Japanese slang


Are you interested in Japanese slang and wanted to know more about it? This article will show you everything you need to know about it.

You might already encounter Japanese slang here on the internet, in manga, anime, or even on some sites. It’s no surprise that the Japanese language has been in our daily lives and keeps on spreading all over the world. And today, we see a lot of colloquial Japanese, including Japanese internet slang. Of course, this slang has benefits and disadvantages. Depending on the situation, it could be beneficial for some people and be a hindrance to many.

If you want to know more about Japanese slang, continue to read!

What is Japanese Slang?

If you’re into Japanese, then you may have already encountered informal Japanese expressions, or perhaps some internet slang. Or maybe you were once in Japan, or you might have been to Japan or are currently living there, able to communicate your thoughts but struggling to understand the local lingo. If the language you’re hearing sounds like an alien language full of Japanese jargon, then you’ve likely stumbled upon Japanese slang.

Japanese slang words are also known as Zokugo (ぞくご). It’s the Japanese language that is delivered in an improper manner or in a more informal. While it’s common practice in Japan to speak politely when greeting a stranger, individuals still tend to speak more freely while utilizing Tamego (めご | casual form) and Zokugo (ぞくご | slang) in day-to-day conversation. The use of slang and informal language may be quite different depending on the demographics of the audience. You could get away with speaking in adolescent slang with someone 25 years old, but talking to someone 40 years old is generally not a good idea. On the other hand, a person who is thirty years old is more likely than a high school student to comprehend older slang.

The Japanese terms are hierarchical in nature.

So now you’ve learned the standard and formal Japanese from school, textbooks, or any learning materials that you use, and you’ve run into a brick wall of phrases because not everything is in there. And it’s okay; it’s not your fault, either your textbook, teacher, or school’s fault. It’s all because of the inevitable changes in this world. And so is the Japanese language; it changes too.

Same with other slang in every language, there is no specific trace of when Japanese slang started nor what its origin is. The word slang refers to a language that’s too informal to use in certain situations and is typically restricted to particular content, events, places, or group of people. You can tell a word or phrase is slang if it seems and sounds uncool or uncomfortable to use after a while. It’s like a “groovy” or “far out” kind of word or phrase.

Often, slang terms are supposed to be improper or offensive to use in polite conversation. Just like the other Asian language, the Japanese language is hierarchical in nature and has different levels of politeness. For this reason, certain terms are reserved for usage by those in authority or formal settings,  while informal Japanese is more common among younger people in informal situations. The use of slang in the Japanese language conveys an air of friendliness and informality. However, it would be best if you exercise caution before employing them since doing so in the incorrect context might send the wrong message and get you in trouble.

But don’t worry, not all slangs are offensive. Sometimes they were made because of some events, especially in today’s generation. Everything is made out of trends and the popularity of something or someone. In the next article, you’ll find out what the benefits of learning Japanese slang are and why you should study them.

Why Study Japanese Slang?

No matter what stage you are in your proficiency in learning the Japanese language, it would be more fun to add some spice to your vocabulary with none other than Japanese slang. However, before you use slang to work on your sentences or phrases, you have to know how to use it correctly. Because when you use it right, slang and formal Japanese language can add life and ease to your writing and speaking skills. It can make you more sounded like a native speaker of Japanese. Here are some of the reasons why you should study them.

Native Speakers Use Slang in Everyday Conversation

Having a feeling of belonging to the conversations going on around you is a lot of fun! If you are going to talk with a native speaker, then you really need to learn how to speak Japanese slang words and expressions. If you don’t, you risk alienating native speakers of the language just by utilizing formal terms and syntax, which will make it more difficult to develop a genuine relationship. It’s not a good idea to seem all stiff and formal at a karaoke party with your pals.

