Japanese Slang: hamaru

Posted by on September 4, 2015 – Japanese Study

Who has never gone crazy over a new video game, an anime or a new phone? Like children, we can easily be absorbed by an exciting new item or activity. We unknowingly let time pass by when doing this activity, oblivious to our surroundings. Japanese people are no exception to that phenomenon and they too are attracted to new trends! Interested in a popular novelty they have heard about, some Japanese may even become completely consumed by it to the point they forget about everything else.

Well, becoming absorbed by something new and being crazy about it can be expressed in Japanese using the slang with hamaru【はまる】.

Originally, the verb hamaru means to “fit in” and can be used for situation like “to fit into the river” 「川にはまる」”fits into the trap” 「罠にはまる」 or to say that one is entangled in a bad situation.

However in Japanese slang, hamaru means “to be crazy into something”,”to be infatuated with”, or “totally absorbed by”. In that context, hamaru is not so far from its original meaning. It describes how you “fit” into that enthusiasm, and you cannot escape it. We know well of the addiction Japanese people have to online and smartphone gaming, which is easily noticeable on morning train!

  • 「趣味にはまる」shumi ni hamaru」to be crazy with a hobby
  • 「私はあの歌手にはまる。」「watashi ha ano kashu ni hamaru」I’m obsessed with that singer.

Generally speaking, hamaru is mainly related to hobbies such as video games, animes, tv-shows and so on. Hamaru may also be used to describe a person in love, obsessed with the object of their affection.

Oddly, though hamaru may refer to pleasant things (activities or a person you are infatuated with), it can also be used for considerably less fun things… such as working and studying! Generally seen as troublesome activities, if one become crazy about his work or his study, you can also use hamaru. Crazy indeed!

Let’s see a conversation between two friends:

≪友達同士の会話≫
A: 久しぶり。最近どう?
B: 実はさ、最近オンラインゲームにハマってて。
休みの日は10時間はやってるかも。
A:え~!めちゃくちゃハマってるね。

≪Tomodachi doushi no kaiwa≫
A: Hisashiburi. saikin dou?
B: Jitsu hasa, saikin onrain geemu ni hamattete.
Yasumi no hi ha 10 jikan hayatteru kamo.
A: E~! mechyakuchya hamatteru ne.

English Translation

“Conversation between friends”
A: It’s been a while. How are you doing lately?
B: The truth is, lately I’ve been addicted to online games. On my days off I play for maybe ten hours.
A: What?! You must be addicted like crazy.

Another word used in the same way as the verb hamaru, is the Japanese-made English phrase, “my boom”, 「マイブーム」. Yes, in Japan, you will hear a lot of English phrases scattered into Japanese conversations that will make no sense to anyone who isn’t Japanese. We call it “wasei-eigo”, 「和製英語」 or “Japanese-Made English”. To get back to our point, the expression “my boom” is translated by “I am into…”, “I am crazy about…”.

例: 最近オンラインゲームにハマってるの。(最近オンラインゲームがマイブームなの!)
rei: Saikin onrain geemu ni hamatteru no. (saikin onrain geemu ga mai buumu na no!)
Example: Lately I’m really into online games (Online games are my boom lately!).

The next time you will speak about your hobbies with your Japanese friends, you will know what to say!

Click this link to read about Japanese slang: dame-moto だめもと

Credit CC BY- ND 2.0: We Make Noise!
Title: 發夢中
source: Flickr

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