What the Japanese really mean

 The veeeery long page below is set up so you can scroll down to just see the Japanese and literal translation, then take a guess at its alternative translation etc and have a look to check. Not only will it make them easier to remember later, but it’s more fun too!

Really mean
Japanese- Itamae
Literal translation- In front of the (chopping) board
Meaning- A sushi chef
Japanese-itashi kayushi(痛し 痒し)
Literal translation- painful and itchy at the same time
Real translation- in a quandary
Japanese-Jiryu ni noru(
時流 乗る)
Literal translation- to ride on the flow of time
Real translation- to be trendy
Japanese- kaban mochi (
Literal translation- a bag carrier
Real translation- A secretary or assistant

Usual translation- Japanese comics
Literal translation- disjointed pictures

Japanese- haado gei
Literal translation- Hard gay
Real translation

– Gays into leather and bondage 

Japanese- Emu
Literal translation- M
Real translation- 

Masochist (as in the M of S&M) 

Japanese- Sukashippe
Literal translation- transparent fart
Real meaning

–  A silent fart 

Japanese- Nigirippe
Literal translation- Clasp the fart

– farting into a clenched fist and holding it under someone’s nose 

Japanese- He o koite, shiri o subomu
Literal translation- Having farted, he closed his arse

–  Trying to appear innocent after doing something wrong Japanese- Itachi no saigobe
Literal translation- The weasel’s final fart
– A last desperate attempt 

Japanese- onara
Literal translation- The honourable sound

– A reasonably polite way to say “fart”  
Japanese- Dendokokeshi
Literal translation- Electrically powered kokeshi (traditional wooden doll)
-A vibrator  

Japanese- Rakon
Literal translation- bare root (vegetable)
Slang meaning-  




A circumcised penis 
Japanese- Megumi no ko
Literal translation- Girl of happiness
Slang meaning-  A slut 

Japanese- Hirogeru onna (広げる女)
Literal translation- Spreading woman
Slang meaning-  

A slapper
Japanese- pinpon!
Literal translation- ding dong
Real meaning-   
That’s right (from the sound made in quiz shows when someone correctly answers a question)

Japanese- Chikushou!
Literal meaning- Beast!
Real meaning-   

Japanese- Warame-chan
Literal meaning- Little Miss Crack
Real meaning- 
Red light district slang for a lady’s private parts
Japanese- kemanjuu (毛まんじゅう)
Literal meaning- hairy bean jam bun
Real meaning-   
Redlight district slang for your beaver 

Japanese- Moya moya no seki
Literal translation- the hairy barrier
Real translation-  

Redlight district slang for a lady’s bits

Japanese- dani
Usual translation-a tick/ a flea
Slang meaning-   A slacker(from being a bloodsucker??)

Japanese- Asoko
Usual translation- Over there
Euphemism for- 

 “down there”


Normal translation- The rainy season




Literal translation- Plum rains

Explanation– The rainy season usually comes as the plums are ripeningJapanese- Ohoribata
Literal meaning- Honorable Across The Moat
Real meaning
– The nickname in the Imperial Household for General MacArthur (Windows for the Crown Prince pg 25)
Japanese- Tetsuwan AtomuUsual translation- Astro Boy

Literal translation




– Iron Arm Atom

Japanese- Okusan

Literal meaning- Woman at the back (of the house)

Real meaning- The usual polite word for “wife”  


Literal meaning- The customer is coming

Real meaning- I’m having my periodUse- A bit old fashioned, but very cute and might be understood. Anyhow, a memorable way of learning the very common words kyaku and kuru 

Japanese-samurai ()

English – samurai

Original meaning- one who serves  

Japanese- 広島

English- Hiroshima

Literal meaning- broad/wide (– hiroi) island (– shima)  

Japanese- Toukyou (東京– with two long vowel sounds)

