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What Does Sama Mean In Anime

When Its Attached To Names

Anime Talk: Honorifics – Kun, Chan, Sama, San

The Japanese word sama is usually spelled in kanji as and is typically seen at the end of a persons name when they are being address in an extremely polite way.

For example, if your companys most important customer arrived for a meeting, you would probably hear the receptionist use this word when informing you of their arrival.

  • tanaka sama irasshaimashita.
  • Mr. Takana has arrived.

In situations like this, the functions similarly to the English Mr. or Mrs. and so on. Its added to the persons name for politeness and respect.

This is similar to how the word works in Japanese, but the difference is that is much more formal and is generally only used when address people who are way higher than you in status.

So the business to customer relationship is a great example because in Japan the customer is god.

This is why the Japanese word for customer is nearly always spelled as with both the polite added before the word and at the end.

If you walk into a Japanese store, the clerk or salesman will most likely address you as when they ask you if theres anything you need help with.

Another example is when Japanese people talk to, or about a god. They will use the word which takes the word for god and then they add on to it for respect.

Youll also see it added to the titles of high ranking people, such as a king .

As a final note for this section, the word is used in letters when addressing the recipient.

Service And Public Employees

Japan is frequently cited by non-Japanese as a place where service is excellent. Such claims are difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. Nevertheless, service at public establishments such as restaurants, drinking places, shops and services is generally friendly, attentive and very polite, as reflected in a common reminder given by managers and employers to their employees: “okyaku-sama wa kami-sama desu” , or “the customer is a god.” . Generally, service employees will seldom engage in casual conversation with a customer with the aim of forming a rapport as sometimes happens in western cultures. The service employees are expected to maintain a more formal, professional relationship with all customers. Private conversations among service staff are considered inappropriate when a customer is near.

In general, as in most countries, etiquette dictates that the customer is treated with reverence. In Japan this means that employees speak in a humble and deferential manner and use respectful forms of language that elevate the customer. Thus, customers are typically addressed with the title âsama . A customer is not expected to reciprocate this level of politeness to a server.


The Different Ways To Speak Older Brother In Japanese

In Japanese there is a hierarchy of treatment, a formal, common and informal language. This is one of the main reasons why there are so many variations and ways to say big brother in Japanese. To make it easier, let’s put a list of words below, exemplifying the idea a little:

Remembering that all the words in the list below refer to older sisters or brothers:

Aniki aneki

Aniki it is often used by the yakuza, it is like a comrade brother, where the character refers to something precious, esteemed and valuable.

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How To Write Kisama

Kisama can be written in four ways, as many Japanese words can.

First, you can just write it as we have been, in romaji: kisama. Then in hiragana as or katakana as . Finally, theres the kanji way of writing it, .

The first kanji has a few meanings. It can mean expensive,precious,aristocratic, or esteemed. The character is simplified from and came to Japan from Middle Chinese.

The second kanji is just a respectful suffix.

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Ore ga Ojou

And there you have it! The basic rules of using Japanese honorifics. Their usage is much more complex and can be difficult to interpret at times. But as a foreigner, people will cut you some slack if you mess up. That being said, if you work in Japan, you may want to be extra careful when using these honorifics. Dont hesitate to ask the person directly what they want you to call them if youre not sure.

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Visiting Other People’s Houses

Look up tadaima in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

It is considered an honor to be invited to someone’s home in Japan. Many Japanese regard their homes as being too humble to entertain guests. Shoes are never worn inside the home â this ensures that the floor is not stained by soil, sand or dust that may be attached to the soles. Instead, shoes are removed in the genkan , and often replaced with slippers called uwabaki. Just wearing socks is also acceptable in informal situations. Genkan are found in even small apartments, where they are correspondingly small, and feature a small step up. Socks, however, are not generally removed â bare feet are acceptable when visiting a close friend, but not otherwise. There are also separate slippers used when using a bathroom, for reasons of hygiene. Slippers are not worn on tatami , as doing so may wear the mats out.

Regarding seating arrangements, see kamiza.

What Does Senpai Mean In Japanese

Senpai is one of the common honorific titles that are used in Japanese to politely address or refer to someone in a conversation. It shows that the person has more experience, a higher position, status, or age than you, but also indicates their role as a mentor, tutor, or buddy for you and other juniors aka kohai .

That is why it is usually used to refer to an older or more senior member of the same company, school, club, association, or organization . While for strangers, guests, clients, and superiors, who do not offer you assistance, coaching, or mentorship, other polite honorifics such as san or sama are more common.

In most cases, your senpai will be someone older, but your senpai can also be younger than you. In general, if someone has entered the same school, workplace, club, or organization before you they are your senpai and you are their kohai . Even when you are in fact the older person.

However, there is also a concept called Jinsei no Senpai , which means that everyone who is older than you is your senpai in everyday life. So regardless of you being the kohai , if you are older than your senpai they might , too .

So in Japan you can when they

  • Have been a student, employee, or member for a longer time than you
  • Are older than you
  • Are someone you look up to because of their outstanding skills
  • In addition to treating them with respect and gratitude, you are also supposed to use honorific speech, called Keigo , when talking to them.

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    What Do Dono & Tono Mean In Japanese

    I added those honorifics to the mix even if they are not used in the modern age because, frankly, I was very curious about them.

    Turns out that those two honorifics mean the same thing. The same Kanji is used to write both of them and it means Lord. It was used in the paste between Nobles to address each other with the same level of respect and the servants had the liberty to use Dono, Tono, or Sama.

    Since we started to mention royalty, lets continue on this path.

    Those are the most famous titles of royalty:

    Heika means Majesty.

    Denka means Royal Highness.

    Kakka means Your Excellence.

    To end on a special note, I just discovered that there are also honorifics to address criminals. For convicted criminals we use hikoku and for accused or criminals still on trial/awaiting trial the honorific ygisha is more appropriate.

    What Does Kun Mean In Japanese

    Japanese Honorifics Explained | Anime Academy

    Simply put, Kun is the opposite of Chan. It is reserved to address males instead of females. What differs is that it will most probably be used for young boys as older ones might get insulted to be considered cute. It also shows that the superior is addressing the inferior, so you have to carefully assess each persons social status before using it.

    In rare cases, a superior, in the workplace, may address his female employee by using Kun because this suffix is considered to be more respectful than Chan.

    Also, a female might use Kun to address a male she is very close to and has a strong feeling for, like for example, her lover.

    Those honorifics are only the tip of the iceberg, many more are worth mentioning since, we, anime fans, come across them daily. So lets go over the most confusing ones.

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    Japanese Honorifics Guide: San Kun Chan Sama And More

    Have you ever felt confused about all those -kun, -chan and -senpai you hear when watching anime? I am sure you have wondered about the meaning of these Japanese suffixes. After reading this post your Japanese will sound more natural as you will learn how to use Japanese honorifics!

    Remember to take the quiz at the end to test your understanding and to sign up at if you really want to learn Japanese with effective resources.

    Most languages use them: Mr., Mrs, Sir, Dr But in Japanese, there are more of them, and they are a lot more nuanced. They are often attached to a name as a suffix, but some can stand alone, such as sensei.

    In Japanese there are both formal and informal honorifics, plus some familial honorifics. The use of honorifics is considered very important in Japan, and calling somebody by just his name without adding a title is a lack of good manners.

    Here is the list of 10 Japanese honorific titles and how to use them!

    San , the most common honorific, equivalent to Mr. or Mrs. Its a title of respect between equals, so its okay to use for anyone, especially if you are not sure which honorific to use. It can also be attached to occupation names. For example, bookstore + san = bookseller .

    Kun , the most commonly used honorific in anime. It is used to address young males. It is also used by superiors to inferiors and male of the same age and status.

    Here are some honorific titles that can stand on their own:

    How Is The Japanese Language Term Onii Chan Commonly Used

    Japanese speakers who live in English-speaking countries may still refer to their older brother by the term onii chan. For example, an older brother might come home from being away at college, and his younger sister could say, Welcome home, onii-chan.

    Overall, the Japanese word onii chan means older brother. This is the term one would use for their older brother if they were very close with him. If one wished to refer to an older brother in a more general sense, they would use onii-san. If one wished to refer to their older brother formally, they would use onii-sama. This term has also been co-opted by non-Japanese anime and manga fans to refer to a good-looking male character in an anime or manga, similarly to how English-speakers might use the word daddy to refer to an attractive male character in films or on television.

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    The Historical Meaning Of Kisama

    Theres some mystery about the origins of this word, with at least three different origin stories. That said, one thing experts are pretty certain about is that kisama was a deliberately created word.

