Uniquely Japanese- Kintsugi 金継ぎ or Kintsukuroi 金繕い

One of my favourite uniquely Japanese words is Kintsugi. The first kanji (syllable) means gold, and the direct translation is “gold splicing”… when a piece of pottery gets broken, the Japanese fix it, not trying to make the repair invisible, but by making the repair gold, and very noticeable. The reasoning is that they believe…

Uniquely Japanese- Yugen 幽玄

Like many Japanese words for which there is no direct translation, yugen is dificult to translate. I just finished reading a very funny thread on reddit asking advice on kanji for a tattoo. The person wanted to tattoo yugen onto his shoulder. A respondent to the thread suggested that unless the person fully understood the…

Uniquely Japanese- Hikikomori 引きこもり

Feature image credit: http://www.ejcrim.com The Japanese word Hikikomori, which literally means “pulling inwards” is used as a noun, as well as a verb, to describe adolescents or adults who choose to withdraw from society and lead reclusive and isolated lives. This is quite a big social problem in Japan, where it is estimated that as…

Uniquely Japanese- Inemuri 居眠り

Inemuri translates roughly to “snooze” or “doze”. There is no dirrect translation, however “sleeping while being present” or having some awareness about you while you sleep is potentially more accurate. It very common, in fact, an every day experience, to see Japanese people sleeping in public places. Most regularly, on trains. It is quite alarming…

Uniquely Japanese- Tsundoku

Some Japanese words have no English equivalent. This is the case for many languages, where there is no literal translation, or if there was, it would not make sense. Many of the Japanese words, that are not in the English language are beautiful, some tragically so. Today, I am going to talk about my favourite…