Illustration by Emily Takeuchi Brown

Japan-isms: Mogu Mogu

The Japanese’s love of food extends into the language itself. If you look at the sheer number of words and phrases there are to describe eating one of which is “mogu mogu”. If you’re a follower of either Japanese manga or anime or both you will certainly be familiar with the term mogu mogu. It’s a sound effect that is frequently translated into english as “munch munch”, however, the meaning of mogu mogu goes beyond that of just being the sound made by people eating.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of the phrase but mogu mogu can be used to connote anything from mumbling whilst eating to imply a sense of enjoying the food that an individual is eating. Arguably it is more similar in fact to the phrase “nom nom” as opposed to munch munch as it tends to connote a certain level of contentedness of the individual. It would be better to perhaps describe it to be the sound made by happy and content people who are enjoying the food they’re eating. It’s a word that when used brings to mind wide smiled kawaii plush characters with their cheeks full eating equally kawaii food.

It seems a shame that the word is translated to munch or other when the phrase itself deserves to be used in its own right as its essence is lost in translation so to speak — perhaps it won’t be long till we see this word entering the English language.