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Memories / Misawaese

An Airman’s Conversational Survival Guide
by Dutch Wiest , with a lot of help from the Misawa Family

Ver. 5.04 – 10/10/2010

Misawa GI’s depended upon several vocabularies to communicate during their tour in Japan, both professionally while on-duty and sometimes-not-so-professionally while off-duty. They arrived overseas well-versed in American slang (from varying eras and locales) as well as in military terminology and acronyms acquired during training or past tours of duty.

Most made an honest effort to incorporate a number of key Japanese words and phrases into their active vocabularies so as to be able to effectively communicate and interact with their hosts. In that noble effort was born a myriad of Americanized expressions, essentially unique to Misawa and the men and women who served there over the past half century.

This guide then is not an attempt at providing a Japanese dictionary, since most GI’s carried their own favorite hip pocket dictionaries that eventually logged more miles than Sputnik. Nor is it a lexicon of military terms that were such an integral part of everyday GI’s dialogue. This guide simply seeks to document so many of the terms and phrases that are either unique to Misawa GI’s, or to those Japanese citizens of Misawa that dealt daily with the GI ... those words, phrases and expressions you'd hear constantly on the gig or in the machi, but you’ll likely never find in any dictionary, Japanese, English, or otherwise.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  Abbreviations 




[j.,ph.] The "o" is usually drug out, and you heard the Japanese use this word at least a gazillion times. It’s the equivalent of our saying "uhhhh" between sentences or "well" prefixing a sentence. It really don’t mean nuthin’.

ano ne

[j.,ph.] [ph. to get one’s attention] Say there; pardon me; Hey you!


[n.] 1. a baby or infant, usually Japanese;
2. any person with a youthful, baby face;
3. Terry McGee’s machi handle 1961-1963

back door

[vt.] the act of a second lover covertly visiting the companion of a primary (and financially supporting) lover in his absence


[j.,n.] fool; idiot; crazy person; nut case


[j.,adj.] stupid; dumb; idiotic
[n.] JN phonetic adaptation for "vodka tonic" most commonly used by bar employees

[the] bang is had

[t1] a faggot scoring a non-faggot

beat mind

[t1] a non-faggot talking to a true faggot

ben'jo ditch

[fm. ben'jo [j.]+ditch [am.] n.] Open roadside sewage ditches conveying some of the most disgusting and caustic liquids and solids known on this or any other planet. Individuals who have come into even casual contact with benjo ditch contents have been shunned by fellow humans for extended periods of time.


[vt.,vi.] to suffer through a duty watch, especially a graveyard shift, fighting the urge to close ones eyes and drift into blessed sleep

blue blade

[fm. Gillette Blue Blades [am.] n.] GI slang for an MPC dollar bill (blue in color). Used extensively by Lloyd Epperson of T4.

blue goose

[am., n., see also "smoker"] Slang for the blue buses that ran from the Hill to the Main Gate.


acronym: bend over, here it comes again


[n.,vi.] 1. [n.] a person who frequently alternates intimate partners;
2. [vi.] to behave in such a manner

catch z's

[vi.] get some sleep; crash; zonk [see "hack z’s"; ex., "I’m gonna catch some z’s."]


[am.,n.] Small circles of paper debris from 5-level paper tape RTTY machines, light yellow in color in early years; pink in later years. Often used in hazing people on their last work shift before PCSing.

cherry boy-san

[am.,n.] A young virgin male.

chi chi

[j.,n.] Breasts, boobs, lungs, bosoms, casabas, melons, a "rack"


[j.,adj.,n.] 1. [adj.] little; small; tiny
2. [n.] a popular nickname for any person small in stature.

chii’sai tomoda’chi

[j.,n.; lit. "little friends"] crabs; pubic lice


[j.,n.] penis; male member [sorry, but some words you just got to know]


[j.,n.] all-purpose Japanese equivalent of Kleenex, used in an astonishingly wide variety of personal, domestic, commercial, industrial and personal applications, including but not limited to toilet tissue.


