Ueno Station has signs that show ambient sounds as onomatopoeia for deaf passengers

One of the most fun accessibility features you’ll ever see.

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Online poll ranks JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures most bizarre sound effects

You don’t even need to be a fan of the series to appreciate sound effects like “ZUBIZUBAAH!” and “TACOS!”

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Test your Japanese onomatopoeia skills against YouTuber Sharla in Japan

Have you ever wondered why Pikachu says, “Pika-pika”? It’s just a random noise that sounds like his name, right? Wrong! Pika-pika is actually an onomatopoeia for something sparkling, like lightning– how fitting for a Pokemon whose ability is static electricity! But wait a minute, flashing light doesn’t make a sound! How can it be an onomatopoeia?

Japanese can be, more times than not, a tricky language. Onomatopoeia not only have three distinct categories that far surpass the narrow range of those in English, but can also be used mid-sentence and as various parts of speech. Even seasoned veterans of Japanese can’t always figure out the meanings.

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Best instruction manual ever? What to do when your washer goes “kiiin”, “shaaa”, or “pokopoko”

Anyone who has spent any length of time in Japan will tell you that onomatopoeia is not just common, but an integral part of the Japanese language. While English speakers might find sentences peppered with additional ‘sound effects’ somewhat inelegant, in Japanese onomatopoeic words are not only considered perfectly normal, but there are mimicking sounds for every possible occasion – including states of being where there is no sound to mimic – and most people know exactly how to write them.

We’d wager than few native Japanese have ever come across an instruction manual that uses mimicking words to explain potential problems with a washing machine, though…

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What’s the fastest-sounding Japanese word? (Hint: it’s the noise a bullet train makes)

The Japanese language is peppered with zippy onomatopoeia that allow you to express the sound of just about anything. Website Netallica recently surveyed readers to find the fastest-sounding words in the Japanese language. As you’d expect, WHIZZ, BANG and SHWOOP are nowhere to be seen!

We explore the top five fastest words, what exactly is so speedy about them, and what kind of images they conjure up for Japanese people.

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Ninja language skills: Boost your Japanese with the power of onomatopoeia

It rarely appears in beginner or intermediate textbooks, but spend a day with any native Japanese speaker and you’ll soon realise that onomatopoeia is a vital part of the language. Utterances such as, “The rain fell like ‘pssshaaaa'” and, “My heart was going ‘boom boom boom’ the whole time!” may come across as a little ineloquent when said in English, but in Japanese these kinds of mimetic words are not only considered perfectly acceptable, but pop up absolutely everywhere.

So if you’ve ever wondered what sound a Japanese pig makes, how best to describe a rolling boulder as opposed to a tiny marble, or would be perplexed if a doctor asked whether the pain you’re feeling is more shikushiku than kirikiri, now’s your chance to hone your language skills and add a few new words to your Japanese vocabulary!

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