25 Japanese Words to Know for Matsuri Season

25 Japanese Words to Know for Matsuri Season

The majority of Japanese festivals happen during the summer months, so summer is known as festival season in Japan! Some of Japan’s biggest festivals occur during summer, including Obon and Tanabata. Festival in Japanese is matsuri (まつり). Matsuri all celebrate different occasions and holidays, but many share some classic festivities.

One of the things matsuri are most famous for is the food! Festival food is served from yatai (屋台, やたい). Yatai are carts or stands that allow vendors to cook and sell food at the same time. Foods sold at matsuri vary throughout the year, but the most popular include dango, taiyaki, takoyaki, and yakitori.

Most matsuri feature parades of some kind. Dashi (山車, だし) floats are commonly used in parades. These floats are massive, decorated structures that can reach several stories high. They typically have wheels and are pulled along the parade route by several people. Sometimes people sit inside or on top of the floats and provide music and entertainment.

Also featured in parades are mikoshi (神輿, みこし). These are portable shrines carried through the parade route like a palanquin. They often resemble miniature buildings with ornate pillars and roofs. Mikoshi are not to be ridden on like dashi as they are sacred.

Another common parade sight are taiko drummers. Taiko (太鼓, たいこ) are traditional Japanese drums that have been used in Japan as early as the 6th century. Taiko drums are carried through the route by their drummers, who play on the drums as they walk. The drummers wear matching ensembles and work in a synchronized fashion.

Since many matsuri happen during the evening, paper lanterns are used to light them up! These paper lanterns are known as ちょちん. They have been used in Japan for centuries and are made of paper or silk around a bamboo frame. They can also be seen hanging outside businesses, temples, shrines and izakayas. Some dashi are even covered in paper lanterns!

Like any big celebration, matsuri also often include fireworks! Firework in Japanese is 花火 (はなび), which literally translates to “fire flower.”

Live entertainment is also common at matsuri. Shinto-related matsuri may feature kagura (神楽, かぐら), a traditional performance with music, dancing, and costumes. Kabuki (歌舞伎, かぶき) are another form of entertainment found often at Shinto festivals. Kabuki are dance plays put on by performers in elaborate costumes and make-up.

Matsuri began as religious celebrations, and many of them remain so. Because of this, many matsuri happen around shrines and are dedicated to the deity of that shrine. Deity in Japanese is 神 (かみ). Shrine is 神社 (じんじゃ), not to be confused with temple, which is 寺 (てら). Castles, known as 城 (じょう), are also a common place for festivals to be held.

Matsuri are a time for tradition in Japan. Because of this, festivals are one of the times of the year when kimonos (着物, きもの) are worn. Kimonos used to be typical attire in Japan. That changed in the mid-twentieth century, when Western clothing became more available. Now, festivals are sometimes the only time some people wear traditional clothing. During the hot summer months, many trade in their kimono for a lightweight version known as a yukata (浴衣, ゆかた). Wooden platform shoes known as geta (下駄, げた) are worn with kimonos. Special socks known as tabi (足袋, たび) are worn with these shoes, but can be left off when wearing a yukata.

To accompany the traditional dress, some women opt to carry a kinchaku (巾着, きんちゃく). A kinchaku is a traditional drawstring bag made of cloth. They are used to carry personal effects and money around the festival.

Depending on the matsuri, some people may wear traditional masks. These masks may be in the appearance of oni (鬼, おに), demons, or tengu (天狗, てんぐ), goblins. These masks could be worn for fun or as part of a traditional belief that they will scare off demons.

Festivals are also known for having games! Typical carnival-type games are commonly held in festival booths. One of the most famous games is goldfish scooping. Known in Japanese as 金魚すくい (きんぎょすくい), this is a traditional Japanese game that has been played for over a century. The game consists of the player using a ポイ, a handheld paddle made of paper. The player must use the paddle to scoop up as many live goldfish as they can before the water destroys the paddle. The player can then keep whatever fish they have caught as pets and the festival will provide a bag to carry them in. This game is especially popular during summer matsuri.

Super Ball Scooping (スーパーボールすくい) is a variant of goldfish scooping. The rules and techniques are the same, but instead of live goldfish, players scoop up bouncy balls. Like the fish, they can keep all the balls they manage to win.

