Sunday, June 20, 2021

pon ポン

In Japanese, pon ポン has multiple meanings: it's an onomatopoeia for tapping, bopping or hitting a drum, it's a play in mahjong, and it's the morpheme honwith a handakuon 半濁音.


When pon ポン is an onomatopoeia, it's for the sound of hitting a type of drum, and for lightly tapping or bopping something. For reference, some examples:

Shoulder Tap

The pon ポン onomatopoeia is used in shoulder taps in manga.

  • kata wo pon to tataku
    To tap the shoulder with a pon. (making a pon sound.)
おじさん いくら何でもひどいと思います ほんとに・・・・・・かける言葉もないわ・・・・・・ ポン フルフル
Manga: Hinamatsuri ヒナまつり (Chapter 9, 勘当ロックンロールフィーバー)
  • Context: Nitta Yoshifumi 新田義史 says what he did in a bar.
  • ojisan, ikura nandemo {hidoi} to omoimasu
    おじさん いくら何でもひどい思います
    [Mister], [no matter the circumstances] [I] think {[what you said] is horrible}.
    • ojisan
      A way to refer to uncle-aged older men.
    • ikura nandemo
      No matter how much, no matter the circumstances, regardless of what happened, etc.
  • honto ni..... {kakeru} kotoba mo nai wa......
    Really...... [I] don't even have [what to say]......
    • honto - same as hontou 本当, with long vowel shortened
    • kotoba wo kakeru
      To pour words [onto someone]. (literally.)
      To give someone words. To talk with someone.
  • pon
  • furufuru
    *shaking [head disapprovingly sideways]*
    (mimetic word.)
ちょい待ったそのセリフって傍から見るとすっげぇ犯罪臭が・・・ ポンッ ・・・・・・
Manga: Grand Blue, ぐらんぶる (Chapter 2, 新歓コンパ)
  • Context: Kitahara Iori 北原伊織 is talking with someone that says something that could be misinterpreted badly.
  • choi matta
    Wait a bit.
  • sono serifu tte {hata kara miru} to suggee hanzai-shuu ga...
    That line, if {seen by a third-person}, [it] [has] an incredibly criminal smell. (literally.)
    If someone hears that without context, they'll think it's a crime.
    (incomplete sentence, double subject construction with tte って topic marker.)
    • serifu 台詞 - a line, in the sense of dialogue, something that someone says, or said.
    • hata kara miru
      To see from the sidelines, in the sense of how an onlooker interprets a situation they aren't involved in, without full context.
    • suggee - same as sugoi すごい, with changes in pronunciation.
    • X-shuu
      [To have] an X smell. To reek of X. To appear to be X, such that other people can tell it's X from how it looks like.
  • pon'
  • ......
    • omawarisan
      Police offer. (the sort that patrols.)
    • junkai suru
      To go around [a place]. To patrol. To tour.

Fist Hitting Palm

The pon ポン onomatopoeia is also used in the fist hitting palm idea gesture.

  • te wo pon to tataku
    To hit [one's] hand with a pon.
ピコーン ポン ひらめき方が古いな・・・
Manga: Barakamon ばらかもん (Chapter 1, ばらかこどん)
  • Context: Kotoishi Naru 琴石なる has an idea.
  • pikoon
    *light turning on*
    (mimetic word.)
  • pon
    *for the fist hitting palm gesture*
  • hirameki-kata ga furui na...
    [Your] way of [having ideas] is old, huh...
Character: Yusa 遊佐
Anime: Jashin-chan Dropkick, 邪神ちゃんドロップキック (Episode 10)
  • Context: Yusa says she tried to sell ice cream in hell, but for some reason it didn't sell well. She was told it was because hell was frozen over and nobody would buy ice cream in such cold weather, prompting her to gesture and say:
  • aa, naruhodo
    Ah, [I see it now].

Head Pat

The pon ポン onomatopoeia is also used for head pats, or rather, head taps.

よし! じゃあお姉ちゃんも一緒に留守番してあげよう ぽん ホントか!?
Manga: Yotsuba to! よつばと! (Chapter 2, よつばとあいさつ)
  • Context: upon returning home with Ayase Fuuka 綾瀬風香: Yotsuba finds a note from his father saying that he went to the store and that she should take care of the house while he's away. Learning this, Fuuka says:
  • yoshi!
  • jaa oneechan mo {issho ni} rusuban shite-ageyou
    Then [I]'ll [stay here] {together [with you]}..
    • oneechan - "older sister," also a way to refer to young women not related to you, and used by them to refer to themselves, too.
    • rusuban - "stay-at-home duty," in the sense of someone leaving home, and someone else staying there to take care of the house.
    • ~te-ageyou - volitional form of ~te-ageru ~てあげる, [to do something] for [someone else]."
  • pon
    *head tap*
  • honto ka!?
ガツガツ ポンポン 良い子にしてろよ、ナポレオン ブヒ?
Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 81)
  • Context: Harima Kenji 播磨拳児 feeds Napoleon, patting him on the head.
  • gatsu gatsu
    *eating noise*
  • ponpon
    *tap tap*
  • ii ko ni shitero yo,

    Be a good [pig], Napoleon.
  • Harima Kenji leaves Napoleon behind.
  • buhi?
    *concerned pig noise*

In Mahjong

In mahjong, 麻雀, pon ポン is something a player can say when another player discards a tile.

In the game, a player has to form a pattern of, typically, four triplets or sequences, and one pair, either by simply discard tiles and picking tiles in their turn, or from calling tiles discarded by other players.

The pon is the call used when a discarded tile completes a triplet. For example, if you have 2 white tiles (white dragons) and another player discard a third white dragon, you can call pon on that tile.

The formed triplet is then moved to the side, visible for everyone to see, with one tile sideways indicating from which player the you took the third tile from.

By the way, there are only four tiles of each kind in total. The call to complete a quadruplet is kan カン.

It's also possible to call a tile to complete a sequence (e.g. 1, 2, 3), this is a chii チー, but you can only call chii on a tile discarded immediately before your turn, whereas pon and kan can be called on any discard tile.


When hon 本 is suffixed to something, it sometimes turns into ~pon ~ぽん. This typically occurs with the counter for long cylindrical objects:

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