Japanese Slang: Jikochuu 「自己中」
How would you say “ egocentric, selfish, self-centered” in Japanese?
It is a well known fact that Japanese society cares for selflessness and considers it to be an important value. For Japanese people, nothing is greater than to put others’ need before oneself. If you are familiar with Japanese movies, anime or manga, you understand how deeply self-sacrifice is rooted in Japanese popular culture.
You can feel that selflessness in the notion of omotenashi, the Japanese sense of hospitality. Tourists and foreigners living in Japan are often surprised by how Japanese people are thoughtful and extremely helpful even with no gain to themselves.
That being said… Everyone has their selfish moment! And there is a perfect Japanese slang word to express someone’s selfishness: jiko chuu, 「自己チュー」「自己中」「ジコチュー」.
Jiko chuu is an abbreviation of the word 自己中心的 (jiko chuu shin teki) which means selfish, egocentric, or self-centered.
This Japanese slang word is used to talk about someone who thinks he/she is pretty much the most important person in the world and he/she couldn’t care less about doing things for other people.
Obvisouly, this word does not carry a positive meaning. As it belong to Japanese slang, jiko chuu should only be used casually with friends, family or those close to you. This expression can also be used with the characters for man, woman, or person as follows:
- 「自己チュー男」(jikochuu otoko)、selfish man
- 「自己チュー女」(jikochuu onna)、 selfish woman or
- 「自己チューな人」(jikochuu hito)、 selfish person
In Japanese society, as we said previously, one should pay attention to others and particularly be careful not to hurt their feeling. Spend too much time talking about you, and you will quickly look like a self centered person.
Rei: kannojo ha hokano hito no koto wo ki ni shinai. Iikaereba, jiko chuu da.
Example: She doesn’t pay attention to others; in other words, she is selfish.
Now that you know the slang word for selfish, what would you say in a more proper language ? Well, if you wish to express the selfishness of someone in formal language, you will use instead “waga mama“「わがまま」
- 「彼はわがままです」 (kare ha waga mama desu): He is selfish.
- 「わがままな子供」 (waga mamana kodomo): A selfish child.
Let’s see an example of a casual conversation between friends:
A : Ne kiite. Uchi no dannatte honto ni jikokchuu!
B : Doushita no?
A : Watashi ga terebi wo miteru no ni, nani mo iwanaide katte ni channeru wo kaetandayo.
B : Aa, sore ha tashika ni chotto jikochuu da ne…
Let’s take a look at the English translation:
(Two female friends are talking amongst each other)
A：Ugh, my husband is so selfish!
B：Whoa, what happened?
A：I was just watching TV when he came over and without saying anything, he changed the channel!
B：Oh, indeed. That is kinda selfish…
From now on, if you want to complain about the selfishness of your friend, you know what to say!
Click this link to read about a common Japanese mistake: ki o tsukete
Credit CC-BY-SA: Martin Abegglen