[j.,ph.] informal term meaning "bring me" or "do this for me" [ex., "biru chodai" meaning "bring me a beer"]

cho’tto ma’tte

[j.,ph.] wait a minute; just a minute; wait up; excuse me; just a damn minute [depending upon tone of voice]

cho’tto ma’tte paper

[am.,ph.] GI slang for a kind of tissue paper (re. chirikami) or kleenex used widely by josans [ask Terry McGee about his chotto matte paper story].

clap shack

[am.,n.] GI slang name for the 1950's structure located just inside the main gate where condoms and pills (see "no sweat pills") were distributed to GI's about to explore the local culture.

cut’ta cho’gi

[k.,ph.] 1. "Get out of here" or "let’s get out of here";
2. "Let’s move"; "get your butt in gear";
3. move quickly, as in "He cutta chogi for the machi"

dai jo’bee

[ph.] GI phonetic adaptation of "dai jobu"

dai jo’bu

[j.,ph.] OK; good; cool


acronum for "Dumb-assed, thieving, useless morons"; coined 72-75 by Jim Floyd and Smiley Garrett who ran a coffee bar on the Hill, describing those few who would help themselves to goods without paying.


[j.,ph.] bad; no!; no good; you can’t/shouldn’t do that [often as "dame-dame" - you’ll hear Helen Henderson use this one when you’ve transgressed]

day lady

[am.,n.] since the vast majority of Security Hill GI’s worked an ever-rotating shift (3 swings, 24 hrs. off, 3 graves, 24 hrs. off, 3 days, 72 hrs off), those GI’s working straight day shifts were affectionately termed, "day ladies." [see "day whore"]

day whore

[am.,n.] Synonymous with "day lady" [contributed by Harry Larrabee]


[j.,adj.] Electric or electrical, as in "denki blanket" for electric blanket.


[t1] laming on the bang

dew run

[t1] sky for beer

doing a chit

[t1] getting fired or scoring the K

do’ko no kurejit’to ka’do-ga tsukaema’suka?

[j.,ph.] Which credit cards do you take?

don't touch the moustache

[fm. do itashima'shite [j.]] GI phonetic equivalent for, "don't mention it" or "you're welcome"

dumb ol’ alligator

[fm. domo’ ariga’to [j.]] GI phonetic adaptation of "domo arigato", or "Thank you."


[j.,ph.,"i" is silent] why?

doshita’ no?

[j.,ph.,"i" is silent] what’s the matter?; what happened?


[j.] please; go right ahead; help yourself; knock yourself out; have at it

EMHO report

[am.,n.] Acronym for "Early Morning Hard-On" Report. A jeep trick typically used on a jeep's first set of mids.


[t1] a member of Trick 1 [believed not to have the same connotation as the current usage for "faggot"]


a bed; place to sleep


acronym: fooey, I got my orders (or, something pretty close to that)

[you,I] fly [you,I] buy

[ph.] commonly heard just prior to a snack bar run: "You fly, I buy" meaning, "If you’ll bundle up and fight your way through this freakin’ blizzard to the snack bar to bring me a cup of hot coffee with cream and two sugars, I’ll buy you one, too." Alternative expression, "You buy, I fly" (commonly used under more moderate weather conditions).


acronym: fowled? up beyond all recognition (well, you get the idea)

fully fired

[t1] out of one’s cranium


[j.] yuck!; gross!


[j.,pl.] raised wooden clogs; wooden tennis shoes [very practical for motivating through muddy machi streets – and we hope that’s just mud]

[to] get one's lips beat

[t1] To do the job poorly (said of folks who wore headsets), as in, "He's really getting his lips beat". Also, to get one's lips flayed.


[n.] 1. Ops, the Operations Building, the compound where you did your thing;
2. The job, The Mission, being "on/at the gig"

gink down

[fm. ginko [j.] meaning ‘bank’ + down [am.]] To spend money, especially yen, on something or someone [ex. "He cutta chogi to gink down the hammers."]


[j.,n.,pl.,fm. ‘ginko’ meaning ‘bank’] Any form of currency, most commonly yen


acronym: Golden Pussy Syndrome. As American women took their place in Misawa (mid-70's), they were still heavily outnumbered by the men. Recognizing this imbalance, those women considered of average looks might act hotter than they actually were - termed GPS by male GIs. Earliest use unknown, but this term was valid during the late 1990's.

Green Shades

re. Shades


[vi.] to eat, particularly in the chow hall where all food was greasy [ex., "I’m gonna meeze and greaze and hack some z’s."]


[vi.] to eat [ex., "I'm hungry - let's go grunt."]


