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Tweet of the Week #49: Bar Owner Invents New Way to Drink Bubble Tea

Learn all about the kanji 気 with this week's viral tweet.

By 4 min read

After the pancake frenzy and the popcorn mania, Japan is now in the middle of an insane bubble tea boom.

Invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea—AKA sweet flavored tea with milk and chewy black tapioca pearls—has infiltrated gentrified neighborhoods in Japan’s capital producing many a hipster hangout, while appearing in around 80% of all Japanese schoolgirls’ Insta selfies. OK, I just made that statistic up but I reckon it’s pretty accurate.

With Japanese companies trying to cash in on the bubble tea craze, each day seems to bring with it a new tapioca product: tapioca candies, tapioca ice cream, tapioca coffee, and even tapioca ramen. The trend reached peak smh-level when the tapioca-themed attraction Tapioca Land opened in Harajuku—and turned out to be a total dud.

Can bubble tea get any more wild?

“Hold my beer.”

タピオカミルクティ美味おいしかったんだけど、なんか物足ものたりないがして結局けっきょくこうなりました = Bubble milk tea tasted good but somehow I felt unsatisfied so I ended up making this. 

Musician and bar owner @SEBA_iida has invented yet another way to consume tapioca—one that’s actually a pretty genius way to get sloshed on the sly. Meet the tapioca-hai: tapioca pearls mixed with shochu, Japan’s traditional hard-ass liquor that often results in several passed out salarymen blocking the entrance to the train station.

Find your flow with Japanese expressions based on the kanji !

While we’re still sober, let’s go over a quick list of key Japanese expressions with the kanji .

holds (too) many meanings ranging from “feeling/sentiment” to “mind/air” and “energy/power.”  actually comes from Chinese “qi”, the “life force” or “energy flow”. This concept is used in so many set phrases that some are actually part of the grammar.

Most Japanese language learners encounter with the expression 気をける which translates to “be careful” or “take care.” Leaving for a trip? A Japanese will tell you “気をつけて!”, “Take care!” (or “Have a nice trip!”).

The first couple of expressions you should pay attention to are very close in meaning, but a thin nuance does set them apart:

気になる = to have something on your mind, to be bothered with little control over what you’re feeling or the situation. With an intransitive expression, you’ll use the particle が.

  • 昨日きのう試験しけん結果けっかが気になる。= I’m worried about the results of yesterday’s test.

気にする = to (consciously) worry about something and you can potentially do something about it. With a transitive expression, you’ll use the particle を.

  • 自分じぶん失敗しっぱいを気にする。= I’m worried about my own mistakes.

Always pay attention to the particle used with the verb. It’ll help you to not mix up phrases that are used with the same verb.

気がする = to feel, think, have a certain mood, to have a hunch (you’re having an intuition or realization in a situation).

  • うたいたい気がする。= I feel like singing.

Last, but not least, here are more frequent expressions using :

  • 気がある = to be interested in; the negative form, 気がない, is more often used to show your lack of interest for something
  • 気に = to like something, take a fancy to (literally, something “entered your mind”)
  • 気が = to get distracted (literally, to have your “attention scattered”)
  • 気が = to get along well, to hit it off together

Let’s wrap up with 気をうしな meaning “to faint” or more like, to lose your “qi.”

And we bet that’s probably how you feel knowing we’ve just scratched the surface of the iceberg!


Japanese Romaji English
タピオカ tapioka tapioca
ミルクティ miruku tei milk tea
美味おいしい oishii good, delicious
けど kedo but
なんか nanka something like
物足ものたりない monotarinai unsatisfied, unsatisfactory
気がする ki ga suru to feel, to think
結局けっきょく kekkyoku in the end, ultimately
こうなる kou naru be like this, become like this
気をける ki o tsukeru take care, be careful
気になる ki ni naru have something on your mind, be bothered by something
昨日きのう kinou yesterday
試験しけん shiken exam
結果けっか kekka result
気にする ki ni suru worry about something
自分じぶん jibun oneself
失敗しっぱい shippai mistake
気がある ki ga aru interested in
気に ki ni iru like, fancy
気が ki ga chiru get distracted
気が ki ga au get along, hit it off
気をうしな ki o ushinau faint, lose consciousness

For more on learning Japanese

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