A Consultation

In America as well as Japan someone might idly ask you, “So, what are you cooking for dinner tonight?” I often ask this of my own musume, curious to know what she’s feeding my beloved mago and also curious to know what local foods she might be eating. In Japan, my neighbors often answered with “Reizōko to sōdan shimasu.”

Exactly like my first fridge!

I get the meaning, but it still makes me smile. You could translate that literally as “I will have a consultation with my refrigerator.” This is especially meaningful at the end of the month before a gekkyū rolls in. And it also is a good way to ensure that you don’t end up with rotting vegetables or oniku past its prime.

I think there are two ways to grocery shop. In America, where people shop less frequently than in Japan, my friends often make up a menu plan for the week and then buy based on what is needed to prepare these dishes. I’ve tried doing that, but I cannot. I also can’t shop just once a week, or heaven forbid, once every two weeks.

When I was living in Japan most people shopped for food daily or once every couple of days. Many women my age still do it that way. Food shops are conveniently located near train stations so you could come home from work or school and buy what you needed for yūhan on the way home. My homestay mother went to the same local shōtengai daily to shop. Why? Why daily?

One reason is that Japanese homes are small and thus storage, be it reizōko or pantry is very limited. Think of the kind of refrigerator that you might find in a dorm room. Now they sell bigger ones, but they are still narrow and are simply taller. But I believe many women are still shopping daily or three times or more a week. This is because you want to see what is shinsen, what is in season, what is on sale and what simply looks good. In theory one should always be eating with the seasons and that is reflected in both food and tableware. It’s a lovely way to cook and eat. There’s not a Japanese alive who couldn’t tell you what month bamboo is in season and what fish is eaten in the autumn. The closest we have to any of this would be a pumpkin spice latte. (I cringe.)

It’s the end of the month today and I did indeed consult with my refrigerator. Plenty of carrots, so I pulled some chikuwa from the freezer and made a stir-fry with soy sauce and sugar. What else? Oh, this is embarrassing. But I had some sad looking broccoli and a lot of celery. A knob of ginger appeared and I always have miso.

So I cut the celery into small pieces, zapped the broccoli, and sautéd both vegetables with the ginger in sesame oil, adding miso and mirin to make a sauce. Not bad! But I now have two very rich dishes so I’ll add rice (already cooking in my suihanki) and daikon pickles—and cut up some fruit to eat along with it. Oshimai!

There’s enough left over for tomorrow at which point I’ll cook up a dashimaki to go along with it.

And…it would not be at all out of character to see me thanking my refrigerator for this gochisō!

  • musume – 娘 daughter
  • mago – 孫 grandchild
  • reizōko – 冷蔵庫 refrigerator
  • to – と particle and or with
  • sōdan shimasu – 相談します to consult or to confer with, adding shimasu makes it a verb
  • gekkyū – 月給 monthly salary
  • oniku – お肉 meat
  • yūhan -夕飯 dinner. You can also call dinner bangohan. Maybe this is like supper and dinner?
  • shōtengai – 商店街 shopping street
  • shinsen – 新鮮 fresh
  • chikuwa – 竹輪. a tube shaped fish paste product. It’s cheap and easily found in Japan. And it tastes better than it sounds. Unfortunately, in America I can only get a frozen version.
  • suihanki – 炊飯器 rice cooker
  • Oshimai – お仕舞い Finished! Done! You could also use it to say “I call time.”
  • dashimaki – だし巻き a Japanese rolled omelette made with dashi.
  • gochisō – a feast. Used to praise food not just for a real feast.

Three O’Clock

In the early 1980s I was working for a kaisha that provided English learning materials and lessons for Japanese speakers. I was teaching classes but I was also responsible for writing an original lesson for each weekly class. In order to do this, I’d work in their small jimusho in Ebisu alongside the department responsible for this. I hear that Ebisu is now known as a trendy area, but back then it was kind of a nothing-burger. There were five of us who worked there. Or rather they worked there full time and I came in twice a week.

They were a fun bunch of people. They all spoke some eigo having studied abroad at a time when it is less common than it is now. They were all interested in getting to know gaikokujin but were very relaxed about it. Gender roles were not especially important in that office and the men were fine with serving ocha along with the women. Our desks were arranged in a way that made conversation easy. And best of all was our osanji.

