6 Beautiful Words of Japanese Origin with Meanings That Don’t Exist in English

Language is a beautiful art form that allows us to express ourselves and communicate with others. Each language has its own unique words and phrases that capture the essence of a culture and its people. Japanese is no exception. In fact, the Japanese language is known for its beautiful words that have deep meanings and evoke powerful emotions. 

There are several words in Japanese that don’t have an equivalent in English, making them difficult to translate. These words are not just beautiful, but they also provide a glimpse into the Japanese way of life and philosophy. 


Do you love books? If so, then you should know the word Tsundoku. This beautiful word refers to the habit of acquiring and piling up books but never getting around to reading them. 

It’s a combination of two words: “tsunde” (meaning “to stack”) and “oku” (meaning “to leave”). In Japan, this is a common phenomenon, and it’s not considered a negative thing. In fact, it’s seen as a sign of being intellectual and cultured, as it shows that the person is interested in acquiring knowledge and expanding their horizons. 

During the Meiji era, which spanned from 1868 to 1912, Japan underwent a rapid modernization process and began to embrace Western culture. This period also saw an increase in the availability of books, which became a symbol of status as more people started purchasing them. Therefore, the term’s roots can be traced back to this era. However, many of these books were never read, and the habit of collecting them became widespread. Today, tsundoku is still very much a part of Japanese culture.


Komorebi is a beautiful Japanese word that describes the sunlight filtering through the trees. It is a combination of two words: “komo” meaning “tree” and “rebi” meaning “sunlight.” The word is commonly used to portray the inherent splendor of Japan and the manner in which sunlight filters through the foliage, producing a mystical and tranquil ambiance.

The language of the Japanese people reflects their profound appreciation for the beauty of nature, as their culture holds high regard for it. Words like komorebi help to capture the essence of nature and convey a sense of reverence for its power and beauty. 

The term “Komorebi” has become popular globally due to its beautiful and meaningful nature, attracting individuals of all nationalities. Its poetic essence has inspired many artists, writers, and even influencers who have incorporated it into their creative works.


Shibui is yet another beautiful Japanese word that is often used to portray objects that are uncomplicated, delicate, and unpretentious. It is a term that is often associated with traditional Japanese aesthetics and design, and it has deep roots in Japanese culture and history. 

The word shibui is composed of two kanji characters: 渋 (shibu) and い (i). The first character, 渋, can be translated as “astringent” or “bitter,” while the second character, い, means “taste” or “flavor.” When combined, these two characters create a word that is used to describe things that are understated, elegant, and refined. 

Shibui is often used to describe objects and experiences that have a sense of quiet sophistication and beauty. For example, a simple-looking piece of clothing made from high-quality materials. Rather than being flashy or ostentatious, shibui objects are designed to be functional and beautiful in their simplicity. 

This emphasis on simplicity is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and tradition, where minimalism and understatement are highly valued. So, whenever you want to describe something simple yet powerful or aesthetic, shibui is a beautiful word you want to use.


Yugen is difficult to translate into English as it is a concept that encompasses a deep and profound meaning. Simply put, yugen refers to a sense of mystery, depth, and beauty that is beyond what can be seen or explained with words. In essence, it is the feeling of being in awe of something that is beyond our understanding. 

The word yugen is composed of two kanji characters – yu, which means “faint” or “dim,” and gen, which means “profound” or “mysterious.” Together, these characters create a sense of something that is both elusive and profound. 

The concept of yugen is closely linked to traditional Japanese arts such as poetry, literature, and tea ceremonies. The concept is commonly linked to wabi-sabi (see the full meaning below,) which is a belief that embraces the imperfections and temporary nature of things. The concept of Yugen can also be observed in nature, where it represents the delicate charm of phenomena such as the transitions between seasons or the reflection of light on water.


Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic concept that dates back to the 15th century. It is a term that describes the beauty of imperfection and the appreciation of the simple things in life. The concept of wabi-sabi, which is commonly associated with traditional Japanese art and architecture, has had a significant impact on various aspects of Japanese culture.

Wabi refers to the simplicity and austerity of living in nature, while sabi refers to the beauty that comes with age and imperfection. Together, wabi-sabi refers to finding beauty in the imperfect, the impermanent, and the incomplete. 

Wabi-sabi is a lifestyle in Japan that goes beyond just being a concept. It is about living in sync with nature, valuing simplicity, and discovering elegance in everyday things. The philosophy encourages individuals to take a moment to pause and cherish the present moment.


Do you like the season of the year when cherry blossom trees are starting to bloom? The word Hanami is usually associated with the spring season and the beauty of the cherry blossoms. 

It’s a combination of two words “hana” which means flower, and “mi” which means to look. Together, it refers to the traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of cherry blossom trees or sakura in Japan. 

During Hanami, people come together with acquaintances, relatives, and coworkers to appreciate the charm of springtime. They usually bring along refreshments, beverages, and mats to experience a celebratory ambiance underneath the flourishing trees. The practice also involves capturing images of the flowers, composing literature or melodies influenced by them, and relishing the beauty of the natural surroundings.

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