Recently I received an email from one of our readers who pointed out that it had been some time since any new Japanese words had been introduced on OkinawaHai. It couldn’t have come at a better time as I had literally just finished writing up a post which, when you get to read it in a week or so, will teach you a few new Japanese phrases. In the meantime I am going to leave you in Paul’s capable hands and let him teach you a thing or two about using your Japanese vocabulary to initiate conversations and start building friendships:

Two words that are extremely important to understand in Japan (especially Okinawa) are atsui and mushi atsui.


Working the fields in hot and humid Okinawan weather – photo by Pamela Oliveras

Atsui desu ne? (あついですね?) You most likely hear this everyday during an Okinawa summer, yet you arent quite sure what it means. It means Its hot! Atsui (あつい) is the Japanese word for hot. It not only applies to weather, but also to things that are hot to the touch as well. The kanjis used for the different meanings vary though. 暑いis used for weather, while 熱い is used for things that are hot to the touch.

Mushi atsui (むしあつい)is a reference to how humid it is outside. The kanji would read as 蒸し暑い。As anyone living in Okinawa for any period of time would know, it gets quite humid here, so it isnt beyond comprehension that one would hear kyo ga mushi atsui desu! (Its humid today!)

Want to start up a conversation with one of your Okinawan neighbors? Just say あついですね!Youll be sure to get a smile and a reply!


  1. I use “atsui desu” almost every day…especially when I am walking into a place and am sweating and need a quick reason why…the older ladies always giggle at the fact that I say this….I guess is unexpected at first but I usually get a “hai, atsui desu” right back…