Learn Japanese easily! You may not be familiar with the word “onomatopoeia”, but it describes a type of word that you probably use all the time. Do you say things like “bang”, “bang” or “wow”? If so, you are using onomatopoeia, which is simply a word that sounds like the things or action you are describing. Onomatopoeia is incredibly common in English and has an incredible number of uses in Japanese as well. This Japanese article is here to provide an in-depth introduction to the world of Japanese onomatopoeia. You will learn about the two types of Japanese onomatopoeia and how they are used. You’ll also find some great examples and lots of information on how to incorporate onomatopoeia into your Japanese vocabulary.

Vocabulary: In this article, you will learn the following words and phrases:

ibiku or kaku – “roncar” (verb 1)

nemuru – “sleep”

doa – “door”

shimaru – “to close, to be closed” (verb 1)

ashita oro asu – “morning”

deeto – “romantic date)

kinoo – “yesterday”

kyoo – “today”

akeru – “open” (verb 2)

okiru – “wake up, get up” (verb 2)

Grammar: In this article, you will learn the following words and phrases:


What is onomatopoeia?


According to the dictionary, “onomatopoeia” is the formation of a word from a sound associated with its name. Examples in English include words like “crash” and “splash.” The sounds of the words mimic the meaning. Also, many animal sounds like “bow-wow” and “neigh” are examples of onomatopoeia.

——————–——————–——————————–Japanese onomatopoeia


There are two types of Japanese onomatopoeia:

  • giongo
  • gitaigo

This is because some Japanese onomatopoeias do not actually mimic the sounds, but follow the same shape.

  1. Giongo they are the true onomatopoeia. That is, they imitate sounds like our English onomatopoeia.
  2. GitaigoOn the other hand, try using sound patterns similar to those giongo, although they do not imitate real sounds.

To further confuse the matter, there are some words that have both Giongo Y Gitaigo attributes. For example, there are guuguu.


  1. Giongo: “snoring sound, snoring”Tomu-san wa guuguu to ibiki or kaite iru.

    “Tom is snoring.”

  2. Gitaigo: “sleep well, sleep soundly”Tomu-san wa guuguu nemutte iru.

    “Tom is sleeping well.”




In the first example, the onomatopoeia guuguu refers to the sound of snoring. In the second example, guuguu expresses the concept of deep sleep, even though deep sleep generally has no sound.

——————–——————–——————————–Sample sentences


  1. Giongo:Doa ga batan to shimatta.

    “The door slammed shut.”

  2. Gitaigo:Ashita wa deeto da. Ukiuki suru.

    “I’m going on a date tomorrow. I’m excited.”

——————–——————–——————————–Some additional notes



  1. Many Japanese onomatopoeias are repetitive. That is, the syllable or pair of syllables is repeated.
  2. We can use Japanese onomatopoeia as adverbs, adjective-like words, parts of adjective phrases, and as verbs when combined with “and.” In this lesson, you will see how to use each onomatopoeia correctly.
  3. Since most of these words are of Japanese origin, they are often not written in kanji. However, they are often written in katakana and occasionally in hiragana.

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