aa, ee, un = yes (informal). “aa” is generally only used by men, “un” only by women. “ee” is used by everybody.
abayo = casual goodbye, kinda like “see ya”; it can be rude in some situations
abunai = dangerous, threatening; it’s also used to shout warnings, the same way we say “look out!”
aburi = fried tofu
ahou = moron
ai/aijou = love
aishiteru = love (the verb). It’s used specifically for romantic love.
aisuru = love, sweetheart, beloved
akari = light
akirameru = the verb “give up/surrender”
aku = evil, wicked, bad, etc.
aku soku zan = literally “kill evil instantly” (from Rurouni Kenshin)
ane = older sister. The Japanese have different categories of “family” words depending on whose family (yours or someone else’s) you’re talking about. You would use “ane” to refer to your sister when she’s not in your presence. If you were talking directly to her (or were talking about someone else’s sister) you would use “onee”
ani = older brother. The same rules apply as for “ane” above. The other word for older brother is “onii”.
ano/sono/kono/dono/ = These are used before nouns and mean, in order: “that (over there)/that/this/which one?”
ano hi = literally “this day”
ano hito = literally “that person”
ano toki = literally “that time”; it’s often translated in context as “back then”, “at that time”, etc.
anou = “well…”
ara/are = oh, or “huh?” ; “Ara” is used by women, “Are” by men.
are/sore/kore/dore = these are the versions of “ano/sono, etc.” (see above) without nouns. The meanings are the same. The differences between the two sets are grammatical; check out a Japanese textbook for more information.
arigatou gozaimasu = “thank you very much”; the most formal version is “domo arigatou gozaimasu”; the casual version is “arigatou” (thanks, thank you)
arimasen/imasen = The negative forms of two verbs, both meaning “isn’t”, as in “does not exist”. This is another grammatical thing. Both “aru” and “iru” mean “to exist/be” and also “have”, but the former is used for objects, the latter for living things (such as people). The past tense is “arimashita/imashita”. Present is “arimasu/imasu”. You hear these verbs constantly in anime, for obvious reasons. Look how common the verb “to be” is in English!
asa = morning
asagohan/hirugohan/bangohan/gohan = in order: breakfast/lunch/dinner/meal. “gohan” is actually the word for rice. To the Japanese rice is essential to any meal, hence the connection 🙂
ashita = tomorrow
asoko/soko/koko/doko = these words refer to locations. In order: “there (far away)/there/here/where?”. Commonly heard is “koko wa” (usually translated as “where am I?” ). It literally means “this place is”
atama = head
atarashii = new
atsui = hot (temperature or weather)
baka = idiot, fool, stupid, etc. (all-purpose insult)
bakana = impossible, absurd
bakemono = monster, ghost, phantom; this literally translates as “monstrous thing”. The more proper term for monster is “obake”
ban = evening, night
bangou = a number
banzai! = a cheer you give when someone’s done something well, or if you want to encourage them. You raise your arms over your head three times while saying it. Popular at office parties and sports events 😉
bento = a box lunch
betsu ni = literally means “particularly”. It’s often translated in the negative sense: “nothing”, “not really”, etc.
betsu betsu = seperately
bijutsu = art
bishonen = beautiful boy
bishoujo = beautiful girl
boku = I (male pronoun, see section on pronouns)
bouzu = casual, insulting way to refer to a boy; interestingly, this word also means a buddhist monk
budo = a set of goals and moral codes for martial artists. Essentially your budo is the philosophy that guides how your style is used, for example “protect the weak” or “revitalize people” or “slay all evil”. You get the idea.
bushido = the “warrior’s code”, or code of honor among samurai. One of the main principles of bushido is “death before dishonor”.
busu = ugly woman, hag (a pretty rude insult, obviously)
che = a general sound of annoyance
chibi = a short person or a kid; this is a derogatory term in real life, but that’s not always the case in anime (Take “Chibi-Usa”–literally “little bunny”–from Sailor Moon, for instance)
chi = blood
chichi= father; the same rules as for “ane” and “ani” above apply. The other word for father is “otou”.
chikyuu = Earth (as in the planet)
chigau = different (both a verb and an adjective); it’s often used (and translated) in the same way we say “no” as in “that’s wrong” or “no, it’s something different”.
chiisai = small, as in “small in size”
chikara = strength, power
chotto matte = “wait a minute!”; “chotto” means (among other things, it’s a multi-purpose word) “a little bit/for a short time” and “matte” (the request form of the verb “matsu”) means “wait”.
clothing nouns: kimono, yukata (summer kimono), obi (sash), haori (coat), hanten (jacket), hakama (wide-legged pants), tabi (split-toed socks), gi (short men’s kimono), dougi (combination of gi and hakama), zori (sandals for kimono), geta (wooden sandals), warajii (sandals with many straw straps for keeping it on your foot securely), manto (cloak)
da = this is the short, casual form of “desu”. See entry for “desu” below.
daga = however/but
daijoubu = all right, safe. You use this in the same way you’d say “I’m okay”, “I’ll be all right”, etc. “daijoubu ka” means “Are you okay?”
daikon = large Japanese radish
daimyo= fuedal lord; these people were the next rank above samurai in Japan’s fuedal era class system and were usually the major landowners.
daisho = traditional pair of swords carried by samurai, consisting of a katana (long sword) and wakizashi (short sword)
daisuki desu/da = I love you. “suki” means “like” and “dai” makes something more important (for example, “kirai” = dislike, “daikirai” = hate). This word refers to boyfriend/girlfriend-type love, not romantic marraige-type love. “daisuki” can also be used to describe your favorite things.
dakara = so, therefore
damare = imperative form of the verb “damaru” which means “keep silent”. It’s used the same way we say “Shut up!” or “Silence!”
dame = literally “bad”. It’s often used the way we say “no!” as in “don’t do that!”.
