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HomeLanguage Learning18 Cute Japanese Phrases You Will not Study in Textbooks

18 Cute Japanese Phrases You Will not Study in Textbooks


Japanese tradition is thought for its love of all issues thought of “cute,” a lot that the Japanese phrase kawaii (cute) has entered the favored lexicon! Maybe it’s no shock that the Japanese language has many phrases which will sound cute to English audio system. A few of these cute Japanese phrases could also be English-based phrases with Japanese pronunciation (a cognate), slang phrases, and varied onomatopeias.

In future Japanese conversations, strive incorporating a few these phrases so as to add some enjoyable! In the event you’d prefer to know different helpful expressions for interactions with native Japanese folks, strive studying by way of Rosetta Stone. The intuitive, immersive technique helps you study phrases and phrases in a approach that sticks higher than simply memorization.

Issues cute Japanese phrases might need in frequent with English

You’ll discover many phrases on this listing with repeating sounds, like pika pika and tsubu tsubu. In English, these are known as reduplications and we don’t have loads of them (“bye-bye” and “choo choo” is likely to be examples). In Japanese, although, it’s common to make use of repetitive sounds in on a regular basis dialog. Additionally, their number of cute Japanese phrases that repeat is rather more expansive.

Grammatically, these repetitive phrases can be utilized individually as a response phrase. To emphasise the sensation, you possibly can add da ne after the phrase, like pika pika da ne. Different examples are included in textbooks just like the Genki and Tobira collection. Nonetheless, there are various extra–and plenty of cute phrases in Japanese–to discover!

1. Yabai (やばい)

Pronunciation: yah-bai

Yabai is likely to be a very powerful slang time period in Japanese. Whereas it initially meant “unhealthy” or “harmful,” now it has constructive meanings comparable to “superb” or “cool.” It may be used for nearly something so long as the sentiments are sturdy.

The flexibleness of yabai will be in comparison with that of “sick” in English slang. The literal which means of sick is unfavorable, and it may be used to point disgust and even to say one thing is “superb” or “cool.”

Yabai is an i-adjective and can be utilized that approach grammatically.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
財布を無くした。やばい! Saifu o nakushita. Yabai! sai-foo oh nah-koo-shtah
yah-bai
I misplaced my pockets. Oh no!
やばい人 yabai hito yah-bai hee-toh a harmful particular person
このゲームはやばい。昨日一日中やっていた Kono geemu wa yabai. Kinou ichi nichi juu yatte ita koh-noh gayy-moo wa yah-bai
kee-nohh ee-chee nee-chee joo yah-TAY ee-tah
This recreation is unbelievable (but in addition dangerously addictive). I performed all of it day yesterday.

2. Meccha (めっちゃ)

Pronunciation: meh-CHAH

In distinction to yabai, meccha is easy slang. It merely means “very” or “extraordinarily.” In the event you’re already used to the phrase totemo, strive changing it with meccha in your sentences. Simply take into account that your sentences can be extra informal.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
めっちゃ可愛い Meccha kawaii meh-CHAH kah-wah-eee It’s very cute.
めっちゃ面白い Meccha omoshiroi meh-CHAH oh-moh-shee-roy It’s very humorous / attention-grabbing.
めっちゃ疲れた Meccha tsukareta meh-CHAH tsoo-kah-reh-tah I’m very drained.

3. Bimyou (微妙)

Pronunciation: bee-MYOHH

Relying on the state of affairs, bimyou will be translated as “refined,” “delicate,” or “iffy.” Though it’s normally disregarded of textbooks, it’s a typical and useful Japanese phrase. You need to use it if you don’t know methods to categorical your emotions about one thing.

Bimyou is an na-adjective and can observe these grammar guidelines:

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English
微妙な違いがあります Bimyou na chigai ga arimasu bee-MYOHH nah chee-gai gah ah-ree-mahs There’s a refined distinction.
状況は微妙です Joukyou wa bimyou desu johh-kyohh wah bee-MYOHH dehs The state of affairs is delicate.
微妙な味 Bimyou na aji bee-MYOHH nah ah-jee The style is iffy.

