Japan Word of the Day #51 – Sakana


Today’s Word is: Sakana (肴)

In today’s Japanese language, sakana could mean two different things.
Sakana (魚)means fish, which is what most Japanese learners hear first.
Sakana (肴) on the other hand means food served to be enjoyed with alcoholic beverages.

The origin of the word actually comes from the latter. Long time ago, all side dishes including any vegetable, seafood, and meat were called “na.” Among different types of side dishes, seafood was the ingredient most used to accompany sake. Eventually, the combination of sake (alcohol) + na (side dish) started having secondary meaning, which is fish!

Image source: Suntory

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