de gozaru = only fans of Rurouni Kenshin will recognize this, but that’s okay. Another verb that expresses existence in Japanese is “desu”. The very formal version of this is “de gozaimasu”. The archaic, outdated form of this is “de gozaru”. So essentially, Himura Kenshin talks like a very polite person from 300 years ago. It would almost be like someone walking up to you and saying stuff like “thou art” and other Shakespearan-era English. You know what it means, but you would never use it in regular conversation. Kenshin’s a bit odd -_-;; The translator for this series made some very strange (and in my view, very incorrect) decisions regarding the translation of Kenshin’s “de gozaru”. But that’s a story for another day…
desu = as I noted for “de gozaru”, this word expresses the idea of existence. This word is extremely important in Japanese; it acts not only as a mark of politeness (the casual form of “desu”, used between friends, is “da”) but makes a complete sentence in the same way the various forms of “to be” do in English. For example, if I were introducing myself I’d say “Jessica desu.” (I am Jessica.) To really understand this word, you need to study a Japanese textbook.
demo/datte = however, but; “datte” is the casual, colloquial version of “demo”
denki = electricity
densetsu = legend, legendary
denwa = telephone; “denwa bangou” is a telephone number and “ketai denwa” (lit. carryable phone) is a cell phone
dewa = an interjection, has various meanings including “Then…”,”Well…”,”Now…”, etc. The casual version of this is “ja”
dim sum = Chinese dumplings
doistu mo koitsu mo = lit. “which person and this person”; this is a phrase, it means basically “anyone and everyone”. You say this when you seem to be getting the same sort flack about something from everyone and you’ve had it. “Jeez, everyone and anyone, I tell you…” You get the idea. As you may have guessed, this isn’t the most polite phrase in the world.
dojo = training hall (for marital arts)
doki doki = the sound of a heartbeat. It’s also used to express the idea of nervousness, surprise or anticipation without actually using those words.
dou iu koto da = literally means “what is this matter you’re speaking of?” and is used the same way we say “What do you mean?” or “What are you talking about/saying?”
doumo = this word has so many meanings and uses I couldn’t possibly list them all, but probably the most common one is as a casual “thank you”.
douzo = here you go, here you are (giving someone something)
dou = how; a common phrase is “dou da?”, meaning in context “how was that?” or “how about it?”, etc.
doushita (no) = “what?”, “what happened?”, “what’s wrong?”, etc.
doushite = “why?”, “why not?”, “how?”, “how come?”, etc.
e = a picture, painting or drawing
ebi = shrimp
etchi/ecchi = perverted (an adjective)
edamame = green soybean
eeto… = this is like saying “um…” or “erm…”, that sort of thing
eiga = movie
eigo = English (the language)
eki = train station
engawa = the porch around a traditional Japanese house; also the recessed area where you leave your shoes in a house or apartment
enkai = party or banquet
erabu = choose, select, elect (verb)
expletives: mou, chikuso (this word literally means “beastly”), ‘kuso (short form of “chikuso”), shimatta. All mean damn, shit, crap, etc. I’ve only heard “Mou” used by women.
fugu = a globefish or blowfish; it’s a type of puffer fish the Japanese consider a delicacy. It’s famous because the fish is highly poisonous; if the chef doesn’t prepare the meat just right, you’ll die only a few minutes after eating it. Those crazy Japanese…
fuku = means clothes; “seifuku” is a school uniform
fune = boat or ship
fureru = a verb, means “to touch” or more precisely “bring gently into contact with”
furigana = the small Hiragana characters printed above kanji in children’s books and manga. They are a learning aid, giving you the pronunciation of kanji you haven’t learned yet. A boon for Japanese students everywhere ^_^
furo = Japanese-style bath
furui = old
fushigi = magical, mysterious
futari = two people
futatsu = “two” when you’re counting things
futon = the thin, soft mattresses many Japanese sleep on. They are folded and stored in cabinets when not in use. This is a practical thing; Japanese homes are very small (trust me on this one :P)
gaijin = literally “outside person”, this word refers to foreigners. The formal (and more polite) term is “gaikokujin”
gaki = brat, upstart, punk
gakkou = school (this is a general term)
gakusei = student
ganbatte ne! = “do your best!” This is the friendly request form of the verb “ganbaru” which means “to perservere/do one’s best”. A stronger command form you sometimes hear (often during sports matches or duels) is “Ganbare!”
geijutsu = fine arts
geisha = lit. means “artist”; these women are highly skilled in dance, theater, music, and the art of conversation. For the record, they are NOT prostitutes. Their apprentices are called “maiko”. Kyoto dialect for “geisha” is “geiko”.
genki = literally means “energy”. So you can use it to mean someone is engergetic and cheerful. “Genki da ne” said to a person means “cheer up”, “be well”, “take care”, etc.
gesu = a lowlife, cad, jerk, etc.; this is, needless to say, a very rude term
getsu = month
gochisousama (deshita) = a little hard to translate, you say this when you’re done with a meal. It means something like “thanks for the food.”
gomen nasai = I’m sorry; more casual is just “gomen”
ha = the cutting edge of a blade, also means a tooth. These are just two of the many meanings of “ha”
haha = mother (see rules for “ane” and “ani” above). The other word for mother “okaa”.
hai = yes
hairu = to enter, come in, go in (verb)
hajime = beginning, start. The verb “begin” is “hajimeru”. This is a very common verb in anime. The request form is “hajimete” which also means “the first time” (for example, “hajimete mite” means “this is the first time I’ve seen it/this”).
hajimemashite = “I’m pleased to meet you (for the first time)”
hakubaikou = scent of the white plum (“ume”) flower blossom
han = half; common examples are “hanbun” (“half of me” or “part of me”) and “hanyou” (“half-demon”; from Inuyasha)
hana = there are a few meanings for this, including “flower” and “nose”
hanase = imperative form of the verb “hanasu” meaning “release/let go of”. It’s often translated as “release me!” or “let me go!”