This was not a new concept to me. In fact, coincidentally, growing up, in my own home we called our snack “the three o’clock.” Note that sanji means three o’clock and in this case it takes the honofific ‘o.’ And it was serious business in that office.

Sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 PM someone, possibly our kachō, would say, “Osanji ni shimasho ka?” or “Kyō no osanji wa?” And then someone else would mention that we had cookies that a guest had brought the day before or that we had mikan someone had brought from home. But most of the time someone would head next door to the department store basement to buy some treats. Cake was a favorite of course.

When it was my turn I’d agonize over the many choices, how much I should spend, whether I was taking too long to decide, and if a variety or the same for everyone was a better idea. And then I’d make my request and get a beautifully wrapped box to take back to the jimusho.

The osanji is really a lovely idea. We’d all put down are work and talk about the news, our lives, the season, or anything else. It helped us bond, I guess you’d say. And it helped set the rhythm of our day as well.

  • kaisha – 会社 company, business
  • jimusho – 事務所 office (in a company or other place of work)
  • eigo – 英語 English (language)
  • gaikokujin – 外国人 foreigner, non-Japanese
  • ocha – お茶 tea, or more specifically Japanese tea
  • osanji – お三時 the honorable three o’clock, i.e. snack time
  • kachō – 課長 department head of a company
  • Osanji ni shimasho ka – お三時にしましょうか。 ”Shall we take a break and have a snack?”
  • Kyō no osanji wa? – 今日のおさん時は?”What are we having for a snack today?”
  • mikan – みかん Japanese tangerine

No, you

Not everything Japanese in nature happens in Japan. As it so happens, this happened to me in New York City.

I studied Okinawan karate for many years. I was a member of a group called the Cyberdojo in the early days of the internet when a listserv was the best way for a group of like-minded people to have a discussion. This gurūpu was made up of karateka from many different ryū and beliefs. Arguments would ensue regularly and those would often be the best discussions. Though I was a shoshinsha from their point of view I did have something of value. I spoke and read Japanese. And I soon became the go-to person for language issues. I regularly corrected as politely as I could.

There had been a jiken in my own dojo that had my children looking at me incredulously. Their well-meaning sensei regularly introduced Japanese words. Most of the time he got it right, but one day he said this to the children’s class.

“Everybody must have GERI!”

My son couldn’t believe his ears. I winced. He’d meant to talk about obligation which is giri. Unfortunately he’d mispronounced it and had just told the class that they all must have diarrhea. He expounded on this. Painful.

But back to New York City where I was sitting in the guest area of a famous dojo. I was speaking with the head instructor who was looking for a honyakusha for his book. I really didn’t want to do it. I’d just finished a translation and found it very tiring. But a mutual friend had introduced us and I was feeling the giri. He asked me to set a price and I set it high, hoping he’d refuse. He did not.

At a certain point in our conversation he turned to one of his students and said we should take a small kyūkei and have something to drink. And he asked me what I’d like.

I automatically gave the proper Japanese response since we’d been chatting in Japanese. I replied, “Nan demo ii desu.” This is always the right response. But he wasn’t satisfied. He asked again and I said that I’d have whatever everyone else was having. Again, this is a proper response.

But Kaichō himself was not responding as I would have expected. He asked me yet again. And there we were dancing around each other totally out of sync.

And suddenly, it hit me. Though we were speaking in Japanese we were in America. I was giving a proper Japanese response, but Kaichō was behaving as an American would and making sure I had exactly what I wanted. In other words he was behaving as if we were in America and I was American. Which we were and which I was. Oops. How embarrassing! It had taken me way too long to realize this and once I did, I replied that I’d like coffee with a bit of cream and no sugar. (I would have never said this in Japan and saying it to a Japanese man felt WEIRD.)

And Kaichō was much relieved when I answered this way. Butsukarimashita, ne!

  • gurūpu – グループ group (taken from English)
  • karateka – 空手家 a person who practices karate
  • ryū – 流 style. Used for different karate styles, ikebana styles, tea ceremony styles etc.
  • shoshinsha – 初心者 beginner. Literally first heart person
  • jiken – 事件 an incident
  • geri – 下痢 diarrhea
  • giri – 義理 obligation
  • honyakusha – 翻訳者 translator
  • kyūkei – 休憩 a break, a small rest
  • Nan demo ii desu - 何でもいいです “Anything is fine.” This is the politest response to someone offering you something to eat or drink. When you respond this way, you ensure that they are giving you something they actually have available and think is a good choice.
  • Kaichō – 会長 the head of an organization. Can also be used as a title much as we refer to a physician as Doctor.
  • Butsukarimashita, ne -ぶつかりましたね This is an oops expression. Butsukaru means to bump into or collide with someone or something. In this case, it is in the past tense and the “ne” after it softens it. I used it here to sum up my feelings having done this dance around what drink I should choose!