4. Pika pika (ピカピカ)

Pronunciation: pee-kah pee-kah

This enjoyable Japanese phrase refers to one thing “gleaming” or “shining,” particularly after being polished. These conversant in the Pokemon franchise might discover this phrase acquainted. The mascot’s identify is Pikachu. Since pika pika can be utilized because the sound for an electrical spark, it turned a part of Pikachu’s identify. The chu half is the sound a mouse makes, basically the Japanese equal of “squeak.”

Most frequently, pika pika describes one thing freshly polished or model new.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
ピカピカの新しい靴 pika pika no atarashii kutsu pee-kah pee-kah noh ah-tah-rah-sheee koo-tsoo shiny new sneakers
床をピカピカに磨きます Yuka o pika pika ni migakimasu yoo-kah oh pee-kah pee-kah nee mee-gah-kee-mahs I’ll polish my flooring so it shines.

>> Discover out how lengthy it takes to study Japanese!

man looking at brightly lit pagodas at night

5. Kira kira (キラキラ)

Pronunciation: kee-rah kee-rah

At first look, this phrase is just like pika pika, as kira kira means “glowing” or “glittering.” Nonetheless, they’re utilized in totally different conditions, making this probability to discover the bimyou (refined) variations within the examples beneath.

There’s additionally an attention-grabbing development of oldsters giving their youngsters quirky names, referred to as kira kira names that “sparkle” greater than the typical identify. Many of those names resemble little of a conventional identify, comparable to Jedi (from Star Wars), Bullet Practice (shinkansen), Disappointment (kanashimi), Pikachu, and Drool (yodare). There are too many uncommon kira kira names to listing, however these offer you an concept.

Utilized in the usual approach, kira kira is commonly paired with the verbs kagayaku or hikaru, that are synonyms which means “to shine” or “to sparkle.”

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
キラキラ輝くダイヤモンド Kira kira kagayaku daiyamondo kee-rah kee-rah kah-gah-yah-koo dai-yah-mohn-doh A diamond that glitters brightly.
星が空でキラキラ光っていました Hoshi ga sora de kira kira hikatte imashita hoh-shee gah soh-rah deh kee-rah kee-rah hee-kah-TAY ee-mahsh-tah The celebrities had been glowing within the sky.
おもちゃを見る子供の目は、キラキラしていた Omocha o miru kodomo no me wa, kira kira shite ita oh-moh-chah oh mee-roo koh-doh-moh noh meh wah kee-rah kee-rah shee-tay ee-tah The kid’s eyes sparkled as they regarded on the toy.

6. Tsubu tsubu (粒々)

Pronunciation: tsoo-boo tsoo-boo

Tsubu means “bead,” so this distinctive Japanese phrase is used to explain the feel of beads.You could possibly use it to explain beads as “grainy,” “beady,” and even “bumpy,” so long as the bumps are pretty small. If fruit juice is known as tsubu tsubu, it might imply the juice has small seeds (comparable to these from strawberries and kiwis) or is filled with pulp. Anko (pink bean paste) is a key element of Japanese conventional sweets, and there’s a texture variation known as tsubuan.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
粒々ピアス tsubu tsubu piasu tsoo-boo tsoo-boo pee-ah-soo beady earrings
粒々したもの Tsubu tsubu shita mono tsoo-boo tsoo-boo shee-tah moh-noh Issues with a grainy / beady / bumpy texture.
このオレンジジュースは粒々が入っている Orenji juusu wa tsubu tsubu ga haitteiru koh-noh oh-rehn-jee joo-soo wah tsoo-boo tsoo-boo
gah hai-tay-ee-roo
The orange juice has pulp in it.

7. Dekoboko (凸凹)

Pronunciation: deh-koh-boh-koh

Whereas this Japanese phrase additionally sounds cute, what actually makes it stand out is the way it appears to be like when written. The phrase means “uneven” or “bumpy,” so deko appears to be like like a bump, and boko appears to be like like a groove—each of that are totally on function! In distinction to tsubu tsubu, dekoboko is used to confer with bigger bumps and tough surfaces.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
凸凹道 dekoboko michi deh-koh-boh-koh mee-chee bumpy highway
その道は凸凹しています Sono michi wa dekoboko shite imasu soh-noh mee-chee wah deh-koh-boh-koh shee-tay ee-mahs That highway is bumpy.
月の表面は凸凹です Tsuki no hyoumen wa dekoboko desu tsoo-kee noh hyohh-mehn wah deh-koh-boh-ko dehs The floor of the moon is uneven.

