themselves in Japan, snagging a Japanese bomber jacket is basically senseless — it’s the perfect fashion souvenir.
While it’s been called various names, the Japanese bomber jacket is more famously known as the sukajan (スカジャン). What is it? How did it come about? How do I get one? All the information you need is here — read on to find out!
The Ultimate Fashion Souvenir
If you’ve never heard of the term “sukajan”, maybe you know it by its alternative names — does “souvenir jacket” or “rebel jacket” ring a bell?
The Japanese bomber jacket is basically a type of outerwear, usually made of silk, that combines a typical varsity jacket style with dramatic embroidery of Japanese motifs including tigers, eagles and, of course, cherry blossoms. Silhouette-wise, they’re based on the classic American baseball jackets popularised by 1930svarsity teams. And Japan is quite obsessed with baseball, so it’s no surprise that this style of clothing caught on.
You probably would’ve seen the sukajan if you’ve watched the 2011 film, Drive, with Ryan Gosling donning a similar one — a white silk quilted bomber jacket with an embroidered golden scorpion on the back.
This puffy and loose, ribbed-collared and cuffed-sleeved, cropped and embroidered jacket is a fashion piece that’s both a staple and a trend, casual and dressy — and is more than just a bold fashion statement; it’s a piece that retells your Japan experience. At least, that was how it began — and also how a lot of sukajan wearers are using it for.
Origins of Sukajan
Like most popular fashion designs, sukajan has a long, rich, cultural origin. In fact, just the name itself will give you a brief insight into where it came from. The term is believed to be a portmanteau — it combines the end half of the name of the naval base city, Yokosuka (横須賀), with the first half of the Japanese katakana translation for “jumper” (ジャンパー) which is just “jan” (ジャン). Put it all together and you get “suka-jan”.
Let’s travel back in time to the era of World War II — Yokosuga in Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan was the first few naval bases in Japan. American GIs are basically the original creators of this distinctive embroidered style. In fact, there was one specific American serviceman who started it all. When it was around the time their occupation drew to a close, he had the brilliant idea of taking his normal bomber jacket to the local tailor to have it embroidered, converting something that was regarded as a symbol of war into a priceless souvenir. His fellow servicemen followed suit as soon as they laid their eyes on this creative beauty.
The original sukajan combined the two countries’ symbols like cherry blossom and dragons, and geisha (芸者) and eagles. These motifs remain, to this day, as common designs on sukijan. What’s not as common nowadays is to see maps as motifs — but back in the day, some American soldiers did request to have them embroidered to commemorate their time there. As each soldier has their own experiences infused in their bomber jacket design, authentic and hand-sewn sukajan never had two of the same styles.
More and more American soldiers wanted to bring back this one-of-a-kind souvenir to the U.S. as gifts, or even to sell. The demand for these unique Japanese bomber jackets boomed, and the Japanese tailors had to be crafty — they pieced together leftover parachute silk with other fabrics to feed these demands.
As the sukajan was getting more popular in America, Japan was adopting the American prep style during the 1950s to 1970s. This whole fascination with American clothing and pop culture is known as the “ametora” effect — publications like Popeye magazine influenced the local trends and those who were looking to “westernise” their fashion style. ‘Bad boy’ icons like James Dean and Marlon Brando were all the rage in Hollywood, and kimonos were being swapped with biker jackets.
But not everyone was into it. Some took on the sukajan as an alternate outerwear and a way of making a statement — a defiant one. Just like how the Schott Perfecto leather jacket acts as a symbol of rebellion in the U.S., sukajan rapidly became associated with Japanese gangs like Yakuza and juvenile delinquents like the Yankii subculture, hence the nickname “rebel jacket”.
The Recent Evolution
The sukajan came a long way from a mere souvenir jacket to a symbol of rebellion, and now a fashion trend. While it has remained in Japan as an iconic fashion clothing piece, the rest of the world didn’t really know what sukajan was — even in America, the souvenir jacket began to fade after the war.
