40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (2024)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (1)

By 40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (2)Em Casalena Last updated:

If you’re learning Japanese, you probably don’t need to be told that it’s a beautiful language.

You already know.

Instead, we’d like to introduce you to a collection of beautiful Japanese words that we love, and you’re sure to enjoy too.

Add these beautiful words to your vocabulary or simply keep them close to your heart as a reminder of the beauty of the Japanese language.

Contents

  • 1. Kanbina: 甘美な (かんび な)
  • 2. Tsundoku: 積ん読 (つんどく)
  • 3. Kogarashi: 木枯らし (こがらし)
  • 4. Mamori tai: 守りたい (まもりたい)
  • 5. Shouganai: しょうがない
  • 6. Boketto: ぼけっと
  • 7. Fuubutsushi: 風物詩 (ふうぶつし)
  • 8. Petorikōru: ペトリコール (ぺとりこーる)
  • 9. f*ckanōna: 不可能な (ふ かのうな)
  • 10. Komorebi: 木漏れ日 (こもれび)
  • 11. Ikigai: 生き甲斐 (いきがい)
  • 12. Wabisabi: 侘寂 (わびさび)
  • 13. Irusu: 居留守 (いるす)
  • 14. Koi no Yokan: 恋の予感 (こいのよかん)
  • 15. Shinrinyoku: 森林浴 (しんりんよく)
  • More Beautiful Japanese Words
  • And One More Thing...

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

1. Kanbina: 甘美な (かんび な)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (3)

Definition: A word that sounds sweet and pleasant to the ear.

Ironically, our first beautiful Japanese word on this list can be used to describe beautiful Japanese words.

This expression is often used when someone says a word that’s audibly beautiful, but sometimes couples will use it when one of them compliments the other.

Example sentences:

私の名前は日光です。(わたし の なまえ は にっこう です。)
My name is Sunshine.

甘美な名前だ!(かんび な なまえ だ!)
How pleasant to the ear!

2. Tsundoku: 積ん読 (つんどく)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (4)

Definition: The act of buying too many books and never reading them.

Many of us are guilty of this bad habit, but unfortunately, there’s no word for it in the English language.

While the meaning of this Japanese word is pretty unique, its sound is also beautiful: It rolls off the tongue and is just very pleasant to say out loud.

Example sentence:

彼女はよく本を買うが、積ん読だ。
(かのじょ は よく ほん を かう が、つんどく だ。)
She always buys books but rarely ends up reading them.

3. Kogarashi: 木枯らし (こがらし)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (5)

Definition: A cold fragrant wind that arrives shortly before wintertime.

If you’re outside at just the right moment to feel it, you’ll know that winter is on the way.

This Japanese word beautifully represents the end of a season. Although this kind of wind occurs in many parts of the United States, there’s no word for it in English.

Example sentence:

外では木枯らしが吹いている。
(そと で は こがらし が ふいている。)
A cold wintry wind is happening outside.

4. Mamori tai: 守りたい (まもりたい)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (6)

Definition: “I will always protect you.”

This term is typically said by a romantic partner to their beloved.

You wouldn’t throw this out to just anybody. Reserve it for a tender moment between yourself and someone you’ve been dating for a while.

Example sentence:

大好きだよ、君を守りたい
(だいすき だ よ、きみを まもりたい。)
I really like you, I will always protect you.

5. Shouganai: しょうがない

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (7)

Definition: A wise and beautiful phrase that means “It just can’t be helped.”

When life gets rough and we blame ourselves for how things have ended up, remember this very smart and very true phrase often used by Japanese people.

The phrase describes the unpredictability of life and lack of control human beings really have in the grand scheme of things.

Example sentences:

最近、彼は失業したんだよ。(さいきん、かれ は しつぎょう したんだ よ。)
He lost his job recently.

しょうがないよ
It can’t be helped.

6. Boketto: ぼけっと

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (8)

Definition: To daydream longingly.

When someone’s staring out a window, paying no attention to the world, lost in their own thoughts and daydreaming—that’s ぼけっと.

It can be an endearing term or an annoying one, especially when a student isn’t paying attention to their teacher in the middle of class.

Example sentence:

ぼけっとしないで!
Quit your daydreaming!

7. Fuubutsushi: 風物詩 (ふうぶつし)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (9)

Definition: This essentially means “nostalgia,” but particularly nostalgia that occurs when something triggers memories from a specific season.

The term roughly translates to “seasonal tradition.” If the smell or sight of something reminds you of a particular season, it’s a 風物詩 moment.

A good example could be smelling a soap that reminds you of your grandmother’s house.

Example sentence:

花火大会は日本の夏の風物詩です。
(はなびたいかいはにっぽんのなつのふうぶつしです。)
Fireworks festivals are a Japanese seasonal tradition.

8. Petorikōru: ペトリコール (ぺとりこーる)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (10)

Definition: The smell of rain before it begins to fall.

