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Useful Japanese Phrases

Terms related to Japanese Cinema and useful for chirashi collectors. Definitions courtesy of Wikipedia. For more information, click any word to visit Wikipedia's full article.

Anime Anime is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to specifically 'Japanese' animated films.

Bushidō, meaning "Way of the Warrior-Knight", is a Japanese word which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct and a way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death.

Bushido was also influenced by Shinto and Buddhism, allowing the violent existence of the samurai to be tempered by wisdom and serenity.


The term chanbara, also commonly spelled "chambara", means literally "sword fighting" movies, roughly equating to western swashbuckler films. Chanbara is a sub-category of jidaigeki, which equates to period drama.

Historically, the genre is usually set during the Tokugawa era (1600–1868), the samurai film focuses on the end of an entire way of life for the samurai, many of the films deal with master-less ronin, or samurai dealing with changes to their status resulting from a changing society.


The word chirashi means advertising flyer, and eiga chirashi are flyers specifically produced to promote upcoming movies (eiga means 'movies').

These are placed in cinema lobbies in Japan to promote current and future movie releases.

The standard chirashi is a single B5 sheet (approximately 7"x10"/18cmx26cm) with the poster design printed on the front. The reverse side will usually feature information about the movie (in Japanese of course). Often the cinema name will be stamped in a designated space with the name and contact details of the cinema where the film was screening.

Double-sided and two or four page Chirashi are sometimes produced. The paper used can vary, from gloss to matte, thick to thin. The majority of Chirashi are printed on slightly heavy, glossy paper.

Eiga Chirashi are very collectible - they are available only for a limited time prior to and during the film's theatrical run. They often exist in several variations, and often feature artwork unique to the Japanese release.

Due to their compact size, Chirashi are easier to collect than large posters and can be cheaply stored in folders or framed.

Collecting Eiga Chirashi is a popular hobby among Japanese cinephiles.

Cosplay Cosplay, short for "costume play", is a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Characters are often drawn from popular fiction in Japan include manga, anime, tokusatsu, comic books, video games, hentai and fantasy movies. There is also a subset of cosplay culture centered around sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters that are known for their attractiveness and/or revealing (even explicit) costumes.
Edo Period The Edo Period, or Tokugawa period is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868.
Eiga Roughly "Japanese movies". The cinema of Japan has a history that spans more than 100 years. Japan has one of the oldest and largest film industries in the world – as of 2009 the fourth largest by number of feature films produced.
Gravure idol A gravure idol is a Japanese female model who primarily models in magazines, especially men's magazines, photobooks or DVDs. Gravure models are commonly photographed wearing bikinis or lingerie but may also appear wearing schoolgirl uniforms, Japanese street fashion, and kimonos. Many popular female idols in Japan launched their careers by starting out as gravure idols.
Hentai Hentai is used when referring to sexually explicit or pornographic comics and animation.
Jidaigeki Jidaigeki means "period drama" and is usually set in the Edo period of Japanese history, from 1603 to 1868. Jidaigeki show the lives of the samurai, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants of their time.
Kaidan In its broadest sense, kaidan refers to any ghost or horror story, but it has an old-fashioned ring to it that carries the connotation of Edo period Japanese folktales.

Kaiju is a Japanese word that means "strange beast," but often translated in English as "monster". Specifically, it is used to refer to a genre of tokusatsu entertainment.

Related terms include kaijū eiga (monster movie), a film featuring giant monsters or a single monster, kaijin (referring to roughly humanoid monsters) and daikaiju (giant monster), specifically meaning the larger variety of monsters.

The most famous kaiju is Godzilla. Other well-known kaiju include Mothra, Anguirus, Rodan, Gamera and King Ghidorah.
Manga Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons. In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th century.
Ninja A ninja, or shinobi, was a covert agent or mercenary of feudal Japan specializing in unorthodox arts of war. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, as well as open combat in certain situations.
Pinku Pink film (Pinku eiga or Pink eiga) is a style of Japanese softcore pornographic theatrical film. Films of this genre first appeared in the early 1960s, and dominated the Japanese domestic cinema from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s. The pink film, or "eroduction" as it was first called, is a cinematic genre without exact equivalent in the West.
Samurai Samurai is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as bushidō. While they numbered less than 10% of Japan's population, samurai teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts.
Shogun A shogun was one of the (usually) hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor.
Tokusatsu Tokusatsu is a term that applies to any live-action film or television drama that usually features superheroes and makes considerable use of special effects (tokusatsu literally translates as "special filming" in Japanese).
Yakuza Yakuza, also known as gokudō, are members of traditional organized crime syndicates in Japan. The Japanese police, and media, call them bōryokudan (literally "violence group"), while the yakuza call themselves "ninkyō dantai" ("chivalrous organizations"). The yakuza are notoriously known for their strict codes of conduct and very organized nature.
Yokai Yōkai (lit. demon, spirit, or monster) are a class of supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore. Yōkai range eclectically from the malevolent to the mischievous, or occasionally bring good fortune to those who encounter them. Often they possess animal features, (such as the Kappa, which is similar to a turtle, or the Tengu which has wings), other times they can appear mostly human, some look like inanimate objects and others have no discernible shape. Yōkai usually have a spiritual supernatural power, with shapeshifting being one of the most common.