Emoji? Honcho? These are words originated in Japanese!

calendar-icon 2021/09/26

Japanese is obviously spoken only in Japan, but did you know some Japanese words are understood in foreign countries? With Japanese culture such as Japanese food, anime, and manga getting popular all over the world, some Japanese words are also being used in other countries. Let’s find what those words are!

①かわいい: kawaii

The first one is, as many of you may already know, kawaiiwhich means cute. Because this word is often used in Japanese anime and manga, it got well known in foreign countries as well. Although this word doesn't often get used in daily conversation, many foreigners associate Japan with “kawaii” culture.


絵文字えもじ: emoji

This might be surprising but “emoji”, icons you use on text messages every day, originates in Japan. If your smart phone’s language is in English, I’m pretty sure the keyboard says “emoji”. However, in some English speaking countries, people pronounce “-moji” rather than “え-moji. The correct one is with “”, but they thought this “e” came from “Emotion”, so that’s why they pronounce “-moji”.



The next one is “zen”, which is the name of one of Japanese religious austerities. However, in some foreign countries, people think this means “relaxing” as that’s what their impression on Japanese culture. I was surprised when I heard my American friend said “I feel zen” as in “I feel relaxed”!


班長はんちょう: honcho

The last one is “honcho”, which means “group leader”. I’m not sure why and how this Japanese word became proper English but if you look up “honcho” on a dictionary, it says “it means the leader”. How interesting that is!