hanashi = a story, news, an account
hanasu = the verb “talk”, the verb “release/let go of” (the two verbs conjugate differently)
hane = feather, wing (singular; a pair of wings is “tsubasa”)
haru = spring (the season)
hayaku = an adverb, means “faster/quickly”
hen = weird or strange
hentai = literally a “strange person”; it doesn’t necessarily mean a perverted person, but in the North American anime market “hentai” has become the label used for pornographic anime. This is not a very accurate use of the original word -_-;;
henshin = transform or change
hidari = left
hidoi = mean, cruel, terrible, violent
hikari = light in the form of a ray, glare or brilliance
hime = princess
himitsu = secret
hito = man, person
hitokiri = assassin; this word literally means “man-slicer” or “man-slayer”, hence why it’s an appropriate job title for an assassin
hitomi = a glance or sight of
hitori = one person; also means “alone/on your own/by yourself”
hitotsu = “one” when you’re counting things; “hitotsu no” is a part of something (a, one, etc.)
honki de = seriously, earnestly
honorifics: the Japanese “honorific” has no English equivalent. They are a way of showing your status in relation to another person and so, depending on how they are used, they can be either respectful or insulting. In rank from highest respect to lowest they are: -sama, -san, -dono, -kun, -chan. They are used as suffixes attached to the ends of words. “-san” is often translated as “Mr./Ms./Mrs.” because this is the nearest English equivalent to an honorfic. “-dono” has been the cause of some debate amongst myself and others. It’s an older honorific and rarely if ever used in daily conversation, but in anime it seems to imply that the speaker is in the service of another person. I’ve heard it used by employees talking to their bosses, and by servants addressing their masters. In the case of its frequent use by Himura Kenshin in Rurouni Kenshin, he’s a swordsman committed to serving those around him by protecting them, which supports the “service” theory. If anyone out there has an actual definition of “-dono” and an understanding of its proper use, by all means let me know!
hontou no = real, true, genuine
hontou ni = really, truly, genuinely; “hontou desu ka” means “Really?”
houshi = priest
ichiban = the first, the best, favorite, etc.; “ichi” means “one” and Japanese uses many different “classifiers” to count things (kind of like the way we say “two pieces of bread” instead of “two breads”). “-ban” is used specifically for counting numerical order.
ie = house
ii = good, nice. There are a number of common phrases: “ii desu ka” means “is it good/okay?”; “ii ne” means “it’s nice, isn’t it?” and “ii na” is good being used as adjective. The past tense of “ii” is “yokatta” (yes you guessed right, it’s an irregular. I hate irregulars :P)
iie, iya = no; the first is more formal, the second more relaxed and conversational
iinazuke = fiancee
ika = squid
ikari = fury, anger
ikebana = Japanese flower arranging
ikenai = literally means “prohibited, bad/unacceptable”. It’s used the same way we’d say “oh no!” in response to a bad situation.
ikiru = the verb “to live”; “ikite iru” means “alive”
iku = the verb “go”; often you hear it in the casual male-speech (“-zo” ending) form “ikuzo” meaning “let’s go!”. “ike” is the command form.
ikura = how much; this is how you ask for the price of something (“ikura desu ka?”)
ima = now
imouto = younger sister
inochi = life
inu = dog
irrashai(mase)! = welcome! (used most often in restaurants and shops to greet customers)
iro = color
isogashii = busy
isogu = hurry up; “isoide” is “to be in a hurry”
itachi = weasel
itadakimasu = this is tough to translate; the Japanese use it in almost the same way Christian people say Grace before a meal. It’s a manners thing. It means roughly “I’m recieving/appreciating this food”.
ite = ouch, ow
ittekimasu = “I’m taking off!” or “I’m leaving now!”
itte rasshai = “see you later”, “please return safely”, etc. It’s the proper response to “itte kimasu”
itsu = when
itsumo = always, constantly, forever
jaa = an interjection, means “well,…” or “then,…” “Ja” is the short form of “dewa” which has the same use and meaning (“dewa” is more polite)
ja ne/ja na = see you later/see you then
ja mata/mata na = casual “goodbye”; both literally mean “well, (I’ll see you) again”
-ja nai/-nai = a suffix that gives certain adjectives and nouns a negative meaning. You need to look at grammar book for a full explanation. “ja nai” is the short, informal form of “dewa arimasen”. “nai” is the short form of “arimasen”.
janken = the Japanese version of “rock, paper, scissors”; the phrase is “Janken, Janken, Pon!”
jibun = self; myself/yourself/himself/herself, etc.
jikai = next time
jinchuu = Earthly justice (is also sometimes translated as “revenge”)
jitsu wa = actually, in fact
judo = a kind of Japanese martial art
jou-chan = “little missy”, it’s a play on “josei” which is a word for “woman” (“ojousan” is the honorable form)
joudan ja nai =”this is no joke!” or “you’ve got to be kidding!”, etc.
juunishi = Japanese version of the Chinese Zodiac (featured in the anime Fruits Basket)
ka = you use this at the end of a statement to make it a question; as a noun, it’s the word for “mosquito”
kaesu = to give back, return; this is a common verb in anime, especially in series like Inuyasha where everyone’s trying to get a special item (“Gimme the Shikon shard!!” ^_^;;). Common masculine speech forms (i.e. not polite) are “kaero” and “kaeze”
kakkoii! = “cool!”
kami = another homophone; some common meanings are “spirit”, “hair”, and “paper”
kamisama = God
kanai = one’s wife (when you’re being humble); you use this to refer to your wife. Someone else’s wife is “okusan”.
kanji = perception, feeling. Also refers to the Chinese characters used in Japanese writing.
kanojo = as a pronoun it means “she/her”; men use it also to refer to their girlfriends
kanpeki = perfect, flawless
kao = face
kaori = fragrance, scent
-kara = this word has innumerable functions in Japanese. It primarily means “from” but can also mean “since/after”, “(made) by”, and “because/therefore/so”, to name just a few uses -_-;; See a grammar book for more info.