Thanksgiving

It’s both easy and muzukashii to celebrate American Thanksgiving in Japan. The easy part is finding a day for it. As it happens, there is a Japanese national holiday called Labor Thanksgiving that falls in November. So finding a day to cook and celebrate is easy. A nice coincidence!

Almost forty years ago I was living in Tokyo and regularly celebrated Thanksgiving with two other kazoku. Though we all lived in Tokyo, we were located far from each other at different ends. The three of us women were all Amerikajin and our husbands were Japanese. They had little in common but were resigned to American celebrations with us and the kodomotachi.

The year I hosted it required some amount of maneuvering. Japanese homes didn’t come with ovens, but we’d recently bought a very small one. How would a turkey even fit into it? That is, if I could even find a shichimenchō. It wasn’t a food that was eaten in Japan back then at all. So, I’d have to get on the train and go to the market that catered to the rich expat community. There were a couple, but Meidi-ya was where I thought I had the best chance.

So, I took a ruler and measured the inside of my ōbun. Then I stuck the ruler in my bag. Yes, I was going to have to measure any turkey I found! Stealthily of course. It would be a little embarrassing in front of the expat shoppers who all had American-style housing with big ovens, I imagined. So, there I was looking at turkeys, glancing around, and slipping the ruler out of my bag. Done! I had a nice five pound turkey.

Just big enough to bake five croissants!

But wait! How did I even know if it was a turkey? Maybe it was really a chicken. I’d never seen a five pound turkey in America. Did they have turkeys that small? At any rate, I bought it, cooked it, and it was a success.

The Japanese husbands politely ate their meal each year. After one such dinner, when we were walking back to the train station one of the Japanese husbands turned to the other and said, “Do you want to stop for ramen?” I guess it just didn’t feel like enough for them, though we all felt stuffed. And my own mother would put soy sauce on the table for my husband at the Thanksgiving meal, knowing that the entire meal was not his favorite.

My very first Thanksgiving in Japan was when I was in the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP) in the autumn of 1976. Our director had secured an invitation from the American Consulate in Kobe (Now relocated to Osaka) to join them for their celebration. Nobody said anything about how we should dress and most of us were in our jeans, flannel shirts and hiking boots. We took the train to Kobe and it started to rain. By the time we arrived at the Consulate, we were soaking wet… and still dressed in our jeans and flannel shirts. You might imagine the state of our hiking boots!

We entered the ballroom (I swear that is what it looked like!) like a swarm of maggots. The other guests were in evening gowns and fancy dress. They were older established types and people of status. We were in elite company.

More importantly to us was the incredible spread of food. Most of us made a beeline to the buffet tables. It was a little surprising to see sushi at Thanksgiving but it was an array of food the likes of which you’ve never seen before. (Sorry, but that is how T–P would describe it and he’d be right for once in his life.)

I got a little curious about OUR impact on these fancy folks. I went on Facebook to the alum group for AKP and asked. Had any other years gone to the consulate for Thanksgiving? The answer was no. I guess the Consulate didn’t invite our program back ever again. Can’t really blame them….

  • muzukashii – 難しい difficult
  • kazoku – 家族 family
  • Amerikajin – アメリカ人 American (person or persons)
  • kodomotachi – 子供達 children, i.e. more than one
  • shichimenchō – 七面鳥 turkey
  • ōbun – オーブン oven. There is no V sound in Japanese so it usually converts to a B sound.

Hug

These streetcars no longer run up Kawaramachi Street

When I think about changes in Nihon since 1976 there are many that are technology-related. That happens. But there are also some that kind of blow my mind because they are such a huge cultural henka.

When I first came to Japan the word “hug”did not exist. Hugging itself did not exist. I’m going to prove it with this photo from my dictionary. See? Hug or hagu isn’t in the dictionary. The kotoba did not exist and people did not hug each other. Bodies were not touched in public in the way that hugs are done now. Imagine my shokku in 2016 when my (ex-)brother-in-law met us at the eki in his small town with a hug after not seeing me for over 30 years. That was different.

