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14 (more) Japanese words with no English translations

While my first post about Japanese words with no English translationwas centered around words that have to do with work, this second part takes a look at another pivotal part of Japanese culture: the connection between humans, nature and the universe. Although working hard is highly valued, having a balance within yourself, with nature and with the universe is considered equally important; something we should all aspire to have.

1. Yugen

“A profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe…and the sad beauty of human suffering.”

It’s this awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses that are too mysterious and deep for words – when you realize how long it took for the universe to create the world we live in, when you think of how many cells make up your body and so on.

2. Shouganai

“It cannot be helped.”

This is connected to the idea of fate and encourages us to accept the things that are out of our control. Worrying won’t stop the bad things from happening, it will only stop you from enjoying the good ones. So why worry? We just have to realize that it wasn’t our fault and move on with no regrets.

3. Mono no aware

“The bittersweetness of a brief and grading moment of transcendent beauty.”

While not a word, this phrase is meant to talk about a heightened appreciation of the beauty in things and evokes a gentle sadness when it goes away, especially since nothing lasts forever.

4. Koi No Yokan

“The feeling upon meeting someone that falling in love with them is inevitable.”

It’s the shortness of breath, the weakness of the knees, the thumping in your heart; you just know there’s no going back.

5. Wabi-sabi

“Finding beauty within the imperfections of life and peacefully accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

Very similar to “mono no aware.”

6. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu

“Favorably, please.”

OK, so not a word either, but a useful phrase. It’s often used to express an abstract yet genuine hope for good things to come. It doesn’t even have to be a concrete idea either, and that’s the beauty of it! All the person knows when they tell you this is that somehow you two are connected in someway, and that your relationship will hopefully be a mutually happy one.

7. Boketto

“The act of gazing vacantly into the distance.”

Like when you daydream of travels or lose your concentration in the afternoon.

8. Fuubutsushi

“The things – feelings, scents, images – that evoke memories or anticipation for a particular season.”

Yellowing leaves for fall, snowy mountain tops for winter, blooming flowers for spring and sunburns for summer.

9. Ukiyo

“The floating world”

Which refers to living in the moment and being detached from all other bothers in life.

10. Ikigai

“A reason for being; the thing that gets you up in the morning.”

Sunday brunch, to name one.

11. Komorebi

“The sunlight that filters through the leaves of a tree.”

There’s a lot of beauty in nature that is meant to be appreciated, even the little things.

12. Shinrinyoku

“Forest bathing”

When you go deep into the woods to relax and improve your health. Health is a lifestyle after all.

13. Kogarashi

“The cold wind that lets us know the arrival of winter.”

Once you feel this wind, that’s when you can warn everyone: “Brace yourselves, winter is coming.”

14. Kintsukuroi

“The art of repairing pottery with gold or silver joining the pieces and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.”

It’s very similar to a mosaic or a damaged person – when you put their broken pieces back together, it makes something more beautiful than was there before.

 

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