It wasn’t until the mid-2010s did the sukajan see its revival outside of Japan — I’d say we have Ryan Gosling to thank for that. Other Hollywood celebrities like Drake and Kanye West also added the iconic Japanese souvenir jacket to their wardrobe, and fashion magazines like Menswear Style declared the silk bomber jacket to be a “defining fashion item”.
Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent incorporated silk bomber jackets featuring floral motifs into their collections. Streetwear brands, too, didn’t pass on the chance to be in the loop with this timeless style; Adidas and Converse were quick to release their own rendition of souvenir jackets, by incorporating the style of prints onto other fashion pieces like sneakers.
We have to admit: sukajan went from an item with a purpose to now holding mainstream appeal and becoming a worldwide fashion trend. Its journey is quite extraordinary, and personally, I see no limit to the reaches of this Japanese bomber jacket.
The sukajan, as we now know, isn’t just a fashion piece — its history and cultural essence is embedded in every stitch. Now that you know what to look out for when shopping for a Japanese bomber jacket, are you ready to own one? It makes a great conversation starter with someone else who has it on, too! Make a friend by buying a sukajan!
One of the first things you learn about the Japanese language is “desu” (です). In fact, even those who don’t know Japanese know generally how to use this copula. Just stick it at the end of the sentence and you’re good to go, right?
And for those of us who watched an anime or J-drama episode or two, we’re pretty familiar with the copula “da” (だ), aren’t we? As the textbooks would tell us, these two are supposed to be interchangeable. One is used for formal context and the other for informal ones.
I’m here to tell you that there’s more to them than that, and you won’t find your answers in textbooks. They’re from observation and practice in conversation with local Japanese people – read on to find out what they are!
The Usage of “Desu”
“Desu” (です), as we all know, is used at the end of a sentence to make it formal. This phrase is a copula, so it’s kind of like “to be” (is, am, are) in English. For example, “this is a pen” is said as “kore ha pen desu” (これはペンです). “Desu” is used to link the subject to a subject complement.
When you end a sentence with “desu”, there’s a certain level of formality attached to it. Usually, you would use “desu” when speaking to people who you aren’t familiar with as well as those above you in the work or social hierarchy. If you’re talking to your boss, I’d recommend ending your sentences with “desu”. If you’re talking to your teacher, yup, definitely use it. If you’re talking to your good friend, chances are you don’t have to use it.
“Desu” is attached to nouns and adjectives only. Verbs have their own conjugation that has the same formality as “desu”. Ending a verb with “masu” (ます) is like saying “desu”, but that’s a whole other article altogether.
The Usage of “Da”
Da (だ) is also a copula and acts the exact same way as “desu” most of the time. If you want to say “this is a pen” but using “da” instead, just replace the “desu” with “da”: “kore ha pen da” (これはペンだ). The message is conveyed across just the same.
While “desu” is more formal, “da” is more informal. You often hear it in conversations among good friends, and never with superiors and those you are not familiar with. I would advise you never to use “da” with your boss or teachers. More often than not, guys are the ones using it among themselves. That’s not to say girls don’t say it, too. My girl friends use it, and so do I.
However, “da” is often used in combination with other Japanese particles like “yo” (よ) and “ne” (ね) to make “da yo” (だよ) and “da ne” (だね). Sometimes, you’ll even hear “da yo ne” (だよね) attached at the end of sentences as well as on its own. That’s because, “da” on its own can sound rude and dry in conversation and it’s often used in written form instead of “desu” to imply informality. Using “da yo”, “da ne” and “da yo ne” brings the “da” from cold to casual.
“Da ne” is the most common one of them all, in my opinion. Attaching the “ne” with “da” automatically makes the sentence an engaging one. It’s kind of like asking the other person for their opinion – if they agree or not. If you say “Kono kēki wa oishī da ne” (このケーキを美味しいだね) is like saying “this cake is delicious, isn’t it?”
“Da yo” has a more aggressive tone to it. If you say “watashi da yo” (私だよ), it kind of sounds like “it’s obviously me!” If you’re not so close with someone, it’s best to stay away from this one.
I often use “da yo ne” (だよね) as a response and use it on its own. For example, this phrase is perfect as a response to the cake statement. Saying “da yo ne” to that is you agreeing that the cake is delicious.