Yo Yo Tsuri (ヨーヨーつり) is another popular summer matsuri game. The game features a pool or tub filled with small, colorful balloons. These balloons are partially filled with water to give them some weight, and a string or rubber band is tied to the end. The player is given a length of lightweight paper with a hook on the end. The player must hook a balloon and lift it up without the paper breaking.

Ring Toss is known in Japan as 輪投げ (わなげ), and it is also a common festival game, especially during the summer. Thin poles stick out of the ground or table and players toss rings in an attempt to catch them on the poles.

Shateki (射的, しゃてき) is another classic carnival game that has variations around the world. It is a target shooting game where players are given a pop-gun, which uses air to shoot out a cork when the trigger is pulled. Players shoot the cork at the targets in hopes of knocking them down. The harder the target is to knock down, the bigger and better the prize!

Basic Japanese Grammar: Asking and Giving Permission with てもいい

Basic Japanese Grammar: Asking and Giving Permission with てもいい

One of the most important grammar points is asking and giving permission. The way to do that is by using the phrase “te mo ii” (てもいい).

If you ask me how often I use it, I’d say pretty often. If it’s not me using it, it’s me hearing it being used. In both statement and question form, this grammar language can save you a few minutes of language barrier and miscommunication. Sure, a “daijoubu” (大丈夫) can cover most situations, but aren’t we all here to up our nihongo game? 

The information in this article can also be found on our Nihongo Master Podcast, Season 4 Episode 11. While you can get most of the information in this article, we have roleplaying scenarios on the podcast. Check that out!

Image Credit: Max Pixel

Grammar Point

If you read online, some pages would say that this grammar language is about granting permission or asking permission. That’s the formal way to put it. It’s kind of like saying “You may do this” or “May I do this?” Reminds me of when I was in elementary school and had to ask permission to go to the toilet. 

But this is not that kind of permission. It’s more like asking casually “Can I do this” or “Is this act permitted to do”. The best example when you want to try something on when you’re in a clothes shop but are unsure if it’s okay to do that. So you ask, “can I try this on?”

Quick Recap of the Te-Form

The first part of the grammar point is to understand the te-form. We covered that in Season 4 Episode 13 of the podcast, but keep an eye out for the article on the blog! 

Anyway, ru-verbs have the ending ru (る) changed to te (て), while u-verb ending with u (う) have a few different conjugations. Here’s a quick breakdown: 

  • Those ending with ru (る), tsu (つ) or u (う) have their final syllable replaced with tte (って). For example, noru (乗る) becomes notte (乗って)
  • Those ending with ku (く) have their final syllable replaced with ite (いて). For example, kaku (書く) becomes kaite (書いて)
  • But if it ends with gu (ぐ), like oyogu (泳ぐ, which means to swim), then the gu (ぐ) is replaced with ide (いで) to make oyoide (泳いで).
  • Those ending with nu (ぬ), bu (ぶ) and mu (む) have their final syllable replaced with nde (んで). Shinu (死ぬ) becomes shinde (死んで)
  • Those ending with su (す) have their final syllable replaced with shite (して). For example, hanasu (話す) becomes hanashite (話して).

Asking for permission using てもいい 

Now onto the format of this grammar point. After getting the te form, we add mo ii to the verb. The format is:

Verb (て form) + もいい

As for our example of “can we try this on?”, we first get the verb, which in this case is shichaku suru (試着する) to mean “to try something on”. We change it to its te-form, which means instead of ending in the u sound, it ends with te instead. 

In our case, we have suru — this is an irregular verb which changes from suru (する) to shite (して). And you get shichaku shite (試着して). We then add the grammar point which is “mo ii”, to get: shichaku shitemo ii? (試着してもいい?) The polite form of the question is: shichaku shitemo ii desu ka? (試着してもいいですか?)

We usually add “ka” (か) to ask if something is okay or permitted to do: temo ii desu ka? (てもいいですか) You can also omit the “ka” if it’s in casual form, or even add “no” (の) to make “temo ii no” (てもいいの).

Giving perrmission using てもいい

If you remove the ka (か) at the end, you basically get the sentence version instead of a question. 

