Monthly Archives: January 2014

Japan Word of the Day #32 – Ehoumaki (February festival food)


Today’s Word is: Ehoumaki (恵方巻き)

Ehoumaki is a festival sushi roll traditionally served on setsubun day, a bean-throwing day in February.
On setsubun day, you are supposed to throw beans to ward off demons (oni) out of your house.
It is customary, especially in Kansai area, to eat ehoumaki on this day.

The contents of ehoumaki rolls vary widely depending on households, but they are supposed to contain seven ingredients such as eels, cucumbers, sweet egg omelette, etc. The number seven is considered good luck because of the Seven Lucky Gods (七福神) that appear in many Japanese folktales. Also, you are supposed to eat a whole roll without cutting it in pieces. This is done so to avoid cutting off good relationships with people around you.

You can find ehoumaki in most convenient stores in Japan nowadays.

Kawaii Hello Kitty Shoes to Celebrate 40th Anniversary, Both Pumps and Sandals!

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Randa, an Osaka-based footwear brand, is going to release an adorable collection of Hello Kitty pumps and sandals in celebration of the character’s 40th anniversary. The designs are both elegant and playful at the same time, just like Hello Kitty herself! You can preorder now and get them shipped in February. Check them out!

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Japan Word of the Day #31 – Kareshi/Kanojo (lover)


Today’s Word is: Kareshi/Kanojo (彼氏/彼女)

Kareshi means boyfriend, and kanojo means girlfriend in Japanese.
They are pretty simple words to remember, but it could sometimes confuse non-native speakers because kare and kanojo could also mean simply “he/him” and “she/her”. Not many people know that these are fairly recent words in Japanese history.

Up until Edo-period, there was only one word, “kare,” to describe both “he” and “she.” There was no differentiation between male and female. However, in Meiji-period, western culture started coming in the country, and in order to translate English books, a new word was necessary to differentiate “he” and “she.” Thus the word “kanojo” was created to make a clear difference from “kare.”

Eventually, the term “kanojo” also began to mean “girlfriend.” It is unclear how this transition happened. The term “kareshi” was coined in early Showa-period by Musei Tokugawa, a popular TV/radio personality of the time. Because “kanojo” was being used to mean girlfriend by this time, Tokugawa made up a new word “kareshi” to pair with it (combination of kare + shi where shi basically means “Mr.”).

Image source: Cajun Samurai

Japan Word of the Day #30 – Mīhā (Fad Follower)


Today’s Word is: Mīhā (ミーハー)

Mīhā” is an old Japanese slang word that describes people who are obsessed with following new trends. Its origin goes all the way back in 1927 (year 2 of Showa-period).
The term was initially coined to describe young female fans of Chojiro Hayashi (later Kazuo Hasegawa), an extremely handsome and popular actor of the time. Since the behavior of his fans were so avid, people called them mīhā, a combination of initials of “mitsumame (みつまめ),” sweet Japanese desserts, and “Chojiro Hayashi,” the actor I just mentioned, both of which young girls loved the most.

Since then, the definition of mīhā has changed to describe anyone who is an avid follower of new fads. It usually carries a connotation of being shallow and easily influenced by trends that perish after a short while.
Do you identify yourself as a mīhā

Image source: Seven Net Shopping

Kimba the White Lion Mini Truck Toy! Vintage Mitsubishi Pet Leo by Bandai


Did you know that in Japan there used to be mini three-wheeled trucks named after Osamu Tezuka’s manga Jungle Emperor Leo (aka Kimba the White Lion in US)? And Bandai made a toy based on them? Well, here it is. 1960’s Mitsubishi Pet Leo toy car by Bandai in superb condition is listed on Yahoo Japan Auction!

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Japan Word of the Day #29 – Soushoku Danshi (Herbivore Men)


Today’s Word is: Soushoku Danshi (草食男子)

The literal translation of soushoku danshi is “herbivore men.”
It is a social phenomenon in Japan that started being noticed around early 2000’s, where Japanese men became less and less interested in making girlfriends, getting married, and engaging in sexual acts.
Traditionally, men used to be active in searching women they want and take leads in relationship in Japan, as in many other countries. However, soushoku danshi does not follow this tendency. Columnist Maki Fukasawa was the first one to coin the term in 2006. Since then, it was widely used in media and earned Japan’s annual buzz word award in 2009.
The opposite of soushoku danshi is described as “nikushoku (肉食),” which means carnivore. Women who are active in getting men are thus called “nikushoku joshi (肉食女子).”

Image source: Kama Tamiwa

Japan Word of the Day #28 – Gachi (For Real)


Today’s Word is: Gachi (ガチ)

“Gachi” is a short form of “gachinko.” Gachinko is a term that describes a real competition in sports without any scenario. It is the same as a “shoot” in professional wrestling, meaning any unplanned, real-life event that occurs within a wrestling event.

The word gachi eventually spread outside of sports events, and it was used more broadly to describe anything that’s real, authentic, and not fake.

For example, you can make a sentence like this:

「ガチで頭痛い(gachi de atama itai)」= My head really hurts.


Image source: Fukuoka