Nominees for Japan’s 2019 buzzwords include '#KuToo,' 'Tapiru' and 'Paprika'

By Katy Kelly, SoraNews24

The candidates for the top ten catchphrases that defined Reiwa’s first year are here! Who knew bubble tea could be a verb?

Much like last year, Japanese publishers U-Can and Jiyu Kokuminsha have brought us another list of the past year’s hottest hashtags, snappy words, and catchy phrases. The top 10 will be announced on Dec 2.

Out of the 30 that they nominated, here’s 10 of our favorites that lit up social media throughout the first year of Reiwa.

10. #KuToo


In a similar manner to last year’s #MeToo hashtag campaign, #KuToo, a genius meld of the prior hashtag and the word “shoe” (kutsu) — or is it “painful” (kutsuu)? — dominated Japanese discussion of sexual discrimination at work. With stringent requirements placed on how women dress for work, this slogan honed in on the painful heeled shoes that are a compulsory part of many long-suffering women’s work attire.

9. Tapiru (to go out for bubble tea)


Instagram continued to fill us all with envy with its endless scroll of our friends’ tasty tea times and delicious dinners. But in Japan there’s an undisputed monarch of glamorous beverages: bubble tea, loaded with chunky balls of tapioca. In fact, tapioca is in such high demand that they turned it into a verb, with tapiru meaning to go out specifically to go get a beverage filled with boba pearls.

8. Nikunikushii (“Meaty”)


Continuing on the gourmet theme, it seemed like social media streams couldn’t get enough of meat this year. No wonder so many folks rushed to describe burgers, pizzas and even ramen with this meat-tastic new adjective. Of course, as with any especially beefy word, some preferred to apply it to bodybuilders or muscle-bound hunks too. It didn’t matter what kind of meat was on the menu, so long as it was plentiful and powerful.

7. Paprika

You might be wondering if this list is just all food, drink and spices at this point, but Paprika is actually dominating online discourse for another reason: popular singer-songwriter Kenshi Yonezu, who penned the song “Paprika” for a kids’ group as part of an NHK project to boost morale for the 2020 Olympics. He re-released the song this year with his own vocals and a touch of adult melancholy, and ensured people would be talking about it for a long time to come.

6. Reiwa


his one was a given, wasn’t it? As the official first year of Reiwa, 2019 was hot with discussion as soon as the era was christened. The characters, meaning “beauteous harmony”, are the first era name to be taken from a Japanese classic text rather than a Chinese one, and were chosen after much deliberation on various other choices.

5. Keigen Zeiritsu (Reduced Tax Rate)


October 1, 2019 signaled an increase in consumption tax from 8 percent to 10 percent, but the news also came with the promise of this “reduced tax rate” where some items remained subject to tax at the 8 percent rate. While this is less a “reduced tax rate” and more of a “keeping the tax the same rate”, the real issue was what items and services fell under the reduced rate. Purchasing a water from the hotel minibar will come with the 8 percent rate, but room service will be 10 percent. No wonder people were puzzling out the insane minutia online.

4. Cashless/Point Kangen (Point Cashback)


Japan is largely a cash-based society, and efforts to encourage cashless spending have had mixed results. But 2019’s tax hike announcement has made people more willing to do what it takes to make up for the slightly-increased prices, paying through phones, credit cards, or other non-cash alternatives to get loyalty points for later spending. Though it might not seem like big news in the rest of the world, it’s a big step for Japan!

3. Yami Eigyo (Shady Business)


It’s no surprise this suspicious phrase cropped up in the rankings, due to an unpleasant scandal involving Yoshimoto Kogyo, one of the biggest and most renowned comedy conglomerates in the country. Several comedians affiliated with the company were found to have been entertaining some unsavory characters for a little extra money on the side, and a number of the celebrities were dismissed as a result. The fact that Hiroyuki Miyasako, who acted in Sega’s Yakuza franchise, was among the disgraced celebrities only added fuel to the fire.

2. Dragon Quest Walk

The "Dragon Quest" franchise is one of Japan’s most dearly beloved, and the news that an enhanced reality game in the vein of Pokemon Go was on the cards had fans unable to sit still in their seats. While it hasn’t made as much of a splash on the international scene, it’s a common sight to see people of all ages playing even the regular "Dragon Quest" games on their commutes or at fan meet-ups, so the next option is clearly to go battle cute blue slimes in the wild — and online users can’t stop talking about it.

1. Inochi wo Mamoru Kodo wo (“Take action to prioritize your life”)


This phrase is familiar to those who were out on the streets during the lead-up to the vicious typhoons that buffeted Japan in 2019. This warning is the most severe of the five escalating warnings introduced for rainstorms this year. Lower level warnings insist upon confirming evacuation routes, evacuating the elderly, and then evacuating everyone. However, "Inochi wo Mamoru Kodo wo" simply asks you to do whatever is possible to keep alive.


Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kyoto admits to paying celebrities 500,000 yen per tweet to talk about how great the city is

-- Four new era names the Japanese government rejected before deciding on Reiwa

-- Japan announces new era name, Reiwa, but what does it mean and why was it chosen?

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The inevitable end of the year "top" whatever's has begun! I think I want to go back to sleep until January 2nd!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

3. Yami Eigyo (Shady Business)

The circumstance as described is typical - being punished for being caught, not for doing something wrong.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Honourable mention:


0 ( +1 / -1 )

how about road rage or old geezers mistaking acceleration pedals for brakes?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Elderly drivers murdering people, a bit long but sums up the last year

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Tapiru... Meanwhile - the Collins Dictionary's word of the year is "Climate Strike".

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Isn't the kutoo movement dead already?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Paprika" is a song I only heard about yesterday, when a youngster mentioned it. It's nice. Not hugely famous outside Japan as the kid assumed, but I daresay as the Olymoics approach we'll be hearing it everywhere.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think kutuu trivializes MeToo which is about rape, sexual assault, and the worst kinds of sexual harassment, not footwear.

I reckon it has to be Reiwa. I can't say it means anything to me, and I'm just happy they went with the "R" not the "L".

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The Japanese list is here.

There are several rugby ones, but they look like slogans the media pushed about the Japan team. There are two Japans, the real one and the other one the people on tv talk about. The tv people will happily hype anything if it fills an hour. It doesn't mean people are using those expressions in their daily lives.

The new word and new concept for me is "planned shutdown", the new practice of shutting out public transport in advance based on a severe weather forecast, not actual weather once it has arrived. This is an entirely sensible approach, but is definitely new for 2019.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Climate Strike"

Thankfully the cult of climate change isn't so strong in Japan.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

How about #marathoninsaporo or #combini7to11not24/7 or #worthlessparentswhotortureorkilltheirkids maybe #welcometo2019 (because cashless societies, tapioca drinks, and gender equality already exist all around the world outside of Japan.)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Honourable mention:


This is 2019 not the 1990's!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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