Some Japanese terms
Following are some Japanese terms from anime and from other areas of Japanese culture and history. This is, of course, not meant to be all-inclusive.
Airo: indigo wax
Ajiro: fabric woven with shaved bamboo or cypress trees.
Amaterasu: Shinto sun goddess
Ato-zome: the dyeing process is done after the weaving process and these are referred to as dyed kimonos
Atsuita: a Noh costume worn in portraying male roles
Atsuita Karaori: an especially fine Atsuita Noh costume
Aya: a material in which the design was woven by means of twills or plaited weaves
Baka. Technically this means fool or idiot, and is definitely an insult when used against someone you are not personally familiar with. With close friends, however, the term actually be a term of endearment or mild chastisement.
Bengara: Indian red
Bento. These are boxed lunches, prepared at home or bought already prepared at subway stations and department stores. This can be in very plain or very fancy box containers and differ considerably in their contents. Oftentimes we see in anime Japanese students eating lunch in the classroom using bento boxes. These are sometimes seen in Japanese anime
Bingata: a dyeing technique developed in Okinawa using a pattern and which results in various tones of colors.
Bowing. Bowing is done as a sign of respect for the other person, the more respect the deeper the bow. This can vary from a slight nod of the head to a deep and formal, long-held bow. Men bow with their hands and arms at their sides and women bow with their hands inter locked and held in front of them.(A Freudian way of looking at this is that women are hiding certain physical parts while men are almost flaunting theirs.)
Bugaku: court dancing
Bushido: code of honor followed by samurai
-Chan. Calling someone using their name and the suffix -chan is often heard in anime. This is generally used for young girls but can also be used for some girl a person is very close to. For example, in the anime series Ranma 1/2, when Ranma is called Ranma-chan when in girl form.
Chaya-zome robes: designs with thatch-roofed huts appropriate for the tea ceremony are set among ponds, flowing streams, bridges and brushwood fences. These robes were terribly expensive and were worn only by the highest strata of society.
Chokochokogi: an informal reference to a type of kimono
Chuburisode: a kimono with a sleeve length of around three feet
Chotto matte, kudasai. Basically means "please wait a minute.
Chuya obi: an obi with two distinct sides, one side black and one side patterned
Dadaiko: brass drum used for bunraku
Daokpki. Said to indicate a person is feeling ok.
Date-jime: a waistband to keen the nagajuban in place
Daikon: large Japanese radish
Dochu-gi: a hip-length overcoat for women designed to protect the kimono from dust and hold in warmth during the winter
"Domo": thank you
"Domo arigato gozaimasu": thank you very much (more formal language)
Donsu: silk damask with a design in satin
Echigo Chijimi: a hemp crepe of Echigo province
Eigata: a distinctive stencil dyeing technique using indigo dye
Fudangi: a kimono either with stripes or little decoration worn for shopping or casual visiting.
Fukuro-obi: a double-fold obi for formal and semiformal occasions.
Fukusa: a traditional cloth cover for gifts
Furisode: a type of kimono
Furoshiki: a square wrapping cloth used to carry items.
Gambatte. Basically means stick with it, hang in there, etc.
Gara-zome: designs dyed on white fabric
Geta: raised wooden sandals
"Gochisou sama deshita": said after finishing a meal, it means something like "thank you, it was a feast"
"Gomen nasai": terms for "I'm sorry"
Goshoguruma: oxen-pulled carriages
Habutae: Smooth and glossy silk textiles
Hadajuban: an undershirt worn next to the skin
Hai. Can mean yes as in agreement but can also be used just to indicate a person is paying attention. This can lead to misunderstandings by Westerners of what Japanese are believing in a conversation. They may think a Japanese person is agreeing with them when the person is just indicating that they are paying attention.
Hakama: A divided, pleated skirt worn by either men or women.
Hakkake: hem of the kimono
Hakogaki: signed or stamped artisan's name
Han-eri: half-collar sewn to the collar of the under kimono
Haori: Short silk jacket worn over a kimono
Hatohori: waves from the Isle of Eternity design
Hentai. Basically means a pervert. Happosai is a primary example from Ranma 1/2. Ataru from Urusei Yatsura is a younger version but shows great promise of beating Happosai at his own game.
Hira-nui: satin stitch
Hitoe: a type of kimono lacking back lining, usually worn in early and late summer
Hitotsumi: long kimono for an infant
Homongi: kimonos worn for festive occasions or formal visits
Ikat: the weft and the warp, either or both, are dyed before being woven
Iki: philosophical concept that real luxury is found in hidden places and did not necessarily need overt displays.
Inro: container hung from an obi and used to carry small items
"Itadakimasu": what is said just as one is starting to eat, sort of thanking everyone and everything involved in making the meal
Ita jime: a form of dyeing using boards to tightly clamp fabric to resist dyes
Jimbaori: coat worn over armor
Juban: under garment
Junihitoe: a court-lady's costume consisting of many layers of kimono
Jyofu: premium linen fabric
Kaga Yuzen: yuzen dyeing in graduated shades of colors
Kakeshita: kimono worn under the uchikake during a wedding ceremony
Kame: turtle-symbol of longevity
Kambun designs: huge designs splashed across the shoulder or diagonally down the back
Kami. Spirit or spirits. The Japanese tend to look at things in a way somewhat similar to Native Americans, regarding that most things around them have spirits.
