10+ Not So Funny Japanese Jokes You Should Hear

Japanese jokes - Ling

Are you a fan of wordplay, chuckles, and the intrigue of diverse cultures? If your answer is a resounding yes, then prepare for a delightful journey into the realm of Japanese humor, where wit flourishes through clever linguistic twists and playful puns.

In this article, we will embark on an expedition into the captivating world of Japanese jokes, revealing their unique charm. From vintage Japanese puns to cheesy dad jokes, these humorous gems showcase the linguistic richness of Japan.

Types Of Japanese Jokes

Japanese people find linguistic nuances and wordplay funny. This is largely due to the Japanese language’s extensive collection of homophones—words that sound the same but have different meanings or spellings. These homophones open up a world of possibilities for crafting clever and often cheeky jokes, making them an integral part of Japanese culture.

1. Japanese Puns – Dajare (駄洒落)

Dajare, often described as vintage Japanese puns from the Showa era, were once considered highbrow entertainment. Nowadays, they are known as “so-bad-they’re-good” humor!

When timed impeccably, Dajare can elicit smiles from anyone within earshot. Conversely, they can also plunge a room into an uncomfortable silence.

Puns form the crux of Japanese humor, and the idiosyncrasies of the language only amplify their brilliance. Japanese puns, or “Dajare,” constitute an enchanting manifestation of linguistic playfulness, capitalizing on the language’s extensive array of homophones and multifaceted kanji readings.

Dajare spans the gamut from straightforward wordplay to intricate, multilayered puns, expertly interwoven to weave a tapestry of laughter. Over the course of history, these puns have served as pillars of Japanese poetry, literature, and comedy, demonstrating the language’s versatility in the hands of adept word-magicians.

Japanese dad jokes - Japanese jokes - Ling

2. Japanese Dad Jokes – Oyaji Gyagu (オヤジギャグ)

Translated as “old Japanese man jokes” or “dad jokes,” these jests epitomize a unique blend of simplicity and absurdity. While they may not always induce riotous laughter, they possess an undeniable charm, akin to the cheesy dad jokes cherished in various cultures worldwide.

Japanese dad jokes manifest in various forms, yet they share common traits: cheesiness, repetitiveness, and a heavy reliance on wordplay, particularly homophones and phrases with manifold connotations.

Picture a world where “shouga” (ginger) and “shouganai” (it can’t be helped) transform into a punchline, or where “nee” (hey) and “neechan” (sister) become sources of mirth. These jokes delicately straddle the line between amusement and cringe, etching themselves as memorable facets of social exchanges in Japan.

3. Fallen Words – Rakugo (落語)

Rakugo, a form of verbal comedy rooted in yose (spoken theater) with a history spanning over four centuries, gained prominence during the Edo period. Performers of “rakugo”, known as 落語家 (rakugoka), deliver solo comic narratives on stage, adorned in kimonos, seated on cushions, and armed with minimal props.

Now, venture forth and test the comedic waters with these Japanese puns, guaranteed to provoke reactions, be they positive or not! LOL!

Japanese jokes

Different Types of Japanese Jokes

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of Japanese jokes highlighted in the articles.

Same Sound, Repeated Twice

“Oyaji gyagu” is all about repeating two Japanese words with the same or similar sounds but different meanings to create a coherent phrase. For instance, “Shouga nai, shouganai” (生姜ない、しょうがない) combines “shouga” (ginger) and “shouganai” (it can’t be helped).

Examples:

  • 生姜ない、しょうがない (Shouga nai, shouganai) – There’s no ginger, it can’t be helped.
  • いくらはいくら? (Ikura wa ikura?) – How much is the salmon roe?

Phrasing With More Than One Meaning

Japanese dad jokes often rely on homophones to create humorous outcomes. For example, “Nee, chanto ofuro haitteru?” (ねえ、ちゃんとお風呂に入ってるの?) cleverly combines “nee” (hey), “chanto” (proper), and “neechan” (sister) to generate humor.

Examples:

  • ねえ、ちゃんとお風呂に入ってるの? (Nee, chanto ofuro haitteru?) – Hey, do you take a bath properly?
  • ねえちゃんとお風呂に入ってるの? (Neechan to ofuro haitteru?) – Are you taking a bath with your sister?
  • パンダの好きな食べ物は何ですか?パンだ。 (Panda no suki na tabemono wa nan desu ka? Pan da.) – What’s a panda’s favourite food? Panda. (It’s bread)!

Fun With English Loanwords

A lot of Japanese puns are made with an English loanword combined with a Japanese word. These jokes often feature these loanwords for both their meanings and sounds. For example, “Boushi wo wasurete hatto shita” (帽子を忘れてハットした) plays on the word “hatto” (hut), which sounds similar to “hat.”

Examples:

  • 帽子を忘れてハットした (Boushi wo wasurete hatto shita) – I forgot my hat and made a hut.
  • トイレに行っといれ (Toire ni ittoire) – Have a nice time in the toilet.

To wrap up our exploration of Japanese humor, here’s a list of some commonly known Japanese dad jokes:

English TranslationJapanese PhraseTranscription
The futon blew away.布団が吹っ飛んだFuton ga futtonda
The cat fell asleep.猫が寝込んだNeko ga nekonda
The tangerine on top of the aluminum can.アルミ缶の上にあるミカンArumi kan no ue ni aru mikan
Eat clams lightly.アサリをあっさりと食べるAsari wo assari to taberu
I like skiing.スキーは好きSukii wa suki
There is no content/substance it seems.内容が無いようNaiyou ga naiyou
Are there dolphins?イルカはいるか?Iruka wa iru ka?
There’s nothing but deer.鹿しかないShika shika nai
I ate a bit of chocolate.チョコをちょこっと食べたChoko wo chokotto tabeta
No one’s answering the phone.電話に誰も出んわDenwa ni daremo denwa

Conclusion

In the world of Japanese jokes, laughter transcends language barriers, bridging cultures and creating moments of connection. Whether you’re charmed by the simplicity of oyaji gyagu, captivated by the complexity of Dajare, or simply eager to explore a new facet of Japanese culture, these jokes offer a delightful entry point.

So, the next time you find yourself in the company of Japanese speakers or exploring the rich linguistic tapestry of Japan, remember that humor is universal, and a well-timed joke, even a cheesy one, can bring smiles and laughter that transcend language.

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Until next time, じゃあまたね!

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