Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My first freelance translating experience

Keep those connections alive - especially those JET alumn among you!

A couple months ago I exchanged a few messages on Facebook with a JET friend of mine who I keep in loose touch with. Our time in Hyogo overlapped for a couple of years and we hung out now and then with mutual friends. These days she's working as a professional Spanish to English translator in Ireland, and I was picking her brain a little about her experiences with and leading up to that, as I see J>E translation as a definite possibility on my horizon. 

Fast forward to last week. She sent me a brief message that an old college friend of hers who's now working at a translation agency was looking for someone to translate a Japanese article to English and that she'd like to put us in touch. I agreed and thanked her, and was on my way to my first paid translation gig.

Ultimately over the course of about a week I wound up doing one translation and proofing another assigned to someone else. I don't know if the agency will contact me again to see if I'd like to do more work from them, but if so I'm going to decline for now.

I'm really grateful that I have that experience under my belt. Provided I can reach the right point and attract enough business, I could see myself being content or maybe even happy doing that kind of work. At this point, though, it's just not time effective, and I don't think my abilities are quite where they need to be. The translation was about 1800 words (roughly two pages of Japanese text) and it took me about 12 or so hours to translate and finetune it. And I had to ask some people for help with a few tricky sentences (didn't help that the article was written with some strange grammar, as a couple of my Japanese coworkers pointed out). 

They sent me the final, proofed versions of the articles this morning. They made some minor changes to the article I did, mostly playing with wording, and they did take some of the editing suggestions I made for the other piece. I'm not sure how long it'll be before I'm able to consider doing translation as a career, but I'd say this particular job was a valuable experience and a success. And the extra money this month won't hurt, either.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Customer is God

Recently I've had some experiences/conversations that have led me to reflect on the difference of behaviors and expectations between consumers and specifically service industry workers (though I'm sure this applies more broadly) in the US and Japan. And you know, this particular instance defies the usual stereotypes. Defies, I say!

In English, we have expressions like "the customer is always right" and "the customer is king" (at least I think I've heard the latter one before). Once upon a time this may have been so, and some of the better companies may still try to adhere to this kind of thinking. However, the US is a very individualistic society, and a lot of us don't like taking crap from people, including those we're supposed to be serving. Sure, there are the perpetually moody denizens of the DMV and the Postal Service and a slew of others out there who hate their jobs, but I think a good amount of service workers just want to try to be positive and get through the day without being yelled at for things (mostly) beyond their control.

We also have the expression "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Having worked in customer service positions before, I know that if I get combative and angry at an operator or receptionist, they may feel pressured to let me have my way or rectify their mistake. But they also won't go out of their way to help me. The tactic may also backfire and they may decide to drop the call or drag their feet as revenge. Either way the experience will be a lot less pleasant for both of us if I take out my frustration on the lowly service worker.

Sure, there are tons of asshats in this country. I've talked to plenty of them on the phone. But I know there are also a fair amount of people who think like me - when dealing with customer service you need to be assertive but patient, and try to be nice.

Now let's talk about the Japanese side:


The key Japanese expression to remember is "the customer is God."


There's no doubt about it - service in Japan is far superior than in America. But I sometimes wonder how good a thing that is and whether it's contributing to the high rate of depression in Japan. I'm only being half serious, but really. When I lived in Japan, I often felt bad for people who worked at department stores or restaurants. And especially convenience stores.

Imagine working at a 7-11. You have to do all the honest but menial labor associated with working at a convenience store - make food, stock shelves, ring up customers. Now imagine that you're supposed to loudly greet every customer that walks in. And shout "Thank you, come again" like Apu every time someone leaves. And when someone comes to the register, you're supposed to smile and say "Hello, thanks for shopping at 7-11!" And most of your customers just ignore you and pay without saying a word.

Ok, so that doesn't sound too bad, but what if you're just not feeling it one day? Well too bad! If your manager catches wind of you not greeting and thanking, you'll be out of a job.

To be fair, there were some workers at my (then) local conbini who were great at this. They were friendly and maybe they really liked their job. But at a majority of the places I visited in Japan, these ritualistic greetings and thanks were hollow and robotic. The workers were clearly burned out on it and probably tired of interacting without any interaction.

Japanese people are "supposed to be" おとなしい. That is, meek. Well, I guess a lot of the time they are. But not when they're buying something!

In my Japanese class the other day, we were talking about how in Japan, when customers want results, they yell. "What the hell? Can't you go any faster?!" The answer is no. When someone yells at you to go faster, you get muddled and quality and/or speed suffer. Our teacher remarked that it took her a while to get used to the "American style," where you try to be nice to service people so that they'll help you.

I don't want to go into too much detail, but I had an experience at work recently that highlighted this cultural difference. Basically my boss was upset about something and wanted me to contact the responsible parties and...yell at them. He expected that would earn us some kind of compensation or rectification of the situation. Yikes. 

Given a choice between the two, I really think it depends on what side you're on. I'm not a big fan of service jobs, but I'd much rather be doing one in the US. I don't imagine most people would rather be a customer in the States than in Japan, though. I guess I kind of wish both countries had some kind of happy medium, but it is how it is. What do you guys think?

Oh, and thank you, come again!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Direction (方向)

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching. Well, I guess that's nothing new; I tend to think a lot. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm seriously considering Japanese to English translation as a possibility. Realistically, though, I know I'm a long way off from being able to translate professionally. That's why I've decided to hunker down and rededicate myself to studying. 

I've resubscribed to TV Japan and am making a serious effort to watch (though I don't watch a ton of TV these days). I've been taking a weekly class at the Japan America Society of Washington DC, and I'm reading a lot more Japanese than I used to - online newspaper articles (often heavily aided by Rikaikun), essays, and manga. When I went to New York last month, I picked up an essay/manga book by Saori Oguri, the author of the ダーリンはは外国人 (My Darling is a Foreigner) comics. And then the J-library near where I work decided to shut down, so they were giving away most of their books. I picked up these five manga called 結婚しよう (Let's Get Married). I'm pretty sure the intended readers for the Let's Get Married books are young women, but so far it's an interesting story and it's still good for picking up vocabulary and kanji. 
A real man isn't ashamed of reading this kind of stuff.

The other day I just finished both the Oguri book and the first Let's Get Married comic; took about a month of reading both intermittently (mostly on the train). I'm feeling good about my progress, but still a long way to go...

I've been thinking, if I had known I'd want to pursue translation, I would have been better off spending another couple years in Japan on the JET Program and beefing up my Japanese skills. There're a lot of things I'd do differently given the chance, I guess. But I've mentioned that before, haven't I?

The plan could change, but for now I'm going to keep studying and looking for a better job. And if nothing better comes up by this fall, perhaps I'll reapply to JET, for a CIR position. I'm not sure how good my chances would be of being accepted a second time, and for a more competitive position, but I've got nothing to lose.


Now I've gotta find some more books to read.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Japan Blog Matsuri: It's all about context

Holy shinola, it's been a while since I've posted. There's a backlog of things I've been meaning to share, but I fear that time has gotten away from me. I've gotten quite a bit busier and posting regularly seems to have fallen by the wayside. These things happen, but I do need to redouble my efforts. Anyhow, moving on - it's also been a while since the last Japan Blog Matsuri. I was contacted last month by Declan of KanaKanji, who's making a move to revive it, and asked if JADJ would submit something. Well, we always do our best here to oblige.

The theme of this month's Matsuri is "Japanese in Context." Specifically I think we're asked to talk about some Japanese that was really solidified for us in a particular context. I'm doing to stretch the theme a little bit, though (申し訳ない!) and talk a bit more broadly.

If you're reading this, chances are you either know first hand or have heard that Japan has a pretty high context culture. This is built into the language. The grammar, conversational style, and vocabulary lend themselves towards subtly and indirectness. This means that without a context, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to understand precisely what's going on in Japanese (written and spoken elements with their own respective challenges). Japanese nouns and verbs normally have no distinction between singular and plural forms. Last names are often used without any kind of gender-indicative title. Subjects and objects are often implied. Take a simple sentence like 「りんごを食べる」. This could presumably be translated into English as "He/she/you/I/it (will) eat(s) (an/the) apple(s)." There are probably dozens of possible meanings for this simple two-word sentence, depending on who the subject is, whether we're talking about now or in the future (or in general), how many apples we're talking about, and whether the apple(s) in question is specific or not.