The Difference Between “Desu” and “Da”
In textbooks, they’ll tell you that “da” is the informal version of “desu”. That’s pretty accurate. In theory, it is. You can definitely use “da” to make your sentences sound more informal. But make sure you’re also aware that it can also make you sound rude and aggressive.
Using “da” on its own is rather rare in conversation. “Desu”, however, is extremely common. If you’re unsure of what to use at the end of a sentence, it’s never wrong to use “desu”, but it’s not so straightforward with “da”. My advice is to stick with “desu” until you’re comfortable with the various ending particles like “da yo” and “da ne”, or even “yo” and “ne” on their own. Read our Japanese Particles article if you want a clearer picture of what you can use and how to use them.
And there you have it! “Desu” and “da” can seem pretty clear-cut, but it’s not so black and white until you have to actually use it in conversation. I was like that when I first got to Japan, but after countless observations and practice, I now have a better understanding of their usage. Remember, Japanese is a constant learning journey. Good luck!
So you’ve watched a few episodes of anime or Japanese drama and heard the word “senpai” (先輩) more than a couple of times. I think it might have been the first few Japanese words that I’ve learned. I bet even your friends who don’t know Japanese might know this word.
If you watched it with subtitles, then you probably have assumed the meaning of it. But we’re here to clearly define what it is, how to use it and if it’s used as often in real life as it is in Japanese media.
All your doubts and questions are cleared and answered right here in this article – you’re just a scroll away from them!
The Definition of ‘Senpai’
So, what is “senpai”? The word can be defined as “senior, superior or elder” in short. It then begs the question of who can be classified as a senpai – what are the requirements to hold such a title?
Basically, a senpai is a person who is in a higher position than you in terms of skill, age, experience or social status. A senpai can also be someone who entered a workplace or school earlier than you.
Let’s look at a few examples.
In Japanese schools, the term senpai as well as kouhai (後輩) are first introduced. The older students enter the school earlier than the younger ones, hence they’re automatically senpais. In this case, age might not matter (although the usual case is that those older than you are in grades above you). If you have someone of the same age but enters school earlier, they’re still considered a senpai.
Especially during after-school club activities, the senpai-kouhai relationship is strong as the senpais are required to instruct their kouhais and train them.
Then there’s the workplace. The senpai terminology isn’t only used in schools. At a workplace, the relationship between senpais and kouhais differ a bit. Instead of instructing their kouhai, senpais take on the role of taking care of the people under them. If you’re a senpai at work, you have a sense of responsibility to look after your kouhai. Depending on the company, the senpai-kouhai relationship can differ.
Other organisations like part-time jobs and those relying on mentorship relationships like dojos also have similar senpai-kouhai relationships.
How to Use ‘Senpai’
So, how do you use the term “senpai”? At school, you usually attach it to the end of the person’s name. If the person in the grade above you is called Nakamura Kei, you can call him “Nakamura-senpai”. Sometimes, depending on the situation, you can also call them with their first name, like “Kei-senpai”. This reflects the intimacy of the relationship, but most of the time, it’s the last name.
At workplaces, it’s common to attach “san” (さん) instead of “senpai”. “San” acts more like “Mr.”, “Miss”, or “Mrs.”, but it holds the same impact as “senpai”. Say the same person is in a higher hierarchical position than you at work. You can call him “Nakamura-san”. This way is more appropriate than the first way.
Alternatively, you could just call him “senpai” on its own without the name attached to the title. This can be used at both school and workplace.
The Respect Attached to “Senpai”
What’s just as important as the title is the respect attached to it. Just like any title, there’s a certain way you have to act with someone who holds that title. You don’t go up to your boss and say, “Hey, man! How’s it going”, right? If you do, I envy you – you have a pretty cool boss.
Anyway, your senpai is someone who is more experienced or skilled, older than you or someone who is going to train and take care of you. In other words, your care is in their hands. Whether it’s at school’s club activities or at the workplace, your senpai has insights and skills that they can pass down to you.
When speaking to your senpai, it’s best to use the polite or formal form. This includes the “desu” (です) and “masu” (ます) forms. By using these forms, you’re showing that you’re respecting your senpai.
Or at least for the beginning of the senpai-kouhai relationship. Over time, you might find yourself growing very close to your senpai and it then becomes a more “douryou” (同僚) relationship where you speak less formally. I know a few friends who are extremely close with their senpai that they go out drinking ever so often and talk like they’re the closest buddies. It all really balls down to how cool your senpai is. You might get a strict senpai who plays by the hierarchical formality pretty rigidly.
Now that you know who can be classified as a senpai, how to use the term and how to act with a senpai, will you be practicing this with your higher-ups at the workplace or school? I’m pretty sure they’ll be honoured to be called your senpai. I’ll try that with higher-ups – you should, too!
All the anime lovers out there, this one’s for you! The Japanese animation is great and all, until it’s hard to find a platform that streams it. If you’re getting into this magical world of anime and don’t know where to start streaming, you’ve come to the right place. Even if you’re not a newbie and are looking for alternative options, stick around. In this article, we’ve highlighted some of the best websites to stream the latest anime in 2021. These 12 sites are a mix of free and paid platforms. Rest assured that all provide the best quality animation.
The first option is KissAnime. This has been my go-to streaming site since the early days. A lot of other listicles on the web mentions that this site is down. It’s because it changes url all the time due to copyright issues. This streaming site offers free anime movies and shows. The parent company of this website also runs sister sites like KissAsian. This website updates often. You’ll be able to stream the latest episode of new anime series immediately. KissAnime offers both sub and dub versions of anime. Whichever your preference is, this site has got you covered! You can even download and watch it later when you don’t have internet access.
The next streaming site for all your anime needs is Crunchyroll. This website is a business started in the United States back in 2006. This is one of the most loved sites for anime lovers outside of Japan. It’s a leading global platform for Japanese media content. It provides sub and dub versions of anime. This site updates often so you don’t miss out on the latest episode. On the site, you can stream thousands of anime for free, whether it’s a classic or a new release. You can upgrade to the premium plan and get rid of ads for good! This site also offers manga collections. The best part of it all is that Crunchyroll is 100% legal!
9Anime the world’s best site to stream anime, both dub and sub. For English-speaking audiences who prefer dub, you’ll be content with 9Anime. 9Anime has a few different inbuilt servers. If one is not working, you can switch to another. You can stream any anime from the huge collection in 1080p quality. If you don’t see the one you want, their customer support replies fast via mail. It’s best to stream 9Anime on VPN as it’s not accessible worldwide. But don’t worry, their millions of users guarantee you safe usage of the site.
Animelab is perfect if you’re looking for a 100% legal streaming site that’s up-to-date. It updates as early as 1 hour after the broadcast of the latest episode. It has free features that allows you to stream without paying. There’s also the paid option to get rid of ads and other features.
Another worldwide popular anime streaming service is GoGoAnime. Like the previous one, this website has a few servers you can stream from. If one is not working, switch to one of the other seven. GoGoAnime aims to stream Japanese animation in the highest quality possible. Their big library of anime includes latest episodes, complete with dub and sub. You can even download it to your phone and watch on-the-go. A highlight of GoGoAnime is its chat room. You can have conversations with other users and discuss about anything anime.
The best part about MyAnimeList is that you can stream anime without any ads. This website is quite underrated compared to the rest. The interface is great at helping users to search for anime they’re interested in. On top of updating their catalogue often, MyAnimeList offers both sub and dub anime. You can browse through their anime library based on reviews, popularity and ranking.
Founded in the US, Hulu has been providing unlimited anime streaming since 2007. It only offers paid subscription of as low as $10 a month. You’re guaranteed quality, regular updates and secure streaming.
This next one is an American based company owned by SONY. Funimation is one of the most loved anime streaming sites in the present day. It aims at offering foreign content, including Japanese anime, to the Western viewers. Funimation provides anime with subtitles. Yet, a lot of their viewers love watching anime with English audio. That’s because the website caters to Western anime viewers as the main audience. One downside is that Funimation is only available in specific countries. This includes the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Don’t let that stop you, though. Accessing the site is possible if you use VPN.
