Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
Japanese words you should know
There are some words that you’ll hear Japanese people say constantly. If you live in Japan, you’ll know that Japanese is a very terse language and there are some full sentences that can be expressed in a couple of syllables in Japanese. While this can be difficult to adjust to, it also means that you can achieve some basic level of communication with a few words. Here’s a list of some of the most common ones:
Ganbatte. Often translated to “do your best”, you’ll hear this word constantly. The feelings ganbatte conveys are varied and expressed in different ways in English, such as “do whatever you can”, “good luck”, “hang in there”, “go you!”, or just “do it”. Whether the task at hand is within your control or not, and whether a good result can be expected or not, ganbatte is a blanket statement that is applied to everything. This is a reflection on Japanese society, as effort is often as important as results. While “good luck” is passive, ganbatte expects something of the other. If something doesn’t go as expected, we can use this next word!
Shouganai/Shikataganai. You could literally translate these to “it can’t be helped”, or more naturally “it is what it is”. While we do say this now and then, the phrase is extremely common in Japan. Ganbatte expects you to put an effort into it, while shouganai expresses resignation, no matter how hard you tried. It is more often used outside of the work space though. It is often bad manners to complain in Japan, so shouganai is a good substitute!
Otsukare. This, when translated literally, means “you are tired”. It may seem strange to tout being tired as a positive, but the Japanese language is often very literal and the actual meaning is much more complex. Otsukare is actually a greeting meaning something akin to “good job today”. It is used when saying goodbye to coworkers, or meeting friends for a drink after work. While in English there are plenty of ways to bid goodbye to someone, this is essentially the way Japanese workers do it every day.
Itadakimasu. You should say this every time before you start eating, it can be rude not to do so. It literally means “I will receive” (again, Japanese tends to be very literal!) but it’s used more like “bon appétit”. You’ll often here people merrily saying in restaurants, and some people do it even when they’re alone.