Let’s have another example: let’s say you want to tell someone, “it’s okay to eat the cake.” 

The verb to eat is taberu (食べる), but make sure to change it to its te-form which is tabete (食べて). Cake is kēki (ケーキ); now put them together with the grammar point and you get: kēki wo tabetemo ii (ケーキを食べてもいい).

You can also say that it’s okay to not do something as well, and the grammar point is “nakutemo ii” (なくてもいい). All you have to do is get the verb in its negative form and then change it to its te-form.  

The format is:

Verb (negative て form) + もいい

Don’t panic just yet, it’s not that hard at all. We’ll use the cake example. If you want to say “it’s okay to not eat the cake”, we change taberu (食べる) to tabenai (食べない), then change it to tabenakute (食べなくて). Then just add the grammar language. All together you get: kēki wo tabenakutemo ii (ケーキを食べなくてもいい).

Vocab Recap

In the episode, we introduced a few new Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:

Shichaku suru (試着する) — to try something on

Taberu (食べる) — to eat

Kēki (ケーキ) — cake

Wanpisu (ワンピス) — dress

Meccha (めっちゃ) — very

Ao (青) — blue

Aka (赤) — red

Shichaku shitsu (書着室) — fitting room

Chigau (違う) — to differ or to vary

Ookisugiru (大きすぎる) — to be too big

Saizu (サイズ) — size

Esu (エス) — S (for size)

Iro (色) — colour

Reji (レジ) — cash register

Kādo (カード) — card, short for credit card

Genkin (現金) — cash

ijou (以上) — more than

Tsukau (使う) — to use

Kau (買う) — to buy

Hoshii (欲しい) — want

Suwaru (座る) — to seat

Mada (まだ) — not yet

Kimeru (決める) — to decide

Chikaku (近く) — nearby

Miru (見る) — to see

Oishii (美味しい) — delicious

Nanika (何か) — something

Isshoni (一緒に) — together

Fuku (服) — clothes

Takusan (たくさん) — a lot

Surippa (スリッパ) — slippers

Bīchī (ビーチー) — beach

Hayai (早い) — fast or early

Kutsu (靴) — shoes

Haku (吐く) — to wear (for items like pants, skirts, footwear), if it’s shirts you use “kiru” (着る) instead

Benri (便利) — convenient

Ask and Give Permission in Japanese!

Isn’t granting and asking permission a breeze? Whether it’s for shopping or just everyday situations, it’s without a doubt a useful grammar language you want to have up your sleeve. I mean, it can even be used in business situations — but that’s a whole other episode on its own!

Check out our other blog articles for similar basic Japanese grammar points, as well as our Nihongo Master Podcast’s Study Saturday language series!

Basic Japanese Grammar: Step-By-Step Guide to the て-Form!

Basic Japanese Grammar: Step-By-Step Guide to the て-Form!

One of the most important conjugations in the Japanese language is the te (て) form. You need it for a lot of other conjugations. So if you don’t master the te form, you can’t really get into a lot of other grammar points.

In our Season 4 Episode 13 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, we decided to break down the basics of the te-form. When I was studying Japanese on my own, I remember this being one of the most difficult points to wrap my head around. But hey, my past struggle is now for your benefit, because I’ll break it down nice and easy for you! 

The way this recap article, as well as the original podcast episode, is structured is exactly like Nihongo Master’s online learning system – grammar point explanation and breakdown, a few example situations (only on the podcast), and ending it off with a very handy list of all the vocabulary words we used. So if you like our breakdowns on the blog and podcast, sign up for our program now!

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Grammar Point

Oh, the te-form, my old friend. This is without a doubt one of the most important conjugations in Japanese grammar. Without the te-form, you won’t be able to really grasp some of the other Japanese grammar. It’s kind of like a level up token. As soon as you master this, you go from speaking short simple sentences to flawlessly and fluidly expressing your thoughts in clauses. 

Let’s first take a look at how to conjugate the te form.

Te Form Format

The te form has a different format for different types of words. We’ll take a look at verbs first.

