Beauty is everywhere. You can find beauty in nature, people, and objects, and there is always a deeper meaning to the word beautiful. In Japan, there isn't just one word that means beautiful. The Japanese language offers dozens of different ways to describe beauty. The Japanese can explain feelings perfectly in ways that other languages simply can't. Once you learn all the fantastic ways to say 'beautiful' in Japanese, you'll find yourself wishing your native language could express all the nuances of beauty like in Japanese.
There are many 'beautiful' words in the Japanese language that it's not as straightforward as using the word 'beautiful' to describe everything you see. There are different levels of beauty which could be rated on a scale from one to ten (ten being extremely beautiful.)
As with many languages, the Japanese have many synonyms for beautiful that are used in specific situations, such as pretty, cute, gorgeous, elegant, handsome, and more!
The word beautiful in Japanese and its synonyms are used to describe:
So let's get going!
What Are The Different Ways To Describe Something Beautiful In Japanese?
If we think of all the different ways to express beauty, it could be helpful to think of an umbrella or a pyramid. At the top of this 'umbrella,' we would have the Japanese words for beautiful, "kireina," "utsukushii," and all their conjugations and synonyms underneath. In Japanese, these are the two most popular ways to say something or someone is beautiful.
Kireina means neat, clean, or beautiful. It's usually used to describe places or things that are beautiful, pretty, clean, or neat. It is used when giving a compliment about places or objects.
Kirei is used on its own as an exclamation to say, "Beautiful!."
For example, if you entered an incredibly decorated room or saw a stunning sunset, you might exclaim, "Kirei!"
Kireina can also be used as a compliment. Let's look at two examples:
In this example, kireina is conjugated into kirei and is used to compliment the beautiful appearance of a city.
In this example, kirei is used to express the beauty of the home's cleanliness.
The Japanese word kireina and its various adjective forms are the most popular expressions of beauty. You will often see it and hear it in sentences as it carries many meanings and is used in informal ways.
Utsukushii is a dedicated adjective that means 'Beautiful' in Japanese. It is never used to describe cleanliness or tidiness.
Utsukushii is a powerful word to describe beauty. It describes both people and places, focusing on their inner and outer beauty. It's a more sophisticated word and isn't thrown around as a figure of speech like 'kireina' can be.
Here are some example phrases of how 'utsukushii' is used to say something is beautiful:
In this description, Kyoto is being wholeheartedly described for its appearance, spirit, and history.
In this example, utsukushii describes the singer's voice. However, the use of utsukushii denotes that the woman's singing was superbly beautiful and spiritually moving.
Be careful with your use of this word. In the Japanese language, you should use utsukushii to describe beauty sparingly. It is vocabulary reserved for special and powerful descriptions. The word carries a lot of weight compared to its English counterpart.
What do you say when you see or meet a beautiful woman and want to express their beauty in Japanese? There are many different terms in their language to tell a woman she is beautiful in Japanese. You can use 'utsukushii' to inform a woman you think she's beautiful.
However, you should only say:
You can use this phrase if you genuinely mean it when the other person is incredibly beautiful inside and out, so it strongly affects you. You would only say this to a woman you love.
A better term to use, especially for women, is:
It is used to describe outward appearance instead of internal beauty and is most commonly used to describe a beautiful woman.
Because in Japanese culture, there are class determiners based on age, there is a different way to tell a girl she is beautiful in Japanese. This simple phrase is how to tell a girl she is beautiful:
Kawaii is the language used by the Japanese people to describe people and things that are; cute, pretty, lovely, or charming. If you saw a pretty woman, you might say:
Or you might compliment a woman in Japanese, such as:
In this example, 'kirei' is used as the adjective meaning pretty.
Maybe you've met a woman or a girl you think is adorable. In this instance, you might say:
Kawaii is a very versatile adjective in Japanese and is used for so many things and is interchangeable, meaning cute and pretty.
In most cultures, men and boys would be taken aback by being called beautiful, pretty, or cute, and it's the same in Japanese culture. It's more appropriate to call a man 'handsome or good-looking,' rather than beautiful in Japanese.
Thankfully, there are also various ways to describe a handsome man in the Japanese language, and the Japanese word for handsome sounds quite similar to its English counterpart. The most formal adjective for beauty in a male is:
You would use this term for a man who is beautiful both inside and out and reserve this word for loved ones.
The word gorgeous in Japanese has different uses meaning it can be both a noun or an adjective depending on the context. As an adjective, gorgeous 豪華 gouka is used to describe people, objects, and places. Let's look at some sentences:
Here are some example sentences showing how to use it:
'Cute' is probably one of the most used words in the Japanese language. After all, everything is cute 可愛い Kawaii! Japan is obsessed with a 'cute culture' where anyone and anything can be cute. Even phones, laptops, and furniture are considered cute in Japan. The term 'kawaii' describes everything - people, places, things, and even animals!
The word Kawaii used on its own is often enough to express cuteness. For example, 'You are cute' translates to simply 'Kawaii.' You can get away with pointing at something or someone and exclaiming, "Kawaii!" and everyone would know what you mean! Of course, you could get more specific with your language choices and say:
So, there we have it! There are plenty of ways to express beauty and say something or someone is beautiful in Japanese. To learn the ins and outs of describing beauty in Japan, wouldn't it be great to immerse yourself in Japanese culture? Of course, that isn't necessarily possible.
However, you can learn Japanese from the comfort of your own home. Ling App gives you access to over 60 languages, including Japanese, in the palm of your hand. Check it out and learn more Japanese today!