Tag Archives: otaku

Japan Word of the Day #18 – Itai (Ita-car, Ita-PC, etc.)


Today’s Word is: Itai (痛い)

“Itai (痛い)” in a normal conversation means “painful,” but in otaku context, it is used to describe people who are going against social norm and openly display their otaku tendencies and hobbies.

One way to display your otaku passion is to decorate your belongings with your favorite characters. You can combine the word “ita” (Omit the last “i” from “itai”) with any physical items that are decorated with characters from anime, manga, and video games.

Some common examples are:

  • Itasha (ita + car) 


  • Ita-PC (ita + personal computer) 


  • Ita-SUICA (ita + SUICA train pass)


Image sources: Hatenafotofile, Itasha blog, Ijokanso Chuiho

Japan Word of the Day #9 – Kabe Sakuru/Wall Circle (Doujinshi Term)


Comic Market is the biggest doujinshi convention in Japan. If you are planning to go to one, this would be a good word to know.

Today’s Word is: Kabe Sākuru (壁サークル)

In doujinshi term, each single booth that sells doujinshi or doujin merchandises at an event is called a sākuru (サークル), based on English word “circle.”

At the venue, circles are allocated in such a way so to give the smoothest access to visitors. Comic Market gets more than 500,000 visitors each time, so the arrangement of proper circles at appropriate locations is crucial to creating smooth traffic. Naturally, the most popular circles get locations where visitors can form long lines without blocking the flow of traffic. Where are those locations exactly?

Well, the answer is right up against the wall of the convention hall.
During the event, the roller shutter gates around the building are opened up so visitors can form lines outside the building, not blocking any of the traffic inside the building. Thus, circles that get wall locations are usually the most popular circles of all, and therefore calledkabe sākuru (wall circle)”. It’s a pretty good indication of a circle’s high status when you get this location.


Above picture is a line waiting to buy doujinshi from a single wall circle.

Also, some wall circles are located against the walls but not along the roller shutter gates. These circles get visitors to form lines of fans inside the building, but they still get more space than circles that get island locations, which are clusters of circles that are arranged in the middle of the hall with limited space. These circles are called “shima circle (島サークル).” Generally, circles that get island locations are not as popular as wall circles (exceptions exist of course).


This is a section of the floor map from one of the previous Comic Markets. Red line shows wall circles, and the blue line shows island circles.

As you can imagine, it is a gigantic event, so make sure to plan a route before you go to Comic Market! The next Comic Market will be held on December 29-31, 2013.


Image sources: Otakunikki, Shimasakuru, Comic Market

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