Learning Japanese doesn’t always have to be so technical! Japanese should be enjoyed as a language and as a culture. As much as people want to deny it, one thing that has always helped boost Japan’s popularity is it’s otaku subculture and its presence in the media. For this blog, we’ll talk about common Otaku words you should definitely know!

What is an “Otaku”?

This is quite a Western mainstream term used for people who are into Japanese culture, mainly anime and manga. Although this is the case, most people don’t know that “Otaku” also stands for another persons house (お宅) and metaphorically used as an honorific second-person pronoun. The mainstream one we use today (おたく/ オタク or, less frequently, ヲタク) first appeared in the 1980’s and have been used since then in Japanese and international media as a slang term for someone obsessed with Japanese popular culture. The term “Otaku” can be also used for an obsession for something else. You can say “Computer otaku”, “Game otaku”… pretty much anything can be paired with otaku as long as it is a hobby someone is close to obsessing over.

Otaku Words in Japanese. おたくことば 

Otaku word list

People related words

Chibi

Something you call someone or something that is small and very adorable.

Loli 

They are usually cute, innocent looking female anime characters that are (or look) very young.

Senpai

Directly translates to “senior” but technically refers to someone who has more experience than you in terms of employment, school, or something else.

Kohai

This word translates to “junior” but technically is used to refer to people who have less experience to you in a certain aspect like work, school, maybe even at a sport!

Oneesan

This is used to refer to your “older sister” but can also be used to refer to a girl/woman who is a bit older than you in general if used in an informal setting.

Oniisan

Commonly heard in anime and manga, this word means “older brother” which you can use for an actual older brother just an older (but still young) boy or man.

Sensei

This directly translates to “teacher”.

Waifu

Borrowed from the English word, “wife”, this refers to an anime/manga/game/ character or even an idol who a person feels affection towards.

Bishounen/ Bishie

Very good looking male. This can be used for both real people and fictional characters.

Bishoujo / Bijin

These are terms used to refer to very good looking females which are used for real people and fictional characters.

Meganekko

From the work めがね (megane: eyeglasses), these are anime or manga characters that wear eyeglasses. They are usually quite bookish characters who are somewhat attractive.

Mangaka

This is what you call a person who creates manga(authors).

Seiyuu

This refers to voice actors who voice anime characters.

Anime/ manga related words

Shounen

This is a category of anime and manga that targets boys and young adults. This involves action and fighting packed story plots.

Shoujo

This is a category of anime and manga that targets young girls and mainly revolve around cute romance and relationships.

Dandere

This is a character/person that is usually reserved and emotionless but they change and only open up to certain characters they truly trust.

Tsundere

This is a character/person that usually has a cold and hard personality on the outside but is actually very affectionate and warm on the inside.

Yandere

This is a character/person that starts out really sweet and nice but ends up being very obsessive and even violent. Quite scary, really.

Yuri

As a Japanese slang word for “girls love”, this word refers to girls in a lesbian relationship. This also refers to a category of anime and manga that revolves around romantic female relationships.

Yaoi

This is a Japanese slang word for “boys love”. This word also refers to a category of anime and manga revolving around gay relationships.

Fan service

These are scenes in anime/manga/series where they are designed specifically to please or tease fans. This may involve popular characters involving a bit of nudity or different outfits.

Harem

This is an anime/manga storyline that revolves around a guy who is surrounded and somehow romantically involved with the main character.

Doujinshi

Technically quite similar to Western fan-fiction, these are fan created stories that involve characters and themes from existing manga, anime, game characters and maybe even idols that they love.

Ecchi

This is the action or a word that involves sexual themes and even nudity, except it is not as explicit as hentai.

Hentai

This is a genre of anime and manga that has sexual implications involved in it. Truth be told, this is technically anime/manga porn.

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Words you just need to know!

Kawaii

One of the most commonly used words in Japanese media, かわいい (Kawaii), means cute or adorable.

Baka / aho

ばか (Baka) and あほ (Aho) both mean “stupid/idiot” and is also a common word you usually see or hear in Japanese media. 

Kimoi

Technically a fusion of two Japanese words, namely, 気持ち(kimochi: feeling) and 悪い (warui:bad). Together, they make きもい(kimoi) which is a slang word for gross or disgusting.

Gakuran

The uniform for Japanese middle school and high school students

Valentines day

It is quite similar to Western Valentines day except the only difference is how in Japan, women mostly give gifts (handmade chocolates) to people/guys they like and romantically like. Men usually don’t do anything on Valentines day! 

White day

Exactly 1 month after Valentines day, this is the day every girl/woman waits for! Guys who have received chocolate on valentines day have the opportunity to “respond” to womens feelings by giving them a gift back! Unfortunately, women who don’t receive a gift from the guy they gave chocolates to on Valentines day immediately know that they just got rejected. 

Giri choco

This is chocolate given on valentines day EXCEPT it is “obligatory” chocolate or chocolate with no feelings attached. This is the chocolate you give to a male co-worker, male boss, or any male person you are obligated to give chocolate to just because.

Kokuhaku(告白) suru

This directly translates to “confessing”. This is the romantic culture of Japan, quite popularly show in Manga and anime where the girl or boy confesses their feelings to the person they like.

Weeaboo

A very cute sounding word with a very derogatory connotation. This is a derogatory western slang term for a western person who is obsessed with Japanese culture, mainly anime. Remember, this is not a compliment!

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