Keep up with Japanese Teenage Conversations with these 3 Slang Terms!

  • If you’re a foreigner living in Japan, the language barrier is an obvious and difficult obstacle that you will come across. Even if you have been here for years and have studied at a Japanese language school or even went to University or College, there will always be a point where you scratch your head and ask “What does _____ mean?”.

    Being curious is one way to learn more about what you don’t know and especially if it hinders communication. Now in Japan, you will often hear slang being used mostly by teens and young adults which will surely have you pondering their meaning. If you’d like to find out what 3 of the most popular teenage slang terms mean, I’ll fill you in below.

    1. Otsu

    Otsu, is one commonly used slang term in Japan not only by teens but also by young adults because it plays a very important role in society. Whether you’re a foreigner or not, you surely would have heard or even used the phrase, “Otsukaresama desu” (translated into English as “Thank you for your hard work”). With a handful of syllables, the whole phrase can be too much to pronounce for some which is why “Otsu” is commonly used instead. Now Otsu can be used in a variety of ways but the most common time to use it is after a day’s work and if someone does something you appreciate.

    2. Tehepero

    You probably have heard of the word “Tehepero” through anime but Tehepero is an expression that can also be used in daily life too. Tehepero was a very popular term used on the internet in  2015, mostly among young women at the end of a statement. Nowadays, it is seen as an old word and only used occasionally. Tehepero consists of the word “Tehe” which is an onomatopoeia of a shy expression and “Pero” which means tongue sticking out.

    It is an expression used after a mistake or even a silly or clumsy action as a way of hiding their embarrassment but also displays the person’s cute side. There is also a signature pose for Tehepero wherein a person sticks out their tongue and there is also an emoji (。・ ω<)ゞ in Japan used for it.

    3. Joshiryoku

    “Joshiryoku” is a combination of the word “Joshi (女子)” meaning girls, and “Ryoku (力)” meaning power, but actually refers to femininity or feminine charm. The term insists that a person has charming points that are often found attractive and can be used for both women and men, which becomes “Jyoshiryoku danshi” (女子力男子).

    These charming points include being fashionable, domesticated, ability to cook, enjoys sweets, values skin care, and other gestures. The term Joshiryoku is often accompanied by the word takai (高い) or hikui (低い) meaning high or low, defining the level of femininity.

    So here are three words to take note of because you’re bound to encounter them during your adventures around Japan. While different slang terms are often introduced from time to time thanks to the youngsters, it’s always good to know what they are and what they mean so you don’t get left behind. Also, I would err on the side of caution and only use Japanese slang terms among friends in a very casual environment.

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