Japanese Slang: Pick Up Lines

Slangs in Japan

Pick up artist: nanpa suru

We frequently read in the news that Japanese people are less and less interested in love stories and dates. That might be true, but picking up girls is still trending in the night districts of Tokyo. Just a quick search on the Internet will prove you that Japanese youth wonder about how to invite someone on a date and how to seduce them. Young Japanese men will try their luck in the streets, attracting girls’ attention with pick-up lines. This flirtation is called in Japanese slang nanpa suru (ナンパする).

If you have been in Japan and been out at night, you might have noticed guys hanging on the street, calling girls. They are actually calling girls they don’t know with some pretty simple quite original lines:

  • “Do you wanna go to karaoke?” (Karaoke ikanai?)
  • “Do you wanna go for a drink?”(Issho ni nomi ni ikanai?)
  • “Do you want to see my dog at home?” (Uchinoinu, mi ni konai?)

The word “nanpa” comes from the Japanese word for “moderate.” In Japanese slang however, nanpa 「ナンパ」 alone means “seducer,” “smooth talker” or even “ladies’ man.” When you add the verb suru (to do) it refers to the action of picking up women. Gyaku「逆」means “reverse” or “opposite.” Gyaku nan suru refers to women picking men in the street and inviting them somewhere with similar techniques. When you are hit on by someone, you will say nanpa sareru (is this nanpa?). By doing nanpa regularly, you might be taken for a shallow person.


Rei: Otoko tomodachi no kaiwa.
A: Kinō, kurabu de metcha taipu no ko ga itandakedo.
B: O~o.
A: Nanpa shiyou to shitara, hoka no yakko ni saki kosa re chatta nda yo ̄.

Rei: Wakai on’nanoko dōshi no kaiwa.
A: Sa ikin, kareshi ga dekita nda.
B: Doko de shiri atta no?
A: Shibuya de gyaku Nan shita ?

English Translation
Two guy friends are having a conversation
A: There was a super hot girl at the club yesterday.
B: Oh.
A: I tried to pick (nanpa) her up, but another guy beat me to it.

A conversation between two young women
A: I got a boyfriend recently.
B: Where did you meet him?
A: I picked (gyaku nanpa) him up in Shibuya.

Click this link to read about Japanese slang: dotakyan suru

Credit: Takayuki Miki (三木貴幸)

(Source) (Images: header1 | 2)


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