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My Favorite Japanese Words

And now for something completely different: A post about Japanese!

I love the way some Japanese words sound. I will confess something: The long “I” sound is one of my favorite sounds. I’m not sure why – perhaps it’s because the abbreviation for the word “Interstate” in the US is a long I, and when I was a child, any long trip we took would always be along an interstate. I-75, I-70, I-80, I-90.. For this reason, I also like city names like “Rock Island”, “Moline”, or “Salina”.

Japanese doesn’t have this sound, but it does have something that sounds similar. The two sounds “a” and “i” together. It’s technically pronounced “ahh-eee”, but when spoken fast, it’s almost indistinguishable from a long I.

So let me tell you the criteria I will use for these words: There will be two classes. One is based on how they sound. I don’t are so much about the meaning, but just the sound. Some will be because of how the kanji are structured, etc. So, with that said, here are my favorite Japanese words.


Pronounced “kyoudai”. It means siblings. This word just sounds nice. As I mentioned, I think I like any word with a long I sound, but this one just feels… fresh, somehow.


This word means “nearly all”, and is pronounced “hotondo”. I just like how it rolls off the tongue.

Pronounced “mori”, this word means “forest”. It has a very dark and foreboding feeling to it, kind of like you’d imagine a dark forest.

This is the first word that I include not so much because of the sound, but more because of how the kanji is structured, etc. It is “sakura”, and means cherry tree. The three components of the kanji make up a woman sitting under a tree with light rays shining on her. It’s very poetic. And on that note…

This word means umbrella, and is pronounced “kasa”. If you look at it closely, you’ll see four people sitting underneath a roof, and on the ground. It’s very easy to figure out what this kanji means just by looking at it.


I’ll wrap up with a surprising one. I love this word. Not because of what it means, or even specifically how it sounds, but there’s a way cute way many women say it that I really like. Some women also say “ka” cutely, it sounds like “kaw”. But I’ll leave that for an honorable mention.

What are your favorite Japanese words?

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There are so many beautiful words in Japanese. To my ear 見せる (miseru) sounds very beautiful. Also ある かな (aru kana) and the phrase も いち ど (mo ichi do), which was the first whole sentence, I learned :’)

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