As much as Japan has a beautiful culture and very attractive tourist sites, their language is quite interesting to learn. And if you learn at least a little, you would find it quite easy to blend in with Japanese locals.
One fun fact about the Japanese language is that they have names for certain feelings and expressions that you may not find in English.
There are so many beautiful Japanese words but in this article, I’ll be listing some of the coolest you’ll ever hear. Here are the top beautiful Japanese words and their meaning.
1. Furusato – hometown is where the heart is
This Japanese word sounds quite interesting when you pronounce it. It implies that home isn’t a place but a feeling of longing. It is often used to describe a hometown or native place. Let’s assume you leave your native place to a new place only to realize that home is where you long to be.
Furusato means that home is where the heart is. This word is somehow connected to the feeling of nostalgia. It also implies that a place that generates warmth; may not necessarily mean someone’s birthplace, can be considered as home.
This word has been used a lot by the Japanese. It was used as a title to the Japanese film which also means “Home from the sea“.
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2. Mamori Tai – I’ll always protect you
This Japanese term has a deep sense of love. It means “I’ll always protect you”. MamoriTai is mostly used between lovers. Telling someone you will always protect them is an expression of deep romantic feelings in Japanese culture. Using it on a total stranger will be absurd.
It is used to express an ultimately loyal feeling towards your partner. Learn how to pronounce the word Mamori Tai and share it with your loved one.
3. Tsundoku – Book hoarder – buying books only to pile them up unread
Tsundoku refers to the act of buying books like a bookworm but stockpiling without reading. When the word is used, it implies that a person is a book hoarder. This act is most peculiar to book lovers. As a book lover, I felt guilty when I learned the word and understood its meaning.
Most of us are guilty of this poor habit. We have books on our shelves we have never read and may probably never read.
4. Ikigai – your reason for being
This Japanese word is used to describe the feeling that gets you out of bed in the morning, the passion to be something. It is linked with purpose and passion. The feeling combines what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and what the world needs.
Your reason for being is your ikigai. What is your Ikigai? For me, it is writing and adding value to people.
5. shoganai – the situation can’t be helped
I find this word quite personal for some reason. You know how life happens and you have no control over it? That’s literally what it means. So instead of dwelling on the problem, you accept the situation and move on.
When I got to know this word and what it signifies, I was taken. Quite frankly, it spoke to me on a very personal level so I like to use it with friends. Shoganai means the situation can’t be helped. It is like resigning to something that is out of your control.
It is even said that the concept of Shoganai is why Japanese people remain resigned and tend to move on quickly after an earthquake or tsunami.
6. Komorebi – sunlight filters through tree leaves
Komorebi describes the feeling you get when rays of sunlight filter through trees onto your face. When you’re in the woods or hiking in the mountains, the sunlight glows and interacts with the trees or leaves.
In Japan, more than 60% of its archipelago are forests and mountains. So there’s every tendency that locals experience the komorebi often. Japanese folks are notable for their deep connection and love for nature. They love nature so much that it inspires some of their products.
The komorebi experience is one you would most likely want to have again. How you feel the sun’s rays plant you to your face.
7. kanbina – something sweet and luscious to the ears
Kanbina describes something sweet and luscious to the ears. It implies that words sound sweet to the ears when they’re audibly beautiful. The beautiful Japanese words in this post sound sweet and pleasant to the ear. So they can be called kanbina.
This term is sometimes used to pay compliments. For instance, if someone’s name sounds beautiful, Kanbina is used to describe it. Kanbina is also used by couples to complement one another.
8. Natsukashii – a nostalgic feeling of happy memories
Natsukashii is used to describe a feeling of the past. This feeling is usually a happy one. Natsukashisa implies and associates itself with positive emotions. When you allow yourself to relive a happy memory of the past, then you are experiencing a Natsukashisa. It is pretty much similar to nostalgia. The feeling expresses more positivity. Natsukashisa sounds as beautiful as it means.
9. Hana Fubuki – cherry blossom petals snowstorm
Hanafubuki is the process of watching cherry blossom flowers fall. You may not understand the beauty this experience carries until you see it yourself. It is a beautiful sight to behold. Hanafubuki is like a flower snowstorm of raining petals. It usually occurs during spring.
10. Skidmore – eating yourself to bankruptcy
This word is mostly directed at food lovers. People you call foodies. Kuidaore describes the situation where someone who loves eating, spends all their money trying out expensive meals until they go bankrupt. ‘Kui’ in japan means eating while ‘daore’ means to go bankrupt or be ruined.
It refers to a situation where you love food so much that you spend extravagantly on the good stuff is called kuidaore. The word has also been famously associated with the Dontonbori district in Osaka, which houses many restaurants and nightlife spots.
11. karoshi – death from overworking
Karoshi is sort of associated with the Japanese work culture. Where people worked for long hours in the corporate world to make more money. Karoshi describes a situation where someone works for over 100 hours overtime before his death.
Karoshi implies death from overworking. This term may not be what you hoped for, but it is an important word in Japanese vocabulary. People who experience mental and physical stress at the workplace.
12. wabi-sabi – imperfectly beautiful or incomplete beauty
Wabi-sabi is used to describe an imperfect beauty. It is to remind us that life is fleeting. Rooted in this philosophy, the Japanese word describes beauty in imperfection.
Imagine a teacup that wasn’t built perfectly, but with an uneven feel and warmth. This teacup might not be perfect, but it is beautiful. Wabi-sabi is used to appreciate something fragile yet beautifully imperfect.
Japanese culture places value on inner beauty and also promotes the incomplete and imperfect. Craftsmen who believe in this philosophy can intentionally add a little bit of clay to alter the work to give it an imperfect feel.
13. Shinrin yoku – take a walk through the forest for some forest bath
This word is quite popular and feels like an unforgettable experience. Shinrin Yoku refers to forest baths. It refers to the process of taking a walk in the forest to experience its therapeutic benefits. The feeling you receive after this is not only therapeutic but has some health benefits.
So during my time in Japan, I took a walk through the forest, and honestly, the feeling I got was so relaxing. Imagine soaking up all the lovely greens from the forest. Your body relaxes to the silence and calm.
Japanese researchers found that there are health benefits associated with the shinrin yoku practice.
14. kintsukuroi – Try not to waste the broken pottery; mend with silver or gold lacquer
Similar to the wabi-sabi, kintsukuroi implies that if you do not discard broken pottery. Instead, you should find a way to fix it. You can do so with a silver or gold lacquer. In the larger sense, the Japanese people do now believe in waste.
If an item breaks, you can repair it and make it look beautiful.
common Japanese words that are easy to learn
Ocha – Tea
Konnichiwa – hello
Sayonara – Goodbye
Arigato – Thank you
Kanpai – cheers
Kawai – cute
Koi – deep love
These Japanese words do not only express emotional meanings, they are beautiful to the ears when they roll off your tongue. Try learning these words and notice how pleasant it feels to pronounce these Japanese words. Do well to learn these Japanese words and have fun connecting more with Japanese locals.