By Jackson Pietsch
Full disclosure: I wrote this almost entirely because it has been a very empty day and a quake just hit. Probably a literal manifestation of the shockwaves roiling Japanese society from the news that SMAP might be breaking up (note: I am writing this post about a week in advance, so if this comes true please travel back in time and tell me). Thanks be to Mama Nature (and this Beck song whose title I filched) for this seismic inspiration.
If you live in Japan for a year, your likelihood of experiencing a quake lies somewhere between that of breathing air and accidentally eating something with mayo on it. Best be prepared, eh?
Quakey words follow:
- 地震 (jishin): earthquake; not to be confused with 自信 (jishin): confidence in yourself
- 大地震 (oojishin): major earthquake, such as the 2011 Tohoku Quake
- 揺れる (yureru): to shake or sway
- 揺れ (yure) or 揺らぎ (yuragi): shaking, tremor
- 震動 (shindou): shock, tremor, impact, vibration; not to be confused with…
- 震度 (shindo): seismic intensity, on Japan’s and Taiwan’s own scale. For reference, the Tohoku Earthquake was a 震度 of 7, while registering as a 9 on the globally accepted MMS scale.
- 強い (tsuyoi): strong
- 弱い (yowai): weak
- 長い (nagai): long
- 短い (mijikai): short
I leave you with this example, a distillation of a sentiment I saw expressed repeatedly today during our lunchtime earthquake:
今日強い地震があったけど、全然気づけなくて食べ続けた。Today there was a strong earthquake, but I didn’t notice and just kept eating.
May our earthquakes ever be thus!
Wanna share your nihongo knowledge? Send us your favorite
slang, dialectal phrases, and study habits to