Learning Japanese is a worthwhile venture that thousands of people attempt so that when they visit Japan, they can experience the country and its culture more richly. There are many places where you can learn this language, such as the internet, textbooks, and lessons from native speakers. Most textbooks and formal classes do not teach informal expressions or slang, however. Here are ten funny slang words in Japanese to make you sound more like a native speaker.
Keep in mind, though, that speaking formal and standard Japanese is recommended when you’re around strangers, especially those older than you. Learning slang is fun, but only use it in a real context when you’re around friends.
You may have heard of “akan!” which originally came from Osaka and means something like “no way!” It’s often used in Osaka-based comedies when something unbelievable happens. If you’re incredibly surprised or amazed by something while you are hanging out in Kansai, feel free to shout “akan!” to surprise and amuse your Japanese friends.
“Bucchi” is said in Hiroshima and means “very”. Put it before an adjective; for example, you can exclaim “bucchi umai” if something is really delicious, or “bucchi samui” if it’s seriously cold outside. Keep in mind this word isn’t used much outside of Hiroshima.
“Yabai” is used all over Japan and can be used in a variety of contexts. It means something like “oh my gosh”, although it can be also used as an adjective: “sore wa yabai”. This word can be said when you’re really excited, surprised, or amazed by something, and can be used positively or negatively. Make speakers can shorten it to “yabe” but only in very informal situations.
- Nande ya Nen!
Another gem from Osaka, “nande ya nen!” means “what the heck!” or “you’ve got to be kidding me!” Please only use this around your friends who trust you, as although it is not really a rude word, it is said to have some (loose) links to the yakuza and is considered extremely informal. Use it when you’re with your friends and you see something crazy on your travels.
This is another word used all over Japan, and is often used as a substitution for “hontou desu ka?” meaning “really?” You can say this when you’re really in disbelief; for example, you wouldn’t say it when you’re politely saying “oh, really, you’re a kindergarten teacher?” Try saying it when your favourite restaurant is closed or you’re hearing some crazy gossip. Again, avoid using “majide” in formal situations.
“Meccha” is another word for “very” but unlike “bucchi”, it is used in many places in Japan. This informal word can be at the beginning of any adjective (“meccha umai”, “meccha samui”, “meccha yabai”) to express how strongly you feel. You can even add extra colour by exclaiming “meccha-kucha” instead, such as “meccha-kucha genki!” or “I’m really energetic/well!”
“Kimochi” (feeling) “warui” (bad) can mean you feel sick or something is gross or creepy. These words were combined to create “kimoi”, something you can use to mean “that’s so creepy.” For extra informality and comedic effect, you can shorten it further to “kimo” (stress the “o”).
“Ossu!” which sound more like “OSS!” is an informal way of saying hello. Ladies can take a back seat on this one, as this expression is generally only said by males. Use this expression around friends you know well; never say it when you meet someone for the first time.
“Busaiku” means ugly, and this can be shortened to simply “busu”. Never use this to describe a person, even in a joking way. However, if you see some hideous costume or decoration on TV, feel free to mutter “busu ne” to give your friends a laugh. “Busu-kawa” is a combination of “busu” and “kawaii” meaning cute, and can be used to describe things that are cute and ugly, such as certain animals.
- Honma ni?
This is another word for “hontou ni?” and is simply a shortened version. Many words in Japanese are shortened by those speaking informally and “honma ni?” is a good example of this. Surprise your Japanese friends by hitting them with this one when they tell you something you can’t quite believe.
With these ten slang words in Japanese, you’re getting closer to mastering this wonderful and complex language! Surprise and amuse your friends with a colorful vocabulary and become one step closer to chatting like a native speaker.