Posted by: yoko | July 6, 2005

Words From Childhood 3.7

Today’s word: ganbare!

Ganbare is the direct command form of ganbaru, meaning to hang in there, do the best you can, don’t give up. It is often heard in sports cheers. The more polite command form is ganbatte!

The first time I had heard this word was when our family went to Japan when I was about nine years old. We had stayed for a couple weeks at my grandmother’s house in the middle of the summer. The main room was a tatami room that could be divided by sliding doors. It served as a bedroom for my sister and me at night, and a playroom for us during the day after putting the futons and pillows away into the closet.

We had acquired a large inflatable beach ball during our stay, and one of our favorite games we used to play with this ball was Monkey in the Middle. (I don’t know what the Japanese name for this game is, though.) My older cousins who lived with my grandmother would play with us. My sister ended up being in the middle a lot, so to encourage her to keep playing, my cousins would shout, “ganbare, ganbare!” as the ball bounced through the dividers of the tatami room. It was a fun summer.


  1. That is a really good all-purpose word, and one that is hard to directly translate to just one English word, to me anyway.

    I remember it getting used when people were facing challenges (like a crappy boss or a difficult test) in addition to sports and more “fun” situations.

  2. “manki inuda miduru”

  3. StC, you monkey, you.

  4. Oh, can we attempt to introduce this word into our common lexicon, along with ‘foxy’ and lunchin’?
    I need someone to yell this at me while i’m up on a ladder scraping paint!

  5. oops, ‘common’….sorry!

  6. What is the Japanese words for foxy and lunchin’?


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