Tag Archives: slang

Japan Word of the Day #78 – Yabai


Today’s Word is: Yabai (やばい)

Yabai is probably one of the most frequently heard words in casual conversation with Japanese people. Yabai could mean so many different things, it’s crucial to know the context of a sentence in which the word is used in.

Originally, yabai was an adjective that described bad, inconvenient, or dangerous situations. The word was already prevalent in Edo period (17-19th centuries), used mostly by con artists, thieves, and people who ran black markets. In 1980’s, the word was also used to mean something uncool or sketchy. Nevertheless, it only carried negative connotation up until this point.

It was only after 1990’s that yabai also started being used to describe something positive, such as unbelievably cool, great, and amazing. However, the word still retains its original meaning as well, so you could use it for both bad and good situations in present day. Whether it’s in positive or negative sense, it describes something incredible and is used to emphasize your statement.

Image source: Tumblr

Japan Word of the Day #45 – Chibi


Today’s Word is: Chibi (ちび)

The word chibi has became widely known to western world nowadays because of the influence of anime and manga. I’ve encountered many people who think chibi is a word to mean “little” or “short” in adorable way and thinks it’s okay to call friends that way. However, you might want to be careful when using this word.

It is true that in Japan chibi is sometimes used to address someone short in rather cute and intimate way, but it’s actually a slang term that’s often used to insult someone. “Se ga hikui (背が低い)” is a more literal and neutral way to describe someone with such physical characteristic. You’d only want to use chibi if you know the person really well!

Image source: Nico nico 

Japan Word of the Day #45 – Naka No Hito (person inside a character)

Today’s Word is: Naka No Hito (中の人)

Naka no hito” is an internet slang term for a saiyuu(声優), a voice actor casted for a certain character in anime and games. Naka (中) means “inside,” and hito (人) means “person.” Thus its literal translation would be a “person inside.” Here’s an example for how to use it in a sentence.

“Yamcha’s voice actor (naka no hito) is the same as that of Tuxedo Kamen, isn’t it?”



Naka no hito for the two characters above are Toru Furuya, who’s voiced for numerous characters including Amuro Ray (Gundam), Pegasus Seiya (Saint Seiya), Koyuske Kasuga (Kimagure Orange Road), etc.

The term was originally meant for voice actors only, but nowadays it is also used for anyone whose profession is to act out characters other than themselves. Thus any actors for live-action films (not just voice actors but Hollywood actors), people in charge of running corporate Twitter accounts (for example, IKEA Japan’s Twitter personality is quite funny and popular), people inside yurukyara mascot suits, and so on.

Japan Word of the Day #16 – Saba (Internet Slang)


Today’s Word is: Saba (鯖)

If you like eating sushi, you probably already know that “saba” means mackerel.
However, on web, it could mean something other than that tasty fish.
In this case, the word saba is used to mean “an internet server.”
Why? It’s simply because saba sounds like “server” to Japanese people. In Japanese language, often times the “v” sound is pronounced as “b,” like Volleyball pronounced as baréball, and Violin as baiorin. The correct pronunciation of a “server” in Japanese is “sābā (サーバー)” with prolonged a’s, but people got lazy and started calling it just “saba (鯖/さば)” in informal conversations.

So when people say saba-ochi (鯖落ち/さばおち), it means a server is down, it does not mean dropping a mackerel!

See previous Japan Word of the Day posts.

Image source: Sakana Zukan

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

Japan Word of the Day #2 – Kurasuta (Twitter Slang)


Twitter is huge in Japan too, and as always, when new culture emerges, new slang is created.

Today’s word is: Kurasuta (クラスタ)

The word kurasuta is derived from English word “cluster.” It means a group of fans and friends on Twitter who share common interests. For example, if you have a bunch of friends on Twitter who like Madoka Magica, you can call them part of a “Madomagi kurasuta (まどマギクラスタ).”

Interests don’t always have to be something tangible. For example,

Fabo kurasuta – a group of people who are addicted to favoriting tweets or getting others to favorite their tweets.

Neta kurasuta – a group of people who just want to share catchy jokes or phrases.

What kurasuta are you in?


Image source: IT-Twitter