Monday, December 11, 2017

Romaji Systems - Hepburn, Nihon, Kunrei, JSL & Waapuro

So you've learned what romaji is: the transliteration of Japanese words to the Latin alphabet. Good. But why is the romanization done in a way and not in another? Who decided the romaji in the romaji chart? Who chose which letters match which kana? And why?

The answer is: various people. And they did it in multiple ways, for different purposes. That's right, romaji isn't as simple as you thought. There are different system of romaji, or "romaji styles," roomaji-shiki ローマ字式.

The systems of romaji Hepburn Traditional and Modified, Nihon-Shiki, Kunrei-Shiki, and JSL, and examples of their differences

This article doesn't explain in detail the rules of each system. It just attempts to highlight how one romaji system is different from another.


Katakanization, katakana-ization, and sometimes kana-ization, is the process of writing a non-Japanese with a Japanese alphabet, a kana alphabet, mainly the katakana alphabet.

It's what turns, for example, the word "blog," written with the Latin alphabet, into burogu ブログ, written with katakana.

Examples of katakanization of words game, level, pet, class and video, geemu, reberu, petto, kurasu, bideo, ゲーム, レベル, ペット, クラス, ビデオ

Katakanization is used on western loan-words, gairaigo 外来語, wasei-eigo 和製英語, and western names, be it names of real people or names of things like Halloween and Christmas. Because such words are normally katakanized, they're sometimes called katakana-go カタカナ語, "katakana words."

Although katakanization may happen with any western word, it often happens with English, so, in Japanese, katakanized words are called katakana eigo カタカナ英語, "katakana English."
Friday, December 8, 2017

Romaji Chart

For reference, a basic chart containing the romaji of hiragana and katakana.

The romaji chart

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Katakana-go カタカナ語

In Japanese, katakana-go カタカナ語 (also katakanago), and sometimes katakana kotoba カタカナ言葉, "katakana words," refers to loan-words coming from English and the west, that is, the gairaigo 外来語, which are noticeably written with katakana instead of kanji or hiragana, as they go through katakanization.

Despite katakana-go meaning literally "katakana words" or "katakana language," not all words written with katakana are called katakana-go. Again: it refers only to loan-words. For example, katakana カタカナ is not katakana-go, but arufabetto アルファベット is.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Eisei-Wago 英製和語

If an wasei-eigo 和製英語 is an English word Made in Japan™, an eisei-wago 英製和語 must be a Japanese word made in England AMERICA.

I mean, literally. Just look at the kanji: eisei 英製, "English-made," wago 和語, "Japanese word."

An eisei-wago is a Japanese word used by English speakers with a meaning that's not the same meaning it had originally in Japanese of Japan. That is, even though it's a Japanese word, a native Japanese speaker will find its meaning strange, because it doesn't mean the same thing he's used to it meaning.

Wasei-Eigo 和製英語

A wasei-eigo 和製英語 is a special type of loan-word. It is, as its kanji literally mean, a Japanese (wa 和) made (sei 製) English (ei 英) word (go 語). A Japanese-made English word. Or, in other words, an abomination English word that was invented in Japan.

Now you might be asking: how is this even possible? Japan doesn't really speak English, do they? They speak Japanese! According to the flags on language switchers, English is an American language, and sometimes a British language. English isn't official of Japan!

That's true. Japan doesn't speak English. But they do speak Engrish. Clearly just using a lot of English-made gairaigo 外来語 wasn't enough for them, so they took the matters into their own hands, seized the means of production, and started fabricating English... in Japan.

After all, why import English words if you can make them domestically?

Gairaigo 外来語

In Japanese, a gairaigo 外来語 is a type of loan-word. Not all words loaned to Japanese are called gairaigo. In particular, Chinese loan-words are not gairaigo. One of its synonyms, yougo 洋語, would imply it refers only to "western words," that is, words from outside of Asia.

The kanji of gairaigo 外来語 are literally "outside-coming word," the very definition of loan-word. But it's better to think of it like the term gaijin 外人, that is, it doesn't apply to China and Korea for some reason.

Because normally Japanese is written vertically, and the gairaigo usually come from languages written horizontally, the term yokomoji 横文字, literally "horizontal letters," is also synonymous with the foreign words.


If loaning words was like loaning money the Japanese language would be bankrupt. It loans, WAYYYYYYYYYYYyyyyyyy too many words. Too many. Way more many than English and perhaps any other language in the world.

