5 Commonly Mispronounced Japanese Brands That Might Surprise You

5 Commonly Mispronounced Japanese Brands That Might Surprise You

Are you sure you're pronouncing Muji correctly?

Learning a new language is one thing, but training ourselves to pronounce proper nouns a certain way is another challenge. Sometimes, we may not even know about the proper pronunciations until we actually immerse ourselves in the new culture. And since a lot of TripZilla readers have a fondness for Japan, we thought it’d be helpful if we informed you about these often mispronounced Japanese brands!

1. Studio Ghibli

mispronounced Japanese brands

Image credit: Alex Rerh

In English, “Ghibli” can actually be pronounced the way it’s read or as “Jibli.” But the Japanese pronounce it as “Jiburi” where the “u” is only slightly heard. So in case you’re making your way to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, be sure to pronounce it correctly when asking for directions. Locals never pronounce Studio Ghibli in the English way, which is why you have to remember how the Japanese pronounce Studio Ghibli. This will avoid confusion!

2. Nintendo

Image credit: Branden Skeli

When it comes to pronouncing Nintendo, English speakers usually put the emphasis on “ten.” On the other hand, the Japanese way of pronouncing this brand puts the accent on the first syllable, “Nin.” Try saying Nintendo while prolonging “Nin,” then pronouncing the rest of the syllables normally after that. You’ve got it from there!

3. Muji

Next on this list of mispronounced Japanese brands is none other than the beloved household store Muji. We know — how can someone mispronounce something as simple as “Muji”? Well, it makes more sense when you find out that “Muji” was derived from the longer name “Mujirushi Ryohin,” meaning “no brand, high quality goods.” So in Japan, the locals actually say “Mujirushi,” instead of the shortcut. “Mujirushi” is pronounced as “moo-ji-roo-shi.” 

Also read: 27 Best Things to Buy at Muji Stores in Asia

4. Toyota

Image credit: Christina Telep

One of the most mispronounced Japanese brands in the world is definitely Toyota, where native English speakers would simply say the name quickly. But in Japanese, the first two syllables “to” and “yo” are prolonged for two seconds and pronounced as “toh” and “yoh” respectively.

Trivia: If you’re Filipino, the way we pronounce “toyo” (soy sauce) is actually very close to how “toyo” in Toyota should be pronounced.  

5. Asics

mispronounced Japanese brands

Image credit: Hipkicks

You’d never expect that Asics would be the most mispronounced out of all the Japanese brands in the world. Native English speakers might pronounce it as “basics” without the “B” or even “ah-sics,” which is closer to the proper pronunciation — but both are wrong. 

Its accurate pronunciation based on Japanese phonetics is “ashikkusu.” Remember that in Japanese, “a” is pronounced as “ah.” That will come in handy if you want to be fluent and encounter more Japanese names that might confuse you. 

And if you want to hear these words pronounced by a native Japanese speaker, we highly recommend you watch the YouTube channel of George Japan. Below, see his video which inspired this article. He also talks about the history of the aforementioned mispronounced Japanese brands!

Featured image credit: Jack Zhang | Unsplash

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.