Another favoured free anime streaming site is Anime Heaven. All episodes on this site are of 720p quality and above. You get both dub and sub versions of your favorite anime series. A great feature of Anime Heaven is that it allows users to download videos to watch later on.
Anime Planet is among the top recommended sites for streaming anime. Not only do you have access to high quality anime content but you can also read manga series, too! This streaming site is 100% and has thousands of episodes for you to browse through. A feature that I love about this streaming site is that you can track your progress. Not only that, you can create a collection to share with your friends.
This next streaming site has more than anime. Chia-anime has the largest library of Japanese animation, movies, series, soundtracks and manga. It’s your one-stop website for all Japanese content you need. Its interface is easy to manoeuvre and everything is well-categorised. It also has various streaming players so you’ll get to switch to another one in case of any problems. Best of all, this anime streaming site is free!
I’ve used this streaming service since Day 1. Anime Freak is great for streaming anime because you don’t have to sign up for an account. You can stream as much content as your heart desires. Not only can you stream the latest anime in high quality but you can also get the latest anime news. It keeps you updated on anime-related information, so you don’t have to go anywhere else to be in the loop.
D Anime Store is a fan favourite. Launched by Japan’s mobile phone company, NTT Docomo in 2012, it offers a monthly subscription of $4 a month. One downside is that they don’t have subs or dubs with their anime. If you’re confident with your Japanese, this is an accessible streaming service.
This next anime streaming site is also a popular one in Japan, but you can access it overseas as well. It does not only have anime but also TV shows and dramas. You can access this on various platforms like TV, computers and game consoles. It’s a paid subscription but you’re not going to break the bank with it.
Who doesn’t know Netflix? This streaming service is now one of the most popular sites to stream anime. Recently, its catalogue of anime shows have been rising. There have been partnerships with companies like Ghibli Studios with this franchise. You can count on more! The best part is that some anime are Netflix exclusives! This means you can’t stream them anywhere else but Netflix!
Last but not least, we have Amazon Prime. A lot of anime, both classic and latest series, are available for streaming on this platform. It’s a great one if you’re a regular Amazon shopper. A lot of anime series are part of the subscription. Even if it’s not, you can rent it for cheap. Trust me, it’s worth it!
You have all these choices. What’s stopping you from streaming your favourite anime series now? Or you could rewatch the old ones. Regardless, our list of free and paid streaming services has got you covered on where you can go to watch them!
I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed how popular those photo booth stickers are at the moment. When I first came to Japan, I was surprised at how popular they are in Japan, too.
Introducing “purikura”, the Japanese word for that exact thing we’re talking about. Before TikTok dances and Instagram filters became huge on the streets, purikura was top on the vain game.
So what exactly is it? How did it come about? Where can I find them? How do I take a purikura picture? All your answers are just a scroll down away!
What is Purikura?
So, what is purikura (プリクラ)? This word is a short form of “purinto kurabu” (プリント倶楽部), which means “print club”. Print club refers to the photo booths that you see all around Japan. It’s incredibly popular – all the local youths are crazy about it.
It’s the perfect activity with friends or on a date. It’s also the perfect souvenir because it’s a unique Japan activity.
You might be thinking, “it’s just a picture in a photo booth.” True, but purikura is more than just that. Worldwide, we have those official photo booths for ID photos. Sometimes, at events, you get photo booths that print pictures in film roll style. In Japan, it can be done any time, anywhere. You can customise it however you like.
While it functions the same way of any other photo booth, it’s more like a photo shoot. After you’ve taken your 5 consecutive pictures, you get to edit them. Everything from stickers and fonts to filters and frames. You’re in control of how it’s going to look when it’s printed.
The History of Purikura
So how did this fun activity come about? It all started in 1995 when the first ever print club machine was invented. The Tokyo-based game software company, Atlus, was the brains behind it. Originally, it was just a pose-and-print situation. You could only add frames around it.
Then comes other gaming companies like SEGA. They developed the print club machines to include so much more. This was also the time when the word “purikura” was tossed around.
