WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.
Every year Japan picks the top 10 buzzwords for the year, out of an initial pool of 50 nominated phrases. You can find the list and explanation of selections in Japanese here, and below I will break them down as well. The annual grand prize was awarded to ダメよ~ダメダメ (dame yo, dame dame), a phrase popularized by the female comedy duo Nippon Erekiteru Rengo, and 集団的自衛権 (shuudanteki jieiken), or the right to collective self-defense. The former is a way of lightly turning someone down, particularly when you are asked to do something you aren’t able to do but can’t completely refuse. The latter highlights the controversial decision by Prime Minister Abe’s Cabinet to change the government’s interpretation of the pacifist Constitution to enable Japan to engage in collective self-defense. The remaining eight picks can be found below, so why not incorporate some into your conversations to impress Japanese friends?
• カープ女子 (Carp joshi): female fans of the Hiroshima Carp baseball team
• レジェンド (rejendo): refers to veteran ski jumper Noriaki Kasai, who by taking the gold at age 41 at Sochi this year is the oldest Olympic medalist in ski-jumping history (now 42-years old and shows no sign of stopping!)
• マタハラ (mata hara): maternal harassment, or pregnant women who are discriminated against in the workplace
• ありのままで (ari no mama de): Japanese title for the song “Let It Go” from the hit movie Frozen
• 壁ドン (kabe don, meaning “wall” and the sound of someone hitting one): from manga and the movie 「L♡DK」, when a guy leans over a woman and presses her against a wall with his hand slammed up on it, supposedly making her melt into his arms
• 妖怪ウォッチ (yokei uocchi): popular kids’ anime Ghost Watch
• 危険ドラッグ: dangerous drugs such as stimulants, which have been involved in many of the stories reported in the news this year
• ごきげんよう (gokigenyou): meaning “Farewell,” an expression used by one of the characters on the NHK morning drama Hanako and Anne which aired earlier in the year.
Speaking of Japan’s daily morning drama or 朝ドラ, as part of my TV Japan package I am really enjoying the one that started this fall called Massan. Rare for an NHK drama, it features a male (the eponymous Massan) in the lead role. However, his Scottish wife Ellie (played by American Charlotte Kate Fox, the first leading foreign actress in a NHK morning drama!) is equally important as the story’s focus is on both his quest to manufacture authentic whiskey in Japan (based on actual Japanese whiskey industry founder Masataka Taketsuru), as well as their life as an international couple during the Taisho and Showa eras (1912-1989). This article about reactions to the show from contemporary foreign wives in Japan is interesting, and access this link to check out the show for yourself!