Learn Japanglish with the help of ladies in kimono, sumo wrestlers, and schoolgirls in fox masks.

It’s no secret that Japan is a feast for the senses. Here you’ll find alleyways and intersections bursting with unique sights and sounds, and tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries offering up tasty local specialties, making a stroll around town an unforgettable experience.

With so much going on, there’s a chance you might get lost on a Japanese adventure, but if that happens, friendly locals are never too far away and are always ready to lend a helping hand. The only problem you might encounter is overcoming the language barrier, as Japanese people tend to speak English using localised loanwords that are spelled out with the katakana alphabet. 

This “Japanglish” affects the ordinary English pronunciation of well-known words, which means that McDonald’s ends up sounding like “Makudonarudo“, beer sounds like “biiru“, and milk sounds like “miruku“. If you’ve been here for many years, you’ll be used to deciphering the Japanese pronunciation for English words, but for first-time visitors to the country, it can be a head-scratching experience.

Here to give us a lesson in Japanglish is Malaysian-Chinese hip hop artist Namewee, with a hilarious video and catchy song that showcases a variety of Japanese-spoken English words, with a whole lot of well-known local imagery thrown into the mix.

Take a look at the video below:

Created in collaboration with web media organisation Cool Japan TV, the new clip has been designed to express the “love-and-hate feeling that foreigners have with Japanglish“. Namewee, who composed and performed the song, appears in the clip with Japanese actress Meu Ninomiya, who plays his high school student guide.

Cool Japan TV arranged the music, using elements of shamisen, a traditional Japanese three-stringed instrument, and the lively Okinawan music style to create a song that’s being described as “the first in Japan to incorporate Japan’s festival music and Bon dance with foreign music“.

▼ The video blends tradition with pop culture and western influences in a number of scenes.

The Bon dance, traditionally performed in summer during Obon, the festival of the dead, plays a big role in the style and tone of the video, which goes by the official title Tokyo Bon 2020 (Makudonarudo). Award-winning choreographer Ukon Takafuji incorporated Bon dance steps into the routines seen in the clip.

The catchy tune is hard to get out of your head once you’ve heard it, which means there’s a good chance we’ll now be visiting tourist sites around the city with the words “Makudonarudo, Guguru, Toiletto” dancing around in our heads.

▼ In case you can’t get enough of the song, there’s a dance version here:

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than 1,000 days away, now’s a good time to brush up on our Japanglish. For more tips on Japanese phrases, take a look at how to learn Japanese through ridiculous manga. We’re all for crazy learning methods!

Source, images: YouTube/Nihongo Wakaranai