Japanese Culture Dictionary


Shoyu is a liquid soy sauce fermented from soybeans, wheat, water, and salt. It is a very common ingredient in Japanese cuisine and is used to add flavor to dishes such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, and yakitori. Shoyu has a salty taste and a strong aroma, and it is one of the main condiments in Japanese cooking. There are different types of shoyu, such as light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, thick soy sauce, and gluten-free soy sauce, each with its own flavor characteristics and culinary uses. In addition to being used as a condiment to flavor dishes, shoyu is also considered a healthy ingredient, rich in proteins and essential amino acids.


The word "otaku" is a Japanese expression that has gained prominence in global pop culture in recent decades. Initially, the term was used in Japan to refer to people obsessed with certain hobbies, such as anime, manga, video games, and fictional characters. Although the word "otaku" originally had a negative connotation in Japan, being associated with socially awkward and introverted individuals, the concept of otaku is now used with more neutrality and even pride by many fans around the world. (more…)


"Sensei" is a Japanese word that is often used to refer to a teacher, master, or expert in various fields of study, such as medicine, education, martial arts, music, calligraphy, among others. In Japanese, the word "sensei" is composed of the characters "先" (saki), which means "before," "guess," or "predict," and "生" (sei), which means "life" or "to be born." Together, these characters can be interpreted as "one who was born before," "one with experience," or "one who guides life." These professionals are highly respected in Japanese culture.


The Japanese word "ecchi" is often used to describe a genre of media that contains mild adult content or suggestive elements. It originated from the English word "H" (an abbreviation for "hentai"), which refers to explicit content. However, in Japanese, "ecchi" has a more lighthearted and playful connotation, and it is commonly associated with comedic or risqué situations that are not overly explicit.

In anime, manga, and other forms of entertainment, ecchi elements can be found in various genres, such as romantic comedies, harem series, and fan service-focused shows. It often includes provocative imagery, innuendos, and playful teasing between characters. While some viewers enjoy the playful nature of ecchi content, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for all audiences, particularly younger viewers or those seeking more modest or family-friendly entertainment.

Shinobi / Ninja

Shinobi is a Japanese term used to refer to secret agents and spies during Japan's feudal period. They were trained in espionage, sabotage, assassination, and intelligence techniques.

The term ninja is more encompassing and refers to a set of skills and techniques used by secret agents, including shinobi. Ninjas were specialized in combat, weapons, and infiltration techniques. They were also known for their abilities in disguise, poisoning, and guerrilla tactics.

While the terms are often used interchangeably, the main difference is that shinobi refers to a specific group of secret agents, whereas ninja refers to the set of skills and techniques used by these agents. (more…)


Kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that is still widely worn today for formal events, ceremonies, and festivities. The term "kimono" means "clothing" or "thing to wear" in Japanese. The garment consists of a long robe with no collar, wide sleeves, and a wide belt called an obi.

There are various types of kimono, which vary in terms of fabric, pattern, sleeve length, and occasion for which they are worn. Some examples include the furisode, a long kimono with long sleeves traditionally worn by unmarried women on special occasions; the tomesode, a shorter kimono with short sleeves and elegant patterns worn by married women at formal events; and the yukata, a simpler and more comfortable type of kimono typically worn at summer festivals and in traditional Japanese inns (ryokans). (more…)


Dojo is a Japanese word that means "training place." It is a specially designed physical space for the practice of martial arts and other physical disciplines in Japan. Typically, dojos are simple spaces with tatami mats on the floor and minimal furniture or decoration, aiming to provide a safe and functional environment for martial arts practice.

Dojos hold significant importance in Japanese culture, and many martial arts such as judo, karate, and aikido have their roots in Japan. Through training in a dojo, students are not only taught the techniques of their martial arts but also the virtues that accompany them, such as discipline, respect, humility, and self-control. Additionally, dojos are often considered sacred training places, and students are encouraged to keep the space clean and to respect the tradition and spirit of the martial art they are learning.


The katana is a traditional Japanese sword with a curved, single-edged blade, a circular or squared guard, and a long grip that accommodates two hands. It is an iconic symbol of Japan's samurai warriors and embodies the artistry, craftsmanship, and martial prowess of ancient Japanese culture. The history of the katana dates back to the 14th century and has left a lasting impact on Japanese history and folklore.

The art of crafting a katana involves intricate processes that require exceptional skill and attention to detail. The blade is typically made from high-carbon steel and undergoes a meticulous forging and tempering process known as "tamahagane." The curvature of the blade, called "sori," contributes to the katana's distinctive cutting ability and balance. The handle, or "tsuka," is wrapped with materials such as silk or leather, and the sword is often adorned with intricate fittings and a decorative handguard, or "tsuba." (more…)


Manga is the term used to refer to Japanese comic books or graphic novels. It is a highly popular art form in Japan that covers a wide range of genres, including action, adventure, romance, comedy, science fiction, horror, and more. Manga is typically published in magazines, with chapters released on a weekly or monthly basis, and later compiled into bound volumes.

Manga has gained immense popularity in Japan since the 1950s and has quickly spread worldwide, garnering a large fan base. The art style of manga is characterized by expressive lines, large and striking eyes, and a narrative that often follows a fast-paced and exciting rhythm. Many manga series have also inspired adaptations into anime, films, TV series, games, and other media. However, the first major wave of manga worldwide occurred in the 1990s with titles like "Saint Seiya", "Dragon Ball," "Sailor Moon," and "Akira."


Yakisoba is a popular dish in Japanese cuisine, consisting of fried noodles, vegetables, and meat, served with soy-based sauce. The word "yakisoba" literally means "fried noodles," and it is believed that the dish was introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants in the early 20th century. Since then, yakisoba has become a common dish at festivals, restaurants, and even fast food joints in Japan.

Yakisoba can be prepared with various types of noodles, but the most common is soba-style noodles made from wheat and buckwheat flour. Additionally, the dish typically includes vegetables such as onion, cabbage, and carrot, as well as meats like chicken, pork, or seafood. Soy sauce is added to flavor the dish, along with other seasonings like ginger and garlic. (more…)