Japanese loanwords in Hawaii

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Many loanwords in Hawaiian Pidgin (or Hawaiian Creole English) derive from the Japanese language. The linguistic influences of the Japanese in Hawaii began with the first immigrants from Japan in 1868 and continues with the large Japanese American population in Hawaiʻi today.

The following lists three categories of Japanese loanwords in Hawaiʻi: Food, Objects, and Miscellaneous.

There are other Japanese words common among the Japanese American population (such as "okazu" and "obaachan"), but not as well-known among Hawaiʻi's general population. Such words have not been included here, nor have Japanese words which have entered the English language on a national level, such as "anime," (ja:アニメ) "karaoke," (ja:カラオケ) "samurai," () and "sushi" (ja:寿司). Hawaiʻi is also unique in the United States in that Japanese loanwords often retain Japanese pronunciation, as in the rolled "r" sound in words like "karaoke," "furikake," and "karate."

Some words are not from the standard Japanese language. They instead originated from Japan's regional dialects. For example, the word "bobora" is said to be spoken only in certain prefectures, especially in western Japan where many of the Japanese immigrants came from. It originates from the Portuguese word abóbora meaning Japanese pumpkin.


Spam musubi made from SPAM. (see definition for "musubi" below).
  • Mochi crunch: Rice crackers seasoned with shoyu. Also called "kaki mochi". Called arare in standard Japanese.
  • Mochi ice cream: Ice cream coated with a thin layer of frozen mochi.