Japanese loans so many words it even has multiple ways to classify the words it loans. There are the gairaigo 外来語, or yougo 洋語, which are western loan-words. There are the wasei-eigo 和製英語, which are English words with an overwritten meaning. There are kango 漢語, which are loaned from Chinese. And the list probably goes on and on and on.

By the way, a Japanese word loaned to English is called a gaikougo 外行語. And the opposite of a wasei-eigo would be eisei-wago 英製和語.
Monday, December 4, 2017

Dakuten 濁点 / Tenten

The dakuten 濁点, sometimes called tenten てんてん, chonchon ちょんちょん, or dakuonpu 濁音符, are diacritics, accents used on kana to represent a "voice sound," a dakuon 濁音. They look like two small diagonal marks ゛ on the top right of the kana. For example: ga が is ka か with dakuten.

The dakuten are applied to the consonants to turn them into voice consonants. It's used to turn K-S-T-H into G-Z-D-B. The diacritic that turns H into P, and looks like a circle ゜, is called handakuten 半濁点, literally "half" dakuten.

Dakuten and handakuten chart

Compound Kana - ひゃ, しょ, ちゅ

Compound kana is a term that refers to when a normal-sized kana is followed by small kana in writing, creating a syllable of one single mora that's represented by multiple kana. For example kya きゃ.

A compound kana represents a diphthong (syllable with two vowels), and in Japanese it's called youon 拗音, "distorted sound."

Normally, a compound kana starts with a normal-sized kana ending in i, such as ki, ni, chi, shi きにちし, followed by a small ya, yu or yo ゃゅょ. Such compound kana are found in native Japanese words.

Chart with examples of most common compound kana in Japanese

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Okurigana 送り仮名

The okurigana 送り仮名 are the kana written after a kanji (below or at its right, depending on the writing direction) to disambiguate which word it represents. For example: komakaiかい and hosoi, "small" and "thin," are written with the same kanji, but its reading and meaning changes depending on the okurigana.

A word written only with kana never has okurigana, by definition, as okurigana only refers to kana after kanji (no kanji, no okurigana). Also, a suffix, auxiliary verb, or second word written with kana after a word written with kanji is not an okurigana. (example: suru is not an okurigana, despite frequently coming after kanji)

Okurigana examples

Generally, the okurigana is found in inflections of adjectives and verbs, but it appears in other types of words too. It's almost exclusively used with kun'yomi words, but it's also used with on'yomi words, too, although rarely. And in modern Japanese the okurigana is written with hiragana, although in the past katakana was used too.

Small Kana - ゃゅょぁぃぅぇぉっ

The "small" kana, often called chiisai kana 小さいかな, are smaller versions of normal-sized kana, for example: aa あぁ. Another name for the small kana would be sutegana 捨て仮名, although that term may sometimes refer to the okurigana 送り仮名 instead.

The small kana aren't simply written smaller as an stylistic choice, they have purpose and function in the Japanese language, and you don't even need to change the font size to type them.

Small Kana & What They Often Represent - Small ya, yu, yo: compound kana. Small a, i, e, o: foreign words. Small tsu: double consonants. Small ka, ke: month counter.
Saturday, December 2, 2017

On'yomi 音読み

An on'yomi 訓読み, also transliterated as onyomi, and sometimes written in dictionaries as just on 音, refers to the reading of a kanji 漢字 based on its original Chinese reading from the time the kanji were imported from China into Japan.

However, note that, since it's been quite some time since it happened, the current, modern Chinese pronunciation of the kanji is not the same as the Japanese pronunciation of the on 音 readings.

The counterpart of on'yomi is the kun'yomi 訓読み. Their differences were explained in kun'yomi vs. on'yomi.

On'yomi of the kanji of the Japanese word ichinin 一人

Kun'yomi 訓読み

A kun'yomi 訓読み, also transliterated as kunyomi, and sometimes written in dictionaries as just kun 訓, refers to a reading of a kanji 漢字 based on a Japanese word that existed before the kanji were imported into Japan from China.

Its counterpart is the on'yomi 音読み. Their differences were explained in kun'yomi vs. on'yomi.

Kun'yomi of the kanji of the Japanese word hitori 一人

Kanji 漢字

The kanji 漢字 is one of the three Japanese "alphabets". Unlike the kana かな, the hiragana ひらがな and the katakana カタカナ, the kanji isn't actually a syllabic alphabet, but a collection of logograms, representing words, and ideograms, representing ideas and meanings.