So if hagu as a word didn’t exist, how did the action of hugging get communicated? What I am trying to say here is that the concept of hugging in a friendly manner didn’t exist. Yes, there are words for a couple embracing. There is a word for picking up a child and holding it. But I can’t think of a word that equates to hugging as a friendly aisatsu.

So, I tried to research how this word ended up in Japan and when. I failed. (I didn’t try very hard and I should really ask a sensei of linguistics.) But what I did find was a premise that soccer brought hagu to Japan! When foreign soccer matches became popular television viewing, Japanese people would see players hug after successful matches or when scoring. And… that needed a word apparently. The other theory is that Americans would be seen hugging on the streets of Tokyo and that kind of culture gradually became popular amongst trend-setting young people.

I never once hugged anyone in my host family. And when I left Japan the first time and my boyfriend accompanied me to the kūko, we did not hug goodbye. It just was not done in public. And in 1988 when we moved to America and my ex-husband’s family saw us off at the airport, again, nobody hugged. We bowed. And cried. But, no hugs.

It’s probably a nice change for skinship’s sake! Sukinshippu? Oh, that’s a whole other post!

  • Nihon – 日本 Japan
  • henka – 変化 change, [noun]
  • hagu – ハグ hug
  • kotoba – 言葉 word or phrase
  • shokku – ショック shock, as in big surprise
  • eki – 駅 train station
  • aisatsu – 挨拶 greeting(s)
  • sensei – 先生 teacher or professor or doctor etc.
  • kūko – 空港 airport
  • Sukinshippu – スキンシップ A pseudo-Anglicism describing a close relationship like the one between mother and child. Or the act of getting closer by hanging out together. When I first heard this term and told people it didn’t exist in English they were shocked… simply shocked. Then what do you call it, they asked? Good question.

Toast – Part 2

If you want to know the deep dark mysteries of Japanese bunka and all of the intrinsic intrigue of the Orient, just look to a piece of tōsuto.

No… I’m just joking. But I do have another toast story to tell.

When I worked as a honyakusha in Tokyo I had a myriad of small jobs to do, some more interesting than others and some more fukuzatsu than others. There were the instructions for building a bridge in Malaysia. That was a terribly mismatched ask. What do I know or understand about engineering? I had no business working on that translation. Then there was the hon I translated called Dead Speak of War which was a book of wartime photos of… you guessed it… dead bodies. I was to translate the captions. They were pretty simple captions like “Dead man under a tree” etc. But they said they weren’t going to give me the photos… just the text. This was a huge problem because the Japanese language has no plurals. I needed the shashin so I could know if it was one body or more. It may have been “Dead men under a tree” for all I knew. Atama ga itai!

In comparison, the job for Nikko Hotels seemed relatively kantan. I was to translate memos between the head office in Tokyo and the newly opened branch of Nikko Hotel in New York City that was owned by Japan Airlines. Memos… how hard could that be? And indeed it was one of my easier jobs until…. tōsuto.

A translator is supposed to be invisible. The translator’s job is to faithfully transmit the contents of a document just as it is. Now, a literary translator has some latitude. They can even use footnotes… judiciously of course. But a business translator has no business doing any interpreting of the content. The facts, ma’am just the facts. And this is how I got caught squirming in the Great Toast Debate.

It started with a complaint. Japanese kankōkyaku in New York City said that the toast at the hotel was burnt. Consistently, burnt. Headquarters sent a memo ordering the kitchen staff in New York to stop burning the toast. New York replied that the toast most certainly wasn’t burnt. But monku kept coming from the Japanese tourists. The toast was burnt on BOTH sides, they claimed. Headquarters sent yet another request to the kitchen staff. New York was annoyed. And, adamant that the toast was properly toasted. (And delicious.) They were not receiving a single complaint from any American patrons of the hotel. They rested their case.

Tokyo was not happy. They demanded to know exactly how the toast was being toasted and why they were toasting it so it was crisp on BOTH sides. New York was baffled. Because… because…. IT IS TOAST!

The thing is, I could have solved this in a second. The New York staff had no idea what Japanese expectations of toast were. And Tokyo had no idea what American expectations of toast were. (And there was no Google around back then.) But I was a young translator and did not think I had any options. I tentatively wrote a note of explanation and included it with one of my translations. There was no response.

So, I’m finding it amusing that Americans are now discovering Japanese “milk bread” and the joys of Japanese toast.

