In Japanese, there are many slang words that contain the kanji character ‘活’ (katsu). This character is short for ‘活動’ (katsu dou) meaning ‘activity’, and the words including ‘活’ describe a variety of unique “activities”. This article introduces those words and their meanings, with illustrating how famous each word is on a scale of 1 to 3 (denoted by the number of ★). One star means the word is quite new and hence may not be understood even by some Japanese people, especially by old generations.
終活 (“Shūkatsu”) ★★
This word and the next word 就活 (“Shūkatsu”) are homophones: having the same pronunciation yet with different meanings.
終活 (Shūkatsu) stands for ‘人生の終わりのための活動’, meaning ‘activities to prepare for the end of one’s life’. That includes (but not limited to):
- to write your will
- to prepare for your funeral and tomb
- to organise your money and financial assets for your heirs
- to delete private data such as your social media accounts and “inappropriate” files on your PC that you don’t want others to discover while you’re pushing up daises
The last activity is especially called ‘デジタル終活’ (digital Shūkatsu). The term and concept of Shūkatsu are relatively new, and it has been gathering more and more attention recently.
就活 (“Shūkatsu”) ★★★
就活 (Shūkatsu) stands for ‘就職活動 (Shūshoku katsudou)’ meaning ‘job-hunting activities’, where ‘就職’ (Shūsyoku) means ‘to get a job’. This term is often used by college or high-school students who start job-hunting for the first time. The activities include having job interviews, attending job fairs, and visiting Alumni who work in one’s preferable company. In Japan, a myriad of university students start shūkatsu and searching for a job in their third year. This custom is in fact very controversial since it hinders students from focusing on their studies at university.
婚活 (Konkatsu) ★★★
婚活 stands for ‘結婚活動 (Kekkon katsudou)’ meaning ‘activities for getting married’, where 結婚 means ‘marriage’. That includes using matchmaking apps/services, joining a new community, and going to ‘婚活パーティー (konkatsu party)’, which people attend with the aim of finding someone to get married with. 婚活 also includes doing something beneficial to increasing the chance of getting married, such as going to a beauty salon, buying fashionable clothes, and starting a new hobby.
妊活 (Ninkatsu) ★★
妊活 stands for ‘妊娠活動 (Ninshin katsudou)’ meaning ‘activities for getting pregnant’, where ‘妊娠’ means ‘pregnancy’. This term is usually used by a married couple who wish to have a baby. Although the main act for 妊活 is quite obvious, 妊活 also includes the act of staying healthy to prepare for pregnancy, such as having nutritious food, doing exercises, and quitting smoking and drinking. When the term is used, it is often stressed that these acts are important not only for women but also for men.
朝活 (Asakatsu) ★★
朝活 stands for ‘朝活動 (Asa katsudou)’ meaning ‘activities in the morning’, where ‘朝 (Asa)’ means ‘morning’. It describes waking up early in the morning and doing something productive, such as studying, jogging, and working out. This is something that most people have tried and then given up within a few days. (cf: Meaning of 三日坊主 (“three-day monk”) in Japanese)
タピ活 (Tapikatsu) (a brand new word) ★
タピ活 stands for ‘タピオカティーを飲む活動’ meaning ‘activities to drink tapioca tea (bubble tea)’. Recently (in 2019), bubble tea has become the craze among young girls in Japan, as evidenced by long queues in front of bubble tea shops. Tapikatsu is particularly popular among teenage girls who love to upload photos of fancy drinks on Instagram. Therefore, if you are an old man, it might sound quite odd to use this word, unfortunately.