“Petrichor” is the English word for the smell of rain, and this Japanese word is a katakana borrowed from it.

Still, in either language, it’s a beautiful and pleasant thing you’ve probably experienced.

Example sentences:

いい香り だ。(いい かおり だ。)
What a lovely aroma.

それはペトリコールだよ。(それは ぺとりこーる だよ。)
That’s the smell of the rain.

9. f*ckanōna: 不可能な (ふ かのうな)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (11)

Definition: Ineffable, impossible. It can also mean “too grand or powerful to describe in words.”

This term is usually used for something that’s totally impossible and unfeasible.

It can also be used to describe the grandness and indescribable nature of space, Earth, the heavens or anything that human beings can’t really grasp.

Example sentence:

彼が警官になるのは不可能だ。
(かれ が けいかん に なる の は ふ かのう だ。)
It is ineffable for him to become a policeman.

10. Komorebi: 木漏れ日 (こもれび)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (12)

Definition: Sunbeams filtering through trees.

This word is one that you’ve probably experienced while being in a wooded area.

It feels magical and like something from a fairy-tale, so it’s a word you might hear used in songs or Japanese poetry.

Example sentence:

子供たちは木漏れ日の中、駆け回って遊んだ。
(こどもたちはこもれび のなか、かけまわってあそんだ。)
The children ran around and played in the sunlight filtering through the trees.

11. Ikigai: 生き甲斐 (いきがい)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (13)

Definition: Reason for being or living.

This beautiful word refers to the thing that gives your life purpose and meaning.

It keeps you going and is the reason you’re excited to get up in the morning. It’s such a meaningful concept that it’s been adopted as a kind of life philosophy.

Example sentence:

彼の子供たちは彼の生き甲斐でした。
(かれどもたちかれいきがいでし。)
His children were his reason for living.

12. Wabisabi: 侘寂 (わびさび)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (14)

Definition: Beauty in imperfection.

This word is a complex one which symbolizes both imperfection and impermanence, and finding beauty within it. Most things decay or die over time, but that is the cycle of life.

It’s originally a Zen Buddhist philosophy and is also a concept in Japanese art and aesthetics. It’s been popularized in Western countriesin recent years.

Example sentence:

彼は侘寂を人生の哲学とした。
(かれわびさびじんせいてつがく。)
He made wabisabi the philosophy of his life.

13. Irusu: 居留守 (いるす)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (15)

Definition: Pretending no one is at home.

This might be something we’ve all done at one point or the other.

Sometimes you have those days when you just don’t want to answer the doorbell—or see a particular person. And now you have a word for it!

Example sentence:

彼は居留守をよく使う。
(かれるすよくつかう。)
He pretends not to be home a lot.

14. Koi no Yokan: 恋の予感 (こいよかん)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (16)

Definition: Premonition of love.

In English, there is the concept of “love at first sight.”

In Japanese, there is a word for the premonition of love when you first meet someone. You don’t fall in love right away, but you have a sense that you might.

Example sentence:

恋の予感は的中した。
(こいよかんてきちゅうた。)
My premonition of love was correct.

15. Shinrinyoku: 森林浴 (しんりんよく)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (17)

Definition: Forest bathing.

This is when you mindfully walk in the forest in silence for relaxation and restorative health benefits.

It’s another idea that has become popular in Western countries, although it’s been around in Japan since the 1980s. It’s often referred to directly as “forest bathing” in English, but now you know the original word.

Example sentence:

彼らは毎週末、森林浴をしています。
(かれまいしゅうまつしんりんよくます。)
They do forest bathing every weekend.

More Beautiful Japanese Words

Here are some more beautiful words in Japanese you can use!

KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
美しい うつくしいutsukushiibeautiful
あいailove
ゆめyumedream
希望 きぼうkibouhope
幸せ しあわせshiawasehappiness
笑顔 えがおegaosmile
友情 ゆうじょうyuujoufriendship
勇気 ゆうきyuukicourage
思い出 おもいでomoidememory
自由 じゆうjiyuuFreedom
静けさ しずけさshizukesaquietness
waharmony
幻想 げんそうgensoufantasy
情熱 じょうねつjounetsupassion
感動 かんどうkandouemotion
美味しい おいしいoishiidelicious
楽しみ たのしみtanoshimienjoyment
平和 へいわheiwapeace
優雅 ゆうがyuugaelegance
青空 あおぞらaozorablue sky
調和 ちょうわchouwaharmony
純粋 じゅんすいjunsuipurity
幸運 こううんkouunfortune
明るい あかるいakaruibright
静寂 せいじゃくseijakusilence

Are you entranced by these beautiful Japanese words?

You can pick up lots more words like these by consuming Japanese media, whether through Netflix, YouTube or language learning programs. FluentU is one such program which helps you learn Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Remember, the more words you know, the closer to fluent you’ll become!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

And One More Thing...

