Five Common English Words of Japanese Origin


Over the centuries, the English language has been molded into its modern form through a rich cultural exchange between nations around the world. For instance, a large part of current English vocabulary came from Latin, mostly through French, and there are a number of commonly used loan words from Spanish, such as aficionado, embargo, and mosquito.
Common loan words also include bungalow, which was borrowed from Hindi, alcohol, which came from Arabic, and anonymous, which originates from Greek (source: Oxford Dictionaries).

In modern Japanese, on the other hand, there are a plethora of widely used English loan words such as kompyūtā (computer), baiku (motorbike), and sumafo (a clipped form of the word smartphone). The linguistic exchange seems to have gone both ways, since quite a few frequently used words in English are actually borrowings from Japanese. Here are a few examples.


The word tycoon was introduced into the English language in the middle of the 19th century. In Japanese, the word taikun means great lord. It was used in the Edo period to refer to the shogun in diplomatic correspondence. In modern English, however, it denotes a wealthy and powerful person in business (sources: Oxford Dictionaries and Kotobank).


This popular puzzle game, which requires players to fill out number grids in specific patterns, first appeared in Japan in 1984. Its name is actually an abbreviation of the phrase "Sūdoku wa dokushin ni kagiru," which literally translates as "digits are limited to a single occurrence" (source: This highly addictive game has retained its popularity for decades, garnering fans across the globe.


The word Rickshaw refers to a two-wheeled passenger cart drawn by one or more people. It comes from the expression jinrikisha, which literally means human-powered vehicle in Japanese. The term came into use in the 19th century when rickshaws started becoming a popular means of transportation across Asia (source: Oxford Dictionaries).


The Japanese art of paper folding is well-known all around the world. The word origami is actually a compound that consists of two parts: ori, which means folding, and kami, which denotes paper. The simplicity of the term is contrasted by the breathtakingly complex shapes and figures created by origami masters.


If you have ever owned a smartphone, you are probably familiar with the concept of emoji. The term was coined in the 1990s, and it consists of the words e, which means picture, and moji, which stands for character (source: Oxford Dictionaries). In the era of smart devices, the word emoji is arguably one of the most frequently used words of Japanese origin in English.

AIBS Seminar for Freelance Partners 2018


Every year we organize a seminar for our partners in Tokyo and Hiroshima. The goal is to discuss various topics related to translation and strengthen the ties with the members of our professional network.

This year, the Tokyo seminar took place on July 21, and the Hiroshima seminar was held on July 28. Both seminars consisted of morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning, we discussed issues related to patent translation, whereas in the afternoon, one of our most experienced English translators held a lecture about how to convey the meaning of culturally significant Japanese expressions to tourists in Japan. The seminar included group work, during which the participants were encouraged to exchange opinions and come up with creative translation solutions on their own.

At the end of each seminar, the participants were invited to enjoy a light snack and a friendly chat with the AIBS employees. We all had a great time, and we are already looking forward to next year!








Regarding the Floods in Western Japan


On Friday 6, 2018, torrential rains caused catastrophic floods and landslides in large areas of Western Japan. Due to the significant damage to the infrastructure, it is probably going to take months for the region to recover.

Luckily, our head office in Hiroshima and our employees were unharmed by the disaster. We are pleased to inform you that we are open for business as usual.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this unprecedented tragedy. We hope they can rebuild their lives as soon as possible and find a way to put this ordeal behind them.


Website renewal


We are pleased to announce our website has been renewed!

Over the past few months, our team has been working to improve the contents and design in order to make the website more up-to-date and user-friendly.

In addition to the information on our corporate structure, quality management system, and services, you can now also read a short introduction of our staff members, check out our English blog, and access our social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about our services, please contact us via the inquiry form.

We will get back to you as soon as possible.