The Japanese language abbreviates many words, especially casual Japanese words and phrases. They are useful when speaking and texting in Japanese. Many of these words are derived from foreign languages, especially English. Here are 40 most commonly used and interesting Japanese abbreviations for you when learning the Japanese language! We’ll include the translation and original long-form in brackets for these Japanese abbreviated words.
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Want to find out more about Japan language? Check out:
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- Best way and tips to learn the Japanese language quickly and easily
- Japanese Phrases For Your Night Out in Tokyo
- Useful Japanese slangs
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These Japanese abbreviated words are used to describe some of the most visited places in Japan. The abbreviated versions of these words can be heard everywhere.
1. Suupaa, スーパー (Supermarket, スーパーマーケット)
Be sure to lengthen the ‘u’ and ‘a’ sounds! A short ‘u’ and ‘a’ (‘supa’) means ‘spa’ instead of ‘supermarket’. For more on short and long vowels, check out our blog on most common Japanese language mistakes.
2. Depaato, デパート (Department store, デパートメントストア)
A depaato is a large mall with dozens of retailer stores, restaurants, cafes and other facilities. It’s one of our favourite places to shop in Japan!
3. Depachika, デパ地下 (Department store basement, デパートメントストアの地下)
‘Depachika’ is a combination of ‘depaato’ (which we’ve just discussed is short for “department store”) and ‘chika (地下)’ which means ‘underground’ in Japanese. Put together, ‘depachika’ refers to underground floors in a department store, such as B1 and B2. In Japan, these floors typically house many food stores and bakeries.
4. Apaato, アパート (Apartment, アパートメント)
In Japan, apartments, flats and units are categorised into ‘apartments’ and ‘mansions (manshon, マンション)’. Apartments in Japan refer to units in buildings that are only two storeys high. Mansions, though they refer to townhouses or luxurious homes in English, refer to concrete/steel apartment buildings with three or more floors in Japanese.
5. Konbini, コンビニ (Convenience store, コンビニエンスストア)
Two of the three most famous convenience stores in Japan are Family Mart and Seven-Eleven, which are also commonly abbreviated in Japanese, as we’ll cover next.
6. Famima, ファミマ (Family Mart, ファミリーマート)
7. Sebun, セブン (Seven-Eleven, セブンイレブン)
8. Sutaba, スタバ (Starbucks, スターバックス)
Fun fact: there’s a ‘sutaba’ in Kyoto that looks like a traditional Japanese house!
9. Makku/Makudo, マック/マクド (McDonald’s, マックドナルド)
Some of us may call McDonald’s ‘maccas’ or ‘mac’ in English. In Japan, it’s abbreviated to ‘makku’ or ‘makudo’.
10. Gemusen, ゲムセン (Game centre, ゲームセンター)
Arcades in Japanese are called “game centres” and you’ll find a whole cluster of them in Akihabara, which is abbreviated to ‘Akiba (アキバ)!
11. Opesen, オペせん (Operations centre, オペレーションセンター)
A lot of foreign food are commonly referred in their Japanese abbreviated words.
12. Famichiki, ファミチキ (Family Mart fried chicken, ファミリーマートフライドチキン)
Family Mart sells fried chicken known as ‘famichiki’ (‘fami’ from ‘family mart’ and ‘chiki which is short for ‘chikin’, Japanese for ‘chicken’) and it’s a common snack and drunk food in Japan.
13. Nanachiki, ナナチキ (Seven-Eleven fried chicken, セブンイレブンチキン)
Famichiki’s competitor is nanachiki, which is fried chicken sold by Seven-Eleven. Its name is made up of ‘nana’, Japanese for ‘seven’ (as in ‘Seven-Eleven’), and ‘chiki’, short for ‘chicken’.
14. Potechi, ポテチ (Potato chips, ポテトチップス)
Fun fact: Japan has a bunch of crazy flavours of potechi, such as steak, soy sauce and wasabi, and fried chicken!
15. Saradore, サラドレ (Salad dressing, サラダドレッシング)
16. Aisu, アイス (Ice cream, アイスクリーム)
Although the abbreviation for ‘ice cream’ in Japan is just ‘ice’, it doesn’t mean ice as in “ice cube”. That’s ‘koori (氷)’ in Japanese.
17. Sando, サンド (Sandwich, サンドイッチ)
Though the abbreviation of ‘sandwich’ in Japanese is ‘sand (sando)’, it doesn’t refer to the sand you find at the beach; that will be ‘suna (砂)’.
Use these Japanese abbreviated words to greet people through the day or for special occasions.
18. Akeome, あけおめ (Happy new year, あけましておめでとうございます)
For colleagues or people you don’t know well, you use the whole long form, ‘akemashite omedetou gozaimasu’. For people you know a bit better, you can omit ‘gozaimasu’. For people you’re extremely close to, you can shorten the whole greeting to just ‘ake ome’.