If you love learning Japanese with authentic materials, then I should also tell you more about FluentU.

FluentU naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You'll learn real Japanese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a broad range of contemporary videos as you'll see below:

FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.

All definitions have multiple examples, and they're written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.

The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You'll have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

40 Beautiful Japanese Words: What They Mean and How to Say Them | FluentU Japanese Blog (2024)

FAQs

What are the 100 most common Japanese phrases with meanings? ›

Basic Phrases
  • O-negai shimasu. Please. おねがいします。
  • Arigatō. Thank you. ありがとう。
  • Dōitashimash*te. You're welcome. どういたしまして。
  • Sumimasen. Excuse me. すみません。
  • Gomennasai. I am sorry. ごめんなさい。
  • Ohayō gozaimasu. Good morning. おはようございます。
  • Konbanwa. Good evening. こんばんは。
  • O-yasumi nasai. Good night. おやすみなさい。

What Japanese word has a beautiful meaning? ›

美しい (utsukushii)

Another aesthetic japanese word is “utsukushii” . It'ss how you say profoundly beautiful in Japanese. This word sounds so aesthetic and beautiful.

Is 50 too late to learn Japanese? ›

Never Too Old To Learn

We are all lifetime learners until the day we die. In my online courses, I have many students who are in their 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's. The older student I currently have is 85 years old.

What does mi ni ikitai mean? ›

“Mi ni ikitai” means want to go see!

Is 3000 words enough for Japanese? ›

About 3000-5000 words will give you 'basic fluency'.

What is a pretty Japan girl name? ›

More Cute and Pretty Japanese Girl Names
NameMeaning
47.ReiBell, beautiful / tinkling of jade
48.SachikoHappiness, good luck / child
49.WakanaHarmony, peace / play music
50.YūkaGentleness / blossom, flower
6 more rows
Oct 27, 2022

What is Japanese beauty called? ›

Japanese aesthetics comprise a set of ancient ideals that include wabi (transient and stark beauty), sabi (the beauty of natural patina and aging), and yūgen (profound grace and subtlety). These ideals, and others, underpin much of Japanese cultural and aesthetic norms on what is considered tasteful or beautiful.

What do you call a beautiful Japanese woman? ›

Bijin (美人) is a Japanese term which literally means "a beautiful person" and is synonymous with bijo (美女, "beautiful woman").

What does doki doki mean? ›

Doki Doki or doki-doki (Japanese: ドキドキ) is a term for the sound of a beating heart in Japanese sound symbolism.

What is little girl in Japan? ›

Shōjo (少女) is a Japanese word meaning "girl". The characters, or kanji, mean "little" and "woman".

What are some cool Japanese sayings? ›

Some cool words to say in Japanese conversations
  • naruhodo (なるほど) = oh, I see! ( casual)
  • yabai (やばい) = crazy (the good or bad kind, depending on context)
  • ossu (おっす) = what's up?
  • benkyō ni narimash*ta (勉強になりました) = literally “I've learned something”
  • kimoi (キモい) = gross!
Nov 19, 2021

Do Japanese people age slower? ›

But at the same time, seniors are also preparing to work “forever,” re-entering the workforce, and taking up low paid jobs in order to survive. Japan is aging faster than any other country in the world.

Can I be fluent in Japanese in 1 year? ›

However, many experts believe it takes between 4 to 6 months of dedicated study to reach a beginner level. On the other hand, you can expect to spend at least 3 years studying to become fluent in Japanese with near-native level accuracy.

What age do Japanese go to school? ›

In Japan, children typically undergo 12 years of formal education consisting of elementary, lower secondary, and upper secondary education. Before beginning their elementary education at the age of 6, children have the option to attend kindergarten between the ages of 3 and 5.

What is the most common saying in Japan? ›

The Basics: Common Japanese Words and Phrases
  1. Hello - Konnichiwa (こんにちは) Pronunciation: kohn-nee-chee-wah. ...
  2. Thank you - Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) ...
  3. Please - kudasai (ください) ...
  4. Excuse me/ I'm sorry - Sumimasen (すみません) ...
  5. Yes - Hai (はい) ...
  6. No - Īe (いいえ) ...
  7. Nice to meet you - Hajimemash*te (はじめまして) ...
  8. Goodbye - Sayōnara (さようなら)
Aug 15, 2023

What does "ita taki mas" mean? ›

Itadakimasu (いただきます) is a Japanese phrase that translates "to humbly receive". Often said before eating a meal, the phrase is used as a way of showing gratitude and respect for everyone and everything that made the meal in front of you possible.

What is the Japanese phrase 80% full? ›

Hara hachi bun me (腹八分目) (also spelled hara hachi bu, and sometimes misspelled hari hachi bu) is a Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until they are 80 percent full. The Japanese phrase translates to, "Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full", or "belly 80 percent full".

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