Pokemon is written in Japanese as:
Where did the word “Pokemon” come from?
The word “pokemon” was made by joining and shortening the English words “pocket” and “monster”.
It is very common practice in Japanese to take the first two syllables of English words, as they are pronounced in Japanese, and make combine them to make a word that is shorter and easier to say in Japanese.
Foreign words in Japan are written in the script called Katakana. The words “Pocket Monster” are written in Katakana as:
If you translate these sounds back into Roman Alphabet, you get
Which is actually quite a mouthful to say. So it is no surprise that the word came to be shortened to Pokemon.
Japanese scripts and how the relate to Pokemon
The Japanese language uses three different scripts: Hiragana, Kanji and Katakana. The first two scripts are used to write native Japanese words and the latter is used to write loanwords. As the word Pokemon comes from a foreign word, it naturally uses Katakana when written in Japanese.
Are there any Kanji for the Japanese word for Pokemon?
As Pokemon is made up of English loan words, there are no Kanji used for writing the word in Japanese.
In China, foreign words are routinely used to write foreign words. So there are Chinese characters for the word Pokemon in China: 宝可夢
Other common Japanese words that use abbreviations
There are literally thousands of words such as this that have been shortened in Japanese. To list just a few examples:
Radiohead: レディへ [redihe]
Red Hot Chili Peppers: レッチリ [recchiri]
Sexual Harrassment: セクハラ[sekuhara]
Working Holiday: ワーホリ[waahori]
Personal Computer: パソコン [pasokon]
And it’s not just foreign loan words that get the shortening treatment. This also happens with Japanese words such as:
おはようございます: オス [osu, Good Morning]
イケている 面： イケメン [ikemen, cool guy]
How common Pokemon Characters are written in Japanese Writing
Who is behind this site?
I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page: