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// At Le Moyne College

11 Beautiful Japanese Words That Don't Exist In English

Untranslatable words from Japan, the polite and nature-loving country.

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Once, when I asked my friend from a small tribe in Burma how they would say breakfast there, she told me that they didnt have a word for it because they only ate twice a day--lunch and dinner. I happen to have a lot of friends who speak English as their second language and that made me realize that a language has a lot to do with its cultures uniqueness. Because of that, there are some untranslatable words.

In Japanese culture, people have a lot of appreciation towards nature and it is very important to be polite towards others. That politeness and the nature appreciation reflected on to its language and created some beautiful words that are not translatable to English.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things Everyone Who Leaves Japan Misses


D_`M~Y Itadakimasu

"Itadakimasu" means I will have this. It is used before eating any food to express appreciation and respect for life, nature, the person who prepared the food, the person who served the food, and everything else that is related to eating.


JdKU~ Otsukaresama

"Otsukaresama" means youre tired. It is used to let someone know that you recognize his/her hard work and that you are thankful for it.


( Komorebi

"Komorebi" refers to the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees.


(W Kogarashi

"Kogarashi" is the cold wind that lets us know of the arrival of winter.


in Mononoaware

"Monoaware" is "the pathos of things." It is the awareness of the impermanence of all things and the gentle sadness and wistfulness at their passing.


t Shinrinyoku

Shinrinyoku ("forest bathing") is to go deep into the woods where everything is silent and peaceful for a relaxation.


} Yuugen

"Yuugen" is an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses that are too mysterious and deep for words.


WFLjD Shoganai

The literal meaning of "Shoganai" is it cannot be helped. However, it is not discouraging or despairing. It means to accept that something was out of your control. It encourages people to realize that it wasnt their fault and to move on with no regret.


љN/UD kintsuki/kintsukuroi

"Kintsukuroi" is the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver joining the pieces and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

sUs Wabi-sabi

"Wabi-sabi" refers to a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and peacefully accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.


All the onomatopoeia

English has onomatopoeia, but Japanese has far more. For example, we have om-nom-nom for eating and they have paku-paku for eating normally, baku-baku for eating wildly, gatsu-gatsu for eating fast, mogu-mogu for chewing a lot, etc. Doesnt it make your head spin? The onomatopoeia for that kind of dizziness is kurukuru by the way. The image above is showing some of those onomatopoeia. As you can see, Japanese onomatopoeia is usually a repetitive sound. Although it might be a very difficult concept to understand, it adds a melody and an emotional meaning to a word. Japanese sounds poetic because of the onomatopoeia.

A happy-go-lucky girl with a passion for eating good food and singing.

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