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Thursday, June 25, 2009



I remember several years ago standing in a queue outside a nightclub in London, in a state of great excitement, talking to a Japanese friend in Japanese. Turning a curious ear to my gabbling was the guy - a Brit- just ahead of us, looking slightly askance at me with a slightly puzzled, slightly amused look on his face. He maintained that demeanor until the point when I blurted out a certain phrase: “mecha-kucha,” in the course of my spiel, upon which he burst into a grin and turned away.

“Mecha-kucha” is, I think, one of the most expressive phrases in the Japanese language, and, when producing it, vocal chords, tongue, and lips should be worked with the kind of verve that the meaning of the word deserves.

And that meaning?
as fuck, bog-up, dog's breakfast, ever so, fubar, fucked up beyond all recognition, hash, like you just don't care, mess, muck-up, one's tits off, piss-up, rat's nest, shambles, topsy-turvy, higgledy-piggledy, haywire, harum-scarum, amok, pell-mell, indiscrimate, screwed up, cock up …, the list goes on.

As the above list suggests, mecha-kucha is as grammatical fluid as “fuck” is in English. Some examples:

  • Kanojo no heya wa mecha-kucha. (Her room is a total mess.)

  • Seinen-tachi wa ekinai o mecha-kucha ni shita. (The youths trashed the inside of the station.)

  • Mecha-kucha isogashii. ((I’m) insanely busy.)

  • Mecha-kucha ii. (Shit hot)

  • Mecha-kucha warui. (Bad beyond belief.)

  • So, as an adjective applied to a noun, mecha-kucha means “extraordinarily disorderly,” and as an adverb applied to an adjective, it means “extremely.”

    Pronunciation: meh-cha-koo-cha, with an even stress on all syllables. If you really want to bring it home and pull out the superlative stops, pronounce it met-cha-ku-cha, i.e. with a short, definite labial stop between the first and second syllables before careening down the slope of the following three.

    Mecha-kucha: don't just say it, spray it!


    1. Ooh, like it, thanks for expanding my vocab. Mecha-kucha!

    2. I love how you define it. Certainly easier for me to remember. I always thought it implied a mess, as in messy room, but I think I just increased my Japanese expression set 10 fold. I could use this everywhere! This is so mechakucha!

    3. I remember hearing this phrase for the first time many years ago, before I was really interested in the language, and it was pronounced with the same fervent zeal you (rightly) imply is called for in its proper application.

      Eight years late to the party, but I found your blog. よかった。 :)


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