Also unlike the kana, the way a kanji character is read may vary depending on the word. A single kanji character can have one reading, or it can have multiple. And the readings can even be classified as kun'yomi 訓読み readings or on'yomi 音読み readings.

The meaning of kanji and the reading of the kanji in kanji 漢字

Because of this, kanji is sometimes accompanied by furigana 振り仮名, which tells the proper reading of a kanji in a given word.

Katakana カタカナ

The katakana カタカナ is one of the three Japanese "alphabets". It's counterpart of the hiragana ひらがな. Both katakana and hiragana are sometimes referred to as kana かな.

Unlike the kanji 漢字, whose readings may vary depending on the word, the way a kana such as katakana is read always stay the same.

The katakana is normally used to write onomatopoeic words, to write loan-words, and to write foreign (non-Japanese) names. Sometimes it's used to write the readings of kanji in online dictionaries.

Hiragana ひらがな

The hiragana ひらがな is one of the three Japanese "alphabets". It's counterpart of the katakana カタカナ. Both hiragana and katakana are sometimes referred to as kana かな.

Unlike the kanji 漢字, whose readings may vary depending on the word, the way a kana such as hiragana is read always stay the same.

The hiragana is normally used to write the Japanese particles, to write the furigana 振り仮名, to write the okurigana 送り仮名, and to write some simple, common words that aren't written with kanji.

Kana かな

A kana かな (or 仮名) is a way to refer to either the hiragana ひらがな or the katakana カタカナ syllabaries, or the characters (letters) that compose them. The kana, together with the kanji 漢字, would form the entirety of the Japanese alphabet.

Unlike kanji characters , which can be read differently depending on the word, the kana characters are always read the same way (except for when はへを are pronounced wa, e and o). Because of this, the kana are normally used to explain how a kanji is supposed to be read.

A way this is done is through the furigana 振り仮名, which is written beside the kanji, and another is the okurigana 送り仮名, which is written after to distinguish between multiple standard readings.

Besides that, certain diacritics called dakuten 濁点 can change the pronunciation of a kana.

Japanese Pronouns - I, You, He, She, They, My, This, That

For reference, the pronouns of the Japanese language, and the posts which talked about them.
Friday, December 1, 2017


おk means "ok" in Japanese, ok?

It's read oke おけ or ookee おーけー, ok?

It`s like up うp, ok?

うp - Meaning

On the internet, in Japanese forums and websites, sometimes you might encounter the following strange word: うp (or うp), which mixes Japanese the Latin alphabet together.

うp example usage in a forum board from the anime Inuyashiki いぬやしき

Now, if you're like me, a complete idiot unable to put 2 and 2 together, you might be wondering: but what does うp mean?! Oh noes, my nihongo skillz aren't l33t enough to decipher the cultural intricacies of Japanese internet-speak! What do! *Googles*

Thursday, November 30, 2017

w's At The End of Phrases in Japanese? ww, www, wwww?!

Sometimes in anime there's a scene with a computer or laptop and we get to see the beauty that are internet forums in Japan: a bunch of anonymous trolls trolling non-stop. And then, of course, there are the comments, which sometimes end up in a very peculiar way: with a bunch of w's.

What does the w mean in Japanese? What about two w's? ww? Three?! www? Is it World, Wide and Web???

ww in Japanese internet comments in the anime Saint Oniisan and Inuyashiki

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Christmas Words List

Since it's almost Christmas, I figured I should make a list of Japanese words related to the holidays, including some assorted vocabulary and phrases, too.

Anime Jesus Christ in Christmas, his birthday, eating a Christmas cake as a birthday cake, from the anime movie Saint Oniisan  聖☆おにいさん
Saturday, November 25, 2017

Chuunibyou 中二病 - Word Meaning

What's a chuuni...? A miserable pile of secrets!!! There are people out there who are chuuni, and because such people exist, there are characters in anime who are also chuuni just like real people. But what does chuuni mean? And what does chuuni mean in Japanese? And what's the difference between chuuni an chuunibyou?!
Thursday, November 23, 2017

小1, 中2, 高3, 大4 - Abbreviated School Years

In manga and anime, sometimes when characters are introduced by a panel with some text, there's a certain kanji followed by a number that doesn't make much sense. Such kanji are 小, 中, 高 and 大, and the numbers often range from 1 to 3. But what does it mean?!


In Japanese, sometimes the letters JK, pronounced jeikei ジェイケイ, show up in the middle of phrases that are otherwise mostly Japanese. What are these two Latin letters doing there? What does JK mean?

