Monthly Archives: November 2013

Japan Word of the Day #8 – After 4 (Lifestyle)



Today’s Word is: Afutā Fō (After 4) 

Originally, the term “after five” in Japanese used to mean office workers’ personal activities that take place after business hours. After 5 activities include going for drinks, working out at gyms, meeting friends, spending time with families, etc. The term after 5 was coined because the official closing time for the government offices used to be 5 in the evening, and most corporate offices go along with it.  However, after the accident in Fukushima nuclear power plants in 2011, electricity shortage became a big problem during summer. To save power, many corporations encouraged installation of “summer time,” which shifted their business hour to one hour earlier than usual. Thus, the term “after five” changes to “after four” in summer seasons since 2011.


Image source: Oita Info

Japan Word of the Day #7 – Ria Juu (Opposite of otaku)


Today’s Word is: Ria-Juu (リア充)

Ria-juu is a slang for someone who lives the life to its fullest.
Ria” is short for “real life,” and “juu” is short for juujitsu (充実), where the latter means enriched, complete, and perfect. The term ria-juu is used in contrast against otaku or hikikomori who tends to spend more time on internet, manga, games, and TV, which are considered “non-real life” than real life.

There is no clear definition for who qualifies as a ria-juu, but commonly believed characteristics include: 1) good-looking,  2) has lots of friends, 3) has a girlfriend/boyfriend (or even if not, attracts many girls or boys), 4) travels often, 5) has a good job and high income, 6) actively attends school events and parties… and the list goes on. You know what I mean!

It’s not a very nice thing to say, but a common phrase seen on internet is “Ria-juu bakuhatsu shiro,” which means “ria-juu please explode.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that whoever uses this phrase wants ria-juu to get injured, but it’s an exaggerated way of expressing envy toward those people. Of course, not everyone wants such lifestyle, someone can be perfectly happy without being a stereotypical ria-juu.

Do you consider yourself a ria-juu or non-ria-juu?

Image Source: Oreyo Otokomae Tare

Limited-Edition Yo-Midi Dollfies from SD Owner Cruise Tour 2013!


In late October, Volks hosted two special cruise tours for Super Dollfie owners to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Oath of Silver Coin doll line. The cruise, named “Masquerade on the Ship: Thanksgiving Cruise for SD Owners,” took place in Tokyo Bay and Kobe Bay. Guests who attended the tours enjoyed meeting other doll owners, taking photos of their dolls at various photo-shoot stages set onboard, and of course had exclusive opportunities to purchase some limited-edition Dollfies. Missed the tours? Well, don’t worry, we have these dolls on Yahoo Japan Auction now!

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Japan Word of the Day #6 – Anpai (Anzen pai)

Today’s word is: Anpai (アンパイ)

When you say something is anpai, it means it’s risk-free and is guaranteed of future safety. Originally, it is short for anzen pai (安全牌), where anzen means safety, and pai is a tile used in mahjong game.


Each of the above tiles is a mahjong pai.

In mahjong, the main objective of the game is for a player to collect a set of pai tiles to complete a specific winning hand. There are four players in the game, and when discarding one of your own tiles to trade with a new one, the other player is allowed to take the previously discarded tile to add to his/her hand. Sometimes this allows the other player to complete a winning hand, thus you have to be very careful of what pai you are discarding. Anzen pai therefore, refers to a tile without a risk of letting others win. It’s a tile that you know for sure is safe to discard. Kiken hai (danger tile), on the other hand, means a tile that you are pretty sure will let the other player win the game.


So, as mahjong games become more prevalent in Japan, anzen pai started to describe anything that’s “risk-free.”

For example, in relationship context, women often refer their partners anzen pai because they know these guys won’t cause trouble when married.
The term also holds a nuance in such that something could be risk-free but possibly fairly boring and tiresome in a long-run. For example, you could describe someone’s life as anzen pai, because everything about it is mediocre, and there are no ups or downs to his/her life.


Do you prefer things to be anpai? Or do you prefer things to be unpredictable and fun?

See previous Word of the Day posts.

Image sources: Wikipedia, Yarujay, Revysoku

NARUTO ekiben bento, although it’s rice dish, totally looks like ramen!



The Okayama brunch of Japan Railway West is selling ekiben lunch set featuring NARUTO! Ekiben is boxed lunch usually sold on trains and train stations. Okayama, because the author of NARUTO Masashi Kishimoto is from this prefecture, has been holding a series of promo campaigns in collaboration with NARUTO this year, and this is part of them.


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Japan Word of the Day #6 – Owacon (Otaku Slang)


Today’s Word is: Owacon (オワコン)

Owacon is an abbreviated form of “owatta contents (終わったコンテンツ),” where “owatta(終わった)” means “finished” in Japanese.
The term owacon indicates certain contents that was once popular, but has already past its peak and lost its product value. The term does not necessarily apply for things that had actually ended, but rather, people use owacon to express their disappointment or disapproval for contents that still has fair amount of popularity share.


It’s believed that this term was first coined by a group of Suzumiya Haruhi franchise fans around 2010. The first season of Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya aired on TV in 2006, and as you already know, it was a huge hit. However, because of the controversial second season in 2009 that had a mixed reception, some fans (or ex-fans) have abandoned to follow Haruhi contents. By the time the movie adaptation was announced that year, the term owacon was frequently used on 2ch to describe Haruhi-related contents.

Image source: Wikipedia, konamikan

Japan Word of the Day #5 – Furagu/Flag (Game and Internet Slang)


Today’s word is a good example of how an otaku word has grown into something much more versatile.

Today’s Word is: Furagu (フラグ)

The word furagu originates from “flag” in English, pronounced in Japanese kana.
What does it mean when someone says “Flag has been raised. (フラグが立った)” in Japanese ?

The term “flag” in this context was originally associated with dating sim games. In these games, in order to trigger certain dating events to happen (and ultimately achieve romantic relationship with the character you pursue), players must satisfy several conditions, such as answering correctly to questions, leveling up player’s skills, etc., or otherwise these events wouldn’t happen.


Typical dating sim game lets you answer in multiple choices. The heroine is asking for an advice here.

In computer programming (in both Japanese and English), “flag” refers to a bit sequence that stores a binary value: true or false. So when true, a program goes on and triggers certain actions, and when false, it triggers others (I’m totally simplifying things here), which is exactly what’s happening underneath these dating sim games.

So hardcore gamers started using phrase “Flag has been raised” to indicate times when they think they’ve fulfilled all the conditions to trigger romantic events with the characters they pursue.

The word became even more versatile when it’s spread over internet. Now it can be used in virtually any occasions. For example, when someone says “overtime flag has been raised (残業フラグが立った),” it probably means that he or she sees so much work piled up in front of him/her, that overtime work is an inevitable event to come.

“Death flag (死亡フラグ)” is also a very popular phrase, particularly in TV shows, games, and manga, when characters act in such a way that audience can totally foresee their deaths in future episodes. (Often times when character starts saying things like “When this war is over, I’d like to propose to that girl,” you know that the character won’t make it through.)

Image source: Tokimeki Memorial Mobile, Fujisaki Shiori SP