• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Japan Subculture Research Center

A guide to the Japanese underworld, Japanese pop-culture, yakuza and everything dark under the sun.

Peter Durfee aka @Durf wrote a great piece on the most important words in Japan for 2013–including such classics as “Save me mama!” fraud (母さん助けて詐欺)DJ Police and Big Data. We’ve posted part of the article here. For the complete article click the link at the bottom. 

DJ Police


Each year Jiyū Kokumin Sha, publisher of the popular annual reference Gendai yōgo no kiso chishiki (Basic Knowledge on Contemporary Terminology), selects its “most popular word of the year” along with a top-ten list. The terms are those that have captured the popular imagination that year—the words on everyone’s lips.

A guide to reading the annual monolithic almanac of important words in Japan. 現代用語の基礎知識
A guide to reading the annual monolithic almanac of important words in Japan. 現代用語の基礎知識

Today the company announced its long list of 50 nominees; the finalists and champion will be announced on Monday, December 2.

Below we walk you through the nominated terms. They provide an interesting window on the events and ideas that impacted the Japanese people over the past year.

  • PM2・5 — PM2.5 is particulate matter of a size smaller than 2.5 micrometers, particularly dangerous for its ability to penetrate deeply into the lung tissue. China wrestles with serious air pollution, particularly in the winter months, and Japan must deal with the PM2.5 pollution that blows over from the continent.
  • NISA(ニーサ) — NISAs, or Nippon Individual Savings Accounts, patterned after the British ISA system, will become available to Japanese individual investors in January 2014. These allow investment of up to ¥1 million annually with dividends and capital gains exempted from taxation for the first five years.
  • 母さん助けて詐欺 — Kāsan tasukete sagi. “Mom, I need help!” frauds are the latest version of scams to target mainly elderly Japanese people. The perpetrator calls the victim claiming to be her child, asking for an urgent transfer of funds to pay for a traffic accident or other emergency.
  • 弾丸登山 — Dangan tozan. “Bullet climbs” send climbers up a mountain with ascent speed as the main goal. They’re a common way to do Mt. Fuji these days, with tourists taking buses up to the fifth station, climbing overnight, watching the sun rise from the peak, and heading back down that same morning. Officials have urged climbers to avoid this strategy in climbing Japan’s highest mountain, particularly during the serious crowding that followed itsdesignation as a World Heritage site.
  • 美文字 — Bimoji. Fashionable young calligraphers like Nakatsuka Suitō are helping create a resurgence of interest in “beautiful characters.” The ability to handwrite elegant Japanese script has been lost by many who rely more than ever on computers and smartphones to do their writing for them.
  • DJポリス — DJ porisu. The “DJ policeman” guided people across the chaotic Shibuya Crossing with humor and good cheer after they spilled onto the streets on June 4 celebrating Japan’s qualification for the 2014 football World Cup.
  • ななつ星 — Nanatsu Boshi. The Seven Stars cruise train is Kyūshū Railways’ top-of-the-line luxury addition to the already rich rail touring lineup on the southernmost main island of Japan.
  • パズドラ — Pazudora. Puzzle & Dragons was a breakout hit this year in the mobile gaming scene. Originally released in 2012, by spring 2013 it had become one of the highest-grossing applications on both the iOS and Android platforms.
  • ビッグデータ — Biggu dēta. “Big data” proved to be just as sexy a business concept to Japanese companies in the IT and other industries as it was to their counterparts abroad.

For the rest of the story, go to The Words of 2013 at Nippon.com


Managing editors of the blog.

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