18 Cute Japanese Phrases You Will not Study in Textbooks

Japanese tradition is understood for its love of all issues thought-about “cute,” a lot that the Japanese phrase kawaii (cute) has entered the favored lexicon! Maybe it’s no shock that the Japanese language has many phrases which will sound cute to English audio system. A few of these cute Japanese phrases could also be English-based phrases with Japanese pronunciation (a cognate), slang phrases, and numerous onomatopeias.

In future Japanese conversations, strive incorporating a few these phrases so as to add some enjoyable! Should you’d wish to know different helpful expressions for interactions with native Japanese folks, strive studying via Rosetta Stone. The intuitive, immersive technique helps you study phrases and phrases in a method that sticks higher than simply memorization.

Issues cute Japanese phrases may need in widespread with English

You’ll discover many phrases on this record with repeating sounds, like pika pika and tsubu tsubu. In English, these are known as reduplications and we don’t have a number of them (“bye-bye” and “choo choo” is perhaps examples). In Japanese, although, it is not uncommon to make use of repetitive sounds in on a regular basis dialog. Additionally, their number of cute Japanese phrases that repeat is far more expansive.

Grammatically, these repetitive phrases can be utilized individually as a response phrase. To emphasise the sensation, you’ll be able to add da ne after the phrase, like pika pika da ne. Different examples are included in textbooks just like the Genki and Tobira collection. Nevertheless, there are various extra–and plenty of cute phrases in Japanese–to discover!

1. Yabai (やばい)

Pronunciation: yah-bai

Yabai is perhaps an important slang time period in Japanese. Whereas it initially meant “dangerous” or “harmful,” now it has constructive meanings resembling “wonderful” or “cool.” It may be used for nearly something so long as the emotions are sturdy.

The pliability of yabai may be in comparison with that of “sick” in English slang. The literal which means of sick is damaging, and it may be used to point disgust and even to say one thing is “wonderful” or “cool.”

Yabai is an i-adjective and might be utilized that method grammatically.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
財布を無くした。やばい!Saifu o nakushita. Yabai!sai-foo oh nah-koo-shtah
I misplaced my pockets. Oh no!
やばい人yabai hitoyah-bai hee-toha harmful particular person
このゲームはやばい。昨日一日中やっていたKono geemu wa yabai. Kinou ichi nichi juu yatte itakoh-noh gayy-moo wa yah-bai
kee-nohh ee-chee nee-chee joo yah-TAY ee-tah
This recreation is unbelievable (but additionally dangerously addictive). I performed all of it day yesterday.

2. Meccha (めっちゃ)

Pronunciation: meh-CHAH

In distinction to yabai, meccha is simple slang. It merely means “very” or “extraordinarily.” Should you’re already used to the phrase totemo, strive changing it with meccha in your sentences. Simply remember the fact that your sentences might be extra informal.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
めっちゃ可愛いMeccha kawaiimeh-CHAH kah-wah-eeeIt’s very cute.
めっちゃ面白いMeccha omoshiroimeh-CHAH oh-moh-shee-royIt’s very humorous / fascinating.
めっちゃ疲れたMeccha tsukaretameh-CHAH tsoo-kah-reh-tahI’m very drained.

3. Bimyou (微妙)

Pronunciation: bee-MYOHH

Relying on the scenario, bimyou may be translated as “refined,” “delicate,” or “iffy.” Though it’s often ignored of textbooks, it’s a standard and useful Japanese phrase. You should use it once you don’t know easy methods to specific your emotions about one thing.

Bimyou is an na-adjective and can observe these grammar guidelines:

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish
微妙な違いがありますBimyou na chigai ga arimasubee-MYOHH nah chee-gai gah ah-ree-mahsThere’s a refined distinction.
状況は微妙ですJoukyou wa bimyou desujohh-kyohh wah bee-MYOHH dehsThe scenario is delicate.
微妙な味Bimyou na ajibee-MYOHH nah ah-jeeThe style is iffy.