Gakusei 学生 + Student Words

In anime set in school it's normal to hear a bunch of words containing sei 生 that mean "student, " be it gakusei, shougakusei, chuugakusei, koukousei, seito, ichinensei, tenkousei, rettousei, danshikousei, joshikousei, and so on. But what's the meaning of these words? And the differences between them?

School Years List

For reference, a list Japanese school years, grades, and the ages characters attend school in anime. Including terms like shougakkou ichinen 小学校一年,.chuugakkou sannen 中学校三年, koukou ichinen 高校一年 and so on.

Gakkou + School Words | 学校

Most anime is in a school, and everybody knows "school" in Japanese is a gakkou 学校. But is it a shougakkou 小学校 or a chuugakkou 中学校? Wait. What's the difference between shougakkou and chuugakkou, again? What about koukou??? What are the meanings of all these words?!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NG - Japanese Meaning

In Japanese, sometimes the word NG is written, like that, with Latin alphabet letters, in the middle of a phrase with mostly Japanese characters. In this case, the acronym NG stands for "not good," which is, obviously, English. However,  in English, "NG" doesn't stand for "not good." Plus, the meaning of NG is in Japanese is rather specific and not just "not good" in general.

Sore wa NG, from manga Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidoragon 小林さんちのメイドラゴン: yowatte nakereba honrai kateru aite demo nain daga na, nani ga atta ka shiran ga kami ni kansha shiyou. a. sore. kami wa NG waado. nani? If not weakened wasn't even someone I could win against though. Whatever happened I don't know but thank god for it. Ah. That. God is an NG word. What? 弱ってなければ本来勝てる相手でもないんだが。なにがあったか知らんが神に感謝しよう。あ。それ。髪はNGワード。何?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gaijin 外人 - Word Meaning

So you've been called a baka gaijin on the internet and, being the anime connoisseur you are, you know what baka means, but you aren't very sure about what gaijin means? Well, gaijin means "foreigner." You've been called a "stupid foreigner."
Sunday, November 19, 2017

Betsuni 別に - Word Meaning

The word betsuni is one of those words you're sort of forced to hear in anime. Every tsundere must be fluent in betsuni before getting their license, and every bored character  must be able to say betsuni in answer to practically every question in order to show how much he doesn't care about things. But wait... are these two betsuni the same betsuni? What does betsuni mean in Japanese?
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Juuni Taisen: Warrior Taglines

This season we have Juuni Taisen 十二大戦, "the great battle of twelve [warriors]," and one cool thing about this anime is that every warrior has a different way of killing, and that way of killing gets an immense tagline on screen.

Each tagline tells what a character is about, but some subtitles' translations have taken some huge liberties in translating the taglines from Japanese, so watchers end up associating phrases to characters that the original author didn't intend for people to associate.

In this post, I'll write the original Japanese taglines and some very literal translations, and explain how the Japanese works and their actual meanings in English like chewing and putting in mouth in a way easy to understand.

Rat - Ox - Tiger - Rabbit
Dragon - SnakeHorse - Sheep
Monkey - Chicken - Dog - Boar
And an image chart at the end.
Friday, November 17, 2017

Masaka まさか - Word Meaning

The word masaka means "it can't be," right? Or "could it be," right? That's its meaning, right? That what masaka means in Japanese, right? I mean, bakana! doesn't actually mean "impossible!" So... could it be that... masaka...?!
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bakana! バカな!

B-b-b-bakana!!! "impossible!!!", "it can't be!!!" The word bakana doesn't actually mean those things I just said? Even though people always translate bakana! as "impossible!" and so on? Bakana! If the word bakana doesn't mean that, then what does bakana mean in Japanese?!

Types of Moe + Glossary of Attributes, Relationships and Situations in Japanese

For reference, a list of a Japanese words, tags, labels, etc. associated with moe character attributes, relationships, situations and scenarios.
Saturday, November 11, 2017

Moe 萌え

One of the best things about anime is moe 萌え. You could go as far as saying that some people only watch anime because of moe. That some people like the most moe anime the best. But... what is moe? What does the word moe mean in Japanese? Does moe in the west mean the same thing as it does in Japan? What is moe really about?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Halloween Words List

Seeing as it's almost Halloween, I figured I'd make a vocabulary list with common Halloween words in Japanese, including words for witches, magic, and names of creatures and costumes commonly seen in Halloween. (also some short descriptions of the Halloween practices since not all of us get to them)
Halloween in Anime: yay for cultural appropriation! Example of trick-or-treating in Osomatsu-san おそ松さん

