Japanese Slang: Chin suru

Posted by on September 16, 2015 – Japanese Study

Do you often buy prepared meal to warm up with a microwave oven? In Japan, takeout or home-packed meal, commonly known as “bentō” 「弁当」in Japanese cuisine are mass produced and sold everywhere. A bentō holds rice with fish or meat and vegetables in a box-shaped container. Some might debate the nutritional value of prepared dish, but it is clear that since the 80s, the bentō has become a very important element in Japanese daily life.

There are several reasons.  Working hours are quite long and Japanese people are sometimes so busy that they do not have time to prepare proper meal or even to go to the food court. They can run to the closest convenience store to buy their lunch. A bentō might also prepared at home in the morning to be eaten at school or in the workplace: one can thus recycle the leftovers.

But overall, precooked meals became popular with the emergence of the microwave oven. Well… How would you say in casual Japanese, that you are “warming up your bentō in a microwave oven” ?

With the Japanese slangchin suru” 「チンする」!

Funny word, isn’t it? The word finds its origin in the sound “chin” that the first household microwave ovens made to notify that cooking was complete.By adding the suffix “~suru” to this sound, it creates the verb “chin suru”: to warm up/cook with microwave oven.

The sound “chin” was so well known in Japan, that it was used in commercial for food, such as “chinchin potato” 「チンチンポテト」. Today, this sound has changed and in Japanese onomatopoeia, the microwave oven’s sound is “pi pi pi” 「ピピピ」. But “chinsuru” stayed.

Surely, it may sound like kid talk, but it is used by all generations. In convenience stores, the clerk usually asks if you need to warm up your meal with “atatamemasuka”「温めますか?」. But more than once, you may hear the staff ask “chin shimasuka?” 「チンしますか?」. The word has been used very often by takeout company to advertise the convenience of their prepared meal or to advertise recipes’ books:

  • 「料理する時間ながない時、チンするだけ」
    “When you don’t have time to prepare meal, only warm up”.
  • 「忙しい女性へ☆レンジでチンするだけのレシピ」
    “Only warm up with microwave oven recipes for busy women”
  • 「チンするご飯」
    “Meal to warm up”

Let’s see the use of this Japanese slang in a casual conversation!


夫: じゃあ、いってきまーす。
妻: あ、ちょっと待って!今夜、友達と食事する予定だから、昨日の残り物のおかずで悪いんだけど、チンして食べてくれる?冷蔵庫にいろいろ入ってるから。
夫: あ、そうなんだ。分かった。

【Asa, fufu no kaiwa】
Otto: Jaa, itte kimasu!
Tsuma: Ah, chotto matte. Konya tomodachito shokuji suru yotei dakara, kinou no nokorino okazude waruindakedo, chin site tabete kureru? Reizouko ni iroiro haitteiru kara.
Otto: Ah, sou nanda. Wakatta.

English Translation:【Morning conversation between husband and wife】

Husband : Well, I am off, see you later.
Wife : Oh, wait a minute! I am going out for dinner with a friend tonight, would you mind to warm up (chin suru) yesterday’s leftovers and eat them? There are various things in the refrigerator.
Husband : Oh, I see. Ok, sure. 

Click this link to read about the Japanese slang: jiko chuu!

Credit CC BY 2.0: Ryan Li
Title: Angry Bird in Microwave
Modified by Coto Japanese Academy
source: Flickr

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