Painted eggs with various expressions

5 Clever Jokes in Japanese to Make Your Friends Laugh

Whether you’re hoping Japanese can get you a job, you’d like to learn enough of the language to travel or you’re just interested in how Japanese people see the world, taking a look at jokes in Japanese can give you a leg up.

Also, if you want to tell and understand jokes, not only will you have to take a closer look at the language, you’ll have to learn what makes Japanese humor unique, thereby gaining cultural insight.

So what are jokes in Japanese like? Let’s take a look!


Best Jokes in Japanese

Group of oranges on a gray background

1. “The orange on top of the aluminum can.”

(あるみかんのうえに ある みかん。)

“Aluminum can” in Japanese is アルミ缶 (あるみかん), where the split between words is あるみ + かん, but if you move the split one syllable to the left (ある + みかん), you end up with ある (there is) and みかん (mikan/mandarin orange). 

アルミ缶の上にあるみかん is a full sentence turned into a modifier, “___ that is on top of the aluminum can.” Therefore, the phrase is “The mikan that is on top of the aluminum can,” and arumikan is repeated twice.

2. “Where do the teachers eat and drink? In the staff room!”


(しょくいんは、どこで たべたり のんだりするん?しょくいんしつ で!)

職員 (staff) and 食飲 (eat and drink) are both read as shokuin ( しょくいん ).

So, you end up with:

“Where do the teachers eat and drink? In the staff (eating and drinking) room.”

3. “Japan falls into the sea and makes a splash.”

(にほんは うみに おちて、じゃっぱーん!)

日本 (にほん) means “Japan,” and ジャッパーン (じゃっぱああああん) is pronounced Jap-paaaaan, and comes from the onomatopoeia チャップン (ちゃっぷん), the sound of a large “sploosh,” or splashing. Therefore, “Japan falls into the sea, and Jap-paaaaan makes a splash.”

The Japanese onomatopoeia sounds like the English word for the country that is falling into the sea. It’s also funny because Japan is an archipelago, so there’s a lot of water.

4. “The futon was blown away.”

(ふとんが ふっとんだ。)

布団 (ふとん) is a mattress, and 吹っ飛ぶ (ふっとぶ) is “to be blown off.” As with the first joke about cans and oranges, this is a pun that repeats sounds while changing the meaning.

Unlike the former, the sound changes slightly in this joke: ふとん, or futon, becomes ふっとん(だ), or futton(da), acquiring an extra letter. It still works as a pun, though, as multiplying letters within Japanese words is one way of making them more expressive:

くさい (kusai) — It stinks.

くっさい! (kusssssssai!) — It really f***ing stinks!

ほら!(hora!) — Hey, look here.

オッラア!(orrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaa!!!!) — Hey…up yours.

5. “Thank you, Paprika.”


This joke is a form of しりとり, meaning “word chain” (but literally meaning “taking butts”), a game where one person writes a word, and the next person must write a word that starts with the last character of the previous word:

ありがとう (thank you) leads to…

とうらし (paprika) which leads to…

羅針盤 (らしんばん, compass)

Generally, only the final character is used in the gameIn this case, though, the last sound is used and because it’s a joke, rather than an official game of butt-taking, this transgression is completely viable.

The first half of the word means “thank you.” The latter half means “red pepper” (in some countries, “capsicum” or “paprika”).

Resources to Practice Telling Japanese Jokes


Thank you, thank you. I’m here until Tuesday. And now you can tell some Japanese jokes yourself!

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