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Shoujo-ai 少女愛 - Meaning

The shoujo-ai genre is a rather rare genre of manga and anime, there being few shoujo-ai works. But is shoujo-ai? What makes something a shoujo-ai? And what does shoujo-ai mean in Japanese, the language it came from?
Friday, September 29, 2017

Shounen-ai 少年愛 - Meaning

In some websites that deal with manga and anime, you may find the category shounen-ai 少年愛. But what does shounen-ai mean? What's the difference between shounen-ai and shounen which is a lot more common? And does shounen-ai in the west mean the same thing as shounen-ai in Japan? In Japanese?
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Seme, Uke 攻め, 受け

You may have heard words seme and uke before, they're two related terms used to describe the roles of characters in gay fiction, mostly gay fanfics, with their gay ships. But what does seme and uke mean? What's the difference between a seme and an uke? And what does seme and uke mean in Japanese?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bara 薔薇 - Meaning

If you've been in anime forums too much, you might have encountered the word bara 薔薇 before. This word refers to a genre of gay drawn porn. But what does bara mean in Japanese? Where does the meaning of the word bara come from?

Yuri 百合 - Meaning

In the anime fandom, the term yuri 百合 is often used as a genre of manga and anime that's pornographic and contains homosexual relationships between female characters, or, in other words, yuri is drawn lesbian porn. But is that really what yuri means? What does the word yuri mean in Japanese? Is it the same as it does in the west?
Monday, September 18, 2017

BL - Meaning

If you watch a lot of anime or visit certain forums, you might have already come across the word BL somewhere. But what does BL mean? Is it even English, or is BL actually a Japanese term?
Saturday, September 16, 2017

Yaoi やおい - Meaning

If you have been on the internet enough, it's likely you've heard the word yaoi やおい before, it's a genre that refers to gay manga porn in the west. But what does yaoi mean in Japanese? Does it mean the same thing as it does in the west? Or is it different? And where does yaoi come from?
Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hentai 変態 - Meaning

In the west, "hentai" refers to any pornographic manga, anime, game, visual novel, or pretty any fiction with 2D drawn or 3D rendered characters. It's drawn Japanese porn. Everybody knows this. But what does the word hentai mean in Japanese? Does hentai 変態 mean the same thing in Japan as it does outside of Japan?
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ecchi エッチ - Meaning

Some manga and anime out there are classified as ecchi エッチ. These usually contain frequent erotic or adult imagery, including nudes, panty shots, etc., but aren't actually considered to be pornographic. But does the word ecchi have the same meaning when used in Japan? What does ecchi mean in Japanese?
Monday, August 28, 2017

Uso 嘘

The word uso うそ, sometimes written in kanji as uso 嘘, is a word that has way too many translations in Japanese to make sense. You see uso translated as "that's a lie!" or "I can't believe" and so on. How is that possible? What does uso really mean in Japanese?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Why is ha は pronounced wa? Particles he へ as e, wo を as o?

One huge question people tend to have about Japanese is: why is the particle wa は pronounced wa わ despite the wa particle being written as ha は? And while we're at it, why is the particle e へ pronounced e え despite being written as he へ? And the particle wo を which sounds like o お anyway?! Why are these particles pronounced differently from what you'd expect?!

Why Japan? Why??? Is the particle wa は pronounced wa わ but written as ha は. The particle e へ pronounced e え but written as he へ. And the particle o を pronounced o お but written as wo を?

Yonkoma 四コマ - Word Meaning

If you look up what an anime was based on, sometimes you'll learn it was based on a manga, other times you`ll learn it`s based on a yonkoma series. But what is a yonkoma 四コマ? What does the word yonkoma mean in Japanese? And what's the difference between a yonkoma and a manga?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Desu, Deshita, Da, Datta, Janai + 19 Words: Meaning & Differences

If you have watched anime in Japanese, like, ever, then there is no way you haven't heard the word desu です at least once. But what does desu mean in Japanese? What about the words da だ, deshita でした, datta だった, janai じゃない, and desu ka ですか? What is the meaning of these words that appear in a lot of Japanese phrases?

