Japanese
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懐かしい

I love the word 懐かしい (natsukashii).

It’s one of those words that most people learn through anime, that’s usually translated as “how nostalgic” or “I miss when I used to experience such-and-such.” I don’t think I really got the essence of the word until I started going to Japanese conversation club, back when I was taking Japanese in college. One woman was talking about going to onsen when she was younger, and the other responded with 懐かしいね.

I don’t think there’s an equivalent Korean word that has the same kind of connotation and is used in the same kind of way. The dictionary tells me 그립다 is the closest equivalent:

Screenshot 2017-05-07 at 06.07.26 PM

It’s interesting that the words aren’t exact equivalents of each other. I’ve only ever seen 그립다 used in songs or poetry, or used in literary or scholarly speech, usually when talking about something really sentimental. 懐かしい can be used in those cases too, but also more casually–like when you describe a childood anime, or when you hear an old song, or eat a dish you grew up with.

A couple weeks ago, I went out with my Korean language class classmates for dinner and karaoke. I tried to sing some “old” K-pop songs and failed miserably because I didn’t remember the melodies at all. (Honestly, I was kind of shocked at myself–yeah, it’s been years since I really listened to K-pop but to not recall some of my favorite songs? Sob!)

A few days following that, I plunged myself into the songs and idol groups I used to like (and learn Korean from) back in the day and spent hours watching old variety shows and dance practice videos, channeling the long lost fangirl buried with in me…. The best way I can describe how I felt is 懐かしい.

Speaking of which, I’ll be back in Japan during the first week of October this year. Is anyone else going to be there? I’d love to meet up!

This entry was posted in: Japanese

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Writer by day, writer by night. Learning Korean and (some) Japanese since 2010.

4 Comments

  1. I use なつかしい almost everyday but it is super difficult to convey it into any other language. A nice way I heard it explained was: If I think about it (the thing that makes me なつかしい) various types of smiles appear on my face. One of my favourite Japanese words!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kiko Olivera says

    알차나님, 안녕하세요? Another interesting topic… haven’t studied much Japanese, but everyone who learns Portuguese must come across the word “saudade” – which is another one of those words that doesn’t exactly translate well. But it almost sounds like it fits that same definition. It’s often translated as “longing,” or “missing” something, whether it’s family or friends, or food, or good times. From an old samba:
    “Saudade mal de amor
    Saudade dor, que doi demais”

    That evil longing of love, painful longing that hurts too much…

    “Longing” just doesn’t quite cut it…

    -kiko

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Kiko! That’s super interesting, thanks for sharing! :) I love the Portuguese language -it’s one of the most beautiful languages I’ve heard.

      Like

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