How to be funny in “JaPunese”: 10 Original Japanese Puns!

  • Japanese comedy is known the world over. Mostly, the international perspective of Japanese comedy centers around ‘owarai’. Owarai is basically Japanese television comedy. This varies hugely but people may be quite familiar with quiz shows, variety shows, and talent contests, which are particularly popular right now!

    To the west, Japanese comedy may appear quite slapstick, often featuring contestants doing funny things or having food competitions and other such things. However, there is an old part of Japanese comedy which people may not be familiar with. This is called ‘dajare’, and it is a very traditional form of comedy in Japan!

    Dajare is a kind of comic Japanese wordplay, which can be best compared to Western puns. It relies on similarities in the pronunciation of words in a short sentence to create a joke.

    There are a great number of famous dajare in Japan. Such kind of classic dajare, however, might not necessarily guarantee laughs. Dajare, in general, are often referred to as “oyaji gyagu” which means “old man jokes”!

    Nonetheless, dajare serve as excellent icebreakers, for instance, when trying to make conversation with a Japanese person or even when trying to impress someone ona a date. Even when you use a well-tried dajare, you might get a smile, and perhaps even a compliment on your sensational Japanese skills.

    If, however, you should get a less excited reaction, you might want to try one of the following – a little more creative – dajare next time. (Note: Please be careful with the jokes you use.)

    1. Panda wa nani kuu no? Pan da.

    Meaning: What does a panda eat? Bread.

    What better place for a first date is there than the zoo? And if it doesn’t go well, this dajare will definitely change the mood.

    2. Hakucho ga kushami, hakuchon

    Meaning: When a swan sneezes, it goes…achoo”

    Who wouldn’t go on another date with you after that great panda joke? With this dajare up your sleeve, the place for the second date is a no-brainer: feed the swans at the lake.

    3. Tora furueteru yo. Nande? Toraburu de!

    Meaning: The tiger is shaking. Why? Because he’s in trouble!

    In case you missed the panda cage at the zoo.

    4. Igirisu musume no basuto wa? Tiikappu.

    Meaning: Which bust size do English girls have? A T-cup.

    Perhaps not the best joke to use on a date, but it surely will get a laugh out of your drinking buddies!

    5. Kono ika tabete ii ka?

    Meaning: May I eat this squid?

    Having dinner and the conversation is running dry? Perhaps this dajare will get the ball rolling again.

    6. Wain, yowainda yo

    Meaning: Wine doesn’t agree with me.

    This dajare is perfect for when you want to slow the drinking pace and lighten the mood at the same time.

    7. Ame wa amee!

    Meaning: This candy is so sweet!

    What better way is there to thank someone after being given a treat than by making him laugh with this delightful dajare!

    8. Cho ga cho itai

    Meaning: My stomach really hurts.

    If people don’t think you’re a champ for making jokes even when in great pain, their hearts must be made of stone.

    9. Macchi kashite? Thank you very macchi!

    Meaning: Could you lend me those matches? Thank you very much!

    Not only are you being polite but you’re also making people laugh. If you aren’t popular already, you will be after this!

    10. Nee, chanto ofuro haitteru?/Nee-chan to ofuro haitteru?

    Hey, are you taking baths regularly? VS. Do you take baths with your sister?

    This last dajare is actually a pun disguised as a trick question! Depending on whether you pronounce the sentence more as “Nee (pause) chanto” or as “Nee-chan (pause) to”, its meaning changes from “Hey, are you taking baths regularly?” to “Do you take baths with your sister?”

    Whoever you ask this question will probably assume you’re talking about taking baths. As soon as he or she answers with “yes”, the fun part begins!

    The History of Dajare

    Aside from these 10 famous and much-loved dajare, there are numerous others you will likely come across if you begin to study the language and immerse yourself in Japanese culture and entertainment. There is a big place for dajare in Japan, and it has a long history in the country.

    Dajare have been around for centuries in Japan. They developed out of the words for ‘share’ and ‘wit’, and the prefix ‘da’ was added to suggest something which is low-grade or rather insignificant. Indeed, these jokes are often seen in Japan as immature and not particularly intelligent, much the same as puns are seen in English-speaking countries.

    The attraction of dajare in Japanese culture is thought to have gained popularity and been consistent in its popularity because it allowed Japanese to make naughty jokes without being inappropriate, shameful, or rude. This was and is a very important consideration in Japanese society, which is relatively conservative and strict.

    Over time, these sorts of pun jokes have become loved but are now seen as more of a slightly cheesy play on words than modern comedy. However, they are very fun and you might want to learn some just to get a few laughs!

    Hopefully, you learned a little something from these dajare! Use them on your next outing and see how it goes!

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