4. Pika pika (ピカピカ)

Pronunciation: pee-kah pee-kah

This enjoyable Japanese phrase refers to one thing “gleaming” or “shining,” particularly after being polished. These acquainted with the Pokemon franchise could discover this phrase acquainted. The mascot’s title is Pikachu. Since pika pika can be utilized because the sound for an electrical spark, it turned a part of Pikachu’s title. The chu half is the sound a mouse makes, primarily the Japanese equal of “squeak.”

Most frequently, pika pika describes one thing freshly polished or model new.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
ピカピカの新しい靴pika pika no atarashii kutsupee-kah pee-kah noh ah-tah-rah-sheee koo-tsooshiny new sneakers
床をピカピカに磨きますYuka o pika pika ni migakimasuyoo-kah oh pee-kah pee-kah nee mee-gah-kee-mahsI’ll polish my flooring so it shines.

>> Discover out how lengthy it takes to study Japanese!

man looking at brightly lit pagodas at night

5. Kira kira (キラキラ)

Pronunciation: kee-rah kee-rah

At first look, this phrase is much like pika pika, as kira kira means “glowing” or “glittering.” Nevertheless, they’re utilized in completely different conditions, making this a great likelihood to discover the bimyou (refined) variations within the examples beneath.

There’s additionally an fascinating development of oldsters giving their youngsters quirky names, often called kira kira names that “sparkle” greater than the typical title. Many of those names resemble little of a standard title, resembling Jedi (from Star Wars), Bullet Practice (shinkansen), Disappointment (kanashimi), Pikachu, and Drool (yodare). There are too many uncommon kira kira names to record, however these provide you with an thought.

Utilized in the usual method, kira kira is usually paired with the verbs kagayaku or hikaru, that are synonyms which means “to shine” or “to sparkle.”

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
キラキラ輝くダイヤモンドKira kira kagayaku daiyamondokee-rah kee-rah kah-gah-yah-koo dai-yah-mohn-dohA diamond that glitters brightly.
星が空でキラキラ光っていましたHoshi ga sora de kira kira hikatte imashitahoh-shee gah soh-rah deh kee-rah kee-rah hee-kah-TAY ee-mahsh-tahThe celebrities have been glowing within the sky.
おもちゃを見る子供の目は、キラキラしていたOmocha o miru kodomo no me wa, kira kira shite itaoh-moh-chah oh mee-roo koh-doh-moh noh meh wah kee-rah kee-rah shee-tay ee-tahThe kid’s eyes sparkled as they appeared on the toy.

6. Tsubu tsubu (粒々)

Pronunciation: tsoo-boo tsoo-boo

Tsubu means “bead,” so this distinctive Japanese phrase is used to explain the feel of beads.You could possibly use it to explain beads as “grainy,” “beady,” and even “bumpy,” so long as the bumps are pretty small. If fruit juice is known as tsubu tsubu, it might imply the juice has small seeds (resembling these from strawberries and kiwis) or is filled with pulp. Anko (pink bean paste) is a key element of Japanese conventional sweets, and there’s a texture variation known as tsubuan.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
粒々ピアスtsubu tsubu piasutsoo-boo tsoo-boo pee-ah-soobeady earrings
粒々したものTsubu tsubu shita monotsoo-boo tsoo-boo shee-tah moh-nohIssues with a grainy / beady / bumpy texture.
このオレンジジュースは粒々が入っているOrenji juusu wa tsubu tsubu ga haitteirukoh-noh oh-rehn-jee joo-soo wah tsoo-boo tsoo-boo
gah hai-tay-ee-roo
The orange juice has pulp in it.

7. Dekoboko (凸凹)

Pronunciation: deh-koh-boh-koh

Whereas this Japanese phrase additionally sounds cute, what actually makes it stand out is the way it appears when written. The phrase means “uneven” or “bumpy,” so deko appears like a bump, and boko appears like a groove—each of that are totally on function! In distinction to tsubu tsubu, dekoboko is used to consult with bigger bumps and tough surfaces.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
凸凹道dekoboko michideh-koh-boh-koh mee-cheebumpy street
その道は凸凹していますSono michi wa dekoboko shite imasusoh-noh mee-chee wah deh-koh-boh-koh shee-tay ee-mahsThat street is bumpy.
月の表面は凸凹ですTsuki no hyoumen wa dekoboko desutsoo-kee noh hyohh-mehn wah deh-koh-boh-ko dehsThe floor of the moon is uneven.

