On the first of December Japan’s biggest correspondence course company, U-CAN, and Jiyu Kokumin Sha (a book publishing company) released the results of a survey into the top words or expressions to come into vogue this year. The voting was conducted, I believe, by means of a public web poll though both of their web sites, but no demographic information is available. On the web site linked above you can find all sixty candidate words that the winners were selected from.

The handkerchief prince meme became one of the most irritating ones for me; it seemed that almost ever comedian picked up on it, and the merest dab of their foreheads with a blue hanky was enough to send the studio audience into paroxisms of mirth.

Regarding Metabolic Syndrome or middle-age spread, and to stray rather far away from the topic, I had an intersting discussion at work this afternoon regarding the best way to tackle this issue. This year’s winter bonus seems to have been spent in one of two ways; first, on the Panasonic Joba, a decidedly non-bucking bronco for your living room. One colleague recounted a story how one of the old guys in her English class is a cowboy freak, so at home indulges in cosplay by dressing up in a cowboy outfit, saddling up and watching John Wayne movies. As a result, his English is rather advanced but contains many expressions that died in the Wild West. Second, the Wii. Quite a lot of people old enough to know better queued overnight for the release and spent the weekend working out to Wii Sports.

Rank 日本語 English Explanation
Top Prize! イナバウアー Ina Bauer Shizuka Arakawa used this skating move to great effect as part of her routine that won a figure skating gold medal in the Turin Winter Olympics this year. This has recently even been parodied in an advertisement for FujiFilm New Year postcards.
Top Prize! 品格 Dignity This word came to the fore in the book “Dignity of a Nation”, a rather bonkers nihonjinron-ic (?!) set of essays that even became the inspiration for an opinion poll I translated.
Top 10 エロカッコイイ(エロカワイイ) Erotic-cool (erotic-cute) The first word sums up singer 倖田來未, Kumi Koda, whose on-stage antics perhaps resemble Madonna. The second word is used, in my opinion, as a euphemism for the sexual exploitation of children.
Top 10 格差社会 Unequal society I’m not really sure of the background to this phrase, but presumably something to do with the widening gap between rich and poor.
Top 10 シンジラレナ~イ I can’t belieeeve it! An utterance by the manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters baseball team, Trey Hillman, it seems.
Top 10 たらこ・たらこ・たらこ Cod roe, cod roe, cod roe A series of adverts for pasta sauce that spawned (get it?!?) a hit song.
Top 10 脳トレ Brain training Ryuta Kawashima MD from Tohoku University first wrote the books, then helped design the Nintendo DS game that became all the rage with all ages of DS users.
Top 10 ハンカチ王子 Handkerchief Prince The pitcher for the winners of the annual high school baseball championship in Japan, Yuki Saito, received this nickname from the popular press for his habit of daintily wiping his brow with a blue hanky in between pitches.
Top 10 ミクシィ mixi The top Social Networking Service in Japan, by the proverbial country mile.
Top 10 メタボリックシンドローム(メタボ) Metabolic Syndrome (Metabo) I’m not a fat lazy git, I’m just suffering from metabolic syndrome! With Japanese waistbands getting wider, metabolic syndrome has become the keyword to describe the cause of middle-age spread and other lifestyle diseases. Just recently, two ministers from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare have decided to start dieting and blogging on their battle of the bulge (warning: naked beer bellies).


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