Taboo Words of Japan

Japan has a vast collection of “bad” or “taboo” words.  They are the more unacceptable in a culture of harmony, face, and an almost scientific use of politeness, such as Japan has.  Many of these words have fallen victim to the 言葉狩り (kotobagari) or “word hunting” police.  Many of these words have either a real or perceived racist conotation.  Others have simply been deemed vulgar, sexual, or hateful.  Don’t be surprised if the existence of some of these words is even denied by your Japanese friends, as they may be loathe to admit having heard them (which might imply knowing someone who uses such words).  Also included here are words which are not bad, but simply naughty or refer to concepts that the Japanese would rather not discuss openly, especially not with 外人 (gaijin) or “foreigners.”

 

Sex and Erotica

エッチ / H (echi)
Dirty, like a “dirty old man”

変態 (hentai)
Perverted

変質 (henshitsu)
Sexually deviant

ソープランド (soopu rando)
Soapland; a brother where the prostitute will typically wash you before sex

風俗 (fuuzoku)
Prostitution

マンコ (manko)
pussy

チンコ、チンポ、チンチン (chinko, chinpo, chinchin)
Wiener; dick; peepee (respectively)

ヤリマン (yariman)
Slut (literally, “play pussy”)

ヤリチン (yarichin)
Male slut (literally, “play dick”)
Note: It is interesting that the word for “slut” and “male slut” are the same, with no gender origin, in Japanese.

マングリガイシ (mangurigaishi)
On of the 37 traditional sex position of Japan.  This one involves putting the girls feet over her head while having sex in the missionary position.

肉ボウ (nikubou)
Meat stick; slang for dick

ホステス (hostess)
A paid, female drinking companion

ホスト (hosuto)
A paid, male drinking companion

 

Racial Terms

支那 (shina)
An old term, derived from Sanskrit for China.  It is used in a number of compounds for Chinese things.  It is regarded as an old-fashioned term by Japanese.  Chinese have come to think the term is racist; and due to pressure of political correctness, the otherwise innocuous term has fallen out of favor in Japan (or at the very least, when used, written without the Chinese characters, in katakana as ツナ).  Compounds that contain the word now have alternative words.

バカチョン (bakachon)
Derogatory term for a Korean, sometimes also used for Chinese

バカチョンカメラ (bakachon kamera)
Slang for a disposable camera; a camera so easy to use that even a dumb Korean or Chinese can use it

三国人 (san koku jin)
A somewhat disparaging term for Chinese, Koreans, and Filipinos (literally, the “three country people”)

ピナ (pina)
Somewhat derogatory term from Philippine women (who often work in the sex and hostess trade in Japan)

外人 (gaijin)
Gaijin (literally, “outside people”) is short for 外国人 (gaikokujin) or “outside country people.”  It is thought by many to be derogatory, and could certainly be used that way in anger, but is probably another case of oversensitivity, like “shina.”  Interestingly, gaijin nearly always refers to white or black foreigners (and possibly Latinos), as in American-image foreigners, but not typically to other Asians (though that would also be technically correct).

バカチョン (bakachon)
A term used to refer to the American and British enemy as pigs around WWII

クロンボウ (kuronbou)
A derogatory term for black people; “nigger”

黒サンボウ (kurosanbou)
A derogatory term for black people, taken from “black sambo”

 

Occupational Terms

小使いさん (kozukaisan)
A school janitor (literally, “small job guy”).  This word has evolved several times, being replaced with progressively more and more politically correct terms.  This is a prime victim of kotobagari.

フリータ (furiita)
a young person who subsists on part-time job pay and often stubbornly holds on to childhood dreams of being a professional athlete or musician; a slacker

 

Insults and Disparagements

バカ (baka)
stupid; asshole

シンショウ (shinshou)
a derogatory term for the mentally handicapped, derived from the longer medical term; “retard”

 

Taboo and Touchy Subjects

ヤクザ (yakuza)
893, a losing hand, the traditional Japanese organized crime syndicate, especially the 山口組 (yamaguchi-gumi) or “Yamaguchi Family”

スーパーフリー (suupaa furii)
The name of a group of date/gang raping students, who held rape parties disguised as social events, from Waseda University (the “super free” club), a very famous incident in Japan

ギャル (gyaru)
Traditional Japanese organized crime syndicate, especially the 山口組 (yamaguchi-gumi) or “Yamaguchi Family”

ガングロ (ganguro)
A Japanese girl fashion involving tanning cream or tanning salon tan, to make the skin very dark

やまんば (yamanba)
A young woman fashion similar to ganguro, only utilizing white tinted cream or make up around the mouth and eyes, in addition to the darkened skin

 

Drinking, Drugging, and Clubbing

タイマ (taima)
marijuana; pot

シャブ (syabu)
metha-emphetamine, one of the most popular illegal drugs in Japan.  It is often injected, as well as smoked.  Much of it is made in North Korea, smuggled in by North Korean government spy ships, in cooperation with Japanese and Korean mafias and sold in a variety of ways, including by Iranians, in Japanese cities.

水商売 (mizu shobai)
the bar business (literally “water trade”)

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