Japanese

What Is “Just Kidding” In Japanese? Here’s The Answer.

When you’re hanging out with your friends, you might want to have a little fun with them. You know, play a joke on them, do a prank, something along those lines. Just be sure to tell them “just kidding” so they know it’s not serious. What is just kidding Japanese?

Well there’s a couple of different ways to say it, and we’re going to go over them in today’s lesson.

Just be sure that you’re not pranking people that you don’t really know or who are above you in social status since it probably won’t be taken very well. That being said, let’s begin!

What Is Just Kidding In Japanese

Alright, how many of you are Dragon Ball Z fans? I grew up on that goodness and remember turning on Toonami every day to watch it.

The reason why I ask this is because I’ve got a short video for you to watch that has this first word for “just kidding” and a pretty good context of when to use it.

Here’s the situation, this clip takes place during the Cell story arc when Vegeta fights Cell and blows his right arm off.

Cell then pretends to be in pain and acts like he’s going to lose the fight because now he’s at a huge disadvantage. Vegeta thinks that he has this one in the bag and starts laughing.

That’s when Cell says 「なんちゃって」 (nan chatte) which means “just kidding” in Japanese and he then regrows his missing arm in an instant!

This word is used in situations like this. No, not where your arm is blown off!

Rather, when you make the other person think something and then you pull the rug out from underneath them.

Check out the video below. Cell says 「なんちゃって」 at about the 0:16 second mark.

Now Let’s move on to the second word for this section.

When you’re talking to a friend and you say something that you’re not actually serious about and then want to follow it up with something like “I’m just kidding about that; not really; as if” or the like, then you can say なんてね (nante ne).

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So for example, perhaps you’re talking about past girlfriends with a buddy and you say you once dated a grandma and she was the best because you got unlimited free cookies.

Your friend gives you a sideways glance because they can’t tell if you’re joking or not and then you follow it up with なんてね to let them know you were just pulling their leg.

How would YOU respond if a friend told you that? Would you say “no way”? 

You could if you learn how to say “no way” in Japanese.

How To Say It’s A Joke In Japanese

In any language there are usually multiple ways of saying the same thing. Is this case, instead of saying that you’re kidding, you can just say that “it’s a joke” to let the other person know that you’re just playing with them.

There are a couple different words that you can use for this. The first one is 冗談だよ (joudan da yo). The Japanese word 冗談 (joudan) means “joke” so this phrase is just a direct translation into English.

  • 冗談だよ!
  • joudan da yo!
  • It’s a joke! I’m just joking!

A similar word is ふざける (fuzakeru) which means “to mess with someone; to jest.” This is actually a really common word to hear when a person says “don’t mess with me; stop screwing with me” and the like.

  • ふざけるな!
  • fuzakeru na!
  • Knock it off! Quit playing!

If this is you, you also can say “go away” in Japanese.

Then we switch over to the English loan words that Japanese has adopted and we get a couple of interesting ones.

The first word is of course ジョーク (jōku) which I’m sure you’ve already guessed is just the English word “joke.” You can use it like you do 冗談 in the earlier examples, or just how you would use joke in English.

Person-1:

  • 意味わかんない!
  • imi wakan nai!
  • I don’t understand!

Person-2:

  • これはジョークだよ。
  • kore wa jōku da yo.
  • It’s a joke.

The other loan word to learn is ギャグ (gyagu) which comes from “gag” in English.

This word can be used to mean “joke” but usually it refers to joke as a noun like “His joke was lame” rather then the verb “joking” which we’ve been covering so far in this article.

It can also be used to refer to the comedy genre as in ギャグアニメ (gyagu anime) or ギャグ漫画 (gyagu manga).

How To Say Not Really In Japanese

For this last part, I figured that I’d go over ways to say “not really” in Japanese since this is yet another way that you can tell someone that you are joking about something.

The first and most common way to do this would be with the phrase 本当じゃない (hontou ja nai). The word 本当 (hontou) means “truth; fact” and the じゃない (ja nai) part means “not.”

In otherwords, 本当じゃない means “not true” or as we would say in English when joking with someone, “not really; I’m just playing with you.”

There are a couple other words that can be used like this when saying something is not real. These don’t really have to do with joking or tricking someone, but they might still be useful to learn.

I won’t go over every possible one out there, but there is one in particular that I felt would be good to cover.

It is 現実じゃない (genjitsu ja nai). 現実 (genjitsu) means “reality; actuality” and is usually used when referring to hard facts or the real world that we live in. So using this phrase is like saying “this isn’t true fact; this is not reality.”

Here’s a clip from the Japanese DUB of The Matrix where Morpheus takes Neo into a training simulation and explains the situation to him.

At about the 0:56 second mark Neo touches the chair and says:

  • これは… 現実じゃない?
  • kore wa… genjitsu ja nai?
  • This isn’t real?

Such a good movie!

Over To You Now

Now you know lots of different ways to say “just kidding” in Japanese. Hopefully you can use them to have some fun with your friends, or understand them when they say it to you.

If you’ve got any examples of when you heard this word, then share them by leaving a comment below!

Or if you have any questions or comments about this topic, I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!

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