In 1997, things really took off for the machines. An extremely popular Japanese band called SMAP featured purikura on local television. Amusement centers and arcades where they were found were filled with people getting their own purikura.
Nowadays, you get all sorts of purikura. Some machines have themes. I know people who prefer certain photo booths over others because they have better filters.
Where to Find Purikura
So you’re interested in taking some purikura of your own. Where do you go to get them? Where can you find them? The better question is, where can’t you find them? They’re quite literally everywhere. I don’t think you can go a day walking around any part of Japan without coming across a few purikura booths.
Almost every arcade in Japan has a floor dedicated to purikura machines. If you’re in Shibuya, you’ll likely spot them on the first floor. Sometimes, they’re bunched up in an area. So if you cross the street, you’ll see another group of purikura booths!
If you just want your picture taken to mark the occasion, any purikura will do. But if you’re like me and some of my friends, you want the best purikura booth. Venture around to find the one that has filters and edits you like best.
Styles of purikura booths include Harajuku-style kawaii (かわいい), princess style or hime (姫) and natural beauty. Trust me, there are others that are way more dramatic. Some places even have preparation areas for you to get ready!
How To: Purikura
It might be pretty straightforward for some people, but others might be intimidated by purikura if it’s their first time. Don’t worry, we got you covered. We’ll guide you through how to take purikura pictures!
Step 1: Posing for the pictures
It’s simple, really. A lot of these purikura booths suggest pose options for you. All you have to do is follow them. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can go all out and pose any way you want.
There’s a timer for everything, so don’t take too long to pose. As soon as you walk in the booth, the timer begins. Usually you only have a couple of seconds before it flashes. Be quick!
You’ll usually have a green screen behind you so you can choose cute backdrops. I highly recommend to not wear anything close to the colour green.
Step 2: Edit the pictures
Don’t worry if you didn’t pose too well. You can edit yourself after the pictures have been taken. Remember when I said there’s a timer for everything? There’s a timer for editing, too. Don’t worry, it’s not a few seconds. It’s a few minutes.
But even then it’s not enough. There are so many ways to edit. You have to choose between hundreds of stickers, animal ears, time and day stamps, markers and borders. You’ll have all the privacy you need to edit behind the curtains, so don’t be shy to go crazy.
There’s really no one way to do it. That’s the best part about purikura editing.
Step 3: Print out the pictures
All that’s left to do is print. After the timer runs out, you get options on which layout you want your pictures to be printed in. Pick the one you like and wait a minute or two. It’ll be printed out and you’ll have your sticker pictures!
Usually, the booths print two copies. You can choose to cut it out and divide it among your friends or partner. If you join their rewards program, you can order a digital copy for free! This way, everyone has a version of the original.
Will you be trying purikura when you go to Japan? I have to admit that it’s one of my most favourite things to do in Japan. It’s cheap, fun and fast! On top of it all, you get to mark that special day with your friends or partner.
Nara is one of the top cities to visit when travelling to Japan. A simple Google search is enough proof of that. This city is even older than its neighbour counterpart, Kyoto, which is the country’s ancient capital city. You already can guess the historical value of this city.
Nara is rather small. You can explore the entire city centre on foot, discovering temple after temple, shrine after shrine. That makes the city a perfect day trip if you’re staying in Osaka. From local eateries to roaming friendly animals, it’s a city you definitely want to include in your Japan itinerary. Here are some activities you’d want to consider when planning your Nara itinerary.
1. Say hi to the deers in Nara Park
You can’t visit Nara and not say hi to the friendly and adorable deers at Nara Park. It’s like a rite of passage to the Nara experience. There are more than 1,500 wild deers roaming around the city. The locals see them as natural treasures, and rightly so. There are tons of stalls that sell deer crackers for you to feed these cute animals.
Here’s something you should try: bow to a deer before feeding them. They might just bow back! Stay alert, though. These deers are mostly friendly, but they do have their days. Never run away from them. Just be stern and show your hands with no food in them to the deers.
