Japan’s buzzwords of the year include a term for when you sign off to take a bath

“Be right back.”
“Be right back.”
Image: Reuters/Toru Hanai
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In Japanese homes, where bath time is sacred, bathtubs are short, but up-to-your-neck deep. Soaking in hot water is a sacrosanct evening ritual.

For Japanese teens, however, time spent chatting with friends on social media—and specifically, the most popular messaging and gaming app, Line—is also sacred. The two pastimes cannot be combined. Not yet.

Japanese teens have recently come up with a short phrase to indicate in a few words as possible: “I am signing off Line to go take a bath.”

The word is furorida, and it’s shorthand for “furo ni hairu tame ne, ichijiteki ni Rain kara ridatsu suru koto,” which is, admittedly, a mouthful. According to The Japan Times, the longer phrase literally translates as “to temporarily disengage from the Line smartphone messaging app while taking a bath.”

Furorida is one of several new words included in the 2016 edition of The Yearbook of the Contemporary Society, a massive glossary of Japan’s changing language published and updated annually. It was first released under a different title, Fundamental Knowledge of Contemporary Words in Use, just after World War II. Since the 1980s, its publisher has also co-produced the Buzzword Grand Prix, a contest to name the year’s most zeitgeisty words,  the 2016 winners of which were announced earlier this month.

For all its eloquent compression, furorida was not a finalist, but there were some other telling selections on the shortlist. Here are a few examples:

Gesu furin for “sleazy affair.”
A term reportedly inspired by one such gesu furin, uncovered by the tabloids this year, between a popular Japanese TV personality and the married lead singer of rock band.

Seichi junrei for “holy pilgrimage.”
These days the endpoint of a seichi junrei is not a mecca in the religious sense, but the real-life site of an anime TV show or movie location. Such locales are becoming tourist attractions, not without the the aid of the national tourism organization, which has created an anime map.

Toranpu genshou for “The Trump phenomenon.”
As in, what is this Toranpu genshou? How does one explain it?

I’m afraid this stands for “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen,” the name of the absurd song by Pikotaro (actually the alter-ego of a comedian) that took over YouTube in 2016. It delighted millions globally, and baffled many more.

Hoikuen ochita. Nihon shine for “Didn’t get a daycare slot. Drop dead, Japan.”
There were a handful of politically charged phrases among the buzzword finalists, including this one, which was first written in a blog post by an angry anonymous parent. He or she slammed the Japanese government for ignoring long waitlists at daycares. Not being able to place a child in daycare makes it impossible for mothers of small children (stay-at-home dads are still rare) to work outside the home. The phrase “Hoikuen ochita. Nihon shine” became an activist slogan that forced a response from the government.

Kamitteru for “superhuman power.”
The Grand Prix champion. This invented word is a verbification of “god” and was first used to describe the star athleticism of Seiya Suzuki, a 22-year-old baseball player with the Hiroshima Carps.