Arama They Didn't

1:39 am - 12/30/2012

The top 10 popular Japanese words/phrases of 2012

Publisher Jiyu Kokuminsha releases an annual list of the 50 or 60 most popular Japanese expressions of the year every November. The words and phrases reflect some of the trends, political developments, events and people that captured the attention of the Japanese media and public during the year. From this list, a panel of judges selects the year's 10 trendiest expressions in early December. Japanese culture blog Pink Tentacle used to post the full list with explanations, but the blog hasn't been updated since 2011 so I decided to translate it this year and follow its setup. Below I've just done the top 10.

Note: The buzzwords are in no particular order except the grand prize winner.

10. Induced pluripotent stem cells [iPS saibou - iPS細胞]: Scientist Yamanaka Shinya and his Kyoto University research group first created these versatile cells from mice in 2006 and later developed them in humans. They are created from a subject's own mature cells as opposed to being harvested from embryos. Yamanaka won the Nobel prize in medicine this year along with Sir John B. Gurdon for this discovery.


Yamanaka Shinya

9. Restoration [ishin - 維新]: The newly formed nationalist political party (Japan Restoration Party) headed by Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Tooru and former Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro set out to transform the country with an 8 point manifesto modeled after Sakamoto Ryouma's 8-Point Plan. The party gained 38 seats in Japan's December lower house election.

8. LCC/Low Cost Carrier [LCC/ローコストキャリア]: Low cost airlines like Peach Aviation, Air Asia Japan, and Jet Star Japan entered the market following deregulation of the Japanese airline industry. Offering domestic flights at deep discounts, they have become a popular alternative to big carriers JAL, ANA, etc.

7. End-of-life Preparations [shuukatsu - 終活]: First coined in 2009 in a series of editorials in newspaper Shuukan Asahi, this refers to preparations for making sure all of one's affairs are in order at the time of death. Middle-aged and elderly Japanese see this as a way to take the burden off of their family members. This year journalist and news commentator Kaneko Tetsuo oversaw all of his final preparations including the construction of his grave marker, planning his funeral service, and sitting for his death photograph after being diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in October of this year.

6. 3rd Power [dai san kyoku - 第3極]: The third largest political party after the ruling and opposition parties in Japan's two party political system. If the third power is big enough, it can have some influence to balance the government prevent monopolization. The Japan Restoration Party is aiming for this kind of influence right now.


5. In the near future... [chikai uchi ni... - 近いうちに・・・]: In August Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko promised he would dissolve the lower house of parliament "in the near future", a move that would most likely remove his own political party (the Democratic Party of Japan) from power after 3 years of steadily decreasing popularity. He didn't dissolve the lower house until December, and his "in the near future" pledge was mocked by the press.

4. We couldn't let him go home empty-handed [tebura de kaeraseru wake ni ha ikanai - 手ぶらで帰らせるわけにはいかない]: After winning Japan's first silver medal in the men's 400 meter swimming relay in the last day of swimming competition at the London Olympic Games, team member Matsuda Takeshi said this in reference to swimmer Kitajima Kousuke's failure to win any medals in his individual races.


The Men's 400m relay team.

3. Tokyo Sky Town [Tokyo Solamachi - 東京ソラマチ]: The complex containing 312 shops and restaurants surrounding the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower in the world. It opened in May to much fanfare.

2. Low pressure bomb [bakudan teikiatsu - 爆弾低気圧]: An extratropical cyclone that develops rapidly in a low atmospheric pressure environment. In April, fast growing typhoons led to high winds, heavy rain and snow, and high waves that caused storm damage across the country.


1. Wild, right? [wairudo daroo - ワイルドだろぉ]: With his sleeveless denim jacket and hot pants, solo comedian Sugi-chan rode a wave of popularity with his ワイルドだろぉ gag and his masculine dialect.

Accepting his award from Jiyu Kokuminsha



The 2011 Buzzword Grand Prize winner was Nadeshiko Japan, referring to the Japanese Women's Soccer Team. The 2010 winner was Gegege no..., following the success of the drama Gegege no Nyobo.

Source: Jiyu Kokuminsha 2012 Buzzword Prize (Japanese)/Translated by me
inachan89 30th-Dec-2012 11:33 am (UTC)
Wasn't him the one that got hurt after trying a dive?Happy that he's fine^^
And i remember the "we couldn't let him go home empty-handed",it sounds cool=)
nakabibighani 30th-Dec-2012 04:51 pm (UTC)
Your icon ♥
bridgetothesky 30th-Dec-2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
i would say his wild dazEe~ is more commonly used by him n everyone else. its surprising but at the same time so not that his is number one. although really is character is already running a little thin..
nakabibighani 30th-Dec-2012 04:51 pm (UTC)
This was really informative! Thanks for sharing :)
annhh 30th-Dec-2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
I like 5. and 4. ^^

Nice list idea. I don't even know all the current phrases of my own country and I know they exist.. I wish they made a list like this
kawaii_beela 30th-Dec-2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
#4 <3333333333


theyre so sweet!! <333333
haruno21 30th-Dec-2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
number 9 is shit if u ask me
rainbow_yarn 30th-Dec-2012 08:50 pm (UTC)
So excited about those LCCs; I now know how I'm getting to Okinawaaaaaaaaa
miiss_hachiiko 31st-Dec-2012 01:26 am (UTC)
I kinda suspected Sugi-chan's phrase would've gotten first. <3 He was pretty popular this year, so I've been hearing it a lot. xD
chubbyichigo 31st-Dec-2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
'wairudo daroo' - hahahahaha I didn expect sugi-chan!! it reminds me of massu :)
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