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Top Buzzwords of 2014 in Japan

In December every year, the publishing house Jiyuukokuminsha (自由国民社) holds awards for the top buzzwords of the year in Japan called the Ryuukougo Taishou (流行語大賞). This year’s winners are Dame yo! Dame, dame! and shudanteki jieiken.

What is a buzzword?

A buzzword is a popular word, phrase or a sentence. Those words are popularized by someone and trended on the internet and other media. It may be old and common or a new slang word/phrase.

In Ryuukougo Taishou, the top word/phrase will be chosen from the 50 nominated words. Usually, there is only one winner. But just like last year, this year has more than one winners. The top buzzwords for this year are Dame yo! Dame, dame! and shudanteki jieiken.

Top Buzzword

Dame yo! Dame, dame! was popularized by the female comic duo Nippon Erekiteru Rengo. It is usually translated as “No, you mustn’t! No, no!” In their skit, the phrase is usually said by a female android after she is asked by her old partner to do something.

Shudanteki jieiken trended in media since July when the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, adopted a resolution dropping the ban on Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense. It split national opinion given that the cabinet changed their interpretation of the constitution without revising it.

Other expressions in the top 10

Yōkai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ, literally means ghost watch), which is a popular game turned animation among children and adults alike. It spawned many popular merchandises. A replica of the game’s yōkai watch and yōkai medals can be sold out in a week after its release.

yokai watch

A replica of the Yokai Watch which is very popular among children. (Photo by Masahiko Satoh on Flickr)

Arinomamade, which literally means “just as I am” is the Japanese title of the song “Let It Go,” from Disney’s monster hit film “Frozen”. Frozen became very popular in Japan that it topped Japan’s box office for 16 straight weeks. It became the third-highest grossing film in Japan behind Titanic and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

Matahara, a shortened word for the Japanese pronunciation of maternity harassment. It refers to pregnant women who are discriminated against at the workplace.

The rest of the top 10 are kiken doragu (危険ドラ, dangerous drugs which replaced the term loophole drugs), kabe-don (壁ドン, which refers to usually a guy leaning over a woman, pressing her against a wall, his hand slammed up on it, a common scene in a shōjo manga), Carp-joshi (female fans of the Hiroshima Carp baseball team), Gokigenyo (ご機嫌よ, literally means “how do you do”, a popular expression in NHK’s morning drama series Hanako & Anne) and Legend (referring to veteran ski jumper Noriaki Kasai).

Do you know some of these phrases? Share it with us in the comments section below!


1. ‘Shudanteki jieiken,’ ‘Dameyo, Dame Dame’ voted top buzzwords for 2014. Japan Today.

2. Why ‘Frozen’ Was Such a Big Box-Office Hit in Japan. The Hollywood Reporter.

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