    It may have started as a shortened for of kimi-sama, . That first kanji is today most familiar to Japanese learners as the word for you, but can also mean lord or ruler.

    The second kanji is the respectful suffix. So, basically, the word may have started as translating tohonorable lord.

    The second possibility is that it came from kisho-sama, . Kisho is a respectful way to refer to someone elses residence. And, of course, we have that respectful suffix again.

    These two are fairly unlikely explanations for a couple reasons. First, because of the big distinction between the initial kanji used.

    Then theres the fact that kimisama, kishosama, and kisama were all in use at the same time, something that isnt usually seen.

    And, finally, because, in Japanese, when a word loses some of its sounds, it usually also loses its politeness. However, in its initial use kisama was a very polite term.

    Finally, we have the possibility that its just the combination of ki for graceful, and that all-important suffix again, -sama.

    Kisama was created at the very tail end of the Sengoku era as a formal way to address a letter from one samurai to another.

    Starting in the Edo period, kisama made its way into everyday speech.

    What Does Senpai Mean In English

    Anime Suffixes: What Does san, sama, chan &  kun Mean?

    The most common English translations for the Japanese word senpai are senior , upperclassman, and mentor. However, it can also mean superior, elder, older graduate, progenitor, or old-timer. .

    Heres a table showing all the possible English meanings and translations of the Japanese word senpai. I have also added its counterparts kohai and sensei to illustrate the relationship and hierarchy between them.

    The Japanese word senpai found its way into the English language through anime and manga. Especially the popular meme Notice me senpai and its other variations Please notice me senpai, Senpai, why dont you notice me?, I hope senpai will notice me, etc.

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    Summary & Recap: The Japanese Honorific Sama


    • Most commonly used for deities, guests, visitors, and customers
    • Is only used for people that have a higher status than oneself
    • It can be used to express admiration for someone or something
    • In anime, it is also used when addressing family members, but that is less common in real life
    • Used to address members of the royal family
    • Aso used in common words and set phrases


    • Never use sama with your own name
    • You shouldnt use Ore-sama since it sounds rude and arrogant
    • Dont use sama with your boss and seniors, san is more appropriate

    Additional Information

    • Sama is politer than san, chan, and kun
    • It is higher than the old honorific dono
    • Chama is a cuter version of sama


    The Meaning Of Kisama Today

    To keep it really simple, kisama is just a pronoun meaning you.

    Thats the easy part. Now for the more complex usage.

    In some sense, its considered a very, very rude word. It carries a lot of contempt for the person being spoken to. However, at the same time, its kind of antiquated.

    Nowadays, youll see kisama written in manga, or spoken angrily in anime. Because of this, if you were to say it in real life you probably wouldnt offend anyone.

    In fact, instead of showing contempt for the other person, youll just make yourself seem like a completely uncool lose. More specifically, youll sound like an otaku, aka a big nerd.

    Imagine saying, in English, You scurrilous fool! Like, sure, thats not a nice thing to say to someone, I guess, but really youd just sound like a neckbeard loser if you tried to insult someone that way.

    So, in real life today, kisama would be considered extremely cringe.

    However, you may actually hear this word in a non-contemptuous way if you were to watch period pieces dealing with life from the seventeenth to nineteenth century. Why is that?

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    What Does The Word Senpai Mean

    According to Merriam-Webster, Dictionary, and Japan Powered, the word senpai is a Japanese word that refers to an upperclassman who takes on the role of mentor, senior, or elder for an underclassman, or kohai. The senpai-kohai system is most often used in English in reference to anime and manga dynamics between characters. This is one of many honorifics that a person in Japanese society can take on. Senpai is sometimes spelled as sempai.

    This term is similar to the Japanese sensei, which is a teacher or instructor, usually in Japanese martial arts. Sensei has been used in English since 1968, and is more along the lines of the words master and teacher. Senpai is a slightly lower rank than someone who is sensei. Below senpai is khai , who is a junior or protege. This Japanese honorific can be used attached to someones name or surname, much like -san, -chan, -sama, or -kun, and shows a reverence for the person. Employees would be considered kohai and their boss would be considered senpai, for example, or a tutor would be senpai and a student would be considered the social status of kouhai. Usually. One can assume that superiors, someone in a higher grade, an eldest son or a senior employee are senpai, while a lower person would be considered kohai. This is a part of the civil code of Neo-confucianism in Japanese history and is a reflection of the social hierarchy and traditional family system present in daily life.


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