English- TokyoLiteral meaning- eastern (– higashi/tou) capital (-miyako/tou). It gets its name from being East of the previous capital, Kyoto  Japanese- 長崎 English- NagasakiLiteral meaning- Long (長い– nagai) cape (– saki)  Japanese- 長野-host of the Winter OlympicsEnglish- Nagano

Literal meaning -long (長い– nagai) field (– no)


Japanese: enjo kosai
Literal meaning: compensated dates
Real meaning: The semi-mythical exchange of underage sex for the money to buy Louis Vuitton

Japanese– yamamba
Literal meaning– old mountain hags
Real meaning– The famous Shibuya hardcore panda girls

Japanese- Unga(運河)
Literal meaning- Freight river
Real meaning- CanalJapanese- Karate(空手)
Usual translation- karate
Literal translation- empty (空- kara) hand (手- te)
Original meaning- Chinese hand 

Japanese- Tounyoubyou (糖尿病)
Literal translation- Sugar urine disease
Real meaning- Diabetes
NB- Medical words like this are good examples of how kanji can actually make life easier. Any literate Japanese (almost everyone) could guess the meaning the first time they read it. Because of this, there is pressure on the government to use MORE words with kanji rather than English derivations to make comprehension easier

Japanese– Ronin


Traditional meaning– Masterless samurai

Modern meaning– Someone who fails the entrance test for their chosen university and so take a whole year in preparation to try again

Japanese: Nawa noren

Literal meaning: Rope curtain

Real meaning: A dive bar

Japanese: Suzumushi

Literal meaning: Bell bugs

Real meaning: Crickets

Japanese: kurismasu keiki

Literal meaning: Christmas cake

Other meaning: A spinster (unwanted past 25, just like a Christmas cake)

Japanese: O-mawari-san

Literal meaning: Mr Walk Around

Real meaning: Your local bobby on the beat

Japanese: (Buddhist term) shogyo mujo

Literal meaning: All is transient, nothing is fixed

Real meaning: It’s not worth building a nice-looking house, because we’re going to knock it down in 20 years anyway

Japanese: O ki no doku

Literal meaning: Honorable poisonous feeling

Real meaning: That’s a shame

Japanese: Sumimasen

Literal meaning: (This situation or inconvenience) will never end

Real meaning: Sorry/ excuse me

Japanese: Arigato

Literal meaning: You put me in a difficult position

Real meaning: Thank you

Japanese: Anata

Literal meaning: You (polite)

Real meaning: You (polite) or darling (to your husband)

Japanese: Omae

Literal meaning: You

Real meaning: You, sonny Jim

Japanese: Teme

Literal meaning: You

Real meaning: You son of a bitch (fighting talk!)

Japanese: Mizu shobai

Literal meaning: The water business

Real meaning:The sex business

Japanese: Soapland

Literal meaning: A land of soap

Real meaning: A “massage parlour”. You understand- not a massage parlour, a “massage parlour”, nudge nudge, wink wink

Couple of interesting stories behind these. A “soapland” used be called a Turkish bath, until the Turkish embassy complained and the government forced the yakuza owners to shut down their brothels. Oh no, silly me, the government forced the yakuza to come up with a new name. The euphemistic name for the whole business comes from the Tokugawa Edo period, when samurai and what have you would pay just to drink water as long as it was served by very pretty girls. Or at least so says the free individual English language tours (!) in the Edo Tokyo museum- highly recommended!


  1. March 24, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    […] heard before, so I can’t vouch for their accuracy or how commonly used they are. See What the Japanese Really Mean for more, and QuoteJapan Matt Fargo page for quotes from the […]

  2. April 8, 2008 at 5:44 am

    […] ones are actually quite used (unlike most of the What the Japanese Really Mean page, which is more for a laugh and to learn the individual words and kanji that make up the […]

  3. Noblesse Oblige said,

    April 6, 2014 at 3:12 am

    Well, that went from being educational to being about farts and tits REAL fast.

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