8. Yuru kyara (ゆるキャラ)

Pronunciation: yoo-roo kyah-rah

Japan is notorious for its multitude of mascot characters that are typically known as yuru kyara. The phrase yuru comes from the phrase yurui (free) and kyara (character). It’s not precisely clear why the phrase yurui was chosen, nevertheless it appears the which means itself has been interpreted loosely. Most yuru kyara (mascots) signify a metropolis or area, so a memorable yuru kyara is nice for drawing in vacationers who’re drawn to totally different characters.

9. Shima uma (しまうま)

Pronunciation: shee-mah oo-mah

A shima uma is an animal with a logical identify. Shima means “stripe” and uma means “horse,” so naturally that is the phrase for zebra. The pronunciation is what makes this a cute Japanese phrase if you say it rapidly.

Japanese has many phrases which might be constructed from a rational mixture of different phrases, significantly one other animal. For instance, hari means “needle” and nezumi means “mouse.” Thus, hari nezumi is a hedgehog! 

>> Have you learnt the important Japanese greetings together with correct etiquette?

10. Hai tacchi (ハイタッチ)

Pronunciation: HAI tah-CHEE

The phrase hai tacchi is immediately based mostly on an English phrase however varies barely from the expression we use. Are you able to guess what it means?

It’s the way you say “excessive 5” in Japanese! Hai is like our English equal, however tacchi means “contact.” It nonetheless makes logical sense, because you “contact” palms up “excessive.” You need to use hai tacchi in the identical conditions you usually would: for a job properly accomplished, for encouragement, or possibly only for enjoyable with some children. 

pink axolotl salamander in water with a pot nearby is a cute japanese word

11. Uupaaruupaa (ウーパールーパー)

Pronunciation: ooo-pahh-rooo-pahh

This is without doubt one of the most enjoyable Japanese phrases to say—and one of many cutest! It refers to an axolotl (salamander) that has grow to be common not too long ago due to its distinctive look. It has six tendrils on its head (three on both sides), is commonly a lightweight pink shade, and seems to have a perpetual smile. 

As many Japanese folks love axolotl, they are often discovered at quite a few aquariums in Japan. For these conversant in Pokémon, the looks and identify of “Wooper” is immediately impressed by the uupaaruupaa.

12. Pero pero (ペロペロ)

Pronunciation: peh-roh peh-roh

This phrase represents the sound of licking, particularly when animals eat meals or drink water. In fact, issues associated to animals are sometimes lovable, which is why pero pero has grow to be a preferred phrase in Japanese. The Japanese phrase for lollipop or sucker is pero pero kyandii, which means a “sweet for licking.” The precise phrase for “to lick” is nameru, and the 2 phrases can be utilized collectively.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
犬が人をペロペロと舐める Inu ga hito o pero pero to nameru ee-noo gah hee-toh oh peh-roh peh-roh toh nah-meh-roo The canine licks folks enthusiastically.

13. Neba neba (ねばねば)

Pronunciation: neh-bah neh-bah

Neba neba describes a specific texture with the closest phrases being “gooey” and “slimy” however in a considerably sticky approach. It could not sound appetizing, however neba neba is most frequently used to explain totally different meals. The notorious fermented soy beans known as nattō are generally described as neba neba. Okra and grated yam—known as tororo—typically get the gooey label as properly. 

In the event you’re not a fan of neba neba shite iru meals, you’re not alone! Exactly as a result of it’s off-putting to many individuals, it’s enjoyable to make use of neba neba in dialog.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
納豆は臭くてねばねばしている Nattou wa kusakute neba neba shite iru nah-TOH wah koo-sah-koo-tay neh-bah neh-bah shee-tay-ee-roo Nattō is smelly and slimy.