karate = a kind of Japanese martial art
kare = as a pronoun, it means “he/him”. Another meaning is “boyfriend”
kasa = umbrella
kata = a form (motion) in martial arts
kawa/gawa = river
kawaii/kawaiku ne = cute/uncute (the latter is heard frequently in Ranma 1/2)
kaze = wind, breeze; it also means a cold (when you’re sick)
kazoku = family
keikan = police officer
keisatsu = the police (as a group)
keitai denwa = literally “a carryable phone”, this is a cel phone
ken = sword; there are many words for sword according to their type, which is usually determined by their length. Examples: wattou (long battle katana, usually greater than 30 inches in length), katana (generally 25-30 inches long), wakizashi (short sword), kodachi (short sword between a wakizashi and katana in length), tanto (long dagger), kunai (short throwing knives), sakabatou (a fictional reverse-bladed sword), zanbatou (giant sword used to cut down both horse and rider), bokken (wooden sword), and shinai (bamboo practice sword). The sheath or scabbard for a sword is called a “saya”.
ken = a prefecture (same idea as a state or province)
kendou = the modern sport form of sword fighting in Japan, it’s similar in principle to fencing
kenjutsu = swordsmanship
kenka = a fight or quarrel
kenkaku = swordsman
kenshin = devotion, dedication; in Rurouni Kenshin it’s written with kanji reading “Heart of Sword”, a perfect description of the title character 😉
keredo/kedo = though, although, but, nevertheless
ki = tree
ki/chi = the Asian concept of a life force or life spirit; it’s used a lot in martial arts anime. “Ken-ki” is used in Rurouni Kenshin in reference to swords, and in Inuyasha “youki” is used to describe demon energy.
kieru = the verb “to disappear”. When you tell someone to “kiero!” you’re telling them very rudely to literally vanish from your sight; it’s usually translated as “Get lost!”
kieta = plain past tense of the verb “disappear/vanish” (kieru)
kimochi = feeling, emotion, pleasure
kin = gold
ki o tsukete = the request form of the verb “be careful” (ki o tsukeru); it means “be careful”, “take care”, “watch out”, etc.
kirei = pretty, lovely, beautiful
kitsune = fox
kizu = wound (physical cut)
kochira/ sochira/ dochira = this way/ that way/ which way/direction? The short forms are “kochi/sochi/dochi”
kodomo = child
koe = voice
koekeishiya = successor
koishii, koibito = beloved, lover, sweetheart, etc.
koi = this word was many meanings including “love” and “carp”. It also happens to be the imperative form of the verb “come” (kuru) and in that case means “come here!”
kokoro = heart, mind, soul, etc.
konbanwa = good evening
koneko = kitten
konnichi wa = hello, good afternoon
kono tabi = this time
kono tsugi (no) = next time
korosu = the verb “kill”
kotae = answer, solution
kotaeru = the verb “answer”; it’s pretty common in anime, often in its command form meaning “answer me!”
kotatsu = the greatest thing Japan ever invented IHMO; this is a low table with an electric heater on the underside. You drape a heavy blanket over it and it keeps you warm in winter (because the Japanese somehow missed out on the concepts of insulation and central heating)
koto wa/ga = “thing” or “what” in the sense of an affair or matter
kotowaru = the verb “decline”, as in to refuse do something, such as fight
kouban = police box
kouchou (sensei) = school principal
koukou = senior high school (said with long “o” sounds)
kowai = scary, fearful
kumo = this has a few meanings including “spider” and “cloud”
maa, maa = “now, now” ; a phrase used to placate someone. It also means “it’s so-so”
maa na = “I guess”
maboroshi = means “illusion”, as in a dream or illusion constructed by someone; figuratively it means “mystic” or “mystical”. In Escaflowne “Maboroshi no tsuki” means “The Mystic Moon.”
machigainai = unmistakable, unquestionable; it’s often translated as “there’s no mistake!” or “I was right!”, that sort of thing
mada = not yet, still
mae = before, in front of, forward
mainichi = every day, daily
majo = witch
makaseru = the verb “to leave” (up to someone or something else). This is a very common verb in action and adventure anime (as it is in English cartoons), used in its various forms to mean “leave it to me!”
makenai = casual negative form of the verb “makeru” meaning “lose, be defeated, succumb”. It’s usually translated as “I won’t lose/give up!”
makura = pillow
mamoru = the verb “protect”
mamonaku = before long, soon
manga = comic book
maru = circle
masaka = an interjection, means “of course not!”, “impossible”, “that can’t be!”, etc.
massagu = straight
massushiro = a phrase, means “clean and white”
mata = again
matsu = the verb “wait”; the most common form in anime is the request form “matte” (more polite is “matte kudasai” meaning “please wait”)
matsuri = festival
mattaku = sheesh, yeesh, jeez, “oh for heaven’s sake”, etc. General expression of annoyance.
me = eye
men = a mask or face; in Kendo you shout “men!” when you strike to the head (literally the mask)
michi = road, street
migi = right (the direction)
mikan = mandarin orange
miko = priestess
mimi = ear
minna = everyone
mirai = future
miru = the verb “see”; this is another very common verb. “Mite” means “look” (request form), “mita/mimashita” is past tense, “saw”, “mitenai” is “didn’t see”, “mieru/mienai” is “can see/can’t see”
miso = fermented bean paste; it’s usually made into soup (misoshiru)
mitsuketa = plain past tense of the verb “locate/find” (mitsukeru)
mizu = water
mo = this is a particle (a Japanese part of speech); it has several uses, but its most common function is “also, and”. For example “watashi mo” means “me too”/”and me”/”me also”, etc.
mochi = a popular (and extremely yummy) Japanese dessert; it’s a special type of rice that’s been pounded to the consistency of marshmallow and rolled into balls and/or stuffed with various ingredients.
mochiron = “of course!”
moko-dono = from Ranma 1/2, means “son-in-law”
momo = peach
mon = this has several meanings, including: a gate; a family crest, often seen on formal kimono; currency in Japan’s Meji Era. Back then a “mon” was worth less than a “sen”. The mon, as far as I know, is no longer in use as money in Japan.
mono = thing, object
mononoke = vengeful spirit
mori = forest
moshi-moshi = hello (on the phone)
mosoraku = perhaps, possibly. I can’t actually find this word in my dictionaries, but I’ve seen it in context enough in anime–always consitently translated–that I’m pretty sure this entry is correct. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.
motsu = this verb has various meanings including “to carry”, and “to come to posses”. It’s basically another word for “to have”.