Ru Verbs

For ru (る) verbs, they’re pretty simple. You first remove the ending ru (る) and then add te (て). The format is:

Ru verb (minus る) + て

Let’s use “taberu” (食べる) which is a ru verb. All you have to do is switch the ending ru with te:

食べる = 食べ = 食べて

U Verbs

How about u () verb conjugations then? U verbs can be a little confusing, so we’ll take it slow here. I’ll make the breakdown simple:

U-verb that ends with ru (る), tsu (つ) and u (う), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (って). The format is:

U verb (minus ending う sound) + って


乗る (noru) = 乗 (no) = 乗って (notte)

待つ (matsu) = 待 (mat) = 待って (matte)

会う (au) = 会 (a) = 会って (atte)

U-verb that ends with nu (ぬ), bu (ぶ) and mu (む), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (んで). The format is:

U verb (minus ending う sound) + んで


死ぬ (shinu) = 死 (shi) = 死んで (shinde)

遊ぶ (asobu) = 遊 (aso) = 遊んで (asonde)

飲む (nomu) = 飲 (no) = 飲んで (nonde)

U-verb that ends with ku (く),  you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (いて). The format is:

U verb (minus ending う sound) + いて


書く (kaku) = 書 (ka) = 書いて (kaite)

U-verb that ends with gu (ぐ),  you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (いで). The format is:

U verb (minus ending う sound) + いで


泳ぐ (oyogu) = 泳 (oyo) = 泳いで (oyoide)

U-verb that ends with su (す), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (して). The format is:

U verb (minus ending う sound) + して


話す (hanasu) = 話 (hana) = 話して (hanashite)

There are exceptions known as irregular verbs: 

To do: する(suru) =して (shite)

To come: くる(kuru) = きて (kite)

To go: 行く (iku) = 行って (itte)

い Adjectives

Conjugating i-adjectives to its te-form is simple. You take the ending i (い) and add kute (くて). The format is:

I-adjective (minus い) + くて

美味しい (oishii) = 美味し (oishi) = 美味しくて (oishikute)

Nouns & な Adjectives

Getting the te form for nouns and na-adjectives are the same. You just add de () after the word. The format is:

Noun + で

Na-adjective (without な) + で

日本人 (nihonjin) = 日本人で (nihonjin de)

簡単な (kantanna) = 簡単 (kantan) = 簡単で (kantan de)

Ways of using the te form

So what exactly does the te-form do? There are five ways:


The first way is to ask and give permission with te mo ii (てもいい). It’s like saying “is it okay to…?” Check out our recap article or Season 4 Episode 11 of the podcast to learn more. In short, the format is:

Verb te form + もいい

Connect sentences

The next way of using the te form is by using it as a simple conjunction. Instead of saying “I did A. I did B”, you’ll be able to say “I did A and B” with the te-form. 

Let’s have an easy example: “I ate pizza and drank coffee.”

You can say it as “ピザを食べた。コーヒーを飲んだ。” (piza wo tabeta. Kōhī wo nonda.) But this translates to “I ate pizza. I drank coffee. To have the “and” in the middle, you use the te-form to get: ピザを食べてコーヒを飲んだ。(piza wo tabete kōhī wo nonda.)


The third way to use the te-form is by using it as a simple command. If you want to politely command someone to sit, like “hey, sit down”, just conjugate the word for “to sit” (座る) into its te-form: 座って (suwatte).

But a command to not do something gets tricky: you first have to change the word to its negation and then add a “de”. The format is:

Negative verb (without い) + で

To say “don’t sit down”, you say it as 座らないで (suwaranaide)

It’s different from the negative form of the te-form, which can’t be used as a command. For the negated te-form, whether it’s verbs or adjectives, all you have to do is negate the word first, then change the ending nai (ない) to nakute (なくて). 

Negative verb (minus い) + くて


食べる (taberu) = 食べない (tabenai) = 食べなくて (tabenakute) 

Express reason or a means

The fourth way to use the te form is to express a reason or a means. It’s like saying “so” or “because”. While you can use the particle kara (から) for “because”, this is another way to say it. 

Let’s have this example: “I saw some really cheap shoes, so I bought them.”

You could use “kara”, like 靴が安いから買った。(kutsu ga yasui kara katta). But you could also conjugate the i-adjective: 靴が安くて買った。(kutsu ga yasukute katta).

Present Participle

Our final way of using te-form is by combining it with iru (いる) to make te iru(ている) , the present participle. 

