Your Funny Japanese Mistakes

Since Japanese Fluency is a Race to Make the Most Mistakes, I thought it would be fun to open up and talk about our funny (but most likely embarrassing at the time) mistakes we`ve made while speaking/writing/communicating in Japanese. Maybe it was so silly that from that point on, you always remembered the correct word!

For example, on the schedule for today, I saw that my students have ガイダンス. For a bit of background, last semester my female students had a dance performance as part of their gym grade. So when I saw ガイダンス, I read it as ガイ・ダンス, as in the guys dance performance. So I asked one of my English teachers if thats what was going on today, and she corrected me and we had a good laugh. (For those working on katakana, its guidance, they are having career guidance today)

How about you guys? :smile:


Was watching the steins gate 0 trailer and its in japanese, obviously. In the very beginning, she says “私はamadeus”, but it sounds alot like 私は尼です and was sitting there wondering for the longest time why she started out by calling herself a b**ch. Took me wayyyyyyy too long to realize.

@shadykit why dont you like shrimp, again? Please remind us.


The first time I went to Japan, I went to a Tempura restaurant for lunch. It was delicious and in my poor Japanese (at the time probably something less than N5) I thanked the chef for the wonderful 晩ご飯

As I was leaving the restaurant I heard some of the other patrons whispering something about 昼間 and after I’d left I realized my mistake.



Oh boy.

In 2008, my first summer working at a Japanese immersion camp as a counselor, I had a gross taste in my mouth early one day and REALLY just wanted a mint or some gum. After the morning meeting I went over to the lead counselor, and asked in a hushed voice:

He gave me this really weird look and said he’d get back to me later… Turns out he thought I’d said:

(for those who don’t know, ゴム means ‘gum/rubber’ but is ALSO a colloquialism for condom.)



Was that at Mori No Ike? hahaha

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It sure was! (best job I’ve ever had honestly, wish it payed enough to handle adult life bills)

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I probably make embarrassing mistakes every time I open my mouth and try to speak Japanese but here are a couple of memorable ones…

I went to the conbini and asked for クラゲ (jellyfish) instead of からあげ (fried chicken). The girl at the counter looked at me very puzzled.

I got a sales call and wanted to say ‘ちがうでんわばんごう’ (wrong number) but ended up saying ‘ちがうばんぐみ’ (wrong TV show). The guy hung up pretty quickly, so I got the desired result!


Not really a mistake, but definitely something that can have unintended interpretations.
My friend regularly travels for business and I would usually ask her how her flight was, 「フライトはどうだった?」Then in Japanese class I learned the kanji for flight, 便 and decided to bust it out next time we chatted. 「便はどうだった?」and she was like, “Umm… why are you asking about my poop?” (jokingly, unbeknownst to me). I then did a quick jisho search and realized 便 can mean flight (びん) or poop (べん). So when using 便, context definitely matters! :poop:


Because it’s obviously garbage (ゴミ). I might have meant to say that to me it has a rubbery (ゴム) texture.


I just remembered that on more than one occasion I have mixed up とんかつ (breaded pork cutlet) and こたつ (table over an electric heater with a blanket, that is wonderful in the winter)


My Japanese teacher threw a christmas party and I was asked to give a speech in Japanese. I’d rehearsed what I was going to say but mid speech decided to adlib. I’d planned to give all the credit to my teacher for my improving Japanese and meant to say something like きみのおかげで私の日本語が上手になりました。
In short I made lots of mistakes and accidentally said something more like '私の日本語のレベルは彼女のせいです ‘my japanese is her fault’. Everybody bursting out laughing was my cue that i’d cocked it up :slight_smile:


Some funny ones which weren’t mine.

When talking about a trip to Korea, using 監獄 (かんごく) instead of 韓国 (かんこく).

Teacher friend tried to ask about a student’s henna tattoo, which everyone heard as 変な.

And, a friend in an ice cream parlor not correctly reading the label for マンゴ ice cream because they missed the ".


During an oral exam I was trying to tell my partner to put on their shoes (くつをはいて下さい) but I messed up the intonation and accidentally asked them to vomit on my shoes. My professor couldn’t stop laughing and dismissed us early : )


I mostly lurk around with my books and SRS tools, so not had much opportunities to make many mistakes
But I wanted to say, that was totally how I read it too! =P
When I saw the “answer” it looks so obvious! I love reading Katakana with friends and have guessing games on them, even the easy ones can be hard! =D


Okay phew, I’m glad I’m not the only one haha

I find that with some new katakana words I have to say them aloud a few times before my brain clicks as to what it is

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A couple years back in Japanese class, I wrote on a test that a guy stabbed me on a date instead of inviting me on a date. That led to a great long comment on the test from my teacher asking what I was stabbed with and did I bleed much and maybe I should stop going out with people who stab me. She was an excellent teacher.

Was also trying to order pizza once and reading the menu. There was a トロピカル kind that looked good, but we could not for the life of us figure out what it was supposed to be and how to pronounce it. Took about fifteen minutes of saying it out loud various ways before we finally caved and looked it up in the dictionary. Oh, tropical. Headdesk.


I was chatting with my 彼氏 and wanted to say let’s go and have some sleep but instead of 布団 I typed 封筒 for some reason.

He was very amused and still sends me Kaomoji like this one: (¦3ꇤ[:love_letter:]


I had to look up 封筒, but omg what a funny and cute kaomoji!!


I‘m still looking for some blankets with an envelope printed on as a present (〃ω〃)


I can’t think of anything more embarrassing atm, but reminds me of recently I mixed up tonkatsu and tonkotsu. I wanted the former, but the latter is commonly used in food too like a type of ramen.

Good thing I was only talking to my cousin at the time. -wipes sweat-

-edit- oh also good thread o.ob it’s giving me quite the chuckles.