Japanese Loan Words
Whenever you encounter another culture, each culture takes something from the other. So it is with English and Japanese. Each language has borrowed from the other. In the case of English, there’s a long list of borrowings. Some of these have no direct English equivalent and describe inherently Japanese concepts. Others come from Japanese via Chinese. Here are a few examples:
Adzuki – a type of bean
Anime – Japanese animation (interestingly, this word originated from the English/French word animation)
Bonsai – tray gardening
Dojo – a martial arts training ground
Futon – a type of mattress
Geisha – female entertainers
Haiku – a form of Japanese poetry consisting of three lines, with 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively.
Hara Kiri – ritual suicide
Honcho – squadron leader
Jujitsu – martial art – meaning ‘soft skill’
Kabuki – Japanese theatre
Kamikaze – strong wind (refers to suicide pilots)
Kanji – A Japanese writing system; refers to the Chinese characters used
Karate – martial art – meaning ’empty hand’
Kimono – a full length robe
Ninja – a stealthy warrior
Origami – folding paper
Rickshaw – a human powered vehicle
Sake – rice wine
Samurai – a warrior
Satsuma – a type of orange
Seppuku – ritual suicide by cutting the abdomen
Soy – a bean
Sumo – a type of wrestling
Sushi – rice combined with other ingredients
Tofu – bean curd; this word is of Chinese origin
Tsunami – a huge wave (incorrectly called a tidal wave).
Zen – a branch of Buddhism
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