motto = and adverb, means “more” (basically increases the amount of something)
mou = (long “o” sound); a couple meanings but the most common one is “another, more”. For example “mou sukoshi” means “a little more”.
moufu = blanket
mou ii = a phrase, means “no more” or “that’s enough!”
musume = daughter; in Rurouni Kenshin “itachi musume” = “weasel girl” or literally the daughter of a weasel. Obviously in that case it’s being used as in insult.
muzukashii = difficult
-na = a negative ending, means “don’t do”. For example, “miruna” means “don’t look”. This is informal language. Another common negative ending is “-ja ne”
nai = no, not (this is an adverb). In use it means “there’s nothing”, “I don’t have any”, etc.
naka = inside, middle
nakanai de = don’t cry; this is negative informal form of the verb “cry” (naku). “nakanaide kudasai” = “please don’t cry”
namae = name; a very informal (and often impolite) way of asking someone’s name is “na wa?” Polite is “o-namae wa?”
nan/nani = what; “nan da” means “what is it?” or “what the-?” (informal)
nan da to = an extreme version of “what”, sort of like “WHAT?!”
nande = why, what.
nan de sute = “what did you say?”
nan demo nai = an interjection, means “it’s nothing!”
nanika = something, anything
nanimo = nothing
nani yatten no/nani shitteru no= “what are you doing?” Both “suru” and “yaru” (the colloquial form of “suru”) are verbs that mean “to do”
naruhodo = “I see”, “I understand (what you mean)”, etc.
natsu = summer
naze = why
ne = you put this at the end of a sentence to try and confirm information; it means “right?”, “is that correct?”, “don’t you agree?”, etc.
neko = cat
nezumi/o-nezumi = mouse/rat
nido-to= ever again; this is always used with a negative predicate. In the Rurouni Kenshin OVA Kenshin says he’ll never kill again, never: “mou nido-to”
nigeru = the verb “run away/escape”. Most often heard in its request form “nigete” and in the past tense “nigeta” (“He got/ran away!”)
nihon/nippon = Japan
nihongo = Japanese (the language)
nihonjin = Japanese person/people
niku = meat; “gyuniku” is beef (i.e. cow), “gyunyu” is cow’s milk
nikui = hateful, detestable; Naruto fans will recognize this when Sasuke is remembering Itachi. The verb “to hate” is “nikumu”
nikuma = pork buns
ningen = human
ninja = spy, secret agent
nioi = smell, scent (this word is used a lot in Inuyasha)
no = another particle (a part of speech in Japanese), and it serves several purposes. A common is the equivalent of “‘s” in English to mark a possesive. For example “Akane no iinazuke” means “Akane’s fiancee”.
noboru = “to climb”
nodoka = calm, peaceful
numbers: ichi (one), ni (two), san (three), shi or yon (four), go (five), roku (six), shichi or nana (seven), hachi (eight), kyuu or ku (nine), juu (ten), etc.
nyaa nyaa = the sound a cat makes
obasan = aunt
obaasan = grandmother. It’s important to note that this word is different from “obasan” above (which only has one “a” in romanji or a short “a” sound in speech). The “a” sound in “obaasan” is held twice as long.
obaba = great-grandmother, or a fairly rude way of saying “old woman”
obake = ghost, monster
oboeru = the verb “to remember/memorize/learn”
obou = monk
ochitsuku = to calm (oneself); you usually hear it in it’s command form “ochitsuke!” (“calm down!”)
oden = a mixed meat/vegetable stew
odoroku = to become surprised; the colloquial version of this (most often heard in anime) is “bikkuri suru”
ohagi = sweet bean paste
oi = “hey!”
oishii = delicious, tasty
ojisan = uncle, or “mister” when used by a non-relative. The Japanese have the habit of sometimes referring to strangers or aquaintances with familial terms. This is one such example.
ojiisan = grandfather. Just as with “obasan” it’s important to note the difference in spelling. You hold the “i” sound longer when you want to say “grandfather” as opposed to “uncle”.
okaa = mother; in speech this word is almost always used with an honorific. “Okaa-sama” is very respectful, “Okaa-san” is general respect (this is the usual form you hear), “Okaa-chan” is informal and is sort of like saying “mommy”.
okane = money
okaeri(nasai) = welcome home; said in response to “tadaima” (“I’m home!”)
okashii = funny, laughable; can also mean strange or odd
okashira = commander or boss
okiru = to get up, wake up
okonomiyaki = Japanese “pizza” (it’s similar to a pancake with sauce and other toppings added. Yum ^_^)
okusan = wife (formal term)
ohayou gozaimasu = good morning; to be more casual and say “mornin’!” you just say “ohayou”
ohisashiburi = “it’s been a long time” or “long time no see!”
oide = the old honorable form of the verb “to come” (kuru). You usually hear this from characters who are royalty, especially kings.
ojousan = girl, (someone else’s) daughter
omae = you (informal pronoun; see section on pronouns)
omoi = heavy
omoidasu = to recal, recollect, remember
omoshiroi = interesting, amusing
omou = the verb “to think”; I usually hear it in its formal form, “omoimasu”
onaji = same, equivalent to
onna = woman
onegai = please (the full version is “onegai-shimasu” when you’re being really polite; if used like a command I’ve seen it translated as “I beg of you!”)
onee = older sister (informal: “onee-chan”, polite: “onee-san”)
oni = ogre or demon
onii = older brother (informal: “onii-chan”, polite: “onii-san”)
onigirii = rice ball
onore = this a pronoun meaning “you” but it seems to be rude; in anime it usually translates as “damn/curse you”, or “how dare you!”
onsen = hot spring
oshiete = request from of the verb “oshieru” which means “tell, teach, show”.
ouji(sama) = prince
oujou(sama) = princess
oukii = big, large, loud
osoi = late
osoku = an adverb, means “slowly”; “yukkuri” also means “slowly”
osuwari = a command form of the verb “sit” (suwaru) from Inuyasha, apparently used just for dogs
otaku = in Japan this words simply refers to a fan of anything (in the unhealthily obsessed Trekkie-ish sense); in America it’s used to describe an fan of anime specifically.
