Japanese Words Entered into English Dictionaries

Sushi and sake are probably the most well known Japanese words to English speakers. However, there are more than a few Japanese words that have entered into English dictionaries. Here are twenty-five of them; let’s see if you knew they were all Japanese!

Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc.

1. bento 弁当 
a meal, usually served in a lacquered or elaborately decorated box that is divided into sections for holding individual portions of food.

2. futon  布団
a thin mattress, usually filled with layers of cotton batting and encased in cotton fabric, placed on a floor for sleeping, especially in traditional Japanese interiors, and folded and stored during the day.

3. haiku 俳句
a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.

4. judo 柔道 
a method of defending oneself or fighting without the use of weapons, based on jujitsu but differing from it in banning dangerous throws and blows and stressing the athletic or sport element.

5. karaoke カラオケ
an act of singing along to a music video, especially one from which the original vocals have been electronically eliminated.

6. karate 空手
a method developed in Japan of defending oneself without the use of weapons by striking sensitive areas on an attacker’s body with the hands, elbows, knees, or feet.

7. kimono 着物
a loose, wide-sleeved robe, fastened at the waist with a wide sash, characteristic of Japanese costume.

8. koi 鯉
any of various colorful cultivated forms of the common carp

9. manga 漫画
a Japanese graphic novel, typically intended for adults, characterized by highly stylized art.

10.origami 折り紙
the traditional Japanese art or technique of folding paper into a variety of decorative or representational forms, as of animals or flowers.

11. otaku オタク
an avid collector or enthusiast, esp. one who is obsessed anime, video games, or computer and rarely leaves home

12. ramen ラーメン
a bowl of clear soup containing noodles, vegetables, and often bits of meat.

13. sake 酒
a Japanese fermented, alcoholic beverage made from rice.
(Sakura’s note: Remember that in Japanese, sake actually means “alcohol beverage” in general.)

14. sashimi 刺身
raw fish cut into very thin slices.

15. sensei 先生
a karate or judo instructor.
(Sakura’s Note: Remember that in Japanese, “sensei” just means “teacher”; i.e. any type of teacher is called “sensei”.

16. shiatsu 指圧
a Japanese massage technique that includes the use of acupressure.

17. shiitake 椎茸
a large, meaty, black or dark brown mushroom, native to eastern Asia and frequently used in Japanese and Chinese cookery.

18. sudoku 数独
a puzzle printed on a square grid of nine large squares each subdivided into nine smaller squares, the object of which is to fill in each of the 81 squares so that each column, row, and large square contains every number from 1 to 9.

19. sushi 寿司
cold boiled rice moistened with rice vinegar, usually shaped into bite-size pieces and topped with raw seafood (nigiri-zushi) or formed into a long seaweed-wrapped roll, often around strips of vegetable or raw fish, and sliced into bite-size pieces (maki-zushi)

20. tempura 天ぷら
seafood or vegetables dipped in batter and deep-fried.

21. teriyaki 照り焼き
a dish of grilled slices of beef, chicken, or fish that have been marinated in soy sauce seasoned with sake, ginger, and sugar.

22. tofu 豆腐
a soft, bland, white cheese-like food, high in protein content, made from curdled soybean milk: used originally in Oriental cookery but now in a wide variety of soups and other dishes.

23. tsunami 津波
an unusually large sea wave produced by a seaquake or undersea volcanic eruption.

24. tycoon 大君
1. a business person of great wealth and power; 2. a title used with reference to the shogun of Japan

25. wasabi わさび
the pungent, greenish root of this plant, which can be grated and used as a condiment.