Verb (て form) + いる

To say “I’m watching TV”, you say it as “テレビを見ている。”(terebi wo miteiru)

Vocab Recap

In the podcast episode, we have roleplaying scenarios that exemplify this grammar point. Since we used a lot of new words, here’s a list for your reference:

Noru (乗る) – to ride

matsu (待つ) – to wait

au (会う) – to meet

kaku (書く) – to write

oyogu (泳ぐ) – to swim

hanasu (話す) – to speak

kutsu (靴) – shoes

yasui (安い) – cheap

yu-mei (有名) – famous 

miru(見る)  – to see

hima (暇) – free time

eigakan (映画館) – cinema. eiga (映画) is movie, kan (館) is building

kaimono (買い物) – shopping

mise (店) – shop

Nanji (何時) – what time

Ame ga furu (雨が降る) – to rain

Kasa (傘) – umbrella

Motsu (持つ) – to bring 

tatsu (立つ) – to stand up

suwaru (座る) – to sit

sugu (すぐ) – immediately

shigoto (仕事) – work

taihen (大変) – difficult

hirugohan (昼ごはん) – lunch

isogashii (忙しい) – busy

nomisugiru (飲みすぎる) – to drink a lot

ochitsuku (落ち着く) – to calm down

yameru (止める) – to stop

hanasu (話す) – to speak

shuumatsu (週末) – weekend

Conjugate the Te Form Like A Pro!

Okay, that’s pretty loaded. So, can we all agree that the te-form is one of the most useful grammars in Japanese? Let’s have a short recap to conclude what was discussed in the article and podcast episode:

Te form is used in 5 ways:

  • to give and ask permission by adding もいい to make てもいいi
  • As a simple conjunction
  • As a simple command (for the positive te-form only)
  • To express a reason
  • To form present participle by adding いる to make ている

To conjugate verbs into te-form, figure out if its a ru or u verb.

With る-verbs, the ending る is replaced with て.

With u-verbs,

Those ending with る, つ or う have their final syllable replaced with って.

Those ending with ぬ, ぶ and む have their final syllable replaced with んで.

Those ending with く have their final syllable replaced with いて. 

Those ending with ぐ have their final syllable replaced with いで.

Those ending with す have their final syllable replaced with して. 

To conjugate adjectives, i-adjectives just have the い change to くて, and な-adjectives have the な changed to で.

To conjugate nouns, add で.

The negated te-form is achieved just by negating the word (both verb and adjective) and then having the ない changed to なくて.

Phew. What’s the toughest part of this conjugation for you? If you need a bit more practice, check out the full podcast episode on the Nihongo Master Podcast! Or even better, get a subscription with us and you can practice the te form as much as you want! 

Rainy Season in Japanese Culture

Rainy Season in Japanese Culture

The rainy season is an annual occurrence throughout Japan. The dates of the rainy season vary throughout the country, but on average, it occurs from June to July. Subtropical places such as Okinawa have an early rainy season from the beginning of May to the end of June. Northern areas such as the Tōhoku region experience a late rainy season from mid-June to late July. This goes for Japan’s metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Kyoto as well. Hokkaido does not experience the rainy season.

The Japanese term for the rainy season is 梅雨 (つゆ). This translates to “plum rain” as it coincides with the ripening of plum trees. And while rain is common during the rainy season, it is not a constant downpour. During the peak season, there is on average a 50% chance of rain each day. Even so, the skies are often overcast and the sun only makes an occasional appearance.

The biggest symbol of Japan’s rainy season is the hydrangea since its blooming season coincides with the rainy season. Hydrangea in Japanese is 紫陽花 (アジサイ). These puffy bushels of flowers grow on bushes and come in beautiful shades of pink, purple, and blue. Their vibrant colors help to liven up the cloudy days, so they have become a much beloved symbol of this time of year.

Another flower that symbolizes the rainy season is the iris! Iris is Japanese is 菖蒲 (アヤメ). Like hydrangeas, irises bloom during the rainy season and reach their peak in mid-June. Irises are a beloved flower in Japan and have a long history in the country. They can be found throughout Japan and come in many colors. People enjoy the tradition of flower viewing during the rainy season, and irises are easy to find! They can be found blooming in parks, at temples and shrines, and in fields. Irises are also sometimes used to flavor wagashi!