8. Yuru kyara (ゆるキャラ)

Pronunciation: yoo-roo kyah-rah

Japan is notorious for its multitude of mascot characters that are typically known as yuru kyara. The phrase yuru comes from the phrase yurui (free) and kyara (character). It’s not precisely clear why the phrase yurui was chosen, nevertheless it appears the which means itself has been interpreted loosely. Most yuru kyara (mascots) characterize a metropolis or area, so a memorable yuru kyara is nice for drawing in vacationers who’re drawn to completely different characters.

9. Shima uma (しまうま)

Pronunciation: shee-mah oo-mah

A shima uma is an animal with a logical title. Shima means “stripe” and uma means “horse,” so naturally that is the phrase for zebra. The pronunciation is what makes this a cute Japanese phrase once you say it shortly.

Japanese has many phrases which might be comprised of a rational mixture of different phrases, notably one other animal. For instance, hari means “needle” and nezumi means “mouse.” Thus, hari nezumi is a hedgehog! 

>> Are you aware the important Japanese greetings together with correct etiquette?

10. Hai tacchi (ハイタッチ)

Pronunciation: HAI tah-CHEE

The phrase hai tacchi is instantly based mostly on an English phrase however varies barely from the expression we use. Are you able to guess what it means?

It’s the way you say “excessive 5” in Japanese! Hai is like our English equal, however tacchi means “contact.” It nonetheless makes logical sense, because you “contact” palms up “excessive.” You should use hai tacchi in the identical conditions you usually would: for a job properly performed, for encouragement, or perhaps only for enjoyable with some youngsters. 

pink axolotl salamander in water with a pot nearby is a cute japanese word

11. Uupaaruupaa (ウーパールーパー)

Pronunciation: ooo-pahh-rooo-pahh

This is without doubt one of the most enjoyable Japanese phrases to say—and one of many cutest! It refers to an axolotl (salamander) that has change into in style not too long ago due to its distinctive look. It has six tendrils on its head (three on either side), is usually a lightweight pink shade, and seems to have a perpetual smile. 

As many Japanese folks love axolotl, they are often discovered at quite a few aquariums in Japan. For these acquainted with Pokémon, the looks and title of “Wooper” is instantly impressed by the uupaaruupaa.

12. Pero pero (ペロペロ)

Pronunciation: peh-roh peh-roh

This phrase represents the sound of licking, particularly when animals eat meals or drink water. After all, issues associated to animals are sometimes cute, which is why pero pero has change into a well-liked phrase in Japanese. The Japanese phrase for lollipop or sucker is pero pero kyandii, which means a “sweet for licking.” The precise phrase for “to lick” is nameru, and the 2 phrases can be utilized collectively.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
犬が人をペロペロと舐めるInu ga hito o pero pero to nameruee-noo gah hee-toh oh peh-roh peh-roh toh nah-meh-rooThe canine licks folks enthusiastically.

13. Neba neba (ねばねば)

Pronunciation: neh-bah neh-bah

Neba neba describes a selected texture with the closest phrases being “gooey” and “slimy” however in a considerably sticky method. It might not sound appetizing, however neba neba is most frequently used to explain completely different meals. The notorious fermented soy beans known as nattō are generally described as neba neba. Okra and grated yam—known as tororo—usually get the gooey label as properly. 

Should you’re not a fan of neba neba shite iru meals, you’re not alone! Exactly as a result of it’s off-putting to many individuals, it’s enjoyable to make use of neba neba in dialog.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
納豆は臭くてねばねばしているNattou wa kusakute neba neba shite irunah-TOH wah koo-sah-koo-tay neh-bah neh-bah shee-tay-ee-rooNattō is smelly and slimy.