otoko = man
otou = father; in speech, just as with “okaa”, this word is almost always used with an honorific. “Otou-sama” is very respectful, “Otou-san” is general respect (this is the usual form you hear), “Otou-chan” is informal and is sort of like saying “daddy”.
otouto = younger brother
otto = husband
ougi = the term for the succession technique of a martial arts school; it literally means “deep act”
owari = “the end”, as in the end of a show or story. The verb “end” is “owaru”
oyaji = “old man”, as in your dad (not the most respectful term…)
oyasumi(nasai) = good night
paku = the sound a fish makes
pan = bread (this is a loanword from Spanish, Portugese and/or French, not sure which one)
particle: ah yes particles…the bane of any Japanese student’s existence. Actually, they just serve the same function as our many preposition words (to/of/and/from/the, etc.) Particles in Japanese are for the most part short syllables (no, to, ni, mo, etc.) The meanings and uses of particles are many and varied. To understand their use you need to see a Japanese grammar dictionary and/or a good textbook.
piyo = the sound a bird makes
In brief: watakushi (formal “I”), watashi (standard “I”), atashi (young woman’s “I”), ore (informal men’s “I”), boku (“I” for kids or men being umassuming or submissive), sessha (“this unworthy one”), washi (“I” used by old people), anata (formal “you”, or “beloved” if used between a married couple), kimi (men’s “you”), omae (casual men’s “you”), onushi (old-fashioned “you”), temee (rude version of “you”), kisama (really rude version of “you”)
Special notes on pronoun use (information generously provided by Jan Story: Japanese pronouns are generally used in pairs; complementary I/you pairs are governed by politeness level. There are a lot of ways of referring to oneself, depending on gender, age, social position, and relation to the person being addressed. Usually, a person who habitually uses a given first person pronoun will use a complementary second person pronoun to address others.
Ore/omae. Ore is the tough-guy way of saying I, and a guy who says ore usually addresses other (men) as omae. Omae *used* to be polite, it literally means something like honorable-one-in-front-of-me, but usage tends to drag down second (and sometimes first) person pronouns to lower and lower politeness levels. Anime characters who use it: Sanosuke, Yahiko, Battousai, Ranma, Ryouga — tough guys in general.
Boku/kimi. Boku is the boy’s I, used almost from the time a boy becomes aware that he is a boy, up until he decides he’s a M-A-N and starts using ore. Kimi is the complementary you; most boku-users seem to use it. Boku-users in anime usually tend to be softer-spoken — though why Tatewaki Kunou uses it is a mystery, since most of the rest are nice guys: Tenchi Masaki, Tonbo in Kiki’s Delivery Service, Hakkai in Gensoumaden Saiyuuki.
Watashi/anata. Standard-polite, used by nearly all adults who don’t talk tough.
Atashi/anta. This is a young girl’s version of standard-polite and is a little more casual. Akane Tendou uses this.
Washi. I don’t remember the complementary you for this; it’s a form used by old people. Happousai, Cologne, and Genma use it (even though Genma’s not that old).
Sessha/onushi. This unworthy one… and onushi means something like honored lord. Again, both are around 300 years out of date. And we all know who uses these! ^_^x
Then there are two other words for you that I should mention. At least technically they mean you — they’re usually used as epithets: kisama and temee (that’s the rough-masculine pronunciation, but it’s the only one I ever see). In Japanese, most curses, epithets and insults are simply very rude ways of saying you.
rei = soul, ghost; it also means the number zero. It’s also the command to bow in formal situations (school, meetings, etc.)
rounin = masterless samurai
rurouni = vagabond or wanderer (it’s important to note that this word was made up by the creator of Rurouni Kenshin, combining “rounin” (masterless samurai) and “rurou” (vagabond). It doesn’t actually exist in the Japanese language)
ryu = school or style (for example, a sword style such as “Hiten Misturugi Ryu”).
ryoukai = an affirmative response; the only translation I ever see for it is “Roger that!”
ryuu = dragon
saa = a noise with many meanings in everyday speech; one common one is when the speaker wants to avoid commenting on a situation. In that case it means something like “I dunno…” A short “sa” means “it’s all right, come on…”
sabishii = lonely
-sai = the counter for years; “nan-sai desu ka” means “how old are you?”
sakana = fish
sake = rice “wine” (it’s brewed like a beer)
sakura = cherry blossom
samui = cold
samurai = Japan’s ancient warrior class (one step above peasants), officially abolished at the start of the Meji era (1868)
sanpo = a walk or a stroll
saru = monkey
saseru = to be technical, this is the “causative” form of “suru” (to do). What that means is that this word translates to “to let do” as in “please let/allow me to do this”
sashimi = sliced raw fish or meat
sasuga wa = a phrase, means “nothing less from/ as expected from ” when someone lives up to their reputation or does something cool that you expected
satsujinsha = killer/murderer; just “satsujin” is a murder
sayounara = farewell (as in “goodbye forever” or for a long time)
sei = fault, blame; “Omae no sei da!” means “It’s your fault!”
seifuku = a uniform
senshi = soldier
sempai = upperclassmen/predecessor; essentially someone who has studied or been there before you
sepukku = ritual suicide
seiyuu = voice actor/actress
sen = in the old days, a sen was a currency breakdown of the yen (like cents to a dollar). The sen no longer exists as money. “Sen” means “a thousand” and so is used to count thousands of yen in today’s money.
sensei = teacher; it’s often used also as a suffix after someone’s name to indicate that they are very knowledgeble in a certain area; doctors, teachers, and writers often get a “-sensei” after their name. In America “sensei” has a more limited definition as a martial arts instructor.
shihondai = assistant master
shikkari shite = a phrase, generally translated as “hang in there! or “snap out of it!”. “shikkari shiro” is the informal male speech version.
shikashi = however/but (this is polite language)
shakkin = money debt
shinda = “died”; this is the plain past tense of the verb “shinu” which means “die”. Another common form is “shine” (pronounced “shee-nay”) which the command form (“Die!”).