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I will now spare you a Toast – Part 3 about how my American (a New Yorker) mother learned that she could order toast in Japan easily by putting an “o” at the end of the word—and then proceeded to put “o’s” at the end of every English word any time she felt a need to communicate while in Japan….

  • bunka – 文化 culture
  • tōsuto – トースト toast
  • honyakusha – 翻訳者 translator
  • fukuzatsu – 複雑 complicated, complex
  • hon – 本 book
  • shashin – 写真 photograph
  • Atama ga itai! – 頭が痛い Literally, “my head hurts.” Also used for “What a headache!”
  • kantan – 簡単 simple
  • kankōkyaku – 観光客 tourist
  • monku – 文句 complaint

University Potatoes

I’m so grateful that Japanese satsumaimo have appeared on the scene in America. My Whole Foods has them and my local Japanese farmer has them as well. If you haven’t seen them, the most notable feature is that the inside is a pale kiiro rather than orange. If you scratch the surface of a satsumaimo you can see the color inside and assure yourself that you have the Japanese variety.

Satsumaimo sings in the season. Literally. One of the more nostalgic sounds of autumn and upcoming fuyu comes from the trucks roaming city and suburb streets selling roasted satsumaimo. In the winter you buy it as you walk home from the train station, firstly to warm your te as you walk and secondly to eat. Roasted satsumaimo are the best.

And then there are the daigaku imo that you see being sold in tiny shops that may or may not sell other sweets. I’ve never liked them, but I know they are pieces of sweet potato deep fried and dipped in sugar or honey. Why daigaku, which means university?

It turns out that they were first sold near universities in Tokyo or areas where university students lived. Students back then were notoriously poor and couldn’t afford much. So this was an affordable and filling snack for them. These days students seem much wealthier, but everyone still likes satsumaimo.

One of my children’s favorite books featured satsumaimo and a farting contest. Because if you eat a lot of them, you get pretty gassy. In this book the children eat as many as they can and then use their onara to rise into the sky.

Last week I was in Cambridge and had access to an Asian pastry shop. And yes, the only thing I wanted was sweet potato pastry. Note the black sesame seeds that you also see on the daigaku imo. They just seem to go together with satsumaimo. Tengoku!

  • satsumaimo – サツマイモ sweet potato. Literally a potato from Satsuma
  • kiiro – 黄色 yellow
  • fuyu – 冬 winter
  • te – 手 hand or hands
  • daigaku imo – 大学芋 sweet potatoes deep fried with either sugar or honey. A favorite treat of students
  • onara – おなら fart
  • Tengoku – 天国 Heaven. Used in this case much as “heavenly!”

This post is not about clouds

Yesterday I saw a kumo climbing the wall in my office. I do not like spiders. But I hesitated and could not kill it and let it go on its way. Why? Because it was 10 AM and seeing a kumo in the morning is good luck. And I can’t seem to let go of some of these adages that I learned in Japan. So, beware, spider, if I see you again in the evening!

When I gave birth to my daughter in Tokyo, I was in a byōshitsu with three other mothers. This turned out to be wonderful. Two of them had just given birth to their second babies so they were filled with useful tips and advice. We had a lot of time to chat because back then you stayed in the byōin for seven whole days.

The hospital where my daughter was born. No computer back then and the toilet was down the corridor, far far away!

The calmest mama of us all was a day ahead of the rest of us and she fretted out loud a little on exactly when she should check out of the byōin. It would be fortuitous to check out in the morning, because the morning was good luck for checking out of the hospital, she informed us. However, she was going home to her giri okāsan‘s home and if she checked out in the morning, her giri okāsan would feel obligated to prepare lunch for her and she didn’t want to trouble her. I’m pretty sure none of this is a itabasami that an American new mother would have!

Speaking of good things, the expression Zen wa isoge fascinates me because I think I understand it, but I’m not sure I really do. I guess it is a call to action and to not hesitate when one is taking worthy action? Or does it mean that if there is one donut left you’d better grab it quickly? Well, no. But it is an excellent adage to remember when you’re starting to hesitate to do something that you know will help others.

Good translation!

Now, where did that spider go, I wonder?

