A Collection of Commonly Accepted Japanese Words in English

Dera Temple In Kyoto

Sake Barrel

Rickshaw In Old Hutongs Of Beijing

Japanese Wooden Sandals

Twin mattress on Tatami mat

Kato Kiyomasa Statue

Did you know?

Although Japan is the only country in the world to have Japanese as its official language, 127 million people around the world speak Japanese.

Japanese is the official language of Japan and Palau. The Japanese language has three main dialects, namely Tokyo dialect, Kyoto-Osaka dialect and Kyushu dialect. This language belongs to the Japonic-Ryukyuan group of languages.

It is made up of three different scripts, namely kanji, hiragana, and katakana. All three scripts are said to have been derived from ‘Chinese’ characters. There are a number of Chinese words which have made their way into the Japanese language. At the same time, Japanese also has loanwords from Indo-European languages like English.

In the US, especially in the state of California, there are more than 42,000 Japanese-speaking people. The English language has always been enriched with words from different cultures and languages. So, how can Japanese words be an exception to this rule?

Having said that, let’s take a look at some Japanese loanwords used in the English language.

Japanese WordsPronunciationMeaning
Aikidoahy-kee-dohJapanese martial arts
Bentoben-tawA home-packed meal
Banzaibahn-dzah-eeCheer of enthusiasm or triumph
Bonsaibon-sahyMiniature tree grown in a tray or shallow pot
Dashidah-sheeSoup stock; fundamental to Japanese cooking
Dojodoh-johAny physical training facility
Futonfoo-tonA type of mattress
Geishagey-shuhTraditional Japanese female entertainers
Haikuhahy-kooShort poem of 3 lines
Harakirihahr-uh-keer-eeA ritual suicide carried out by cutting the belly
Hibachihi-bah-cheeTraditional Japanese heating device
Ikebanaee-ke-bah-nahJapanese art of flower arrangement
Imariee-mariPlates and cups made of multicolored porcelain
Judojoo-dohA sport adapted from jujitsu and similar to wrestling
Jujitsujoo-jit-sooMartial art form
Kabukikah-boo-keeTraditional Japanese theater
Kanjikahn-jeeJapanese writing using Chinese characters
Kamikazekah-mi-kah-zeeDivine wind or a pilot trained and willing to cause a suicidal crash
Kakemonokah-ke-maw-nawA vertical hanging scroll containing either text or a painting
Karaokekar-ee-oh-keeSinging popular songs along with recorded music
Karatekuh-rah-teeType of Japanese martial art
Kendoken-dohMartial art form
Kotokaw-tawTraditional musical instrument
Kimonokuh-moh-nuhOuter garment, generally made of silk
KoikoiA colorful, ornamental carp fish
Makimonomah-kee-maw-nawHorizontal hand scroll containing either text or a painting
Misomee-sawPaste made from fermenting rice, soybean, koji and sea salt
NohnohStylized classic drama of Japan
Ninjanin-juhA skilled warrior
Obiaw-beeA long, broad sash used over a kimono
Origamiawr-i-gah-meePaper-folding art
Pachinkopuh-ching-kohA Japanese pinball game
Ramenrah-muhnA variety of Japanese noodle dish
Roninroh-ninA samurai without a master
Rickshaw or Jinrihisharik-shaw/jin-rik-shawHuman-pulled vehicle
Sakesah-keeAlcoholic beverage made from fermented rice
Samuraisam-oo-rahyJapanese warrior
Sashimisah-shee-meeThinly sliced, fish or raw meat
Satsumasah-tsoo-mahA kind of mandarin orange
Senseisen-seyMaster, teacher
Seppukuse-poo-kooA ritual suicide carried out by cutting the abdomen
Shoyushoh-yooJapanese soy sauce
Shamisensæm?-senThree-stringed musical instrument
Shiatsushee-aht-sooAcupressure massage
Shogunshoh-guhA military commander
Surimisoo-ree-meeMinced fish flavored in imitation of lobster or crabmeat
Sudokusoo-doh-kooLiterally means ‘single number’, but now associated with a number puzzle
Sumosoo-mohA Japanese form of wrestling
Sushisoo-sheeVinegared rice topped with raw fish, shellfish and rarely vegetables
Tankatahng-kuhShort poem form consisting of five lines with 31 syllables
Tatamituh-tah-meeStraw matting
Teriyakiter-uh-yah-keeCooking technique in which fish or meat is grilled in soy marinade
Tofutoh-fooBean curd
Tsunamitsoo-nah-meeLarge waves as a result of underwater earthquakes or other disturbances
Tycoon or Taikuntahy-koonA businessperson of great wealth and power; magnate
Typhoontahy-foonViolent tropical storm or cyclone
Ukiyo-eoo-kee-yaw-ePainting and printmaking developed in Japan
Wasabiwah-suh-beeGreen paste similar to horseradish
Zaibatsuzahy-bah-tsooBusiness Conglomerate
ZenzenBranch of Mahayana Buddhism
Zorizawr-eeA Japanese sandal; formally worn with kimono on special occasions

I have tried to cover the most common Japanese words used in the English language here, but if you think I have missed out on some, then please leave a comment in the box given below and I will be glad to add them.

Geisha On Street In Kyoto Japan


Wasabi farm

Beautiful Stone Flowerbeds

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *