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Untranslatable Japanese Words

Sometimes describing experiences are difficult to articulate. Often the reason is simply because there are no words in the English language that truly capture the feeling you are trying to convey. The Japanese language in particular has many beautiful words that perfectly describe moments we sometimes have difficulty expressing.

Shouganai

This word translates as “it cannot be helped.” Sometimes, you have to let go of what you can’t control.

Komorebi

When sunlight filters through leaves.

Koi No Yokan

The feeling after meeting someone when you know falling in love is inevitable.

Itadakimasu

Translates to “I humbly receive.” This is used prior to eating to express appreciation and respect for nature, people, and everything involved with preparing and serving a meal.

Ostukaresama

This word is used to express appreciation of someone you know who is working really hard and deserving of recognition.

Monoaware

Literally meaning “the pathos of things,” this word describes the awareness of impermanence and the soft sadness of a person’s passing.

Yuugen

This is a concept important in Japanese aesthetics. Meaning “deep” or “mysterious,” it is awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses.

Wabi-sabi

A way of living in which one focuses on finding the beauty in imperfections and appreciating natural cycles and processes.

 

Alana is a junior studying Psychology at Boston University. While a born and bred New Englander hopelessly in love with the city of Boston, she derives much enjoyment out of planning trips to faraway places. She enjoys meeting new people, stealing Crossfit workouts off of 'box' websites, practicing yoga, and watching Grey's Anatomy. Her life-long goals include advocating for women's empowerment and promoting overall well-being.
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