09 February 2007

Japanese for Half-Assed People VI

Genki: 元気: (ghen-key): adj., n. energetic

While the literal meaning of ‘genki’ is energetic, it’s used as a ‘how are you’-type greeting.

A: Genki?
B: Un, genki!

(or more formally)
A: O-genki desu ka?
B: Hai, genki desu yo!

However, unlike “How are you?,” which is an open-ended question with many possible responses, “genki?” assumes the natural state is energetic and up — Anything else requires a dissenting and contradictory “no,” which is simply terrible for maintaining a good sense of wa (harmony).

Demanding happy conformity is oh-so very Japanese.


Jennifer said...

I remember the first time anyone asked me if I was genki, it was a whitey when we were standing in line for drinks at this crazy kensingtonish basement bar (I totally forget the name, but it was something like 20 cents, or a dollar fifty). The whole situation was odd and then this guy turned to me and said, "Genki deska?"
Even though we were in Tokyo, I never expected a whitey to throw some Japanese at me, even if it was half-assed Japanese.

tokyo tintin said...

I think you're talking about the 380¥ Bar, which was previously the 250¥ Bar and also the 100¥ bar. I can't remember what point on the sliding scale of pricing the bar had reach when you came for a visit. on a side street not too far from my work and shinjuku station thought right?

Jennifer said...

250 sounds right. And I don't really remember where it was, I was probably drunk before we left your 'house'. I was probably drunk from the day before, when in Rome do as the Romans do, when in Japan drink your face off!

Jennifer said...

I love the idea of a bar where the price of the drinks is reflected in the name, almost like a dollar store! And their food wasn't bad either.

tokyo tintin said...

jenni- there is a tonne of "one coin bars" in tokyo where everything (including alcohol and snacks) costs 500¥ (aproximately a five dollar coin). the 100¥/250¥/380¥ bar was interesting because it's the same deal, only cheaper.

they really do so much cool shit in japan that it makes everywhere else seem like a minnesota nerd convention (circa 1987).