Kami shine: shelf with a miniature shrine used for praying and making offerings to the spirits of the dead
Kanoko-Shibori: a tie-dyeing technique resulting in dots looking somewhat like the markings on an infant deer
Kanoko: polka-dot design
Kanto brocade: flat-woof weave of mottled threads
Karaori: Chinese silk; brocades of gold and glossy silk threads of the Heian period; a very elegant Noh costume
Kasuri: a splashed design made by pre-dyed threads woven in silk or cotton materials
Katabira: summer kosode
kata-zome: stencil designs printed from woodblocks or dyed using stencils
"Kawaii": cute, in Japanese
Kesa: a priest's garment
Kihachijo: a thin, soft, plain-woven yellow silk in striped designs made on Hachijo Island
Kiku-sui: chrysanthemum and flowing water design
Kimono: a long robe of silk worn by men and women. Occurs in a variety of forms and variations
Kinran: gold brocade
Kodai-ji: a temple in Kyoto built by order of Kita-no-Mandokoro
Kofurisode: short-sleeved furisode
Komon: small, delicate designs
Konnichi wa. Means in general "hello" but is also used to indicate "good afternoon."
Koshimaki: a court-lady's ceremonial summer garment
Kosode: a short-sleeved kimono
Koto: Japanese harp
Koyonoga: Festival of Red Leaves
-Kun. As an ending used for the addressing younger males.
Kurobeni: dark brown
Magaki: bamboo fence
Michiyuki: a three-quarter length coat with a square neck, covered snaps and a front pocket
Misu: bamboo blind
Mofuku: a five-crested black silk kimono with no woven pattern or design. All parts are black except for the split-toed socks and a full-length under-kimono.
Mon: a family crest
Mukabaki: fur apron for horseback riding
Nagagi: a type of kimono that is medium formal in use
Nagajuban: full-length under-kimono for men
Nani and nan desu ka. Basically means "what?", usually as an element of surprise about something.
Nanga: southern school of Chinese painting
Nosebleed. Typical response in anime of Japanese young males to seeing nude women. In Futaba-kun change one character does this to extremes.
Nui: the general term for embroidery
Nuihaku: embroidery and gold-leaf applique
"Okaeri nasai": terms said to someone returning home, meaning welcome home
Omeshi: an honorfic term for a kimono worn by people at the imperial court; a flat silk crepe in Kasuri or striped or plaid designs
Onsen: hot spring
Oriegaki: woven twig fence design
Oshima: a flat silk in Kasuri design originally made on Oshima Island
"Oyasume nasai": term for good night in Japanese
Rinzu: silk with geometrical woven designs
Saki-zome: the dyeing process is done before the weaving process and these are referred to as woven kimonos.
-Sama. Ending used for indicating great respect towards someone.
-san: term used indicating politeness, such as Watanabe-san
"Sayonara": goodbye in Japanese
Sempai. Used for someone in a grade higher than the one someone else is in schools. Kimagure Orange Road featured the main character of Hikaru referring to Kyosuke as sempai on various occasions.
Sensei. Used to indicate a teacher in particular but can also be used for non-teaching people who are respected in their own areas.
Seppuku: ritual suicide involving the slitting of ones abdomen. In most cases another person stands behind the person who is kneeling and committing Seppuku. This second person cuts the head off the person's body, preventing any screaming or drawn-out suffering. Considered a very honorable method of suicide.
Setsurin: snow ring motif
Sha: silk gauze
Shibagaki: brushwood fence
Shibori: a resist and dye process that uses a variety of methods to achieve a dimensional shaped cloth. Small areas of cloth are tightly stitched and set so that no dye can penetrate.
Shi chi go san: In November children who are seven(shi chi), five (go) and 3 (san) are brought to temples for blessing ceremonies.
Shiorido: a door made of woven branches
Sho-chiku-bai : pine-bamboo-plum design
Shusu: couching (thread wrapped with gold or silver foil and stitched into intricate patterns)
Surihaku: applied metallic leaf
Sysoyoke: a half-slip for use with kimonos
Tabi: white, lined, split-toed socks
"Tadaima": term used to say "I'm home" when returning home
Tamoto: hanging sleeve
Tatami. The floor mats used in many Japanese homes. This is one reason why shoes are removed upon entry into a Japanese home so that the tatami are not damaged by street shoes. People change into slippers that are provided or walk around in their socks. The size of a room can be measured in the number of tatami it would take to cover the floor.
takarazukushi: figures symbolizing treasures such as health, worth and comfort
Tatouchi: rice paper used when wrapping a kimono for storage
Tegaki-zome: hand-painted designs
Tomesode: The most formal of kimonos, worn by women at marriages and official celebrations.
Tori: wooden arch-like structure at the entrance to a Shinto shrine
Tsujigahana dyeing: a combination of Shibori dyeing and hand-painted designs
Tsukesage: from the hem line the patterns go up to meet at the top of the shoulders while those on the sleeves meet at the top of the sleeves.
Tsukezome: vat (immersion) dyeing
Tsumugi: spun silk
Tsuru: a crane, the symbol of longevity and luck
Tsuzumi: Japanese drum
Tsuzure: linked-weave brocade or ancient silk tapestry
Uchikake: the ceremonial outer garment of court ladies in the Edo period, also referred to as the Kaidori. It differed from the kosode in that no obi was used and the back was completely covered with a very large, attractive design.
Uchishiki: temple cloths
Utsubo: a case for arrows
Wakari masu. Means "I understand." The negative version, I don't understand, is wakarimasen.
Yatta. Generally an excited feeling of accomplishment such as "we did it!"
Yoronotaki: a Noh play about a wood cutter who is devoted to his parents. Because of his virtue a spiritual spring appears in the country of Mino.
Yukata: light-weight kimono worn in summer
Yuzen: the art of painting on silk within a resisted area.
Zori: outdoor sandals
Japan main page
Japanese-American Internment Camps index page
Japan and World War II index page