Teru teru bōzu are a famous symbol of the rainy season. Teru teru bōzu, written as 照る照る坊主 (てるてるぼうず), means “shine shine monk.” They are handmade dolls made with white cloth, tissue, or paper that are hung with string near a window. They are meant to be talismans that bring about good weather. This tradition came from China and was adopted by Japanese farmers in feudal Japan. They are still made today, usually by children, and are easy to make. Two pieces of cloth or paper are needed. One piece is crumpled into a ball and the other then covers it. String is tied around the ball to create a ghost-like figure, and a face is added. There is even a warabe uta (童歌, わらべうた), a Japanese nursery rhyme, about teru teru bōzu. It begins, “Teru-teru-bōzu, teru bōzu, make tomorrow a sunny day…”

Fireflies enjoy humidity and moisture, so they come out in droves during June and July. Because of this, watching fireflies has become a common rainy season tradition, especially for children! The best time to see fireflies is during the evenings on days when it is no longer raining. Fireflies will shy away from light, so it is best to do it on nights when the moon is not out. Try not to use a flashlight or camera flash either! Fireflies are found throughout the country, and there are even festivals dedicated to them. These festivals include the Tsukiyono Firefly Village in Gunma and the Kugayama Firefly Festival in Tokyo. Some of the best spots to see fireflies in their natural habitat are Motosu Hotaru Park in Gifu, the Uchio Shrine in Hyōgo, and the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park in Hokkaido.

Once the rainy season has ended, Japan’s hot and humid summer rolls in. During this transition, it is common to begin to see–and hear–wind chimes. These wind chimes, known as furin (風鈴, ふりん) are a symbol of Japanese summer and the end of rainy season. These windchimes are made with a glass orb, a bell, and tanzaku (短冊, たんざく), a strip of colorful paper. They are then hung from the eaves of homes and buildings. When the wind blows, the furin chime, so the sound is associated with cool breezes in the summer heat. So, when you hear a furin chime, know that the rainy season is over and it’s time to grab your yukata and enjoy summertime in Japan!

Basic Japanese Grammar: Expressing Superlatives with 一番, もっとも and 最〜

Basic Japanese Grammar: Expressing Superlatives with 一番, もっとも and 最〜

This article will cover a grammar point that is super easy, ridiculously quick to learn and basically the best for a laid-back study sesh. Can you guess by the hints I’m dropping?

In our Season 4 Episode 15 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, we take a look at expressing superlatives in Japanese as part of our Study Saturday language series. We cover all the ways to say “the best”, “very”, “super”, “extremely” and everything else in between. If you don’t already know, the Study Saturday language series is formatted just like the Nihongo Master online learning system. Give the podcast a listen, and if you love it, you’d love our program!

Anyway, even though this article is recapping what we covered in the podcast episode, it also has enough information to get you to grasp the basics of Japanese superlatives!

Image Credit: Freesvg

Grammar Point 

The superlative in English is made with ending most words in “-est” or start them with “the most”. Fast becomes fastest. Convenient becomes the most convenient. But we’re not here to learn English, we’re here to learn Japanese. 

Ichiban (一番)

And in Japanese, the most common way to express superlative is by using the word “ichiban” (一番). This means “number one”. The format goes:

一番 + adjective

Let’s take a look at a few examples. “Fast” is hayai (早い) in Japanese. To say “fastest”, we just add that word after the word “ichiban”: 一番早い. It literally translates to “number one fast” but it’s basically saying “fastest”. 

“Convenient” is “benri” (便利) in Japanese. To say “the most convenient”, using the format above, we get: 一番便利

Mottomo (もっとも)

The formal version of that is “mottomo” (もっとも). So instead of using “ichiban”, you switch it out for “mottomo”. The format is exactly the same: 

もっとも + adjective

Ichiban hayai (一番早い) becomes mottomo hayai (もっとも早い). Ichiban benri (一番便利) becomes mottomo benri (もっとも便利).

Sai~ (最〜)

Another common way to express superlatives is with the prefix “sai” (最), which can be translated to “most”. Words in this category are mostly Sino-Japanese, which means that it’s of Chinese origin or makes use of morphemes of Chinese origin. There are a few exceptions to this, but we won’t go into detail, of course. 