shinjiru = the verb “believe”. Commonly heard in its request form “shinjite”
shinjitsu = truth
shinma = literally “gods” + “demons”, used to describe the supernatural beings in Vampire Princess Miyu
shinpai = worry (“shinpai na” means “don’t worry”)
Shinto/Shintoism = the native religion of Japan. Worship of ancestors and various animal and nature spirits are a core component of the religion. Shinto shrines are distinguished by their bright orange-red torii gates. These are commonly seen in anime because they are common in real life; every town has at least one and in the case of the cultural capitol, Kyoto, there are thousands.
shiro = castle
shishou = old (but sometimes still used) term for “master” in the Japanese arts; not necessarly martial ones
shita = below, underneath
shitsure shimasu = lit. “please excuse what I am about to do”. It’s what you say when you enter someone else’s house or a place where you are an inferior (students entering the teacher’s room of a school for instance). When you leave again you say the past tense “shitsure shimashita” which essentially means “I’m done being rude now.”
shizuka = quiet, calm, peaceful
shogun = warlord
shoji = the sliding rice paper doors in Japanese houses
shounen = boy
shoujo = girl
sora = sky
sore = that
soredemo = however/but
soro soro = soon; common translations are “it’s almost time”, “it is time for…”, etc.
soshite = and, then
sou = so (the one word that’s the same in Japanese and English); it’s also an affirmative response (“yes, that’s so…”)
soueba = a phrase, means “come to think of it…”, “now that you mention it…”, etc. I couldn’t find this in my dictionaries, but it’s very consistent in anime. My spelling might not be completely correct. Any ideas, readers?
sou ja nakute = “that’s not what I meant…”
sou ka = “I see” or “do I?”
sou na = “no”, as in “no, that can’t be!” or “no way!”
sou desu ne = basic meaning is “yes (you’re right), it is, isn’t it?” A statement of agreement.
sou, sou = “oh yeah (I almost forgot)…”
subarashii = awesome, amazing, magnificent
subete = all, everything
sugoi! = awesome!, cool!, great!, wow!, etc.
suhama = rice cake
suki = like, fond of (this is not a verb in Japanese; only an adjective. Strange, I know.)
sukiyaki = Japanese meat dish
sukoshi = literally means “to a small degree”; usual translations are “a little bit”, “slight/slightly”, “some”, “limited”, etc.
suna = sand
sumanu/sumanai/sumimasen = various forms of “pardon me/excuse me”, “I’m sorry”. It’s basically just a polite apology, and the Japanese use it all the time. I think I must say it twenty times a day at least -_-;;
suru = the verb “do”; it’s gets a lot of usage in its various forms. One common phrase is “nani o suru/shite?” meaning “what will you do?”
sushi = we all know this one; it’s vinagered rice, usually topped with raw fish and wrapped in seaweed (“nori”)
suteki = great, wonderful
suzume = sparrow
tabun = probably
tabemono = food
taberu = the verb “eat”
-tachi = when added to things, makes them plural (“hito-tachi” = “folk, people” for example). When used with first and second person pronouns -tachi can make words meaning “we/our” and “you guys”. More examples: ore/boku/watashi-tachi all mean “we/our” and “omeatachi” means “you guys”, essentially referring to a group of people (see notes on pronoun use above).
tada = only, just, merely
tadaima = “I’m home”, “I’m back”, etc.
taihen = terrible, terribly difficult; “taihen da!!” means literally “It’s terrible!”; it usually translates as “something’s bad/awful happened!” or “Big problem!!”
taisetsu = important, precious, special
takai = three main meanings: high, tall, expensive
tako = octopus; it’s often used as an insult (after all, who’d want to be called an octopus…)
tamago = egg
tamashii = soul; In Inuyasha “Shikon no Tama” means “Jewel of the Four Souls”
tame ni = for the sake/benefit of someone or something
tanikoku = anyhow, “in any case…”, etc.
tanjoubi = birthday
tanoshimu = to enjoy; “tanoshii” is the adjective, meaning “fun, enjoyable, pleasant”; “tanoshimi” is the noun (pleasure/enjoyment). You hear this at the end of anime episodes with the phrase “o tanoshimi ni” meaning “please look forward to it!”
tanuki = raccoon (the Japanese raccoon dog, actually)
taousu = the verb “defeat” (in battle)
tashika ni = you say this when agreeing with someone, translates as “that’s true…”
taishou = captain, commander
tasukete = request form of the verb “help” (taskeru)
tataku = a verb; means to hit, beat, or knock.
tatami = the straw mats that cover floors in traditional Japanese homes
tatakai = a fight or battle
tatakau = the verb “fight, battle”
tatoebe = for example, for instance
tatte = request form of the verb “stand up” (tatsu)
te = hand
tegami = letter
teki = enemy
tempura = deep-fried vegetables
tenchuu = divine or heavenly justice (from Rurouni Kenshin)
tenki = weather
tenshi = angel
tetsudau = the verb “to help”
to = a particle; one common meaning is “and” when linking two words
tobu = to fly, to jump/leap
tofu = soybean curd; the Japanese love this stuff
toui = far, distant (pronounced with a long “o”)
toire = toilet
toki = time; “ano toki” literally means “that time”, it also translates as “at that time”, “back then”, etc.
tokidoki = a phrase meaning “sometimes/from time to time”
tomaru = verb, means to stop a motion (for example, a car). “Tomeru” means to stop someone/something from moving.
tomo(dachi) = friend
tonari = next to
tonikaku = in any case, anyway, anyhow
tori = bird, also refers specifically to a chicken or rooster; “tori no atama” = “rooster head” (from Rurouni Kenshin)
torii = Shinto shrine gate
totemo = very
tsubasa = wings; a single wing (and also a feather) is called a “hane”
tsuchi = earth, soil, the ground
tsuee = strong, as in “he’s strong”
tsugi = next
tsukareta = tired, fatigued, worn out
tsuki = moon (as in the satellite)
tsumari = “in other words”, “that is to say…”, etc.