  • kumo – くも spider. It also means cloud, but you can tell from the context, i.e. in this case, would I really have a cloud climbing up my wall and want to kill it? I think not.
  • byōshitsu – 病室 hospital room. Byō is illness and shitsu is room, so….
  • byōin – 病院 hospital. Byō is illness and the in denotes an institution
  • zen wa isoge – 善は急げ “Do good things fast” or “Don’t hesitate to do good”
  • giri okāsan – 義理お母さん mother-in-law
  • itabasami – 板挟み a dilemma. Literally it means stuck between two boards

On this last day in May

The weather in Kyoto

Thanks to the internet, I know what the weather in Kyoto is like today. I can also follow blogs, friends on Facebook, and websites in both English and Japanese to see photos of how nice and green it has become in Kyoto. And the weather has been jumping back and forth between natsu and haru in the last few weeks causing confusion to those who need to deal with it.

In America, we often think of Memorial Day as the beginning of natsu. There used to be rituals that matched the kisetsu. Not so much anymore. In Japan, I think it is still important. Things will come out of the closet. The senpūki, of course. Perhaps a katoributa if one is fond of the old ways. The zabuton may be switched out for one of rush. Even in the kitchen, there may be different plats and bowls used. Glass is nice in the summer. The illusion of coolness is just as important as real cooling which these days is provided by competent AC.

The fūrin will also come out of the closet. And one must be careful with pronunciation here. A fūrin is a wind chime, but furin is adultery. Oops.

And of course there is the gamut of summer food which merits its own post. We see some of it in Hawaii but here in New England I’m lucky if I see any of it at all. Yesterday, my grandchildren in California were eating green tea ice cream with mochi. The world is indeed getting smaller.

  • natsu – 夏 summer
  • haru – 春 spring
  • kisetsu – 季節 season
  • senpūki – 扇風機 electric fan. There are other words used for handheld fans depending on the type. I may get into that later.
  • katoributa – 蚊取り豚 a ceramic pig that holds mosquito coils
  • zabuton – 座布団 floor cushion
  • fūrin – 風鈴 wind chime
  • furin – 不倫 adultery

Nakayoshi – Part 1

Japanese honyakusha often talk about the untranslatable words and phrases. We all have our own thoughts on this and there are many that are commonly discussed. We struggle with giving a literal translation (sometimes misleading), a footnote (can get long-winded and cumbersome)—or an explanation when we first use the word in a given text. Because Nihongo has so many ways to write a given word it is very nuanced. And sometimes a word just gets adopted into English. Kawaii is one example. It means cute, but it evokes so much more than that in Japanese modern bunka.

A sign in a store in Kyoto that I photographed for just this reason

I have two new neko. They get along great and because one of them is a koneko there is a lot of mock fighting going on. He’s a strong kitten and sometimes the older one gets knocked around, perhaps a bit too much. This morning I found myself watching the roughhousing and saying to them “Nakayoshi, nakayoshi.” Since I learned my mothering skills in Japan, this phrase came out of my mouth naturally. It literally means “good friends.” But it also works as an admonishment to “stop fighting” to small children who are quarreling.

Sophie bopping Sammy on the head

I thought more about it and sent a text to my busy family therapist musume. I wanted to ask her opinion about this way of stopping a quarrel. It seems to me that it would be therapeutically better to stop a fight by reminding the kodomo that they are “good friends” rather than saying to stop doing something. Or am I going too deep here?

There is a lot about childrearing in Japan that I like. In my mind I’ve combined the best of American and Japanese practices. Not sure my kids would agree, but this is certainly one of the advantages of being bicultural. In Part II I will let you know what my daughter thinks. It is benri that she also understands Japanese and the nuances!

  • honyakusha – 翻訳者 translator. Honyaku usually refers to written translation and sha is a suffix for person. There is another word for interpreters.
  • Nihongo – 日本語 Japanese language. If you’ve been reading my blog religiously, you should already have this one down!
  • Kawaii – 可愛い If you use one word to translate it, it is “cute.” But it is simply so much more and has unique parameters which is probably why it has been exported from Japan as is in many cases.
  • bunka – 文化 culture
  • neko – 猫 cat(s)
  • koneko猫 kitten. Note that this is a combination of cat and the prefix for child. Now then, if you know that inu means dog, you can guess how to say puppy!
  • Nakayoshi, nakayoshi – 仲良し、仲良し Used like this toward children, it is meant as a reminder that you are good friends and to thus, stop quarreling. A nice way to admonish, I think!
  • musume – 娘 daughter or young woman
  • kodomo供 child
  • benri – 便利 convenient