We finally have the Top 10 Japanese Buzzwords or 流行語 (Ryuukougo) for 2018. So, we have provided a listing of the top ten, with their English equivalent meanings to help you understand as easily as possible. Check out what was hot this year in the realms of Japan.
For those wanting to challenge their vocabulary, you may also be interested in our top Japanese Buzzwords for 2017 too.
1. そだねー (Sodane or Soudane)
The word chosen as the buzzword for 2018 is そだねー (Sodane or Soudane) meaning ‘That’s it’ or ‘That’s ok’. It was the Japan’s curling team nod of approval. In fact, it was the winning slogan that got them to their bronze medal at this year’s Winter Olympics. The team, originally from Hokkaido, in their natural dialect stretch out the last sound of the expression. It was considered both cute and caught on as Japanese spectators watched on in supporting their team to third place.
2. eスポーツ (ESupottsu)
If you’re familiar with South Korea, you will know E-Sports is a hugely popular competition. Thus, the phrase eスポーツ (ESupottsu or E-Sports) has arrived on the scene, describing highly competitive computer or video game competitions. It has recently become a very popular contest in the Japanese space.
3. 半端ないって (Hampa naitte)
This year we also witnessed World Cup fever, and Japan’s team were successful in advancing to the final 16. The phrase 半端ないって (Hampa naitte) means ‘incredible’, and was specifically aimed at the Yuya Osako. His leading performance was instrumental in helping his team progress so far.
4. おっさんずラブ (Ossanzu rabu)
The rise of a popular Japanese Television drama also gave rise to the phrase おっさんずラブ (Ossanzu rabu). The phrase is used in reference to the love triangle that exists in the office between an elder boss and his two younger male team members. It explores how office politics and society can complicate relationships, even for same-sex partners.
5. ご飯論法 (Gohanronpō)
The term ご飯論法 (Gohanronpō) literally translated means ‘rice seasoning’. It is the only politically related term to make the top ten this year. Hosei University professor Mitsuko Uenishi coined the term, identifying it as a political tactic to intentionally dodge or misunderstand a question. He used the word ‘gohan’ as an example to elicit a range of different responses. This is due to the fact that the word can mean either ‘meal’ or ‘rice’ and is easy to misinterpret.
6. 災害級の暑さ (Saigaikyū no atsusa)
This year’s summer heat was unusually extreme, with many days reaching record high temperatures. As a result, the phrase 災害級の暑さ (Saigaikyū no atsusa) meaning ‘Disastrous Heat’, was a very popular term. It started from Japan’s Meteorological Agency who used the expression to label the danger of the extreme weather, which killed more than 60 people.
7. スーパーボランティア (Suupaa Borantia)
The use of the term スーパーボランティア (Suupaa Borantia or Super Volunteer) was in recognition of one elderly man’s courageous rescue of a child. Haruo Obata, a 79-year-old man found a little 2-year-old boy who was missing for 3 days. He had found the boy on one of Japan’s western islands and brought him to safety.
8. 奈良判定 (Nara Hantei)
Japan’s boxing realm was rocked when they heard about the suspected scandal involving Akira Yamane, Chairman of the Japan Amateur Boxing Federation. There were allegations of Mr Yamane giving preferential treatment to fighters originating from his hometown of Nara. He was also allegedly accused of trying to fix matches in favour of Nara born fighters. Thus, the expression 奈良判定 (Nara Hantei) translates directly into ‘Nara Judgement’ or alludes to his bias to his own hometown.
This expression, while slightly rude, originates from one of NHK’s late-night variety show characters. Chiko-chan, who is only 5 years old, uses the phrase ボーっと生きてんじゃねーよ！(Booto Ikiten Jyanee Yo) as an abrupt joke. Its nuance generally means ‘You’re not even thinking’ or ‘You’re not even trying’. She uses the phrase especially when people respond with simple ‘I don’t know’ or ‘ I don’t understand’ responses.
Japan’s eventual embrace of the＃MeToo hashtag movement started late after it was created in the US. It caught on when a female Journalist used it to make allegations of rape against a high profile male journalist. The male journalist also had ties to Prime Minister Abe, which made the news story a hot topic in the Japanese media.