Even if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of using slang yourself, it’s important to be able to follow the conversation and demonstrate your integration into the group through your ability to participate in casual conversation. The fantastic news is that you don’t have to worry too much about the kanji since many Japanese slang terms are written in hiragana or katakana. So if you want to meet or talk to someone socially, you need at least try to acquire some of the prevalent slang terms and idioms.

Slang Can Help You Express Better Your Thoughts and Feelings

To depend only on formal syntax and vocabulary is to severely restrict one’s communication options, particularly in social settings. By using the right Japanese slang phrases, you will be able to communicate a wider variety of ideas, sentiments, and emotions than you would be able to in your original language.

Informal Terms Can Make You a More Natural Speaker of Japanese

We’ve all seen people from other countries who, despite their flawless use of formal English, nonetheless managed to seem alien. However, if you employ the appropriate slang phrases and idioms, you will sound more natural and more like a genuine native speaker of the language. If you pay attention, you’ll find that even most politicians include a few slang terms and words in their speeches. This is done so that they can appear more genuine and connect with their audiences more personally.

However always remember if you always speak in a formal manner, you may give the impression that you are someone who is concerned with getting things right and respecting others. On the other hand, if you never use casual speech, you may come across as someone who is uninterested in making friends and cares little about getting things right. Make an effort to strike a balance in your language so that you come off as both professional and friendly when the situation calls for it.

Slang Words Are Common in Japanese Culture

Turning on any famous Japanese TV program, listening to Japanese music, or seeing any movie can rapidly prove the need to understand Japanese slang. Slang words or phrases and idioms abound in Japanese culture, just as they do in regular conversations among native speakers. Popular culture and most discussions will be exceedingly unclear and alienating without at least some familiarity with the most prevalent slang words.

Disadvantages of Using Japanese Slang

Your confidence in your ability to speak Japanese will increase if you familiarize yourself with that language’s slang, phrases, and idioms. It will help you sound more natural, give you a greater understanding of native speakers and the culture they come from, and significantly improve your ability to integrate. In contrast to this, using incorrect slang expressions, words, phrases, or even idioms may make you appear silly or terrible, ignorant, and disrespectful. The worst thing about this is that it makes you look rude. It’s possible that this has left you wondering which slang terms or phrases you should use and when you should use them.

The fact of the matter is that you will never be able to acquire the most up-to-date, flawless, and pertinent slang phrases by studying them in textbooks or an official classroom environment. The knowledge is already out of date by the time it is put into a formal curriculum, and real Japanese people do not utilize it anymore. You may pick up contemporary slang terms from Japanese television programs, movies, music, and video games; nevertheless, it’s possible that you won’t comprehend the sense of the phrases. If this occurs, even if you utilize the appropriate Japanese slang terms in the appropriate context, you could still seem like an idiot and even insult another person.

Examples of Japanese Lingo

Here is the Japan Switch Guide to common Japanese lingo. We hope this list helps you sound more fluent and confident in your Japanese, whether you are a beginner or an advanced Japanese speaker!

The following is a list of words that can stand on their own. Just respond to the events as they unfold without worrying about the correct syntax or the remainder of the phrase.

やばい (yabai)

Depending on the circumstances, the やばい (yabai) may either signify “good” or “bad.” It’s like saying, “no way.” 

“I just won the lottery!”


“I just got fired!”


ダサい (dasai)

It means “uncool.” It’s the term youngsters use to address their parents when they want to demonstrate an interest in something geared at “young people.”


Uchi no papa, maji de dasain da ne

My dad is not really that cool.

On-nomi オン飲み

This phrase refers to get-togethers in which people drink that take place over the internet. The government of Japan in the beginning of this year urged its citizens to remain at home and work from a distant location because to the COVID-19 epidemic, which led to the phrase’s rise in popularity. The term “online slang” is a combination of the phrases “online” and “slang” (to drink).

Here are more examples!

