Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jori Jori Bomb

One of the things I find really interesting about Japanese is the amount of onomatopoeia used on a daily basis. Sometimes it's frustrating as hell, as there are a ton of words that sound really similar. And often their meanings are variable or difficult to express with just one word or idea.

For example, there's ボロボロ (boro boro), which means tattered, worn, or raggedy.  Example: ボロボロの経済 (battered economy). Then there's グシャグシャ (gusha gusha), which can be "squishy" or "crumpled," but is also often used to describe messy hair (髪ぐしゃぐしゃ). 

Be careful not to mix up ボロボロ with ゴロゴロ (goro goro), which expresses either a rumbling sound or the idea of something or someone just lying around (ゴロゴロする means to hang out doing nothing). Swap the "o" for "u" and we have グルグル, expressing the feeling of spinning (グルグル回る - go round and round).

Anyway, I still have trouble using a lot of these even though I hear and see them all the time. One I've become adept at recently, however, is じょりじょり (Jori Jori). This is the sound/feel of a scratchy surface, like sandpaper.* Or my chin if I haven't shaved for the day. Yoshie told me the other day that my unshaven chin is the third most dangerous weapon in existence, right after nukes and napalm. I've dubbed this the Jori Jori bomb, and threaten to employ it unless all of my demands are met. No more stalling - you have one hour!

Horrible to behold!

*Update: As Daniel points out over at How to Japonese, the Yahoo Dictionary definition of じょりじょり is:


So more properly, じょりじょり is the sound of shaving (which can still be a rather rough, scratchy sound). 


  1. Ha, I'd forgotten about じょりじょり. I got it from some university friends in Japan, so I think it's definitely 若者言葉. Great word.

  2. Thanks, Daniel! Always feels good to remember an old vocab word.

  3. Yeah, there are a lot of those types of words in daily Japanese!


  4. Weapons are worthless unless we can threaten their use in order to get stuff. I hope all your demands are met b4 you start bombing ;)

  5. Tokyo5 - Thanks for the link. Nice list you got there!

    Chris - Yeah man, I hope so, too. For her sake, at least...

  6. good stuff, man. i'm gonna try to remember "goro goro suru." i like that.

  7. Thanks, Peter. Yeah, useful vocab for telling someone you just lazed around (during the weekend or something).

  8. I would have considered napalm less dangerous than authentic weapons-grade Jewish bagels ("the food that goes klank"), but maybe they don't have those in Japan.

  9. Haha...oh man, I miss good bagels. Really hard to find around these parts.