I've been thinking about this kind of thing a lot lately as I contemplate the practicality of shifting my career goals towards pursuing professional translation.

A good example of the import of context (and this is uniform for any language) can be found in the case of homophones (同音異義語). Three or four weeks ago I started taking another weekly Japanese class, and we've been briefly studying a few of these every class. Just as a refresher, homophones are multiple words that share the same pronunciation but differ in meaning and sometimes spelling. Like "fair" and "fare."

Japanese has a fair share of these that usually have different kanji and sometimes slightly different intonation. Hashi - 橋 (bridge) and 箸 (chopsticks) springs to mind. When you add 熟語 (kanji compounds), there are quite a lot of these. I think this is one of the more difficult but also more interesting elements of learning Japanese - seeing all of the ways that kanji can be cobbled together to create new words. Well, it is for me, anyway.

Friday, May 3, 2013

J-Music and Me: Marty Friedman

So Marty Friedman is not Japanese, in case you didn't know. In fact, he hails from the same town I'm currently living in. It wasn't until a few years ago that I learned he had anything to do with Japan, actually. No, my knowledge of him was much more traditional.

During high school I developed a taste for rock music that over time grew and matured such that my college years were partly soundtracked by the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, Jethro Tull, Blind Guardian, and a number of other heavy metal bands of varying notoriety. And so my exposure to Marty Friedman can be credited to his role as lead guitarist for Megadeth.

A few years ago I remember Dylan mentioning on a tangent to some conversation that Marty Friedman had moved to Japan and spoke perfect fluent Japanese. "Cool," I thought, but it didn't really register.

Fast forward to now. A couple weeks ago I met and caught up with a friend that I hadn't seen in 6 or 7 years, since we studied together at 上智大学 (Sophia University) in Tokyo. She lives in NYC now, and I was in town for a couple days. Turns out she is a big metal fan, and we got to talking about different bands and artists. The other day she sent me this awesome video of Marty Friedman and Paul Gilbert on a Japanese TV show:

There are two more parts, if you care to watch. I think it's pretty rad seeing those guys rock out and speak Japanese. After watching, I did a little research. It turns out that Friedman has been living in Tokyo for about 10 years now, and last year he married a Japanese cellist. He's been a regular on several music and English-themed TV shows over there, and has done cameos in other media. He still plays, and perhaps most notably for you anime/game fans, he's a member of Sound Horizon.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guest Post: Karuta

Ahhhh, I remember karuta. Every year the freshman class would play it at the gym in my base school, and I was asked to join in (the teachers would take turns reading off cards). But I get ahead of myself. Today's post is written by a fellow DMC fan, Jessie Guill of Pokerlistings.com. Take it away, Jessie.


Almost all of us have played one form of card game or another. In Japan, one of the more popular games to play is known as Karuta. On the surface, it is a simple literary game, but it may actually be one of the toughest sports that you will ever encounter. Yes, the game requires excellent hearing, sharp memory, and stamina that it is considered a sport by many. There are varieties of this game all throughout Japan, but in this article, we'd like to focus on the game of competitive karuta.

The Basics

The game uses a set of cards, called uta-garuta, where Hyakunin Isshu poems are printed. There are two decks of this card: one is called Yomifuda (reading card) where the entire poem is printed; the other is Torifuda (playing card) that contains only the last two verses of the poem.

Torifuda on the left; Yomifuda on the right

The game is typically played one-on-one. Each player gets 25 torifuda cards and strategically arranges them in three rows on the floor. The players have to memorize the positions of all cards, and we must note here that while they can recognize the texts, the opponent's cards are always up-side-down to the other player's point of view. A reader recites a yomifuda card and players compete on the torifuda card that corresponds to it. The first to touch the card gets it and removes it from the game. Once a player takes a card from the opponent's side, the said player may send one of their cards to their opponent. The first to empty their territory wins.

Sounds simple? The truth is, karuta players are advised to memorize all one hundred Hyakunin Isshu poems. That alone is challenge enough. Those who are serious (and passionate) in competing train themselves to improve their agility and accuracy. Some could even grab a card once the very first syllable has been read.


Due to its use of classical poetry, karuta is often being taught to children in elementary and junior high schools. Some high schools have their own clubs that they send to competitions and individual tournaments are being held throughout the year. Karuta is also a traditional activity during New Year's Eve.

