№1 – Talking the Talk in Japanese Design: Your First Day

Japanese Language for Designers

Today we introduce our first article in our series on design vocabulary essential to working in Japan.

In this series we will share with you commonly heard words and phrases that will help you adjust to working in a Japanese office faster! Even if you’re not working in Japan yet, these phrases are great to get a headstart.

My colleague, Riccardo, wanted to share with you his experience of starting to work in Japan:

The First time I worked in a Japanese Design office I felt lost. At that time, even speaking conversational Japanese didn’t help. Even already being a design professional wasn’t helpful without any knowledge of technical Japanese. When you study Japanese with the aim to work in Japan you find out that each environment has its own vocabulary.

Overcoming the language barrier is crucial to understanding the work you are doing, even for those who are professionals in their field.

Terms for your first day in a Japanese office

自己紹介 jikoshoukai self introduction

Odds are on your first day you’ll be asked to do a self-introduction. It doesn’t have to be very long, usually you can just give your name and what you used to do in your previous job. If you begin with the phrase, “o-tsukaresama-desu” and end with, “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” you’ll have already made an excellent first impression.

締め切り shimekiri deadline

I think we all know just how important deadlines are in the design industry, and you’re going to hear this word just as much in Japan as you would at home. To ask, “When is the deadline?” you can say, “shimekiri wa itsu desuka?”

作成します sakusei shimasu to create, to make, to produce

This word is quite versatile and is used when talking about making documents or a plan on how to tackle projects, as well as the creation of the project itself. It can also used when writing up an email or creating a new folder. Something that is in the process of being made is “sakusei-chuu”.

修正します shuusei shimasu to modify, to revise

Working in the creative industry you won’t be surprised to see this here. You might be asked “shuusei wo shite kudasai” (please do the revisions) to refine your work or tweak the direction of the current project. “Shuusei” on its own refers to modifications or revisions.

添付 tenpu attachment
メールに添付します mee-ru ni tenpushimasu attach to an email

“Tenpu” usually refers to an email attachment. It can also mean “the accompanying” or a physically attached document, however, 90% of the time it will be referring to an attachment in an email. “Meeru ni tempu shimasu” – “I’ll attach it to the email”.

画像 gazou image

“Gazou” means image and can refer to anything from illustrations to photographs. Your Japanese coworkers will understand the word “i-mee-ji” (the word image with Japanese pronunciation), but this also has the connotations of imagination, so the Japanese word, “gazou”, is still widely used in Japanese companies. A useful phrase is “gazou wo torikomu”, which means to import an image.

画面 gamen the screen

“Gamen”, much like “gazou” also has the word “su-ku-rii-n” (Japanese pronunciation of screen) which your colleagues will understand, but “gamen” is used more often than it English counterpart. It is used to refer to computer and phone screens or even a screen or window within a program.

設定 settei setting or installation

This word has quite a few meanings in Japanese. Most often in the office it will refer to the settings of computer programs or, the installation of computer software.

印刷します/プリントします insatsu shimasu/purinto shimasu to print

These two variations on the word “to print” are used fairly equally in Japan so don’t be afraid to use whichever one is easier for you. However, if your computer “settei” are in Japanese, you will probably find that the print button uses the kanji, “印刷”.

技術的 gijyutsu-teki technical

This word can be used when talking about the technical aspects of your work, as in when something is “technically possible” – “gijyutsu-teki ni kanou de-aru”. Another example is “gijyutsuteki-eraa”, which means “technical error”.

保存します hozon shimasu to save (a document on the computer)

This is a simple one, but obviously very important.

開発します kaihatsu shimasu to develop

The development of concepts is an important stage in the design process. To talk about the development of…, you can say ”…no kaihatsu”.

And here are a few more important words that you’ll hear around the office.

ディレクター di-re-ku-ta director
クライアント ku-rai-an-to client
フィードバック fii-do-bakku feedback
プレゼン pu-re-zen presentation

This list is a handy first step in learning vocabulary that is often used in the design world in Japan.

It is also the first in a series, so look out for the next list of vocabulary next month where we will cover vocabulary you can use to talk about the typographic elements of your work.