Popular Words 2006

Newly Popular Japanese Words (from the 2006 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).

パリ症候群 (Paris Syndrome, pari-shoukougun)

Imidas 2006: Buy this book from Amazon.

This new compound was coined by a Japanese psychologist with 20 years experience counseling Japanese ex-pats in France. It describes the psychological problems suffered by a number of young Japanese women who have difficulty adjusting to the language and customs they encounter while living in Paris. Symptoms include forgetfulness, hallucinations, and an inability to coordinate voluntary muscular movements.

脳力 (brain-power, nou-ryouku)

Sales of books, games and puzzles which claim to stimulate adult Japanese brains and improve intelligence are currently booming. This new kanji compound word is a clever play on the homonym 能力 (ability, nou-ryoku).

乳間ファッション (breast-between-fashion, nyuu-kan-fasshon)

Women's magazine Nikita came up with the zippy new kanji compound 乳間 (nyuukan), meaning "cleavage". 胸の谷間 (the valley in the chest, mune no tanema) is the more traditional term. Nikita encourages its readers to take full advantage of their cleavage in appealing to the opposite sex, through the use of long necklaces and revealing tops.

逆パカ (reverse-snapping sound, gyaku-paka)

Gendai 2006: Buy this book from Amazon.

Young women in the Kansai area came up with this gem, which means to break up with one's boyfriend. It refers to the drastic action which may be taken by a spurned female when she discovers messages to another woman on her boyfriend's cell phone: destroy the phone by bending it backwards at its center.

ロシアンたこ焼き (Russian Takoyaki, roshian-takoyaki)

This culinary take-off on Russian Roulette may be experienced at drinking establishments throughout Japan. You order a plate of takoyaki, one of which has something besides the usual tako (octopus) tucked inside of it, chocolate and wasabi being commonly-used substitutes. The person who finds the "odd ball" in his or her mouth is the loser.

華流 (Chinese-style, faa-ryuu)

Coming hot on the heels of the 韓流 (Korean-style) entertainment boom in Japan comes another wave from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, called 華流 (faa-ryuu). Four hunky actors from a popular Taiwanese television serial drama aired in Japan, known as F4, are representative of Chinese-speaking actors gaining increasing numbers of fans in Japan. Note: "Faa" is a Chinese pronunciation for 華, with the Japanese pronunciations being KA/KE (on-yomi) and hana (kun-yomi).

ジモ語 (local-language, jimo-go)

This is a hip expression referring to the most obscure features of Japan's numerous dialects 方言 (hoogen), generally understood only by those living in a certain area. ジモ(jimo) is an abbreviation of 地元 (jimoto), meaning "local." Instead of trying to mask their dialects when they arrive as freshmen at university, many students are now proudly sharing them with their new classmates, and the expressions may come to be common lingo for members of social groups regardless of their hometowns.

ヒルズ族 (Hills-tribe, hiruzu-zoku)

"Hills" refers to Roppongi Hills, a top-end address in Tokyo with rents to make your eyes pop out. People who own businesses or live in condos there are known as members of ヒルズ族. Former Livedoor CEO Takafumi Horie was a representative tribesman until he was arrested on suspicion of securities law violations and found himself in more austere digs.

生鮮100円コンビニ (fresh-100 yen-convenience store, seisen-hyakuen-konbini)

Konbini is a commonly used abbreviation of konbiniensu sutoa (convenience store). Following the wild success of trailblazer "Shop99", Lawson's and other convenience store chains are rushing to open stores that sell a wide variety of fresh products, including produce, at a price of around 100 yen per unit.

陸マイラー (land-miler, oka-mairaa)

With airlines now offering free mileage points for credit card purchases, program participants can accumulate points by buying consumer goods on land as well as taking to the skies. A person who gains most of their points on land is now known as an 陸マイラー.

Mary Noguchi editor of the Japanese characters - 'kanji' - learning web site kanjiclinic.com compiled this list of popular new Japanese words for 2006.

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