14. Bebii kaa (ベビーカー)

Pronunciation: beh-BEEE kahh

Bebii kaa additionally immediately comes from English, however the literal translation is extra of an outline in English. If you concentrate on what bebii might imply and what kaa might imply, you would possibly have the ability to make a guess.

Bebii means “child” and kaa the phrase for “automobile.” Right here’s what’s totally different in regards to the which means. The literal translation is “automobile for a child,” which might be a stroller!

15. Puri kura (プリクラ)

Pronunciation: pooh-ree koo-rah

Puri kura is one other mixture of English phrases: print (purinto) and membership (kurabu). Whereas the 2 phrases in English may not make sense, it principally means the Japanese type of photograph cubicles. The directions within the sales space typically recommend totally different poses as you’re taking photos. You’ll be able to even use totally different filters, add stickers, and digitally write on the pictures. As puri kura are prevalent in Japanese tradition, we advocate attempting no less than as soon as with a buddy or two.

This phrase is usually paired with the verb “to take” as you possibly can see beneath.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
友達とプリクラを撮った Tomodachi to puri kura o totta toh-moh-dah-chee toh pooh-ree-koo-rah oh toh-TAH I took photos at a photograph sales space with my mates. 
japanese man and woman hugging and laughing in kitchen

16. Icha icha (イチャイチャ)

Pronunciation: ee-chah ee-chah

Icha icha has a enjoyable use in Japanese; it’s the sound impact for flirting or PDA. You need to use it to complain about PDA or tease mates about their relationships. There’s each a unfavorable and constructive connotation for this phrase, relying on the way it’s used and the intonation. 

That is usually used as a suru verb, so you possibly can add a conjugation of suru to alter icha icha into an motion.

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
二人はイチャイチャしているね Futari wa icha icha shiteiru ne foo-tah-ree wah ee-chah ee-chah shee-tay-ee-roo neh These two are lovey-dovey, proper?
人前でイチャイチャするのは恥ずかしい Hito mae de icha icha suru no wa hazukashii hee-toh mah-eh deh ee-chah ee-chah soo-roo noh wah hah-zoo-kah-sheee It’s embarrassing to do PDA in entrance of individuals.

17. Charai (チャラい)

Pronunciation: chah-rye

Charai  is used as an adjective meaning “flashy” or “gaudy,” nevertheless it conjures up a specific stereotypical picture of an individual. Nearly all the time their hair is bleached, their trend is informal however trendy, and their angle is cocky.

Males usually tend to be charai than ladies, and so they is likely to be known as charao (chah-rah-oh). Principally, it’s the type of man who flirts with and tries to choose up numerous ladies, or as we would say in English, a “participant” or “playboy.”

Like icha icha, you should utilize it to complain about somebody or tease mates about their relationships or look.

18. Bonyari (ぼんやり)

Pronunciation: bohn-yah-ree

If you’re unfocused and going about your day on auto-pilot, that’s described with the phrase bonyari. Utilizing it as an adverb, you do issues in a bonyari approach. Utilizing it as a suru verb, it ranges from “spending time idly” to “spacing out.” In one other use, some Japanese folks use it to explain a visible (or reminiscence) as “dim” or “vague.”

Japanese  Romanization Pronunciation English 
ぼんやりした表情 bonyari shita hyoujou bohn-yah-ree shee-tah hyohh-johh an absent look
ぼんやりと窓の外を眺めていた Bonyari to mado no soto o nagamete ita bohn-yah-ree toh mah-doh noh soh-toh oh nah-gah-meh-tay ee-tah I regarded out the window blankly.
ぼんやりと覚えています Bonyari to oboete imasu bohn-yah-ree toh oh-boh-eh-tay ee-mahs I vaguely bear in mind.

With all the lovable Japanese phrases to study on this article, we’re guessing you didn’t grow to be bonyari your self. When studying a brand new language, it may be straightforward to zone out or get overwhelmed because you’re studying a complete new set of vocabulary and grammar. Fortuitously, the Rosetta Stone app retains you engaged and immersed within the language. You’ll be able to even obtain the teachings to study extra conversational Japanese wherever you might be.

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