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[2019 Edition] 5 Trendy Expressions Among Japanese Youth That You Will Want to Know

If you are traveling in Japan, you will probably want to interact with the local people. Expressions used by Japanese youth have become quite entrenched in Japan and have come to be thought of as an important part of communication. This article will introduce some of these expressions that may assist you in making friends with Japanese people.

"Sore na"

In recent times, the phrase "sore na" is commonly used among younger Japanese to show that they feel the same as the speaker about a particular topic. It is similar in terms of nuance as phrases like "so da ne", "sore sore", and "sono tori" in expressing empathy and agreement. In 2015, this phrase was picked as the most "Trendy Word Among Female High School Students" by a popular Japanese news program.
It is close in meaning to "Yeah" or "Yeah, that's right" in English.
Here are some examples of how it is used in Japan.

Example 1: "Kono ryori oishii ne!" (This food tastes great!) "Sore na"
Example 2: "Kyo atsui ne" (It's hot today) "Sore na"
Example 3: "Kondo osushi wo tabe ni iko" (Let's get sushi sometime) "Sore na"

"Sore na" is seen as such a convenient word that it has come to be used in an even wider range of domains than the traditional areas of empathy and agreement. Why not give it a try in situations where you feel as though you would use "Yeah" or "Yeah, that's right" in English? Don't overthink it!

"Wanchan"

The word "wanchan" is another one gaining traction in Japan as of late. It is most used by university students as well as those in their early 20s and is an abbreviation of the English phrase "one chance". It was originally used in the domain of mahjong and meant, "If I could seize this opportunity, I can come from behind to win". However, young people have changed the nuance of the phrase slightly in how they use it nowadays.

Example 1: "29 nichi isogashii kedo wanchan ikeru" (I am busy on the 29th, but there is a chance that I can go [to x event])
Example 2: "Ano ko ni kokuhaku shitara, wanchan iken jyane?" (If you tell her how you feel, something could happen!)

As you can see in the examples, it is most often used to mean "If there is a chance" or "If there is a possibility".
If you are traveling around Japan, here are two examples of how you may use "wanchan" in real life: "Ashita wanchan Kyoto made ikesou da ne" (Tomorrow there may be a chance we can get to Kyoto) or "Tokyo yuki no densha ni wanchan ma ni aisou da" (There is a chance that we might make the train for Tokyo). Why not try them out yourself?

"Emoi"

The phrase "emoi" is one of more popular phrases being used by young people in Japan at the moment and was selected as the second most popular phrase by people in this group in Sanseido's rankings of new words for the year. This word is extremely connected to the English word "emotional" and is, in fact, a simple contraction of it. It is used when you are moved or touched, so you should have no trouble if you use it just as you would in English.
If you are going to use this word in Japan, then here are some ideas of when to use it:

Example 1: "Fujisan no asahi ga emoi" (The sunrise viewed from Mt. Fuji is moving.)
Example 2: "Minna takibi wo kakonde, biiru wo nomu no wa emoi" (Standing with everyone around a camp fire and drinking beer makes me feel emotional.)

This should be an easy word for visitors to Japan to use as they travel the country, so make sure to use it as much as you can.

"Kusa"

Kusa (草) usually means grass, but the Internet gave it another meaning by using it as another way of writing 笑い, which effectively translates as "lol" in English. The reason that this symbol for grass has come to be used in this way is because one other way of writing "lol" in Japanese is "www". Given the resemblance to grass, the symbol for grass became a kind of shorthand for "lol".
In English, there are many other synonyms for "kusa" such as "aha" and "haha". Therefore, if you use "kusa" in exactly the same way, you shouldn't have any problems.

Example 1: "Densha ni nottara betsu no basho ni itteshimatta." (I got on the train but went to the wrong place.) "Kusa haeru wa." (Lol, or literally, "That'll make the grass grow")
Example 2: "Sono hanashi ha kusa!" (Sono hanashi wa omoshiroi) - That story is grass! (That story is funny)

This should be easy to use because there are many similar words in English. Use this word when you happen upon something funny.

"Furorida"

"Chotto furorida suru wa"
Huh? If you heard this phrase, you may be wondering what has happened to the American state of Florida.
In Japan, this phrase is used when you need to exit a conversation because you are going to take a bath, so you may be a little bit confused when you hear it the first time. It comes from the Japanese for bath (furo) and separate (ridatsu), which is truncated together to form "furorida".

If you are traveling around Japan and staying in a hotel or guesthouse, you are likely to have the chance to interact with some Japanese people. However, there are times when chatting to them that you will want to head to bed or get into a bath to wind down. This is your chance to say "Chotto furorida suru" (I'm going to go take a bath).
If you have just gotten out of the bath and want to let someone know, then you can say "Furoridatteta". Use whichever phrase is more appropriate at the time.

Some Words of Warning When Using the Expressions Introduced Here

Patterns of speech used by young people are one way of breaking down barriers between you and Japanese people. However, if you are speaking to someone from an older generation, there is a chance that these words won't be understood by them or that they will be thought of as inappropriate. It is likely that these words will generally be understood by people in their 20s but are less likely to be understood by those older than that.
If you are unsure, why not ask the person if they themselves tend to employ language commonly used by young people? This can be done by saying, "Wakamono kotoba tsukaimasu ka?" Making it a topic of conversation will get the ball rolling.

The language used by young people in Japan is evolving all of the time. There are many new phrases that have their origins in English, so perhaps there were some that you felt a natural affinity with? Make sure to use the words introduced here to try to get closer to the youth of Japan!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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