19. Kotoyoro, ことよろ (Good luck/thank you for the coming year, ことしもよろしくお願いします)
This is a combination of ‘kotoshi’, which means “this year”, and ‘yoroshiku’, which doesn’t have a direct translation, but is understood as “thank you”, “let’s get along”, “let’s work well together” or “please take care of me”. You typically say this to new acquaintances or colleagues.
20. Ossu, おっす (Good morning, おはようございます)
Though this is an abbreviation of “good morning”, it’s also used as a casual ‘yo’ or ‘hey’.
21. Aza/Azassu, あざ/あざっす (Thank you, ありがとうございます)
This is a very casual way to say “thank you”, so be sure to use it only with people you know well, and not colleagues or employers!
22. Otsu, おつ (Well done/good job, おつかれ)
‘Otsu’ is short for ‘otsukare’ which you typically say to someone when they get off work, or when they’ve just finished something difficult such as an intense workout or a hike.
Commonly used words
There are many Japanese abbreviations that are used to describe everyday objects and everyday phrases.
23. Anime, アニメ (Animation, アニメーション)
‘Anime’ is short for ‘animation’, and though it technically refers to all sorts of animation, it generally refers only to Japanese animation now, and Western animation (such as Disney movies or Cartoon Network series) are known as ‘cartoons’.
24. Rimokon, リモコン (Remote controller, リモートコントローラー)
25. Terebi, テレビ (Television, テレビーション)
26. Pasokon, パソコン (Personal computer i.e. laptops, パーソナルコンピューター)
‘Pasokon’ is short for “personal computer” but refers mostly to laptops.
27. Sumaho, スマホ (Smartphone, スマートフォ(ホ)ン)
‘Sumaho’ refers only to modern smartphones, not older cell phones such as flip phones.
28. Meado, メアド (Email address, メールアドレス)
‘Email’ in Japanese is just abbreviated to ‘mail’. A physical piece of mail such as a letter is ‘tegami (手紙)’.
29. Insuta, インスタ (Instagram, インスタグラム)
30. Purezen, プレゼン (Presentation, プレゼンテーション)
When I first started studying Japanese, I mistakenly thought ‘purezen’ was an abbreviation for ‘present (purezento)’, as in a gift. Don’t make the same mistake I did!
31. Apo, アポ (Appointment, アポイントメント)
32. Choko, チョコ (Chocolate, チョコレート)
Fun fact: there are many categories of Valentine’s Day chocolate in Japan, such as ‘famichoko (family chocolate)’ and ‘tomochoko (friend chocolate) and more. Get the entire list of different types of Valentine’s Day chocolate in our blog post about Valentine’s Day celebrations in Japan.
33. Pokemon ポケモン (Pocket monsters, ポケットモンスター)
Though the word ‘monster’ refers to scary creatures in English, “pocket monsters” in Japanese refers to adorable Pokemon, as in a (cute) monster you carry around in your pocket, in a Pokeball.
34. Baaten, バーテン (Bartender, バーテンダー)
When addressing your bartender, you should attach the ‘-san’ suffix to ‘baaten’ to be polite!
There are countless number of Japanese slangs and a lot of them are abbreviated to be used casually in everyday lives.
These slang words and phrases will make you sound more natural when speaking Japanese to friends. For our full list of 30 most commonly used slang words and phrases, click here.
35. Ri, り (Roger/Understood, りょうかい)
36. Paripi, パリピ (Party people, パーティーピープル)
This refers to people who go out drinking or clubbing often, or people who go to music festivals or live gigs.
37. Tapiru タピる (Tapioca drink, タピオカドリンク)
Tapioca drinks such as bubble tea have become very popular, especially in Asian countries, and you can refer to them as ‘tapiru’.
38. Torima, とりま (Well, for the time being/for now, とりあえず、まあ)
In my experience, this is most often said in restaurants. For example, when people have ordered some food and aren’t sure what more to get, they may tell the waiter/waitress, “torima (well, for the time being), ijou desu (this is our order),” to express that they’ll want to order more later on.
39. Ane, あね (Ah, I see, ああ、なるほどね)
40. Furorida, フロリダ (I’m leaving to take a bath, おふろに入るので、りだつする)
This combines two Japanese words: furo (bath) and ridatsu (to break away, i.e. from a conversation). Put the two together and you get furorida, which tells the person you are ending the conversation to take a bath. Furorida is also how Japanese people pronounce ‘Florida’, so if you get any confused looks, that may be why.
Which one of these Japanese abbreviated words do you like the most? If you have any suggestions of Japanese abbreviations, make sure to leave them in the comment section down below!
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Want to find out more about Japan? check out Best way and tips to learn the Japanese language quickly and easily Best way and tips to learn the Japanese language quickly and easily and Japanese Phrases For Your Night Out in Tokyo! Here are also the most useful Japanese slangs and Japanese onomatopoeia.