Popular Words 2005

Newly Popular Japanese Words (from the 2005 editions of Imidas and Gendai Yougo no Kiso Chishiki)

Terms with kanji - Japanese (i.e. originally Chinese) characters - (some terms also include katakana words, katakana being, unlike kanji, a phonetic syllabary usually used specifically to transliterate imported words).

しくしく詐欺 (boo-hoo-swindle, shikushiku-sagi)

Imidas 2005: Buy this book from Amazon.

Yet a new form of telephone fraud in which a male swindler telephones a female target and convinces her to transfer large sums of money into a bank account. Sobbing, the man pretends to be her husband and relays some shocking news: He has just caused a traffic accident.
She must immediately send money to the victim's bank account for a private settlement or there will be dire consequences for the family. One resident of Yokohama was swindled out of 9,990,000 yen in June, 2004 through this scam.

温泉疑惑 (hot springs-suspicion, onsen-giwaku)

Several well-known hot springs resorts got busted in 2004 for adding chemicals to supplement the supposed healing power/natural white color of their waters. The scandal reached even larger proportions when it was revealed that other "hot springs" resorts were actually pumping mere tap water into their bathtubs.

試し出社 (trial-come to the office, tameshi-shussha)

By last year, approximately one in every four Japanese companies had this system in place. It allows employees who have taken extended leave from work because of mental stress to return to work gradually, beginning with shorter hours and lessened responsibilities.

裁判員制度 (court-member-system, saiban-in-seido)

Gendai: Buy this book from Amazon.

Japanese citizens, long accustomed to judges making decisions in criminal cases, will finally have a quasi-jury system, beginning in 2009. Jurors will be drawn from voting lists, and will work with judges to hand down court decisions. Registered voters will have a one in seventy chance of being called to jury duty in their lifetime.

代わり丼 (substitute-bowl of rice with food on top, kawari-don)

Faced with a ban on American beef imports imposed by the Japanese government in December, 2003, following the first case of mad cow disease in the United States, chain restaurants specializing in gyuudon (rice in a bowl with beef on top) had to get creative with their offerings in order to keep customers coming in. They came up with a variety of substitutes, using pork and chicken, and some chains eventually turned to Australian or Chinese beef. Yoshinoya, which operates 1,250 outlets, announced that its net profit plunged 53 percent in the first half of 2004.

逝ケメン (die-face, ike-men)

This is a play on the popular katakana word イケメン (ikemen), used to describe a man with a handsome face (面 men means 'face'). The newly-created homonym 逝ケメン denotes a man with an unattractive face. Since 逝 is a euphemistic substitute for 死 (die), 逝ケメン could be translated as "the face of the dearly departed".

冷ター(chill-er, rei-taa)

Rei-taa are folks who freeze foods (such as bananas, yoghurt, and pudding) before eating them. 'Taa' means 'a person who does something', and comes from the '-er' in English words like 'smoker'.

鼻ピ (nose-pierce, hana-pi)

'Pi' is short for 'pierced'. Other variations on the theme include ヘソピ (navel-pierce, heso-pi) and ベロピ (tongue-pierce, bero-pi).

美白 (beautiful-white, bi-haku)

Used by young people to describe women with light skin.

華氏911(Fahrenheit-9-11, kashi-kyuu-juuichi)

The Japanese title for Michael Moore's controversial documentary is a literal translation of the original, without a slash to separate the month and day (i.e., 9/11). The film opened in Japan in August to long lines and enthusiastic audiences, and caused a considerable stir in the media, with some openly pro-Bush Japanese newspapers publishing the claims of Websites devoted to debunking Moore's claims.

And finally, a new word that can be written in either romaji or katakana:

NEET (ニート)

NEET is an acronym for: Not in Education, Employment, or Training. This refers to the increasing number of Japanese young people who are not in school or working full-time, and who have no concrete plan for their future.

Mary Noguchi editor of the Japanese characters - 'kanji' - learning web site kanjiclinic.com compiled this list of popular new Japanese words for 2005.

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