14. Bebii kaa (ベビーカー)

Pronunciation: beh-BEEE kahh

Bebii kaa additionally instantly comes from English, however the literal translation is extra of an outline in English. If you consider what bebii might imply and what kaa might imply, you may be capable of make a guess.

Bebii means “child” and kaa the phrase for “automobile.” Right here’s what’s completely different concerning the which means. The literal translation is “automobile for a child,” which might be a stroller!

15. Puri kura (プリクラ)

Pronunciation: pooh-ree koo-rah

Puri kura is one other mixture of English phrases: print (purinto) and membership (kurabu). Whereas the 2 phrases in English won’t make sense, it mainly means the Japanese fashion of photograph cubicles. The directions within the sales space usually recommend completely different poses as you’re taking footage. You possibly can even use completely different filters, add stickers, and digitally write on the photographs. As puri kura are prevalent in Japanese tradition, we suggest making an attempt at the very least as soon as with a pal or two.

This phrase is usually paired with the verb “to take” as you’ll be able to see beneath.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
友達とプリクラを撮ったTomodachi to puri kura o tottatoh-moh-dah-chee toh pooh-ree-koo-rah oh toh-TAHI took footage at a photograph sales space with my associates. 
japanese man and woman hugging and laughing in kitchen

16. Icha icha (イチャイチャ)

Pronunciation: ee-chah ee-chah

Icha icha has a enjoyable use in Japanese; it’s the sound impact for flirting or PDA. You should use it to complain about PDA or tease associates about their relationships. There’s each a damaging and constructive connotation for this phrase, relying on the way it’s used and the intonation. 

That is sometimes used as a suru verb, so you’ll be able to add a conjugation of suru to vary icha icha into an motion.

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
二人はイチャイチャしているねFutari wa icha icha shiteiru nefoo-tah-ree wah ee-chah ee-chah shee-tay-ee-roo nehThese two are lovey-dovey, proper?
人前でイチャイチャするのは恥ずかしいHito mae de icha icha suru no wa hazukashiihee-toh mah-eh deh ee-chah ee-chah soo-roo noh wah hah-zoo-kah-sheeeIt’s embarrassing to do PDA in entrance of individuals.

17. Charai (チャラい)

Pronunciation: chah-rye

Charai  is used as an adjective which means “flashy” or “gaudy,” nevertheless it conjures up a selected stereotypical picture of an individual. Nearly all the time their hair is bleached, their trend is informal however fashionable, and their perspective is cocky.

Males usually tend to be charai than ladies, they usually is perhaps known as charao (chah-rah-oh). Mainly, it’s the sort of man who flirts with and tries to choose up a number of ladies, or as we would say in English, a “participant” or “playboy.”

Like icha icha, you should utilize it to complain about somebody or tease associates about their relationships or look.

18. Bonyari (ぼんやり)

Pronunciation: bohn-yah-ree

Once you’re unfocused and going about your day on auto-pilot, that’s described with the phrase bonyari. Utilizing it as an adverb, you do issues in a bonyari method. Utilizing it as a suru verb, it ranges from “spending time idly” to “spacing out.” In one other use, some Japanese folks use it to explain a visible (or reminiscence) as “dim” or “vague.”

Japanese RomanizationPronunciationEnglish 
ぼんやりした表情bonyari shita hyoujoubohn-yah-ree shee-tah hyohh-johhan absent look
ぼんやりと窓の外を眺めていたBonyari to mado no soto o nagamete itabohn-yah-ree toh mah-doh noh soh-toh oh nah-gah-meh-tay ee-tahI appeared out the window blankly.
ぼんやりと覚えていますBonyari to oboete imasubohn-yah-ree toh oh-boh-eh-tay ee-mahsI vaguely bear in mind.

With all the lovable Japanese phrases to study on this article, we’re guessing you didn’t change into bonyari your self. When studying a brand new language, it may be straightforward to zone out or get overwhelmed because you’re studying an entire new set of vocabulary and grammar. Luckily, the Rosetta Stone app retains you engaged and immersed within the language. You possibly can even obtain the teachings to study extra conversational Japanese anyplace you’re.

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