tsumetai = cold (as in the surface of something, not the air temperature)
tsuzuku = a phrase, “to be continued”; this is a version of the verb “tsuzukeru” meaning “to continue/keep doing”
tsuyoi = strong, powerful
uchi = house, home
ude = arm
udon = a kind of Japanese noodle
ue = the top of something; above, over, on top of
ukiyoe = Japanese woodblock print
umareru = to be born; “umare” is “birth”
ume = plum; “ume-boshi” is a pickled plum, the red thing they put in the middle of onigirii
umee = another word I couldn’t find in my dictionaries; however when yelled enthusiastically by character eating, it’s always translated as “yummy!!!!”. Anyone know the exact meaning of this word?
umeboshi = pickled plum, often put inside onigirii
umi = sea, ocean
unagi = eel
unmei = fate or destiny
ureshii = happy
urusai = noisy, annoying; when said to someone sharply it takes on the meaning of “shut up!” or “be quiet!” (literally you’re telling them that they’re noisy; the “shut up” part is implied)
usagi = rabbit
ushi = cow, ox, bull
ushiro = behind
uso = lie; when said to someone in amazement it’s often translated as “no way!” or “that’s not true!”
uso-tsuki = liar
uta = song, poem
utau = the verb “sing”
wai! = yay!
wakaru/wakatta/wakarimashita = various forms of the verb “understand” (wakaru)
wakaranai/wakarimasen = “I don’t understand” (the first is casual, the second polite)
wan, wan = the sound a dog makes
warau = the verb “to laugh”; you usually hear this in a negative form where the villain says “don’t make me laugh”, blah blah ^^;;
ware ware = a more formal word for “we”; “ware” is a pronoun meaning “self”
wasabi = Japanese horseradish; really spicy
washi = three common meanings: eagle; dyed, patterned paper; the pronoun “I” used by old people
watashi = standard-polite word for “I”
yahari/yappari = literally “as expected”; this is a word that is difficult to translate, because it’s meaning and uses are fuzzily defined. Common translations are “as I thought”, “just as I suspected”, “you really are (just as I thought)…”, “can it be that you’re?”, etc.
yakisoba = pan-fried noodles (“soba” are buckwheat noodles)
yakitori = skewered barbecured chicken; the word literally means “fried bird”
yakusoku = promise
yama = mountain; a common suffix that means mountain is “-zan/-san” for example “Hie-zan” in Kyoto and “Fuji-san” in the Kanto region (where Tokyo is)
yamete/yamero = request forms of the verb “to stop (doing something)”, “yameru”; “yamete” is the standard form, “yamero” is informal male speech
yada = an interjection, means “no way!”
yanagi = willow
yare yare = an interjection, commonly translated as “Whew!, “Oh well”, “Good grief”, “Oh brother”, etc.
yarou = very casual way of saying “man/guy”; often it’s used as insult, in which case it’s translated as “you jerk” or “bastard!”, etc.
yaru = colloquial version of “suru” (“to do”)
yasai = vegetable
yasashii = easy
yasumi = rest, break, vacation; the verb is “yasumu”
yatsu = slang word for “he/she”, “they”, a person, etc.
yatta! = he/she/I did it!
yatto = finally
yen = Japanese money; although the exact exchange rate varies day by day, 100 yen usually equals 1 U.S. dollar. In the 19th century (i.e. the Meji era) a yen, much like our dollar, was worth considerably more, around 100 dollars!
yo = just as in English, this is a really casual greeting (used by men for the most part). As a particle, “yo” has a few uses, the most common one adds emphasis to a word or statement (in some cases, it acts like an exclamation point as far as meaning’s concerned)
yokatta = an expression of relief; this is the past tense of “ii” (good) so it literally means “that was good”, but it usually translates as “I’m so glad” or “thank goodness!”
yoru = afternoon/evening
yoshi/yosha! = “all right”, “let’s go”, “let’s do it!”, etc.
youma/youkai = demon, phantom
yowai = weak
yume = dream
yumei = famous, well-known
yomu = the verb “read”; the request form is “yonde (kudasai)” = “(please) read this”
yu = literally “hot water”; the hiragana character is always written on the sign for a public bath
yuurei = ghost
yuki = snow
yurusenai! = negative imperative form of the verb “permit, allow; forgive” (yurusu); it means “I won’t allow/permit it!”, “I won’t forgive you/this!”, etc.
zankoku = brutal, atrocious
zannen = too bad, unfortunately, regrettable
zen-zen = “never/not at all”
zettai (ni) = definitely, absolutely, positively
zutto = always, all the while, all along, the whole time, all the way; very much, far more, etc. etc. (you can just imagine the number of different translations this word gets…)
Writing: the Japanese written system is very complicated and consists of three separate scripts that are used together: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.
Hiragana is the Japanese native script and consists of 46 basic characters. Hiragana is a syllabary rather than an alphabet (ka, ki, ke, ko, ku, etc.) so English words cannot be neatly transcribed into Hiragana or vice versa. “Romanji” is the Japanese term for native words written in the English alphabet. Several systems exists for transcribing Japanese words into English script, the most common of which is the Hepburn system.
Katakana is also 46 characters and has the same sounds as Hiragana, but is used primarily for writing foreign words and for emphasis (similar to the way we use bold or italic characters).
Kanji are Chinese characters that have been adapted for the Japanese language. There are literally thousands of different Kanji, and much of Japanese is written in them. Kanji are often used for proper nouns (such as names and places) and also distinguish between homonyms (which are very common in Japanese). Earlier in this glossary I mentioned that “koi” is a homonym word with many meanings. In speech, the meaning is determined by context, in writing a different Kanji will be used for each meaning of koi so you know exactly which one the author means (not a bad system, actually). In manga that are read by kids, you’ll often see the Kanji written with tiny Hiragana symbols (called “furigana”) on the side. This is because children in Japan gradually learn their Kanji as they go through school, and so if they come across an unfamiliar one they need to know how to pronounce it (hence the Hiragana, which they already know). Full literacy in Japan is difficult, so reading and writing is highly valued. Japanese kids spend most of their compulsory education learning Kanji, and because they’re so stringent about it Japan has one of the highest literacy rates in the world (96%!) For a fantastic and extremely informative site on Kanji and the Japanese writing system in general, please visit The Kanji SITE.