Shareteru  しゃれてる

Shareru is a verb derived from the word oshare, which implies trendy. Shareru may most appropriately be used to signify stylish, but it has lately been employed to denote everything excellent. Just as umai is a synonym for both oishii (tasty) and jouzu (skillful/excellent at), shareru (and its present-tense form shareteiru, which is slang-ized into shareteru) may be used to refer to anything that is nice. Teenagers are more likely to use this.

Shiketeru – しけてる

Shikeru is the polar opposite of shareru. You use shikeru when something is terrible, unpleasant, or leaves you feeling empty. This is also more popular among youngsters. I’ve witnessed games and sports played by Japanese teens who yell “Shiketa!” when they miss and “Shareta!” when they score. (Both previous versions of the term)

How are you? おっす!

Do you want to impress your Japanese friends? Simply mention to them the next time you see them. While you’re at it, strike a stance or anything. (Perhaps it’s a little more boyish.)

Pien ぴえん 

Pien is a common online slang term for the sobbing emoji. It is used in a lighthearted manner. It is mostly used by young females, but it is gaining popularity, and most people will grasp what it means.

盛れる (もれる, moreru)

“Moreru” roughly translates as “to make one appear better/to beautify.” It is often used while discussing picture filter software and which filter makes the shot seem the most visually appealing.


Moreru ne, kono apuri no firuta!

For instance, the filter on this app makes the photo appear fantastic!

Let’s keep it going!

まじ卍(まじまんじ maji manji)

“Maji manji” translates approximately as “for reals?!” Is mostly used by female high school students and young people (also known as JK or Joushi Kousei). The sign itself is used to denote Buddhist temples in Japan (not to be confused with the swastika).

パリピ(ぱりぴ pari-pii)

This term is a slang shorthand for the English word party folks (/). It basically implies someone who enjoys partying or who constantly seems to be in a party mindset.

ワンチャン (wan chan)

No, it does not relate to a puppy (also called wan-chan). This implies “one shot.” It’s related to the English slang term “Yolo.” The statement implies that you are capable of doing anything. In other words, you have a “chance” of succeeding!

Insta Baeインスタ映え

Insta bae denotes that a picture is instagrammable and visually appealing. The slang is composed of two words: (instagram) and (to look attractive). If you capture a photo that is Instagram-worthy, please sure you label it!

Suko すこ

On the internet, “suko” signifies “like.” It is most often encountered in the comments area of YouTube videos. You won’t hear this in regular speech, but if you go to a comment box online and enter in Japanese, you’ll seem to be a native!

Japanese Expressions through Text Faces

There are many kaomoji and emoji online. Some Japanese words have many meanings, making expressing them difficult. Thus, expressing emotion might be challenging. Text faces represent emotions in certain cases. Text emotions frequently conclude sentences. Emails and chats often utilize them.

Teenagers utilize such text faces, but others do too. Business emails cannot utilize certain text faces.

The following is a list of text faces used in Japanese:

  • Smile : (^^), (^_^), (^o^), (^-^),(●^o^●), (*^_^*)
  • V sign: (^_^)V, (^o^)V
  • Crying: (T_T), (;_;),.・゚゚・(/ω\)・゚゚・.
  • Be excited: o(^o^)o
  • Love: (*♡∀♡),╰(*´︶`*)╯♡
  • Bowing or apology: m(_ _)m
  • Goodbye: (^_^)/~~~
  • Embarrassment: (^^;),(^_^;),(*ノωノ)
  • Joy: \( ̄▽ ̄)/, (⌒▽⌒)☆, ヽ(o^ ^o)ノ
  • Troubled: (>__
  • Sleeping: (-_-)zzz
  • Confused: (°_°),
  • Wink: (^_-), (^_-)-☆
  • Deflated: (´・ω・`), (‘A`)
  • Angry: ( ` ω ´ ), (#`Д´)

Now that you have a better grasp of Japanese slang, go find some Japanese-speaking buddies and start practicing! Keep an ear out for any discrepancies between their Japanese and what you’ve studied in class. Maybe you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on now.