Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Kotoba Asobi: Nazonazo – Learning the Japanese Style of Wordplay 4

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/19 Traditional Culture , , , , , ,

Another fun form of Japanese wordplay is nazonazo. And just like the shiritori, it is fun to play with other people.

Word Puzzles/Nazonazo

Nazonazo is just the Japanese word for riddles. Riddles are design to make your minds work but a riddle in a non-native language will make your mind work harder. It is very challenging and at the same time rewarding. It will allow you to think about the language non-literally and teach your brain to interpret and think about things in a different perspective. Many of these Japanese riddles make use of the rules of dajare and written meanings of the words. As mentioned in the dajare post, jokes and stuff that makes use of same-sounding words are often called oyaji gag (親父ギャグ), oyaji meaning “old man”, as an “old man” would be considered by the younger generation most likely to attempt these kind of jokes.

question

(Image from AC-Illust)

Examples of nazonazo

Another trait of nazonazo that is shared with shiritori is that it requires knowledge of Japanese vocabulary. Here are examples of nazonazo (answers and explanation are hidden so you can try answering them, highlight to reveal):

  • おかしは3じ、いまはなんじ? (okashi wa san ji, ima wa nan ji?)

Snacks are at 3 o’clock, what time is it now?

Answer: ni ji (2字)

Explanation: Time in Japanese is expressed in ji (時). Number of characters, though with a different kanji (字), is also read as ji. Thus, if okashi (おかし) has three characters, then ima (いま) has two characters, 2 ji.

  • いつも修理が必要な調味料とは何? (itsumo shuuri ga hitsuyouna chiryou to wa nani?)

What spice/flavoring always needs repair?

Answer: koshou (こしょう, pepper)

Explanation: Koshou in Japanese can mean two things: pepper (胡椒) and breakdown (故障).

  • 1日に2回あるのに、1年に1回しかないものって何? (ichinichi ni nikai aru noni, ichinen ni ikkai shika nai mono tte nani?)

Answer: chi (ち)

Explanation: The character chi (ち) appeared twice in ichinichi (いちにち) but only once in ichinen (いちねん). It is the Japanese equivalent of the English riddle, “What happens twice in a moment, once every minute, but never in a hundred years?” which has the answer of letter M.

  • パンはパンでも食べられないパンは、なに? (pan wa pan demo taberarenai pan wa nani?)

A bread is a bread, but what bread can you not eat?

Answer: furaipan (フライパン, frying pan)

Explanation: Furaipan is the shortened version of the English word for frying pan and pan is also the Japanese word for bread.

  • 風邪ばかりひいている動物ってなんだ? (kaze bakari hiite iru doubutsu tte nanda?)

What animal always catches a cold?

Answer: kitsune (Japanese fox)

Explanation: This riddle requires some knowledge of Japanese onomatopoeia. In Japan, the fox’s sound is described as kon-kon (コンコン) which is also the onomatopoeia for coughing. (Want to know more about the kitsune? Read our posts here and here.

In popular culture, in every movie of Meitantei Conan (Detective Conan, known as Case Closed in the English-dubbed), Professor Agassa always gives riddles to the Detective Boys which they considered boring.

Do you know any Japanese riddles? Share it with us in the comments section below!

References:

1. Playing With Words Japanese Style: Kotoba Asobi. Tofugu.

2. Nazonazo. Ameba JP.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

kodomo no hi

Golden Week – Children’s Day

Today in Japan is Greenery Day (みどりの日, Midori no Hi) which is a part of the series of holidays called the Golden Week. If you want to read more about Greenery Day, read our previous post. Continuing our series of posts regarding Golden Week, we will feature Children’s Day (子供の日) or Kodomo no Hi. Children’s […]

Read Article

boom

Pyoon! Nyan! Pachi! – Learning the Japanese Onomatopoeia 2

In our last post about Japanese onomatopoeias, we talked about the first type which is the giseigo or words that mimic human and animal sounds. This time, we will talk about the other two types: giongo and gitaigo. As we mentioned in the last post, the Japanese language is full of onomatopoeias. Some of them […]

Read Article

tenugui

Tenugui: More than Just a Hand Towel

A tenugui (手拭い) in its simplest definition is a traditional Japanese hand towel made of cotton. It is usually about 35 by 90 centimeters in size. It is typically plain woven and though there are also plain designs, it has usually repeating patterns printed/dyed on its surface. But a tenugui is not just a plain […]

Read Article

kanpai

The Nomikai – Bonding Through Drinking

A nomikai (飲み会) is a drinking party event particular to Japanese culture. It is a part of the culture of most places of employment. They are most often held in restaurants or izakaya (drinking place, bar), usually with everyone seated at one large table or occupying a separated section of the venue. The following two […]

Read Article

akaoni_agnry

Oni -Part 1- Japanese demon in children’s books

Oni – Japanese demon Typical “Oni” image In Japanese tales, “Oni” is usually a villain. Its standard appearance is quite distinctive; [Skin colour] Mostly red or blue. [Head] Afro like a Belgian footballer Marouane Fellaini who turned into red from blue, with two straight short horns. [Face] Pointed ears like Mr. Spock, thick eyebrows, sharp […]

Read Article

084646

The Princess Who Came From a Bamboo, Princess Kaguya

It was December last year when I had my first time in a Japanese movie theater. The movie we watched was Studio Ghibli’s Kaguya-hime no Monogatari. Though my Japanese is limited, the movie never failed to amazed me somehow. From The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter Kaguya-hime no Monogatari(かぐや姫の物語) or The Tale of Princess Kaguya […]

Read Article

Honguu of the Konpira Shrine

Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 3 –

Konpira in Kagawa (3) Konpira Shrine (3) [Shoin (Library building)] To reach here, you must walk up nearly 500 steps in total. The original meaning of “shoin” was a room used as a sitting room as well as a library of the master, but since around 1600, it has referred to a whole building. This […]

Read Article

sumo

Sumo: More Than Just a Martial Art – Rules

In our last post about the Japanese traditional martial art sumo, we learned about its history. In this post, we will learn more about its rules and features. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing […]

Read Article

kanji of the year

税 (Zei) – 2014 Kanji of the Year

Every year since 1995, the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society (財団法人日本漢字能力検定協会, Zaidanhōjin Nihon Kanji Nōryoku Kentei Kyōkai), chooses a Kanji of the Year (今年の漢字, Kotoshi no Kanji). The selection is done through national ballot. The character with the most votes, usually related to events happened that year, is announced in a ceremony on December 12 (漢字の日, […]

Read Article

FukiyaNisi

The Fukiya Village in Okayama, Japan – Part 4 –

What to see in Fukiya surrounding area (3) [The Nishie residence] This house is located on the opposite side of the Hirokane residence and there is no bus service to/from the village centre in the off season, and even in the high season, a cyclic bus goes there only once a day. However, a bus […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