I’ve been trying to learn Japanese for some time now – and I’ve decided to prepare a list of my favorite idioms and untranslatable words and concepts that exist only in this language! I’ll be posting them in two parts: my favorite bits, scenery and cat idioms in the first and philosophical concepts and funny phrases as the second.
Many thanks to Valeria, my Japanese language teacher from Yoroshiku School, for her kind assistance with the material 🙂
My favorite bits of Japanese
Koi no yokan 恋の予感 is a premonition of love, when you feel that you’re going to fall in love with a particular person when you first meet him/her (not to be mixed up with the Hitomebore 一目惚れ, love on first sight).
Tsundoku 積ん読 ‘piling up the reading’ – if you buy books and add them to your collection on a shelf without reading then you practice Tsundoku, practice coming from the Meiji era!
Kyouka Suigetsu 鏡花水月 literally Mirror Flower, Water Moon – describes something that is visible but cannot be touched – like a flower reflected in the mirror, moon seen on the water’s surface.
Natsukashii 懐かしい means nostalgic but in a positive way – memories that warm your heart.
Takane no Hana 高嶺の花 ‘Flower on a high peak’ – can you imagine a flower that blooms on a high peak? You reach for it in admiration but cannot really get it. Takane no Hana is a metaphor that describes a woman that is out of one’s reach – just like a flower.
Kawaakari 川明かり(river light) is a poetic description of a light on a river’s surface at night.
Kouyou 紅葉 aka momiji describes the autumnal period when leaves change colour from green to red.
Hanafubuki 花吹雪 means Flower snowstorm – can you imagine cherry blossom petals falling from a tree like snowflakes? Then this is hanafubuki.
Iwanu ga hana 言わぬが花 literally means ‘not saying is a flower’ – as you’ve might already guessed, it’s equivalent to ‘silence is golden’.
Tsukimi 月見 means moon-viewing. It’s another term describing natural scenery — Tsukimi is an ancient tradition of viewing the moon (originally during the autumn festivals when Japanese prepared special dishes and recited poetical verses).
Shinrinyoku 森林浴 is a ‘forest bath. Do you know the feeling when you feel healed and calm after a walk in a forest? Then your shinrinyoku went well!
Komorebi 木漏れ日 describes the sunlight that comes through the tree leaves.
Cat lovers, anyone?
Nekokaburi 猫かぶり ‘to wear a cat’ is equivalent of English ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ when someone pretends to be naive to conceal one’s true intentions
Nekojita 猫舌 translates as a ‘cat tongue’. If you’re sensitive to hot food and drinks, you have cat’s tongue nekojita!
Nekomusume 猫娘 literally is ‘cat girl’ and describes a girl who resembles a cat and behaves like a cat. Meaw!
Neko ni koban 猫に小判 – literally, a coin before a cat with the meaning equivalent to the ‘casting pearls before swines’, offering something to one who cannot appreciate it.
Interested in Japanese culture? Don’t forget to check my other blogs about Japan:
- Rabbit Island: all you need to know
- Tokushima prefecture
- Highlights of Ginza, the heart of Tokyo
- Top-15 things to do in Tokyo
- Explore Kumagaya and nearby
- Saitama prefecture
- Explore gems of Kanagawa prefecture
- Momiji VS Sakura: inspiring Japan
- Top-10 things I adored in Japan
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