Posted by: yoko | September 18, 2003

Words from Childhood 3

Today’s word: Baikin

Here’s an example of a word my mother didn’t initially know the English for, and consequently I didn’t learn the translation until I was an adult.

Being an active child, I would often come home with scrapes and insect bites and such. My mom would dutifully put Mercurochrome and a bandage on my wound. Days later, I’d take off the bandage and begin to pick open the scab. My mom would warn me not to do that, because baikin ga haichau (baikin would come into [my wound]).

To my ears, baikin sounded like “Viking,” so I imagined tiny Vikings in boats, brandishing their swords and shields, ready to plunge into my bloodstream and attack me. It’s not too far from the truth, as baikin means “bacteria.”

Oh, and here’s a simple pronunciation guide to romanized words in Japanese. (The most concise I’ve seen– sorry for the pop-up.) More on this coming soon.


  1. for some reason this makes me think of this:

  2. viking kitties!


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