10 Common Japanese Idiomatic Phrases

Japanese idioms


Today, I want to show you a couple of very common Japanese idiomatic phrases (慣用句).  Japanese people use them quite often in conversations, but for those who are just learning Japanese it can be hard to understand. In fact, I had never heard the phrase “a piece of cake” until I actually lived in the states.

1. 揚げ足をとる (あげあしをとる, age ashi wo toru)
To grab a flying foot. In Judo, getting opponent’s foot up in the air is used to make them fall on the ground.
Meaning: To jump on someone’s mistakes

2. 頭に来る (あたまにくる, atama ni kuru)
Coming towards the head.
Meaning: To get upset or angry

3. 会わせる顔がない (あわせるかおがない, awaseru kao ga nai)
No face to show
Meaning: Too ashamed to meet someone

4. 肩の荷が下りる (かたのにがおりる, kata no ni ga oriru)
Take the load off your shoulders
Meaning: To feel relaxed by being free from obligation or responsibility

5. 体を張る (からだをはる, karada wo haru)
Holding your body tightly
Meaning: To do something as if it is for your life

6. 口が軽い (くちがかるい, kuchi ga karui)
A light mouth.
Meaning: To be too talkative and unable to keep a secret

7. 小耳に挟む (こみみにはさむ, komimi ni hasamu)
Putting between little ears
Meaning: To hear a little bit about something from somebody

8. 手を抜く (てをぬく, te wo nuku)
Pulling a hand out
Meaning: To do a sloppy job

9. 長い目で見る (ながいめでみる, nagai me de miru)
Looking with long eyes
Meaning: To look after things for a long time

10. のどから手が出る (のどからてがでる, nodo kara te ga deru)
A hand comes out of your mouth
Meaning: desperately wanting something

This list of Japanese idioms all involve a part of the body. Keep checking back as I will be listing more Japanese idioms in later posts.

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Wedding Etiquette in Japan


Have you ever attended a wedding in Japan?? I’ve just attended one in Tokyo last month for my friend. Everything was amazing, the location, the food, and the way they planned out the whole wedding! And most important, the bride and the groom looked very happy together 😀 But, did you know an average wedding in Japan costs almost 3,000,000yen (about $30,000)??

Japanese weddings are usually very formal, and they have some manners that guests should know.

In general, if you are invited to a wedding, you are supposed to bring ご祝儀(goshuugi). Goshuugi is gift cash for celebration that is inserted in a special envelop for the bride and the groom. If you are a friend of the bride and groom then you need to bring about 30,000 yen as a ご祝儀, and if you are family, it is around 100,000yen from one family. I know it is very expensive to attend one wedding!! So, you should really enjoy the special time for the marring couple!!

It is also important to be very careful with your outfit! For ladies, it is Not okay to wear white or all black because white is bride’s color and black is the color for funerals. Basically, guests are not supposed to stand out more than the bride. Dressing way too sexy or too casual is also a big no no.  When you are attending daytime weddings, you shouldn’t expose too much of your skin. For no sleeved dresses, you should have something to cover your shoulders. For men, formal suits with a white necktie is the usual look.

At the end of wedding, you will receive 引き出物(hikidemono), which is a gift from the couple in return. Nowadays, a gift catalog is very popular for 引き出物 so that you can chose what you really want.

It is important to note that Weddings can be very different depending on how the couples preferences, but these are the basic manners to know when attending a Japanese wedding party.

Japanese Words List

白い (shiroi) – white

黒い (kuroi) – black

色 (iro) – color

東京 (Toukyou) -Tokyo

結婚 (kekkon) – marriage

結婚式(kekkonshiki) – wedding

ご祝儀 (goshuugi) – gift cash for celebration

引き出物 (hikidemono) – a gift guests receive at a wedding

新郎・新婦 (shinrou, shimpu) – a groom and a bride

Orion Beer Festival 09

Hi, guys! My name is Eri and I’ll be writing about Japanese culture, events in Japan, and also answering questions about Japanese! I’ll also be creating Japanese Language videos with Nick! Hope you’ll enjoy them! ヨロシク〜 😉

Summer is the busiest season for Miyakojima. (Miyakojima is a small sub-tropical island of Okinawa. It is located about half way between Mainland of Okinawa and Taiwan.)

We get the largest number of tourists around this time of the year, the kids are out of school, and yes, lots of events to go to!! 🙂 Yesterday, Nick and I attended the Orion Beer Festival here in Miyakojima. Orion Beer is Okinawa’s most famous beer company, and they hold this festival every year.I must say, people here looooooove to get together and DRINK!! It seems the entire island comes to this festival and enjoys time with family and friends.

The festival had several live performances including sanshin, taiko, and more modern music as well. And of course, beer!

*a list of Japanese vocabulary with English translations can be found at the bottom of the page.

Okinawan Drum Dancer

Okinawan Drum Dance (琉球太鼓:Ryukyu Daiko)

The type of music used for Okinawan Drum Dance is called “エイサー”. It is a traditional Okinawan music for 盆踊り(Bonodori).

Its choreography is inspired from Karate moves. Karate was originally founded in Okinawa.

I love Ryukyu Daiko!  It is かっこいい (kakkoii)!


a local band called “Kagihana Band”


Kampai (カンパイ!)with Orion Campaign Girls


A local band called “Harvesta” performed a type of reggae rap.

And, Today’s special Live performed by BENI. She does TV Commercials for Orion’s.

Japanese Words List

ビール – Beer

カンパイ(乾杯)- Cheers

かっこいい – Looks cool!

盆踊り-ぼんおどり- Japanese traditional grouped dance for Summer time

New Blogger to Japanese Words

When I started Japanese Words I wanted to create a one-stop site to find all the best information, materials, and methods to study Japanese. I have been busy writing various articles on how to maximize your Japanese study, but haven’t had a lot of time to improve the website as a whole. In order to spend more time improving and developing the Japanese Words website I am bringing on another blogger, my wife,  Eri Kobayashi.

Eri is originally from Tokyo, but completed her college degree in California. After graduating, Eri worked in the US for a short period and then returned to work in the International environment of Tokyo. Here in Miyakojima, Eri teaches English part time at Juku (cram school) and enjoys snorkeling and hula.

Being a native Japanese speaker, as well as fluent in English,  Eri brings a unique point of view for studying Japanese. Having been a study abroad student herself she understands the challenges in learning a new language and in living in a foreign country. She will be writing about Japanese culture, the Japanese language, teaching new Japanese words, as well as blogging about some of various events here in Japan and Miyakojima.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

P.S. Eri and I will be attending a Orion Beer Festival today so pictures and article coming soon!