This is the second set of notes I took for the Japanese Conversation Corner meetup. It's still quite random, mainly beginner-level vocab. The conversation was guided by a set of "Table Topics" cards, with questions such as "一番好きな映画はなんですか" (What is your favorite movie?).
This fun combination of "sound" (音) and "stupid" (痴) means "tone deaf," as in cannot carry a tune in カラオケ. You might have seen 音 in 音楽 (music) and 発音 (pronunciation).
音痴 can apply to poor skills in non-musical areas. 方向音痴 ("direction + tone-deaf") means "no sense of direction". 運動音痴 ("exercise + tone-deaf") means unathletic, or slow reflexes.
笑う, "laugh," can appear on its own in text messages and chats, in the same way "LOL" works in English. Variants are "(w)" (for warau), and 吹いた, which looks like "I blew," but means "I burst into laughter".
渋い is an adjective I like a lot. It originally means "bitter," but in the Edo period (江戸時代) began to take on the meaning of austere, refined, understated. Shibui represents a sort of effortless, modest elegance that provides increasing contrast to the trends of culture and politics in much of the world. A discussion of shibui and wabisabi (侘び寂び) could easily fill another article (or a book).
A less common variant of 渋 is 澁; its three "止" components could make a mnemonic for the "astringent, bitter, harsh" meaning. Its literal antonym, 甘い, (sweet), has some related figurative meanings, but none of these are antonyms to the shibui style.
One of the busier stations on the Yamanote line encircling downtown Tokyo is Shibuya (渋谷), a busy shopping and nightlife district. Its name doesn't arise from a literal "bitter valley," though; it's the site of a castle where the Shibuya family lived for about 600 years. It's also the place where the loyal dog Hachikou waited each day for his master to return, continuing nine years after the man's death. (This should sound familiar to Futurama fans from the episode "Jurassic Bark".)
Unfortunately, you can't apply the term 渋い to people, no matter how cool they are.
また今度, thanks for reading!