Lately, the game is gaining popularity among the young and even foreign anime fans. This could be credited to an ongoing manga (and anime) series called Chihayafuru, which focuses on competitive karuta. Perhaps the portrayal of karuta in this anime is a bit exaggerated, but it definitely drives interest to anyone new to the game.

A screenshot from the anime Chihayafuru where the main character swiftly takes a card

Most popular card games in the world were developed during the early times for entertainment and gambling purposes. Poker card games, for example, have evolved into different varieties and gained mainstream popularity due to wide media coverage, numerous tournaments, skilled players, and enticing stakes. While different in purpose, karuta also evolved in a similar way. Championship and other tournaments are covered by the local media, and a few TV shows build plots that revolve around karuta.

Perhaps it is because of the difference in cards being used that competitive karuta won’t be a worldwide phenomenon in the near future, but foreigners with huge interest in Japanese culture will definitely be captivated by this culture-infused card game.

Trivia: Despite the game's cultural background, the word “karuta” isn't a native Japanese term. It is adopted from “carta”, the Portuguese term for “card”.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Buying J-books in the States

Just recently I was lamenting the fact that it's difficult and/or expensive to buy Japanese media in the US (or I guess any non-Japan country). This is still true, but just a week ago or so I discovered that Japanese books can be ordered in the US. From warehouses in the US.

Kinokuniya, one of Japan's largest book retail chains, has apparently been quietly doing some international expanding over the years. In the US, they have store locations in New York, California, Oregon, and Washington state. They also do online ordering and domestic shipping. Their US website is here.

The other day I ordered a textbook for about $55 and another book for about $12. Shipping was $8. Not bad! So if you're in the market for some J-books (they also have Chinese and some English titles, though don't know why you'd want to buy the English books from them), go check it out.

They also have a membership program. I believe signing up for a year is like $20, and then you get discounts on all your purchases. Worth considering if you plan on buying a few books.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


As noted in the comments on the YouTube page for this video, I think it's pretty easy to get this commercial without understanding any Japanese.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The world is getting smaller

It's a little difficult to imagine how hard it must have been to study Japanese, or any other language, years or even decades ago. These days it's easy to lament that learning a language removed from its natural environment is very challenging (and it is), but there are so many more resources available now than there used to be.

I still find myself wishing it were easier to get access to Japanese printed materials, music, and games, but over time progress is being made. In most cases, I think, the issue comes down to a complex web of international copyright law and royalty agreements. That appears to be why it's impossible to shop on the Japanese iTunes store, for example, without a Japanese credit card or gift card.

Anyway, recently Japanese game company Gungho Online Entertainment has begun bringing old Japanese Playstation games to our humble foreign shores by way of the PS3 Store. The games are in their original Japanese, unlocalized, and so there is probably a very small market for them. Still, the comments Gungho has made about not expecting to make much money and just wanting to please a niche of fans are encouraging. I don't know how long this will go on or ultimately how many games will be released, but I am prepared to snap up the more appealing ones for when I actually have time to try them. Last week I bought Favorite Dear: Enkan no Monogatari because it looked interesting and was only $6. Who knows? Maybe there will be some gems in here.

Here's a link to some more info over at Joystiq.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Relatively early on during my time in Japan, I bought a used bicycle. It wound up faithfully serving me for my three years, but naturally I had to refill the air in the tires on occasion. One time, though, that didn't seem to do the trick.

I asked a friend of mine to accompany me to the little repair shop around the corner; I had visited on my own, suspecting that I had a leak (as the air seemed to be draining out in a manner of days), but I wasn't sure how to communicate the fact. The guy seemed to tell me in what I could only describe as a heavy, gibberish accent, that the tire was okay and just needed air.

Long-story-short, I did indeed have a flat and required a patch on the tire's inner tube. But more importantly, I learned a new word that day from my friend: パンク(した)- to get a flat tire.

Ah, yes - "punk" as in "punctured." 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

和製英語: High Touch

Another English Japanese word that took me by surprise was the term 「ハイタッチ」. Apparently Japanese is the only language that uses the expression "high touch" to describe what we in English call a "high five."

