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A few years ago, I was introduced to the language of Japanese through work. These 12 beautiful Japanese words you have to know, for me, sum up how incredible the language is.

I remember the first time diving into the language of Japanese, I was smitten with the way the language could describe something. It was “words” we didn’t quite have in English. I found often that the Japanese language would often describe those in-between moments — the moments that are so hard to verbalize.

Read through this list and see just why Japanese is a beautiful language.

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12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

1. Shinrinyoku (森林浴)

You know that moment you walk through a forest and all of the natural, green light goes over you? This word describes that moment of soaking it all in and is translated as “forest bath.” How magical.

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

2. Ikigai (生きがい)

This was one of the first Japanese words I learned — it describes the reason for being, the reason for why you get up in the morning.

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

3. Itadakimasu (いただきます)

It’s often said before every meal and it means “I humbly receive.” It captures appreciation for the work that went into preparing the meal.

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

4. Natsukashii (懐かしい)

A word that captures the nostalgia for the past or close memory.

5. Wabi-Sabi (侘寂)

When I think of Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi comes straight to mind. It’s hard to capture in English but essentially describes the concept that beauty lies in the imperfections of nature.

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

6. Kanbina (甘美な)

A word that describes when a word sounds pleasant to hear.

7. Mono-no-aware (物の哀れ)

It essentially captures that beauty is subjective and that our senses to the world around us make it beautiful — especially that beauty is impermanent and makes us appreciate it more. The best example is cherry blossoms falling springtime.

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

8. Furusato (ふるさと)

Though it describes one’s hometown, it’s not always about where we are from but often where our hearts long for.

9. Tsundoku (積ん読)

I love this one. It describes someone who is a book lover and collects so many that they pile up. Like a cross between a book worm and a hoarder.

10. Majime (まじめ)

This is a reliable someone who gets things done, san the drama.

11. Yugen (幽玄)

A word that describes a deep emotional awareness when triggered by being aware of the universe.

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

12. Mamori Tai (守りたい)

It’s a phrase that essentially says “I will always protect you” and often comes from a loved one.

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

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12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

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1 Comment

  1. Hi I would love to learn Japanese, but I’m a complete novice at learning languages in general (!!) and as a born English speaker I wanted to know how hard it was for you to learn Japanese (if you have learned it) and how long, it took as Googling things just makes me really ashamed about myself. Pretty long comment ( I know 😅) but I just wanted to express myself clearly. Thank you for writing such a beautiful article and I know I will save it to read again in the future!!

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