In this article I put together the basics of how they work for people who don't know a bit of Japanese, plus differences and nuances of words such as dearu, dearimasu, degozaimasu, and so on for people who already know a bit of Japanese, in order to answer most doubts you could probably have about them.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Plurals in Japanese

Singular and plural are grammar concepts that exist in every language. In singular you have one "thing" and in plural you have two or more "things." What changes between languages is how you express the plurality in words. In English we often use an "s" suffix, but how do we make a word plural in Japanese?
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tachi 達, Ra 等 - Pluralizing Suffixes

If you watch anime, you might have noticed the word tachi たち, sometimes written with kanji, tachi 達, being used around. This word usually shows up in a phrase containing the words "we" or "they." How does tachi work? And what's the difference between tachi 達 and ra 等, another similar suffix?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Anata, Omae, Temee, Kimi, Kisama - Meaning

If you have watched anime once in your life, you may have heard one of these words: anata 貴方, omae お前, temee 手前, kimi 君 and kisama 貴様. And if you have watched anime enough, you may have figured out that they all mean "you" in Japanese. Is this even possible?! Are there differences between the meanings of these words?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ahegao アヘ顔 - Meaning

If you've read the word ahegao アヘ顔 somewhere, like in an extremely decent public anime community forum, or in a totally innocent tumblr or twitter blog, and you're wondering what is ahegao means and what the word ahegao means in Japanese, know that it refers to an iconic anime and manga related facial expression.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Rendaku: Hitobito, Not Hitohito? Shinigami, Not Shinikami?

In Japanese, we have the word hito 人, "person," and we have a word that's hito 人 twice, hitohito 人人, I mean, hitoBito 人人. Likewise, we have shinigami 死神, "god of death," which ends with the word kami 神. This weird effect is known as rendaku 連濁, and in this article I'll explain why it happens and when it happens.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

a, an & the

This article will explain about articles in Japanese. In English we have "a" and "an," indefinite articles, and "the," the definite article. How do we translate them from English to Japanese? What is their Japanese equivalent?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Simple Sentences in Japanese - Subject, Object & Verb Grammar

The simplest sentences you can make in any language are those that have one subject, one verb and one object, which is why I think learning to understand and form those sentences is one of the first steps to learn Japanese. If you can't say "the cat eats the rat" or understand it when something like that is said, you won't be able to understand anything more complex than that, so in this article I'll explain how such simple sentences work in Japanese.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Particles Introduction

One important piece of the Japanese grammar is the use of the "particles," or joshi 助詞, and that might sound weird to people who just started learning Japanese. After all, what are particles? Are there particles in English or something like it? And how do the particles work? This article will try to answer these questions and give a summary about the particles of the Japanese language.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Verbs in Japanese - How do They Work? - Conjugation Grammar

In Japanese, verbs work in a different way than they do in English. The main difference being that they are more important in a phrase. This happens because the Japanese verb, and its conjugation, have more effect in the meaning of a phrase than English verbs do. In this article I'll explain how this happens and some main features of Japanese verbs and their conjugations.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dekiru できる, 出来る

The verb and auxiliary verb dekiru できる (or dekiru 出来る with kanji) is one of those common Japanese words that appear everywhere and then sometimes places you'd think it shouldn't be. It doesn't have one single meaning, dekiru can mean multiple things. And its kanji are kind of weird too. So in this post I'll explain about the word.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sekai & Isekai

Lately there's been a lot of isekai 異世界 anime, which are anime set in "another world," often adapted from a light novel. And you might have noticed that sekai 世界 is usually translated as "world." But is this really true? After all, the difference between isekai and sekai is a mere i. Does sekai really means "world" and isekai really means "another world"?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Genki: Meaning in Japanese | 元気

Are you genki 元気? I mean, genki desu ka 元気ですか? No? Do you even know what genki means? Sure there are some anime characters that are called the genki type, and you may not be one of those, but is the meaning of one genki the same as the other? What does genki mean anyway?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

は is ha or wa?

If you have started learning Japanese you might have noticed or been told that the hiragana ha は is sometimes pronounced wa. This is even there's already another hiragana specifically for the syllable wa わ. So how can you tell if は is pronounced wa or ha in a phrase?  Is there even a way? Is it really that confusing all the time?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

番, 号 - Kanji Difference - Ichiban & Ichigou - "Number One" in Japanese

There are two ways to say something (or someone) is the "number one" in Japanese: ichiban 一番 and ichigou 一号, and that can cause some confusion. After all, what's the difference between these words? What's the difference between 番 and 号?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Mahou, Majutsu, Majo + Magic Words List

If you have ever watched ever it's likely you've already heard some word related to "magic."  Be it mahou 魔法, majutsu 魔術, maryoku 魔力, majo 魔女, mana マナ, and so on. In this post I'm going to list the meaning of these magic words in Japanese and some common phrases about magic used in anime.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ahoge アホ毛

If you like anime, you might have heard about the word ahoge before. It refers to those hairs that don't behave and spring up from the head of characters. They usually look like a banana or a crescent moon. But what does the word ahoge means in Japanese? Where does this meaning come from?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lessons About The Japanese Writing System

The first thing you should get acquainted with if you are beginning to learn Japanese is the way Japanese is written. Here are some posts to help you understand with the Japanese writing system:
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

「」『』 - Quotation Marks

In Japanese, there are four weird bracket symbols that like to show up from time to time: 「 and 」, and『 and 』. These corner brackets are actually the Japanese quotation marks and they work in a similar but slightly different way from the quotation marks we use in English.

