It never fails. We’ll be out walking the dogs or preparing dinner or working out when Akemi will turn to me and ask: “What’s the English world for…”. And then proceed to lay out the most ridiculously detailed scenario like “What’s the English for when you’re trying to lose weight and keep at it for a while but, eventually, you give up and have, say, a piece of cake ?” or “What’s the English world for when you’re not hungry but you have something to eat because your mouth feels lonely?”. I’ll inform her there is no English equivalent, word or phrase, that perfectly encapsulates such a comprehensive definition and she is, as always, surprised and disappointed. Because, you see, the Japanese seem to have a word FOR EVERYTHING!
Age-otori: The state of looking far worse following a haircut.
Arigata-meiwaku: When somebody does you a favor you didn’t want them to do but they went ahead and did it anyway and, as a result, caused you a huge inconvenience but social convention requires you to thank them anyway.
Aware: The bittersweetness of fading moment.
Bakku-shan: A woman that looks far better from behind than from the front.
Boketto: The act of staring blankly out into space, devoid of any thoughts.
Happou bijin: The act of being ungenuinely nice to everyone out of fear of being disliked.
Karoshi: Death from overwork.
Kenjataimu: Period directly after the sexual act when a man is free of desire and can think clearly.
Kintsugi: The act of repairing broken pottery with gold.
Koi no yokan: The feeling, upon first meeting someone, that you will eventually fall in love.
Kuchi zamishi: When you’re not hungry but you eat because your mouth is “lonely”.
Kyoikumama: A mother who relentlessly pushes her child to study.
Shrinrin-yoku: “Forest bathing” – visiting a forest for some R&R.
Tsujigiri: The act of trying out a new sword on some random stranger.
Tsundoku: The act of buying a book and never getting around to reading it.
Wabi-sabi: A world view that accepts the transcendent and imperfect nature of life.
Yoko meshi: The stress experienced speaking a foreign language.
Familiar with any words in other languages that lack an English equivalent. List away!