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. 

12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know

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

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 words describes that moment of soaking it all in and is translated as “forest bath.” How magical.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 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.

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12 Beautiful Japanese Words You Have to Know


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