In the late 1980s, it was once a trend among people in the TV industry to read words in a (partially) reverse order, and use them as the industry jargon. Such words include “ザギン (Zagin)”, meaning “銀座 (Ginza)” and シースー (shīsū), meaning “寿司 (sushi)”, and they compose a famous phrase, “ザギンでシースー” (zagin de shīsū), meaning “(eating) sushi at Ginza”. Eventually, such TV industry jargon started to be used by ordinary people after some celebrities, especially the comedy duo とんねるず started to use them on TV.
Although most of the words are regarded as outdated, some people still use them to be playful or act like old-fashioned people. This article explains “back slang words” that you may use to make your Japanese friends laugh and surprised!
(You can learn other types of old Japanese slang at “Keep them Alive! Japanese Outdated Funny Slang Words”)
銀座 (ぎんざ, Ginza); one of the most luxurious cities in Tokyo
Let’s eat sushi at Ginza today!
六本木 (ろっぽんぎ, Roppongi); one of the most international cities in Tokyo
I’ll dance like crazy at a night club in Roppongi!
ハワイ (Hawai); “Hawaii”
This summer, I wanna enjoy vacances (long holidays) in Hawaii.
姉ちゃん (ねえちゃん, nēchan/neechan); “(older) sister”, “a cute girl”, “chick”
金髪 (きんぱつ, kinpatsu); blond hair
I want to date with a chick with blond hair.
そっくり (sokkuri); “look very much alike.”
The brothers look very much alike.
Note: The small tsu (っ) in そっくり becomes the large tsu (ツ) in クリソツ
めんごめんご (mengo mengo)
ごめんごめん (gomen gomen); “sorry, sorry”
Sorry, sorry, I won’t be late next time.
Note: This word particularly sounds old-fashioned, and obviously has a non-serious tone.
サングラス (sangurasu); sunglass
I should have brought my sunglasses.
Note: This word is so common that some people probably do not recognise it as a reverse word.
お洒落 (おしゃれ, oshare); fashionable
I want to work at a fashionable café.
Note: This word is still very popular among young people. For instance, they often use it to describe fashionable cafes/restaurants; when they feel a bit hesitant to directly say オシャレ to their friends to give them a complement; or when they try to be playful or sarcastic.
先輩 (senpai); people who are older or in a higher position than you, or their honorific title
(Tanaka-senpai, please treat me dinner today!)
Note: It contains a very casual/impolite tone, and therefore you should avoid using it to Senpai whom you are not very close to.
しもしも (shimo shimo)
もしもし: (an expression Japanese people use when they start or answer a phone call, like “Hello?”)
(Over a phone)
Hello, how are you?
うまい (umai); very tasty, delicious, yummy
This ramen, so yummy!
Note: This word is exclusively used by a Japanese comedian/foodie 石塚英彦 (Hidehiko Ishizuka) when he reports the taste of food.