Monday, May 1, 2017

っ - Small Tsu つ

In Japanese, there are two types of tsu characters. The normal tsu つ, and the small tsu っ, which is smaller. You can notice this in hiragana in words like mittsu みっつ, "three," and in katakana in words like nattsu ナッツ, "nuts." But how does this small tsu works? What is っ for? And what is it called?
Friday, April 28, 2017

Writing Directions

You may have heard that Japanese is written top to bottom, right to left, but is that really true? Is Japanese writing vertical instead of horizontal? Or is it written the same way as English, left to right, top to bottom? Which one is it?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

ゐ, ゑ, ヰ, ヱ - wi, we

The kana in the Japanese hiragana can be easy to confuse sometimes. There's mi み, ro ろ and ru る, and they all look like 3's, but luckily it stops there, right? Except when you encounter the rare wi ゐ and we ゑ which are hiragana too and look like some weird versions of first three! Just what are those kana? Since when do they exist? Weren't the kana in the w row just wa わ and wo を?!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

ー - Prolonged Sound Mark - Vertical Line or Long Dash

One of the most artistically inspired symbols in the Japanese language is the prolonged sound mark. It looks like a longer horizontal dash, or a vertical line in vertical text. Like this:ー. And it performs a very simple function in writing: to make sounds longer.
Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sensei 先生 - Meaning

One of the most well-known and yet most strange words in the Japanese language is the word sensei 先生. As dictionaries will quickly tell you, sensei means "teacher" when translated to English, but it's a little more complicated than that.

Ages in Japanese - Years Old

Words related to ages, people's ages, in Japanese are tricky ones. This is because for every single word there seems to be a very similar word which is the wrong on. Even the phrase "years old" in English doesn't translate word-per-word to Japanese.
Friday, March 31, 2017

Most Confusing Kanji for Beginners in Common Japanese Words

The Japanese language has many gotchas for beginners, some that will make anyone question everything they've learned so far about a single word, or, most likely, about a single kanji. In this post I'll warn you about some common words in Japanese that have kanji that will suddenly show up in completely different words of totally unrelated meaning which may leave you feeling lost and confused.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


If you've been watching anime for a while, you might have watched one of those famous OVAs, or even an ONA. And if not, I'm sure you've heard of the term before. But what are OVAs, exactly? And how are OVAs different from normal anime? And, of course, what does the word OVA mean to begin with?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Masshiro, Makkuro, Makka, Massao - "True" Colors in Japanese

If you've been learning Japanese for a while you might have seen one or two of these words already: makka 真っ赤, massao 真っ青, masshiro 真っ白 and makkuro 真っ黒. These words all start with the kanji for "truth," 真 followed by the name of one color or another, so one might wonder what's so "true" about them and what do these "true" colors mean in Japanese.
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Names of Colors in Japanese - Kuro, Shiro, Aka, Ao, Midori, Kiiro + Others

In English, we have the colors white, black, red, blue, yellow, green, orange... uh... gray, purple.... brown...? Cyan, magenta... and... you know, the other ones. In Japanese, there are names for colors, too, obviously, and in this post I'll talk a bit about them.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Date Format

Perhaps the biggest problem globalization has faced until now is this simple problem: how to write a date. In British English you'd write 12 of March of 2017, or 12/03/2017. Day, month and year. In American English that'd be March 12th, 2017, or 03/12/2017. Month, day and year. But what about Japanese? What's the date format used in Japan?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Years in Japanese and Eras

This post is being written in 2017, a year. Think of it, it's a pretty big number, isn't it? Over 2000. If you were to give 12 months 12 different names, that's easy, 7 weekdays, 7 different names, also easy, 4 seasons, 4 names, very easy. But 2017 different names is kind of ridiculous, isn't it? Sure the Japanese have a very simple, normal way to call their years?