[n.] food [ex., "Let's go get us some grunts."]

hack z's

[vi.] get some sleep; crash; zonk [see "catch z’s"; ex., "I’m gonna meeze and greaze and hack some z’s."]


[n.] short for "hammer" [re. hammer]


[n.] girl; woman; josan; just about any female [used almost exclusively amongst black GI's in the early 60's; origin unknown]

[to] hat

[t1] to be not in the area


[am.,slang,n.] Wind - especially the strong, cold winds such as those that swept down out of Siberia; most commonly capitalized.
Ex. "Man, the Hawk is up!" or "The Hawk is out today." or "The Hawk is talking".


[j.,ph.] 1. The JNs’ best shot at "fifty-fifty" and was pronounced "heeftay-heeftay", meaning "half and half" or "some of this, some of that."
2. Per Bud Rosenstrom, this term was also synonymous with breaking wind (re. onara).


[j.,ph.] true; that’s right; absolutely; I s**t you not


[j.,ph.] hey!; listen here!; heads up! [rough expression used to get someone’s attention]

I could care less

[ph.] used interchangeably with "I couldn’t care less", used widely amongst Trick 4 members and most commonly by Larry Wallace

i’chi ban

[j.] number one; the best; the most; tops


[am.] acronym 1. "I Hate This Freakin’ Place" [though, in actuality, few of us really did], or
2. "I Have Truly Found Paradise" [closer to the truth, though few would admit it]

iki’ ma shiyo’

[j.,ph.] Let’s go

ima’ shiyo’

[j.,ph.] Let’s do it now


[n.] an airman who is only just beginning his tour of duty at Misawa, still not knowing the difference between 'josan' and 'gohan'

jeep trick

[n.] a prank or trick played on a jeep as part of his/her initiation [ex. dispatching a jeep to fetch a can of DF bearings, or asking a jeep to research the cruising speed of an MC-88]

jib wrench

[n.] A mythical tool used to relieve or even remedy a nasty case of lock jaw (aka tight jaws, aka tight jibs). Especially useful for treating those who were easily bent out of shape.

jo dai’ bee

[ph.] GI phonetic and somewhat dyslexic adaptation of "dai jobu"


A word game played widely by 203's in the early 60's, primarily to keep awake, especially during slow grave watches on Trick 4. The game was based on 5-letter English words and required an extensive vocabulary and the ability to spell correctly. Mentally challenging, especially around 0230 hours when your hangover begn to kick in. "Jotto sheets" were typed up on 6-ply using MC-88's.


[t1] ranky


[j.,n.] Japanese taxi driver, notorious for using only two controls: accelerator and horn [lit. "devine wind" – not to be confused with "holy gas"]


[j.] cheers; toast; to your health; skoal; na zdorove [totally meaningless without a drink in hand]


[t1] the result of having been out of one’s lips;
2. (ex. per Jack Goffin) When, for no apparent reason, one cannot do the job and repeatedly makes the same mistakes, it would be said that, "He is kilt".


[j.,n.] family jewels, cohones, testicles; yaitsa [lit. "golden balls"]


[j.,n.] lover; boyfriend/girlfriend; squeeze

kono’ yaro’

[j.,ph.] you bastard!; that bastard!


[t1] talking without isms; punking out on a dew run; coming back to the hill on break; missing after-mids roll call; going all break without meezing; buying a double order of chicken at the Stateside Snack Bar and laying dead for a hammer after 2330 hours; dating a DP

laying dead

[t1] avoiding contact with other faggots

lip-and-drool cup

[am.,n.] typically a styrofoam coffee cup with rubber bands for attaching to the ears. Intended to be worn while getting one's lips beat/flayed.

long time

[am. coloq. Helenism] opposite of "short time"


[fm. ma’chi [j.] for town, village [n.]] GI contraction for Japanese word for town

ma’chi boots

[fm. machi [j.] + boots [am.] n.,pl.] Black rubber boots; often a jeep's first purchase in Misawa (following his first beer); a GI's primary defense mechanism against unpaved streets and mud in wet weather, and against undetected benjo ditches during any season


[j.,n.] fire wood; kindling


[n.] a female, usually Japanese, particularly a mother, hostess, owner; often an older woman


a wood floor


[fm. mizu’ [j.] for water [n.,vi.]] GI adaptation of the Japanese word; 1. n. a shower;
2. vi. to take a shower


GI phonetic adaptation of miru-miru.

