“Otaku” is “Geek” and “Gariben” is “Nerd”.

Category : Culture, Language


If you have some interest in the Japanese culture, you may know about “otaku”. You might associate “otaku” with anime but actually some types of “otaku” exist. For example, idol “otaku” and train “otaku” are very famous (or notorious).

I can say “otaku” and “geek” are very similar. However, as I wrote this before, “otaku” means, not only game or anime lover but also train or idol enthusiast. If you are addicted to XXXX, you might be XXXX otaku. That’s the difference between “otaku” and “geek”.

“Gariben” = “Nerd”

Some people might get confused by “nerd” and “geek”.  A nerd is someone who spends most of their life on studying. The Japanese language has a word “gariben” which is equivalent to “nerd”. “Gariben” is “ガリ勉” in Japanese. “勉” is from “勉強”( “benkyo”= to study ). “Gariben” is an abbreviation of “garigari benkyo (suru)”. “Garigari” is a sound effect while someone is studying very hard.

Interestingly, “otaku” and “geek” have a common imaginary figure and so do “gariben” and nerd. “Gariben” and nerds wear round glasses. As for otaku and geek, I can’t explain their fashion in words. However, rude to say, I can guess who will take off at “Akihabara” station when I’m on the train. ( Akihabara is a place for “otaku”.)

When nerds enter a university, college or high school, some of them change their personalities. They dye their hair colors and talk loudly. If they get a boyfriend or girlfriend, they lecture how to get one to their old nerd friends. It is called “daigaku debut” (university debut) or “koukou debut” (high school debut). Of course, the words have a negative connotation. When someone did a “daigaku debut” or “koukou debut”, people around them laugh at the change behind their back.

In my opinion, relatively many “otaku” don’t care about other people’s eyes on them. However I feel some nerds want to change their lives. Personally, I prefer nerds to noisy people, though.

(By the way, in japan, “≒” stands for “=~”. I didn’t know about it until I wrote this entry.)

Is “Gaijin” a derogatory term? In my opinion, it’s not.
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