A couple weeks ago, I mentioned this article on Pink Tentacle about the 60 nominees for Jiyu Kokuminsha’s annual “buzzword of the year.” Now, the winning words have been announced.
Personally, I don’t think the winners were as interesting as in previous years, but then again, I don’t really care which one actually gets chosen as the buzzword of the year - the whole list is what interests me. In any case, two buzzwords won the award this time:
Something needs to be done (about Miyazaki) [(Miyazaki o) do gen ka sen to ikan - （宮崎を）どげんかせんといかん]: When outlining his policy to the prefectural assembly, Miyazaki governor-elect Hideo Higashikokubaru (a.k.a. Sonomanma Higashi) peppered his speech with Miyazaki dialect, saying things like “Do gen ka sen to ikan” (”something needs to be done”) in reference to the need to escape from the old ball and chain that has become the root of stagnation.
Hanikami Oji [hanikami ouji - ハニカミ王子]: Hanikami Oji (”bashful prince”) is the nickname given to Ryo Ishikawa, who at age 15 became the youngest man ever to win a regular tournament on the Japanese golf tour.
(Explanations taken from the Pink Tentacle article.)
As you can see, the first is taken from a political speech about the state of the Miyazaki prefecture, and the second is a just another variant of the “Hankachi Oji” (”handkerchief prince,” referring to then-Waseda pitcher Yuki Saito) buzzword that popped up last year (but lost out to the buzzwords “Ina Bauer” and “hinkaku”).
The Top 10 list included some more popular phrases (explanations again taken from Pink Tentacle):
Pension (that disappeared) [(kieta) nenkin - （消えた）年金)]: Pensions topped the headlines after a government blunder resulted in the disappearance of at least 50 million public pension account records, shortchanging an unknown number of retirees. Oops.
Sonna no kankei nee [そんなの関係ねぇ]: Sonna no kankei nee (”It doesn’t matter!”) is the catchphrase from comedian Yoshio Kojima’s wildly famous routine. Thanks to YouTube, Kojima’s popularity has spread quickly across the globe.
Dondake~ [どんだけぇ～]: This catch-all exclamation of surprise/disbelief/reproach arose from the Shinjuku 2-chome gay community and was popularized by Ikko, a popular transvestite TV personality. Dondake~ can be used in a wide variety of situations, sort of like “Really?!” or “No way!” Usually said with a slight rising intonation and seasoned with whiny sarcasm.
The power of insensitivity [donkanryoku - 鈍感力]: Made popular by Donkanryoku (The Power of Insensitivity), a best-selling book written by popular novelist Junichi Watanabe, this expression means something like “thick skin” and refers to the ability to live in a relaxed manner without getting worked up over the little things.
Disguised beef (disguised meat) [minchi gisou (gisou shokuniku)]: The Hokkaido-based Meat Hope Co. admitted to adding pork and chicken to its ground beef products to cut production costs. (*Note: This has been expanded to shokuhin gisou - 食品偽装 - to cover all of the food-related scandals this year.)
Net cafe refugees [net cafe nanmin - ネットカフェ難民]: “Net cafe refugees” is an expression used by the Japanese media to refer to the growing number of day laborers who spend their nights in 24-hour internet cafe booths. The Japan Cafe Complex Association (JCCA) opposes the media’s use of the word “refugee” to describe these important customers. A government survey this year estimates there are about 5,400 net cafe refugees in Japan.
Mega- (giant meals) [O-gui (mega-____ ) - 大食い（メガ○○）]: Over the past year, a number of mega-sized meals and high-calorie food products have appeared on the market, such as cup ramen, pudding, ice cream and hamburgers. Some say this trend is a reaction against the recent health food boom, while others see it is as a sign of economic recovery.
Extremely hot day [moushobi - 猛暑日]: “Extremely hot day,” an expression officially adopted by the Meteorological Agency, refers to days in which the high temperature reaches 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The number of extremely hot days has increased significantly over the past 10 years, causing heat strokes and other health problems. In 2007, the towns of Tajimi (Gifu prefecture) and Kumagaya (Saitama prefecture) experienced record highs of 40.9 degrees Celsius (105.6 degrees Fahrenheit).