[the] mighty good ball chit

[t1] "Mighty good bull shit"; also a true or interesting fact.


[j.,ph.] Look! Look at that! Check it out!


[j.,ph.] Literally, "more better". The Japanese used this term both as an adjective [ex. "This hotel mo-beta place"] or as an adverb [ex. "I am mo-beta today"].


[fm. musume’ [j.] for young girl or maiden [n.,vi.]] GI adaptation of the Japanese word;
1. [n.] girlfriend; young girl; maiden
2. [vi.] to establish a relationship or set up housekeeping with same.


[fm. mo suko’shi [j.] for soon, in a little bit [adv.]] GI adaptation of the Japanese phrase [re. skosh]


[j.,ph.] hello (used only by telephone)

no sweat pills

[am.,n.] GI slang term for one of the items offered at the clap shack (see "clap shack").


[am.,ph.] Phonetic acronym for "new guy"


acronym: Oh my god, I’m f***ed (typically denoting orders for something less than a desirable assignment, like Shemya or Thule)


[j.,n.] fart; gas; wind

ona’ra shita’i

[j.,ph.] I am inclined to break wind; gotta fart; "I need to cut the cheese, Louise"


[j.,n.] posterior, rump, fanny, butt, derriere, keester

oshi'ri mo'ku-mo'ku na'ka-na'ka joto'

[j.,exp.] An expression of utter and absolute admiration usually made when observing the south end of a north-bound josan with a particularly cute, well-packaged derriere who knows how to motivate for maximum impact. Can also be used by josans assessing GI's.


[j.,pr. oh-ssss; "u" is silent] rural dialect for " good morning" [more at "mornin" or "howdy"] contracted from the first and last syllables of "ohayo gozaimasu", or "good morning."


See "Shooting the pan".

partially fired

[t1] out of one’s lips


[n.] a male, usually Japanese, particularly a father, host, owner; generally an older man


acronym: Pussy Cut-Off Date. This date was derived by subtracting from your DEROS the number of days it took for clap to manifest itself after having intimate relations. Most GIs set an arbitrary PCOD of two weeks before they stepped on the plane headed back to the states. Many fell off the wagon, and some even shacked up within hours of getting on the plane.


acronym: piled higher & deeper


[ph.] Nippon-American colloquialism derived from the motion associated with an intimate encounter, and referring to same; depending upon the particular tone and inflection, can denote a question, request, offer, encouragement, praise, satisfaction, or a command.

random ass

[t1] a member of a trick other than Trick 1

random ass faggot

[t1] a faggot who has brought derision to himself, typically over a 3-day break, and thus demoted from a faggot to a mere random ass faggot


[t1] K


the same; equal; no difference


[j.,ph.] adios; adieu; auf wiedersehen; ciou; proschai; see ya


[am.] often suffixes a phrase or sentence to authenticate its gravity or validity; to assure the addressee the previous statement was not in jest [re. "honto"]

shack up

[vi.] to accompany a local resident of the opposite gender, either for a brief session, or throughout a prolonged period of time


Business name of a prominent and celebrated local Misawa professional woman, well known for her unusual and unforgettable ‘customer satisfaction’ service offerings [see also: Green Shades]


[j.,n.] a classical Japanese 5-hole bamboo flute

she ain't got no yo-yo

[ph.] GI phonetic adaptation of a Japanese song title, "Shina-no Yoru" or "China Nights" that relates the story of a Japanese soldier stationed in China prior to WWII. Great singalong song, particularly once you're totally wasted.

shooting the pan

[am.,ph.] A ritual devised to initiate new trick members during the 1970's, "shooting the pan" was always performed in the Alley. The new guy had to buy everyone present their favorite drink and, after a quick toast, all present would dump the rest of their drink into a big wok or pan. The new guy then had to chug the contents of hte pan so as to become a member of the drinking fraternity. Frequently, the new guy's stomach would promptly reject the contents of the pan during the chug.

short sheet

[am.,n.] a custom-made, personalized shift schedule (swings, graves, days, breaks) often serving as a DEROS Calendar, and invariably created by MC-88 on multi-colored 6-ply paper; probable precursor to the modern executive Daytimer

short time

[n.] brief, yet socially satisfying encounter between opposite genders of diverse cultures, yet similar desires

[to be] shot down

[am. slang,vt/vi] To contract venereal disease through sexual contact [ex., "He got shot down last week." or "My josan shot me down."]


