40 English Words of Japanese Origin Used Every Day

, Staff Writer
Updated December 16, 2020
english words of Japanese origin bonsai emoji
    english words of Japanese origin bonsai emoji
    TatianaNikulina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Are you looking for a list of English words of Japanese origin? Discover 40 examples of words frequently used in the English language that can be traced to the Japanese language along with some interesting facts about the country of Japan.

List of Japanese Words Used in English

Some Japanese words that have been added to the English language actually originated in China and were used in Japan before they were adopted into the English language. A number of commonly used English words we use every day hail from Japan.

  • anime - Japanese style of animation; discover words specific to anime
  • bonsai - caring for miniature trees, translates as “tray gardening”
  • dojo - location where martial arts are learned or practiced
  • emoji - digital image that expresses an emotion
  • futon - low furniture piece; functions as a bed when unfolded or a sofa when folded
  • haiku - a three-line poem
  • hibachi - small grill
  • honcho - boss, leader, person in charge; derived from Japanese term hancho
  • judo - form of martial arts using leverage and holds
  • kabuki - a kind of Japanese theatre
  • karaoke - singing along with recorded music, translates as “empty orchestra”
  • karate - form of martial arts using hands and feet to deliver blows and block
  • kimono - traditional robe worn by people in Japan
  • koi - a fish, carp
  • manga - Japanese graphic novels
  • matsutake - a type of mushroom that’s considered a delicacy
  • miso - fermented bean paste used in Japanese cuisine
  • ninja - warrior or assassin trained in the martial arts; person with great expertise in an activity/skill
  • origami - artistic paper folding
  • ramen - noodle soup
  • sake - alcoholic drink made from rice
  • samurai - warrior; style of sword used by a warrior
  • sashimi - thin slices of raw fish served with a dipping sauce and wasabi
  • sensei - teacher, master, doctor, or any authority figure
  • shiatsu - a kind of massage
  • skosh - a tiny amount of something; derived from the Japanese word sukoshi
  • sudoku - a number puzzle
  • sumo - Japanese heavyweight wrestler
  • sushi - a dish with rice and other things, like raw fish or vegetables
  • tamari - a liquid from soybeans
  • tatami mat - floor mat made of straw
  • tempura - vegetables and seafood that are coated with batter and deep fried
  • teriyaki - cooking meat or fish in a soy sauce marinade
  • tofu - fermented beans
  • tsunami - a huge wave caused by earthquakes or other underwater event; harbor wave
  • tycoon - rich businessman
  • typhoon - tropical cyclone that develops in the northwest portion of the Pacific Basin
  • wasabi - very spicy green condiment
  • yumi - style of bow used in archery
  • zen - gaining enlightenment through meditation

The Country of Japan

Now that you have a list of English words of Japanese origin, you might enjoy discovering some interesting facts about Japan.

  • The characters in its name translate into “sun origin,” hence the name Land of the Rising Sun.
  • Japan has over 127 million people and is the 11th most populated country in the world.
  • Tokyo’s metropolitan area is the largest in the world, with over 36 million people.
  • Japan is an island country in East Asia with 6,852 islands in the archipelago. Lying in the Pacific Ocean, it ranges from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East China Sea. Countries near Japan are China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.
  • Most of the islands are mountainous, with some being volcanic. Japan's highest peak is the volcano named Mount Fuji.
  • Japan is located on Pacific Ring of Fire where three tectonic plates meet, which causes earthquakes and volcanoes to erupt. Because of its location, Japan has numerous small tremors and the occasional eruption.
  • A good thing about the geography of Japan is the number of hot springs, since some of them have been made into resorts.

Discover More Japanese Words

If reviewing this list of English words from Japanese has captured your attention, take the time to learn more about the language. Start by discovering 40 powerfully beautiful Japanese words. Then, discover some of the coolest Japanese words. If you’re interested in a variety of languages rather than just Japanese, explore how to say I love you in many languages.