Top 10 Buzzwords of 2011 in Japan: 1

Publisher Jiyu Kokuminsha just released the year’s top 10 buzzwords. Selected by a panel of judges, they encapsulate the major trends throughout 2011. You can view the full list of 60 that were candidates here on and read more about the top 10 below. Naturally, as a Japanese lesson!

Here’s part one then, terms 1-5 from the list of the top 10 buzzwords and the explanations from the publisher. Note though that only the winner (Nadeshiko Japan) has a number. The rest of the terms were not ordered. I’ve provided some background information to the terms, but have not translated the brief explanations in Japanese. Good luck!



Nadeshiko Japan


The interesting part to note here is the word なでしこ which means ‘pink carnation’ (a flower). It comes from the word Yamato Nadeshiko (大和撫子) – Yamato being an ancient word for Japan, and Nadeshiko the flower. It represents the ideal Japanese woman – one with traditional manners and grace. Think of the typical ‘Japanese’ girl you see wearing a kimono, being shy, humble and polite and you’re pretty close. The term ‘Nadeshiko Japan’ then is a nickname for the Japanese women’s football team which one the Fifa World Cup this year and helped bring back some happiness following the Great East Japan Earthquake.




絆 is the word representing ‘human bonds’, alluding to cooperation, support and empathy towards fellow human beings. It can also represent the emotional ties between people (especially in relationships).





スマホ is an abbreviation of スマートフォーン and is in the top 10 list of buzzwords this years because of the surge in popularity of smartphones, particularly Apple’s iPhone and Google Android devices. Interesting term on the end is 占める – to take over or capture. In this case, since we’re talking about smartphones and lots of sales, we’re referring to capturing a part of the market – in this case, over half the mobile phones sold over summer were smartphones!


どじょう ないかく

Loach Cabinet

8月29日の民主党代表選で、野田佳彦候補が相田みつをの詩「どじょうがさ 金魚のまねすることねんだよなあ」を引用、地味だが実直な政治を目指すことをアピールして当選した。メディアはこの演説を「どじょう演説」と呼び、野田内閣のことも「どじょう内閣」と呼ぶようになった。

どじょう is the word for loach – a bottom-feeding fish. 内閣 is the word for the Cabinet – the top-ranked members of the government, closest to the Prime Minister. The term became popular after new DPJ Prime Minister Noda cited his favourite poem by Mitsuo Aida, “A loach does not have to emulate a goldfish.” His politics will not be glamourous like a goldfish, but more like a loach – maintaining a low-profile and working hard to move politics forward for the people.



Stuck-up Face


This one has long been used by comedians in Kansai. The どや comes from どうだ? when one has done something impressive. A rough translation might be ‘how about that, eh?’ with the feeling of ‘aren’t I great?’. As such, the term どや顔 refers to the facial expression one makes when boasting about something or looking pleased with oneself.

Done with those? Head on to part 2 then!


8 Responses to Gakuu. Studying with Real Japanese

  1. Sabrina September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    This is pretty cool! Right now I’m studying on Textfugu which is great! I belive Gakuu can be really helpul too. What I like most is that its for pre-intermediate to advanced level students. So you can’t say its the same thing over and over again… students can actually improve their knowledge here. Thank you very much for creating this site. Have a nice day :)

    • Gakuranman September 30, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      Hi Sabrina! Thank you for your comment :).

      That’s definitely our aim. I love Textfugu for beginners and really getting students a solid grounding in the language, but afterwards (and even while) studying the basics, it can really help to encounter raw Japanese material. You don’t have to understand everything at first, but feeling challenged and picking up little bits here and there that are extra to your learning the basics helps expand your mind. Let me know if you have any more questions! More demonstration material will be up soon! We are currently having a special launch sale price for early adopters, so check out the pricing page if interested :).

      • Sabrina September 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

        Thanks for your reply. :) Unfortunately I’m even still miles away from the intermediate level. But I’ll definetly return to Gakuu when I get to this point. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the extra demonstration material. :) Keep up the good work.

        • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 12:21 am #

          Sure thing :). Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions for things you’d like to see on Gakuu!

  2. missingno15 October 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    When I looked at this, I first thought to myself, “aw hell no, gakuranman is doing the same thing as koichi…even the website layout is similar”. But then I realized “it’s aimed at pre-intermediate to advanced level students” which is perfect for my situation right now because I now really want to excel way past beginner. So basically, Gakuu really complements Textfugu. Can’t wait for more lessons to see how this is gonna be like so I can decide if its worth getting.

    • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Hey there! Thanks for dropping by :). No way – Koichi and I are buds. I’ve always loved teaching the more advanced stuff so it worked out perfectly. I’ll be adding more stuff in the coming days, so please stay tuned!

  3. DumbOtaku (percent20) October 3, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    This is really cool. I am glad to see more online content going beyond just teaching hirigana and katakana. That is what I try to do on my blog, but with to little consistency. Glad to see an expert do it, btw already a signed-up paid member now. :)

    • Gakuranman October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Glad to have you man! Look forward to hearing any suggestions you have for the site and future lessons :)

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