I think the reasoning behind "high touch" is self apparent, but I am wondering when and how the change came about. Unfortunately Google search has failed me for once. Wikipedia notes that Japanese is unique in its usage of the expression but doesn't have any further explanation.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Things that run

One occurrence I find particularly interesting is how there are words in each language that have a variety of different meanings. I've noticed this especially with Japanese - words like 出す and 行く can be used in a ton of different ways.

I guess it's kind of 当たり前 (a no-brainer), but it occurred to me the other day that it works both ways, though I've never really given that much thought to the English side of things. The word "run" in English, for example, can be used to mean a lot of different things, and corresponds with a number of Japanese words. Like:

走る(はしる) (run as in "the car was running smoothly" or "I ran in a race")
立候補する (りっこうほする) (as in "to run for office")
動く (うごく) (as in how a machine runs; "is your refrigerator running?")
(鼻水が)出る(はなみずがでる) (as in "my nose is running")

And I'm sure those are just a few...

Friday, February 22, 2013

lol'ing in Japanese

If you frequent Japanese message boards or comment sections, or perhaps follow some Japanese Twitter accounts or have some J Facebook friends, you've probably seen roman "w"s scattered in with the kana from time to time. And you if you do frequent those sites, then probably know what they mean. If you don't and/or you're not, however, here's a quick explanation for you.

Like English and I suspect may other languages, Japanese has its own evolving "internet language." I suppose this crosses into text messaging realm as well, but I'm not sure if there's some term that encompasses both. In any case, "w" is kind of the Japanese version of "lol."

You see, the word for laughing or laughter is 「笑う」. Sometimes you'll see 「笑」 thrown into posts or comments to denote laughing. This can be further shorted to "w" for "warai."

Here's an example from the wild that I lifted from a Japanese friend's Facebook. The context is that he posted a picture of himself with his hair dyed blond, and a friend commented:

だれ?w よろしくねーん☆

(Who's that? lol Nice to meet youuuuu)

One interesting additional note is that more "w"s can be added to indicated a longer or more intense laugh. Kind of like changing it to a "lmfao," with room for more degrees in between, I suppose.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It's turning out to be a very light month on posting - sorry about that. Things have been busy with work and some ESL teaching I've been doing, and I guess I have been somewhat mopey and demotivated recently. My birthday is tomorrow and I've metamorphed into one of those people who hate being reminded that they're a year older. I guess I have just been kind of down about how things are going in my life right now and how little it feels like I've accomplished. Still, I do have things and people to be grateful for.

Stay tuned - I do have a short Japanese-related post a-brewin' in my head; just have to let it fully percolate and put it to paper. I mean pixel.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


If you've ever heard the Japanese pronunciation of "Bach" and you're anything like me, you've probably scratched your head (at least figuratively) and thought "hmm, that's odd." Yes, I'm talking about the Bach the composer.

In Japanese, it is spelled/pronounced 「バッハ」. Yup, like "Baja." I always think of the Mexican chain Baja Fresh.

Well a little earlier I did a web search and found a few answers like this one: basically that the Japanese pronunciation is closer to the original German than the way English-speakers pronounce it. While this is certainly possible, I decided I didn't want to take it on faith from Japanese people that their way of pronouncing "Bach" is more correct than ours. 勝負!(showdown!)

After a few searches in English, I came up with this link, which has a little audio clip near the bottom with the proper German pronunciation of "Bach." Basically, English and Japanese are both off.

Not that I can speak any German, but I've heard enough of it in movies and such that I can somewhat pick up on pronunciations. The "ch" sound seems to be a more guttural union of "h" and "k" than we use in English. Almost a soft "k," if that makes sense. If you've studied any basic German, one of the most basic words is "ich" (I), and it has the same kind of sound.

It's not a sound we use. Japanese doesn't have it either, and so while we English-speakers decided to just go all in with a hard "k" sound, the Japanese dropped the "k" and went full "h."

Honestly I was going into this one hoping that English had it right, but it looks like a draw.

