On paper, Japanese looks to an Englishwoman like a spider has walked in ink and danced an eight-legged tap dance across the page. Actually Japanese writing is composed of three character sets: Kanji (Chinese characters), Hiragana and Katakana and can be written horizontally top to bottom or vertically right to left. In short, it’s impossible.
Spoken Japanese is a beautiful tonal wash spoken in many different dialects that adheres to a complex honorific system. Again, impossible, but like all languages there are words and phrases in Japanese for which there’s no equivalent in English and these seem like a wonderful place to start your Japanese education.
Read on for 5 Japanese words for those sights and feelings you’ve never been able to explain.
Why use eight words when you can use one.
Friendship at first sight. There really is no real equivalent for this one.
Deep stuff but necessary. ‘Feeling blue’ might be the closest we’ve got.
Moonlight, but that specific reflection of moonlight on a river. Beautiful.
The man keeping us all down.