2. Explore Kasugayama Primeval Forest
If you’re a big fan of nature, you might want to pop by Kasugayama Primeval Forest. It’s not far from Nara Park at all. There’s a “forest bathing” experience that you can sign up for. In the duration of three to four hours, you’ll be guided through the woods with a qualified guide. Lay down on the carpet-like, soft moss and observe the forest insects as the guide explains them all to you. There are benefits to this forest bathing experience, and you have to go through this once-in-a-lifetime experience to know what they are.
3. Visit Kasuga-Taisha Shrine
While at Nara, you have to stop by Kasuga-Taisha Shrine. This is one of the biggest sightseeing attractions in the city. The story is that the deity enshrined there, called Takemi Kajichi no Mikono, rode a mystical white deer to this city from Ibaraki prefecture. This legend is the reason why deers are so dearly protected. At this shrine, you definitely can’t miss the rows of bronze lanterns that decorate the grounds. Worshippers donated them over the years. If you have time, pop by the museum there as well.
4. Stay in a temple
One of the most authentic experiences you can have in Japan is staying in a temple. You can do that in Nara. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is definitely not to be missed, regardless of whether you’re a religious person or not. The most popular temples to stay at are Gyukuzoin Temple and Koyasan. You’ll be able to stay in a tatami-style room with futons and sliding doors. Your stay will include a Japanese-style dinner, too. Wake yourself up in the morning to join the morning prayers and ceremonies that they have every day.
5. Go on a shopping spree in Higashimuki
Cities in Japan always has their own shopping street. Nara is no different. Shopaholics, you’ll be glad to know that Nara’s Higashimuki Shopping Street will satisfy your shopping cravings. It’s like the city’s very own Takeshita Street of Tokyo! You’ll never see this area empty. It’s always full of energy. The best part about going to these shopping streets in Japanese cities is that you might be able to find goods that are exclusive to the city. Everything from basic souvenirs to handmade crafts is there for your choosing.
6. Wander Naramachi streets
Nothing beats a good wander. Japan’s perfect for that. Nara is a former merchant district. That explains the exquisite buildings. Take a stroll without checking Google Maps every five minutes and let yourself get lost. The streets of Nara still hold the charm of the old days. You’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time.
Alternatively, you can go on a guided tour by one of the locals. If you see a man standing next to a rickshaw, approach him. He’ll pull you down the streets while giving you some explanation along the way. Grab this photo opportunity!
7. Slide Down Buddha’s Nostrils at Todaiji Temple
What’s a sightseeing trip in Japan without a visit to a temple? The Todaiji Temple is the home to a few record-winning structures. The buildings themselves have been burned down twice, but the one we see today was rebuilt during the Edo Era. This temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is also the headquarters of Kegon School of Buddhism.
At this temple, there’s the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world. It’s of Vairocana Buddha, the Buddha of Light. It’s said that if you slither through the nostrils of this 14.8 meters tall statue, you’ll be granted a life full of happiness.
8. Explore Dorogawa Onsen
Who wants a bit of adventure? Not too far from the city centre of Nara is Dorogawara Onsen, a hot springs town with a peaceful ambiance. Exploring the area can take up a day or even two, but you wouldn’t want to miss the lantern-decorated streets and nature.
Nearby, you can hike to the suspension bridge which is one of the largest in all of the country. It crosses Mitarai Valley. The view is breathtaking. Whether it’s a summer outdoor adventure or a winter soak in a hot springs bath, Dorogawa Onsen town is a must-visit.
9. Stroll Around Isui-en Garden
Before you stop by Todaiji Temple, stroll through the conveniently located Isui-en Garden. This spacious and peaceful gardens is one of the highlights of the entire Kansai region. There are various types of flowers blooming all year round. Ponds and pathways run throughout the grounds.
10. Try the Asuka Nabe
The Japanese travel around the island nation for food. Nara is famous for its asuka nabe dish. This is similar to hot put, but with an abundance amount of chicken or any meat of your choosing! This kind of dish is usually eaten during winter, but don’t let that stop you if you’re visiting during other times of the year.
The historical status is pretty clear in Nara. You can feel it in the air. With so many things to do and places to see, a day-trip might be too short to explore this beautiful city. Take that into consideration when planning your Japan trip!