Some common words that use the “sai” prefix that I hear often are: saitei 最低 or saiaku 最悪 (to mean the worst ) and saikou 最高 (to mean the best).

Expressing them in a scope

In any of the ways, you can express them within a scope. All you have to do is have the region after the subject, connect it with “no naka de” or just “de” to mean “in” or “among”, and then add whichever superlative form you want (ichiban, mottomo or sai prefix). The format is:

Subject + Scope (using の中で or で) + Superlative (一番 or もっとも or 最〜) + Adjective + Noun

For example, if you want to say, “Tokyo Sky Tree is the tallest building in Japan”, where the scope is “in Japan”, you can say it as: Toukyou sukaitsurii ha nihon no naka de ichiban takai tatemono. (東京スカイツリは日本の中で一番高い建物。)

Don’t be confused just yet. Let’s have another example. We all know Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. How do we say that in Japanese? Following the format, we get: eberesuto ha sekai de ichiban takai yama. (エベレストは世界で一番高い山。)

Asking a superlative question

Now how do we ask a superlative question? Easy. Simply add the question words (like dare, doko, itsu, Nani and dore), then the ga () particle, then the superlative form of the adjective and then the noun. The format is:

Question word (だれ or どこ or いつ or なに or どれ) +が + Superlative (一番 or もっとも or 最〜) + Adjective + Noun

So if you want to ask your classmate who they think is the coolest in class, you say it as:

kurasu no naka de, dare ga ichiban kakkoii to omou? (クラスの中で、誰が一番かっこいいと思う?)

Vocab Recap

In the podcast episode, we used a few new Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:

hayai (早い) – fast

Benri (便利) – convenient

Saitei (最低) or saiaku (最悪) – the worst

Saikou (最高) – the best

No naka de (の中で) – in or among

Sekai (世界) – world

Takai (高い) – tall, it can also be used to mean expensive 

Yama (山) – mountain

Kakkoii (かっこいい) – cool

Onaka ga tsuku (お腹がつく) – to be hungry

Chou (超) – very

Iroirona (色々な) – various

Isshoni (一緒に) – together

Sugu (すぐ) – immediately

Douyatte (どうやって) – how

Meccha (めっちゃ) – the informal way of totemo (とても)

Saisoku (催促) – fastest

Houhou (方法) – way

Dekoreeshon (デコレーション) – decoration

Saishin (最新) – latest

Shokuji (食事) – food. Tabemono (食べ物) is also another way to say food 

Tokubestu (特別) – special

Chuumon suru (注文する) – to order

Muzukashii (難しい) – difficult

Dame (だめ) – impossible


So, do you think this article is the best at explaining superlatives? I think it’s the simplest and easiest way of explaining superlatives in Japanese!

Now, I have a question for you: ニホンゴマスタポッドキャストの一番いいことは何ですか?

Speaking of the podcast, tune in to our latest seasons! We have an exclusive podcast promo code that is 50% off your entire subscription of the Nihongo Master program! 

Stay tuned for a blog-exclusive promo code! 

Basic Japanese Grammar: Expressing Hope with ばいい, たらいい, といい, ならいい

Basic Japanese Grammar: Expressing Hope with ばいい, たらいい, といい, ならいい

All of us have hopes and dreams, and don’t we want to express them? In our Season 4 Episode 8 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, we looked at how to say “I hope…” or “it’ll be good if…” in Japanese.

When I first started learning Japanese, I realised that this is one of the ways to level up my language skills fast and easy. So I thought it would be good to share it with all of you. This article is a recap of what we covered in the podcast episode. But don’t worry, you will get the full information you need here, too. 

The only thing you’ll be missing is the roleplaying scenarios. You would have to tune in to the podcast for that! 

