10 Japanese Words that Describe Japan and its Culture

The Japanese language is full of words that do not exist in any other language. Some of these words represent how Japanese are. In this article, we will see 15 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture.

1. Genki [元気]

Genki [元気] is a common Japanese word that means "energetic, cheerful and healthy". Energy, enthusiasm and health are a unique concept in Japanese culture and are present in that word.

That word is more important than just that. Is the word genki used as a greeting to ask if the person is okay? It says "Ogenki desuka” [お元気ですか].

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture

2. Mottainai [勿体無い]

Mottainai is the feeling of regret when you lose something or have a waste. It can be used to repudiate material waste, but it can also refer to other people's attitudes and actions.

Japan is an island nation with few natural resources. Traditionally, Japanese people are careful not to waste food and take care of the things they own. The word covers waste of any kind, even emotional and spiritual.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture

3. Ganbatte [がんばって]

Ganbatte it is a word that can be translated as “do your best!”. It is the Japanese ethics of giving your all. In Japan, doing your best is highly respected. This explains why the Japanese enjoy working so much.

When a person is going through a difficult time and needs to fight, that word can be a good incentive. We have an article that details the true meaning of Ganbatte. It can be translated as:

  • Good luck!
  • You can!
  • Give your best!
  • Fight!
10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its ganbatte culture

4. Kawaii [可愛い]

Kawaii [可愛い] is a Japanese word that can be translated as cute and cute. It can be used as a compliment, but kawaii is also an aesthetic of Japanese culture and involves cute little things like pets, clothes and even attitudes.

Everything in Japan is ridiculously beautiful, the term Kawaii is quite powerful and moves Japanese industry, including lolita fashion. We’ve already written a full article that explains all about the word kawaii.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its kawaii lolita culture

5. Otsukare [お疲れ]

Otsukare means "fatigue" and refers especially to the hard work the person has just done and serves as a compliment. In Japan, it is highly respected to work until tired. This expression shows how dedicated Japanese people are at work.

When people leave the office at night, they say otsukaresama deshita, which can be translated as “you're tired”, but it means “Good job!”. This is one of the most important phrases in the workplace.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture

6. Shouganai [しょうがない]

Shoganai can be translated as “cannot be helped” or “nothing can be done“. It is the Japanese philosophy of accepting your destiny. It is used to explain why most Japanese people are not interested in politics.

This word indicates acceptance of things as they are, it can encourage the person to move forward despite the problems that can be impactful. Showing thus that the Japanese accept the problems instead of complaining and lamenting.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture

7. Yoroshiku [よろしく]

Yoroshiku is the most difficult Japanese word to translate. The best translation available is “I count on your help, I count on your friendship”. It is used when interacting with someone else in an activity.

This word shows the formality and organization that the Japanese have with each other. Before doing anything, the Japanese first confirm with each other and ask for all the support and collaboration with the word yoroshiku.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture

8. Itadakimasu [いただきます]

Itadakimasu can be translated as "Thanks for the food", "Or I will receive it humbly". This is said before a meal. This word thanks everyone who was responsible for the food, even those who planted and cultivated it, or the animal that became food.

Another example of education and gratitude that the Japanese have in their customs. After meals they also usually thank you with the expression gochisousama deshita.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture

9. Arigatou [ありがとう]

One of the most well-known Japanese words in the whole world, but it is not for nothing, the Japanese have the habit of thanking for almost everything, their education is a highlight of their culture.

The word arigatou comes from the adjective arigatai [有難い] which means grateful, gratitude or esteem, and which gave rise to adverbial conjugation arigataku [有り難く]. In reality the origin is much more complex and can be seen in the article 72 ways to thank in Japanese.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture

10. Banzai [万歳]

THE word banzai literally means 10 thousand years of life. The word came up in the Meiji Period, when the Japanese attacked in war, they shouted banzai in salute to their emperor. Currently, banzai can be translated as “Viva”, “Vida Longa”, “Hurray!”.

Nowadays the Japanese shout banzai three times in festivities, being a peaceful and happy expression. This word shows how much the Japanese are united and nationalist.

10 Japanese words that describe Japan and its culture
Read our article on Banzai by clicking on the image above!

Those were the 10 Japanese words and how they represent and describe the Japanese, Japan and its culture. I hope you enjoyed the article, if you liked it share and leave your comments.

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