[am.,slang] 1.[vi.] To goof off; to avoid work; goldbrick 2.[n.] One who skates [but never "skater"]; "He's the biggest skate on flight"; I think I'll skate on this one"


[ph.] GI phonetic adaptation of "sukebe"


(var.; see "skibby")


[fm. suko’shi [j.] for a little; a small amount; a bit; a tad; some [adv.]] GI adaptation of the Japanese word 'sukoshi'

[to] sky

[am., vi] "to go" or "to leave"; a slang term derived from morse operators who ended their transmissions with "sk sk sk". It was said that the operator "sky'ed", which morphed into "sky" meaning to "go" or "depart" or "leave".


[am., n., see also "blue goose"] Slang for the blue buses that ran from the Hill to the Main Gate; ex: "Let's catch the 4:30 smoker downtown".


[am.] acronym for "situation normal, all fouled up" [or something very close to that]


[am.] Japanese adoption of the English response, "So so" or "Not bad" to the query "How’s it going?" Warning: Never, never, ever prefix this response with "Oh" so that you say, "Oh, so-so"!! This changes the meaning of the phrase entirely into a most embarrasing noun [dame-dame]!


acronym: same s**t, different day

suck a hachi

[fm. sha’kuha’chi [j.,n.]
1. GI adaptation for the Japanese word ‘shakuhachi’, a bamboo flute
2. Phrase frequently used by GI’s in vulgar context


[j.,n.] 1. [n.] a bawdy, amorous, or horny person;
2. [adj.] salacious; lecherous; hornier than a two-peckered billy goat

sukebe’ hon’cho

[j.,n.] the horniest of persons; a dude with run-away hormones; The HornMeister


[t1] to walk or run


[am.,v.] To surreptitiously attach a length of 5-level paper tape to someone's backside, often with a silly statement written on it (e.g., "I'm a jeep").


[j.,adv.] much; many; a lot; a bunch; a whole whoop; a pot load


[vt.,vi.] to test something out; to attempt or try or taste something


[j.,n.] friend; buddy; partner; amigo; comrade; sidekick; tovarisch

tori’ ha’da

[j.,n.] goose bumps [lit. "chicken skin"]

treacherous dew run

[t1] sky for a case of beer

treacherous war soldier

[t1] a smuff; a true faggot out of his lips


[am.,n.] An informal organizational term defining a subdivision of a squadron, synonymous with "flight". However, because the four flights in Misawa worked rotating shifts and provided 7x24x365 coverage, the term "trick" was often used. They were Trick 1, Trick 2, Trick 3 and Trick 4.

true faggot

[t1] a member of Trick 1 for a year or more; must be master of getting fired and scoring the K

truly kilt

[t1] the result of having been out of one’s cranium

type is

[t1] Codeword for the subject of "Type is"


[fm. u’chi [j.] for house [n.]] GI adaptation of the Japanese word; house; home; a pad; a "hootch" [especially in the machi]


[j.,ph.] quiet!; pipe down!; how annoying!; shut up!

[to be] used

[am.,v.] being made a patsy or the butt of a joke/prank and falling for it [ex. Man, we really used the jeep on that one!]

walkin' trash

[fm. wata’kushi [j.] meaning "I" or "me" [n.]] GI adaptation of the Japanese word for "I"

war soldier

[t1] a smuff; a true faggot

war trojan

[t1] a groove true faggot minus lips; out of cranium, ginking down the hammers


[am.] acronym for "we are ruled by idiots"


[t1] a faggot on payday night

woof, woofing

[am.,vi.] Boasting, bragging, or making outrageous statements like a pro wrestler.


[vi.] to sleep


[n.] sleep [as in "to catch some z’s"]

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  Abbreviations 

adj. – adjective
adv. – adverb
aka – Also known as
am. – American
ex. – example
fm. – from
j. – Japanese
k. – Korean
lit. – literally
n. – noun
ph. – phrase
pl. – plural
pr. – pronounced
re. – refer to
t1. – from "Trick 1 Faggot’s Dictionary" [please contact Wayne Babb for precise etymological translations]
var. – variant
vi. – verb intransitive
vt. – verb transitive

Do you remember a term or expression widely used in Misawa that belongs here? If so, please contact the Webhoncho.

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