Nai: Meaning in Japanese | ない, 無い

One very basic word in Japanese, that's not even really a word, is the suffix nai ない. It appears often appears after the particles dewa では, as in dewanai ではない, or after verbs, shinjirarenai 信じられない, and sometimes even completely alone, just nai 無い by itself. So, the question is, what does nai mean in Japanese? And why you hear it so much?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Month Names List

The names of the months in Japanese are not like the names of the months in English. In English, we have these very name-like names: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. In Japanese, however, they are literally just numbers.

Weekdays in Japanese - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

There are many things weird about the Japanese culture, but their calendar weeks have seven days just like the rest of world (probably). That said, what are the weekdays called in Japanese?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ヴ - ウ with Tenten?

If you have been reading manga for a while you might have encountered this very strange kana: ヴ. The obvious problem with it is that it is an u う in katakana, u ウ, but it has a "diacritic," or tenten, ヴ. You don't put diacritics in aiueo アイウエオ, only in certain syllables like kakikukeko カキクケコ to make them gagigugego ガギグゲゴ, right? So the ヴ kana makes no sense, and yet it exists.

Example of ヴ: vasshu-san ヴァッシュさん, Vash-san, from manga Trigun トライガン

Up, Down, Left, Right in Japanese - And Words With 上下左右 Kanji

If you're reading this article, chances are you are trying to setup the controls in Japanese PC game and can't remember which kanji is for "right" and which one is "left." But worry not, I'll tell you which ones are those and "up" and "down" too!

Monday, March 6, 2017

If you have been reading Japanese for a while you might have come across this kanji: 々. It doesn't look like a kanji, I know, it looks like a katakana, like ma マ, but it's always next to kanji, so it's a kanji, right? Anyway, it makes you wonder: "what is 々 and why does it have so many readings? What does it mean?"

North, West, South, East - Cardinal Directions in Japanese

In case you ever need to read a "map" in Japanese, or chizu 地図, I mean, who am I kidding? You'll never have trouble with that. In case you ever play a game in Japanese that has a map without labels and someone tells you there is a place you gotta go that's either north, west, south or east, but you have no idea which, here is how you say those words in Japanese.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bakuretsu! Bakuhatsu! EXPLOSION!!!

If you've been watching KonoSuba このすば (if not you should) you might have noticed the character Megumin chants her "explosion" magic with a certain peculiar word: bakuretsu 爆裂. However, there's the more common bakuhatsu 爆発 which also means "explosion." So what's the difference between bakuhatsu and bakuretsu in Japanese?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Kanji Radicals and Components

If you've been learning Japanese for some time you might have heard about the so-called "kanji radicals," or bushu 部首, and wondered exactly what is so radical about kanji? Do they practice skate-boarding? Bungee-jumping? No? Then what's the meaning of "kanji radicals" after all?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Nakama - Meaning in Japanese - 仲間

One of the most common words in shounen anime to talk about friendship, friends, partners, colleagues, teammates, and stuff like that, is nakama 仲間. It is no wonder, then, that it can be kinda hard to figure out what nakama means exactly, after all, you see characters calling pretty much everyone around then nakama. In this post I'm going to try to explain what nakama actually means.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mama, Kono Mama, Sono Mama - Meaning in Japanese

One Japanese word that doesn't exist in English is mama まま, which is often accompanied by a pronoun: kono mama このまま, sono mama そのまま, ano mama あのまま. This word can't be translated literally (one word for one word), but, thankfully, its meaning is actually very simple.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Masu, Mashita, Masen Deshita - Meaning

You have ever watched anime you might have noticed that there are plenty of Japanese words that end with masu ます or mashita ました, and that might make you wonder: what does masu means? What does mashita means? Why all these words end like that?

Friday, January 20, 2017 Kioku Extension - It Remembers Stuff

The Jisho Kioku is a Chrome extension that adds a number of features to the online Japanese-English dictionary These features are: shows the last dozen kanji you've picked from radical search; lets you quickly filter radicals by their names; records the last hundred searches you've made; and lets you bookmark random vocabulary so you can review it later.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gyakuten Saiban - Game Vocabulary

One very popular game that almost everyone knows from a certain meme is Gyakuten Saiban 逆転裁判, also known as Ace Attorney, where the lawyer Naruhodo Ryuuichi 成歩堂龍一, a.k.a. Phoenix Wright goes around lawyering miraculously. Since this is really fun game with a lot of Japanese text to read and that requires actually understanding the phrases to win, I decided to compile in this post some of the vocabulary you need to play the game in Japanese.