Hold up! Haf, one of our resident Germans, offers these comments:

The "ch" in "ich" and in "Bach" is pronounced completely different, it doesn't sound the same at all. I can't really describe it, but at least for a German person the voice samples show the difference quite well. Bach: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/De-Bach.ogg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/De-ich.ogg

I don't see where a "K" is supposed to hidden in the German pronunciation. It is however my impression that English speakers often substitute a "K" in place of the "ch". ;) 
Now Japanese people have a whole lot of other problems with the German language, oddly enough also with the distinction between the pronunciation of "auch" and "auf". But they usually can manage with a few minutes of pronunciation training. :)
I also believe that Englsih speakers map the German "ch" sounds to a "K" because it's the closest thing they got. :) That's usually how people start listening to and speaking a foreign language and it's where all the funny accents come from. 
Describing the pronunciation it really hard for me though, for one because English is not my mother tongue and second because I would even have problems describing it in German. ;) If I absolutely had to describe it, I would reluctantly say that it might relate a bit to how it's pronounced in Japanese and at the same time that the "ch" sounds a bit like the "wh" in "cool whip" (or was it whipped cream?) when Stewie from Family Guy says it with his odd "hwip" pronunciation, albeit more roughly expressed. 
I can't really say if the term "guttural" describes the pronunciation. I would say that the "ch" is aspirated, with a lowered jaw, a stiff and raised tongue and relatively closed lips, pressing the air out slowly. Is that guttural? :)

So then it appears that the Japanese does edge out the English pronunciation! And if I ever take up German, I'll have to work on my "ch"'s.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good heart-ism

So recently we got kind of screwed over by Dell in our office. I won't go into boring detail, but suffice it to say Amazon.com took care of us (as we ordered through them) after Dell gave us the runaround on faulty equipment.

Today my boss declared that Amazon was 良心的 (りょうしんてき), and asked me what that is in English. I told him I wasn't sure, and he said "maybe something like 'kind?'" When he suggested that word choice, I was able to surmise what kanji the word uses, and I guess I've heard it before. I'm not exactly sure that 「良心的」has a direct, clean English translation (maybe "fair," "honest," or "conscientious"), but the word itself is a good example of how straightforward some terms can be in Japanese. The kanji are "good" (良), "heart" (心), and 「的」, which is kind of like "~ism" or "~like."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Shugo Tokumaru music video

Joe here, posting after a very long absence. Something has just happened that I feel compelled to share with you. I'm a huge fan of Japanese musician Shugo Tokumaru (トクマルシューゴ). I'm happy to announce his new CD has finally made it's way over to the US iTunes store today! It's called "In Focus?" and it's only $10! (I'm not paid to promote this, in case you were wondering :)

Still having doubts despite my glowing endorsement? Check out this incredibly cool music video which just came out 18 hours ago.

Play it again, Sam!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Up and down







Prayer of Serenity




Thursday, January 10, 2013

Could you repeat that?

It's amazing sometimes how much there is to learn. Earlier I was looking briefly at today's copy of the 日経新聞 (the Nikkei) and I noticed one of the headlines contained a non-kanji character I wasn't familiar with. The word was 「いすゞ」。

I asked one of my coworkers, and it appears I discovered the hiragana version of 「々」. This character is used to indicate repetition of the character before it. For example 「色々」is another way of writing 「色色」。

According to my research, these things are called 「踊り字」or 「繰り返し記号」, though you can call them up by simply typing 「くりかえし」and scrolling through the kanji choices.

Apparently there are separate characters for use in hiragana, katakana, and kanji:

Hiragana - ゝ (or ゞ)

Katakana - ヽ (or ヾ)

Kanji - 

As you can see, unlike their kanji kin, the kana versions can be accented to represent a change in sound, just like normal kana (though the little circle versions don't seem to exist).

Learning something like this now makes me feel a little noobish, but at the same time it's gratifying to know that there are still simple elements of Japanese like this out there for me to discover.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Happy New Year! Just a quick Japanese post to start 2013.

If you follow a lot of Japanese accounts on Twitter or Facebook or other social media, you've no doubt seen a sizable amount of set phrases thrown around the past couple days. One that I started hearing a lot a few years ago (though it's quite possible it was a popular expression before that and I just was unaware of it) is あけおめ.

Japanese likes to shrink, shorten, abbreviate, and compress words and crunch them into nifty little phrases (NG, anyone?). あけおめ is a shortening of one of the two standard New Year's congratulations - あけましておめでとうございます.

Incidentally, the other standard (ことしもよろしくおねがいします) is also going around as ことよろ.

Note that these are casual and probably shouldn't be proffered to one's superiors or elders.