All About Japan

10 Useful Kanji for Everyday Life in Japan

| Learning Japanese , FAQ

There are a lot of things we love about Japan, whether its the quirkiness that separates Japan from the rest of the world or the fantastic service Japanese people provide. Read on to find out the kanji counterparts to what we love most about the uniqueness of Japanese culture.

10. 乾杯 — Cheers


In all your late nights partying with friends and co-workers, you've probably heard and said this word many times. However, here it is in kanji form! Now you can text, write and email your beer-drinking greetings.

9. 祝儀袋 — Cash Envelopes


If you have ever been invited to a Japanese wedding, you have probably experienced the complexity of the process of attending. You need to prepare a special type of envelope that you insert crisp notes of ¥10,000 (usually between to ¥30,000-50,000 in total) that must be folded in a specific manner before finally putting your name and address on it. To gain entry, you need to pass the envelope and have your name checked off before taking your seat for the ceremony. Now you can go in search for one in confidence.

8. 入相の鐘 — Evening Bell

入相の鐘(いりあいのかね)iriai no kane

If you've lived in a town on the outskirts of a large city, or even deep into the countryside, you've probably heard the music that rings out across town at 5 p.m. (or 4 p.m. in winter when days are shorter). This music is a time signal for all the children in the local neighborhood that it's starting to get late and that they should start heading home.

7. 非常 — Emergency

7. 非常 — Emergency


There are many different words centered around an emergency, which might be one of the reasons why Japan appears to be a very safe society. However, this one is most likely on all of the modern intercoms installed in apartments. Look out for this button (usually in red) as it could come in very handy. One touch of this button and a police officer will come straight to your door.

6. 八重歯 — Double or Fanged Tooth


Something that's considered extremely cute by members of the younger female generation is the phenomenon of double-tooth. While some people are naturally blessed with these pointed canines, others have their teeth surgically changed. Though most Westerners would pay to have this fixed, there are some Japanese women proudly sporting the trend. Well, now you have a kanji to go with it should you want to ask for your teeth to be altered at the next dentist visit.

5. 居眠り — Sleeping on the Job

5. 居眠り — Sleeping on the Job


You probably shouldn't do this on the job back home, but this phenomenon is very common in Japan. Sleeping on the job or even on the public transportation might be considered as a show of all the hard work and effort you've been putting into the job. Why not try and use the phrase at work and see if you can get some slack?

4. 代金引換 — Cash on Delivery (COD)

代金引換(だいきんひきかえ)daikin hikikae

Most expats in Japan have had the difficult experience of applying for credit cards only to be rejected. This could make the convenience of online shopping quite daunting. But, most online retailers offer the option to pay cash on delivery. Look out for the kanji and select it if you want to continue spending money online without a credit card.

3. 満員電車 — Crowded Train

満員電車(まんいんでんしゃ)manin densha

Japan is well known for its crowded trains during rush hour, and there's a word and kanji to describe the madness. Most commonly found in large cities such as Tokyo, make sure to avoid early morning and late afternoon commutes to steer clear of hearing this term.

2. 自動販売機 — Vending Machines


Japan is the land of vending machines! And though this makes it a fantastically convenient way of purchasing drinks on the go, the Japanese kanji form certainly isn't convenient to remember. However, now you should be well equipped to finding the nearest vending machine!

1. 加熱便座 — Heated Toilet Seat

加熱便座 (かねつべんざ)kanetsu benza

You've probably used one of these; perhaps you're one of the lucky few who has one installed in your apartment. Regardless, here is the Japanese kanji for the heated toilet seat in case you ever need to contact a plumber about a toilet-related incident!