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5 Weird Japanese Words We Don't Have In English

07 September 2018 by Marie

Before, we taught you guys useful Japanese verbs and useful phrases at the conbini, but how about some weird words? Language is weird, no matter what language you speak there's going to be words or phrases that can't really be translated into other languages. In English we often have to borrow loan words from other languages, and Japanese does this often too! But what are some weird words that exist in Japanese that don't have an English equivalent?

Yuugen 幽玄
Have you ever looked up at the night sky and felt overwhelmed? Yuugen describes the feeling of gazing up at the stars and realising how small and insignificant your existence is in the scale of the universe. It's a feeling many have experienced yet there isn't a word for the experience in English!

Hikikomori 引きこもり
Hikikomori refers to those who shut themselves off inside and avoid leaving their homes. Hermit is the closest word we have for it in English but the nuance is slightly different as hikikomori is a uniquely Japanese situation. Often hikikomori are also otaku or nerd/geeks.

Chikan 痴漢
Sadly we wished a word for this didn't exist, but chikan refers to the perverts who grope women on trains in Japan or "train gropers". This word has even started being adopted by English speaking countries, with the British government advising citizens travelling to Japan to be wary of these chikan. Many Japanese netizens were embarrassed that this of all words had made its way abroad.

Kuidaore 食い倒れ
Kuidaore basically means to eat yourself poor! Aka bringing ruin upon oneself by eating extravagantly. Relatable. Raise your hand if you've ever experienced this!!!

Yuugata-Busu 夕方ブス
Literally "Evening ugly" yuugata busu means a woman who may look good in the morning but ugly in the evening when her makeup has all worn off. It's new slang but is slowly slipping it's way into common usage. Here at the office we can certainly relate!

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What do you think of these words? Do you have words in your native language that don't translate into English? Let us know in the comments!

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