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Jokes and Humor in Japan – Let´s have fun with the Japanese!

Japan is in the direction of the sunrise – translated as “Land of the rising sun”

FUN IN JAPAN: Japanese people do enjoy jokes. They have a variety of humor styles, including puns, wordplay, slapstick comedy, and observational humor. Stand-up comedy, known as “manzai,” is also quite popular in Japan. Like any culture, jokes and humor in Japan are definitely part of entertainment and daily life.

Here’s a Japanese-inspired joke:
Q: Why did the sumo wrestler bring a ladder to the sushi restaurant?
A: Because he heard the fish was on a higher level!

 Laugh, smile and confusion

“To laugh” in Japanese is written as warau. Since the word begins with a “w”, they use “www” to stand for laughter – same as “lol” in English means haha. Then they found funny that the shape of letter w resembles a cluster of grass. Therefore, grass is used to mean “lol”.

Japanese people will smile when angry, sad, or embarrassed. As they also smile when happy, is bound to cause confusion.
Covering mouth when smiling or laughing is often considered as modesty and politeness in Japanese culture. It is to show consideration for others by not exposing the mouth too widely – or good manners.

Typical Japanese humor

Japanese humor and jokes often revolve around wordplay, puns, and situational comedy. Here are a few elements that are typical in Japanese humor:
Japanese language has many similar-sounding words, so gags and wordplay are common. Playful twists on words, double entendre, and clever combinations of phrases are often used for comedic effect.

  1. Absurdity and Exaggeration: Humor in Japan sometimes relies on absurd or exaggerated situations, where unexpected or bizarre things happen. This can include slapstick comedy, exaggerated facial expressions, or over-the-top reactions.

Funny expressions

  1. Visual Humor: Visual gags and physical comedy also play a significant role in Japanese humor. This can involve exaggerated gestures, funny expressions, or comedic timing in performances.
  2. Self-deprecating Humor: Japanese humor often includes self-deprecating elements, where individuals make fun of themselves or their own flaws. This helps to establish a sense of relatability and camaraderie among the audience.

It’s important to note that humor can be subjective, and what one person finds funny, another might not. However, these are some common characteristics found in Japanese humor and jokes.

Funny quote: Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.


Inclusive humor

While there may be jokes in Japan that specifically target females, it’s important to note that promoting gender stereotypes or offensive content is not appropriate. It’s always best to focus on inclusive and lighthearted humor that doesn’t demean or marginalize any group of people.
Manzai is a traditional Japanese comedy style characterized by a comedic duo, consisting of a “boke” (funny, foolish character) and a “tsukkomi” (straight man). The boke intentionally acts foolishly, setting up an opportunity for the tsukkomi to deliver witty retorts or corrections, creating a humorous dialogue.

They are stone faces. But what makes Japanese laugh? Here are some answers
They are stone faces. But what makes Japanese laugh? Here are some answers

Avoid offense

In Japan, it’s important to be mindful and respectful when it comes to sensitive topics. Some subjects that are generally considered inappropriate for jokes or casual conversation include natural disasters, accidents, tragic events, significant illnesses, and any form of discrimination. It’s always best to exercise tact and sensitivity when engaging in humor to avoid causing discomfort or offense.

Level of Humor in Japan

Finally, here’s a joke about chat AI:
Q: Why did the chat AI bring a ladder to the computer?
A: Because it heard the data was on a higher level!

I asked the computer of a classic English joke. Here is what I got:
Q: Why did the scarecrow win an award?
A: Because he was outstanding in his field!

Ha, ha, ha…almost at the same level as jokes told in Japan!


Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.


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