Image Credit: Picpedia

Grammar Point 

The thing to note about this grammar point is that half of it has already been covered in Season 3 Episode 13. This covers the conditional form “if”. There are a lot of ways to express conditional. There are a total of four, and today, we’re going to use all four of them. Check the full episode out, or our recap article here. To summarise:

The first way is using とto express constant results and actual conditions: 

Verb (plain) / i-adjective +と 

Noun / na-adjective + だと

The second way is using ば to express a hypothetical condition, and is one of the more general forms:

Verb (with the last う sound changed toえ) + ば

i-adjective (the い sound changes toえ) + ば

noun / na-adjective + あれば

The Third way is たら. It is similar to “ba” as it’s also the other general conditional form, but it’s more for one-time results:

Past tense of any word + たら

Last but not least, the fourth way is なら, and it is for contextual conditions:

Plain form of any word + なら

Conditional + いい

Once you know how to conjugate to the conditional form, it becomes easy after that. To express hope using “i hope” or “it’ll be good if”, you add いい to the conditional form:

Conditional と + いい

Conditional ば + いい

Conditional たら + いい

Conditional なら + いい

From what I know, the differences between them are very slight, and very much based on the context. I’d say it’s similar to how you’d use the conditional forms. I always stick to tara ii and ba ii as I hear them being used the most.

Let’s have an example sentence: “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.” The first step is getting the conditional sentence first, which gets you “ashita ha ame ga furanai to” (明日は雨が降らないと). This is using the first type of conditional. Then add the “ii” afterwards to make the sentence: “ashita ha ame ga furanai to ii” (明日は雨が降らないといい). This translates more better to “If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, it’ll be good”.

To say “it’ll be good if it rains”, you can say it as: ame ga fureba ii (雨が降ればいい). I personally have no problem saying it as “ame ga futtara ii” (雨が降ったらいい) either. So to me, they all are more or less interchangeable.

Using it as a question

If you want to use it as a question, like “is it good if I…”, or in other words, “should I…”, I don’t think all conditional forms work. I would suggest sticking with tara ii and ba ii. 

The best example is: “what should I do?” You can change “dou suru” (どうする) which means “what to do” to either of the two conditional forms and have the same meaning: “dou sureba ii?” (どうすればいい?) or “dou shitara ii?” (どうしたらいい?)

Vocab Recap

In the podcast episode, we use a lot of new vocabulary words. Here’s a list for you to refer back to: 

Ame ga furu (雨が降る) — to rain

Jikan (時間) — time

Hontoni (本当に) — really

Hareru (晴れる) — to clear up

Warui (悪い) — bad

Asatte (明後日) — the day after tomorrow 

Mirareru (見られる) — to be able to see 

Kawari ni (代わりに) — instead

Ryouhou (両方) — both

Tonikaku (とにかく) — anyway

Konya (今夜) — tonight

Kaimono (買い物) — shopping

Komu (混む) — to be crowded 

Nipponshoku (日本食品) — Japanese food 

Takai () — expensive or high 

Onaka tsuita (お腹ついた) — to be hungry

Shinpai (心肺) — worry

Tenki yohou (天気予報) — weather report 

Tanoshimi ni (楽しみに) — looking forward to

What are you hoping for?

So, what are you hoping for? It can be as small as hoping for a sunny day to hoping for a holiday to Japan. I’ll let you figure that one out, now that you’re a pro at expressing hope in Japanese. Check out the full episode to have more examples of this grammar point in our roleplaying scenarios, as well as other everyday grammar points. 

Better yet, sign up with us for unlimited access to our online learning materials to level up your Japanese game! 

40 Japanese Words for Pride Month

40 Japanese Words for Pride Month

Pride month is here! To celebrate LGBT communities around the world, let’s learn some LGBT terms in Japanese.

First off, the term for sexual orientation is 性的指向 (せいてきしこう, seiteki shikō). The concept of different sexual orientations is somewhat new in Japan. Therefore, LGBT representation and acknowledgement have only recently come into the spotlight. Younger generations are more vocal about LGBT rights and representation, so these terms have only recently reached the general public. Since sexual orientation is only now making headway in mainstream Japan, many of its LGBT-related terms are loanwords.

For example, the term “coming out” in Japanese is カミングアウト (kamingu auto), a literal translation of the English phrase.


The scientific term for homosexuality in Japanese is 同性愛 (どうせいあい, douseiai). It literally translates to “same sex love” since 同 (どう) means same, 性 (せい) means sex or gender, and 愛 (あい), of course, means love! This pattern will be seen throughout the orientations we look at below.

To say “homosexual/gay person” you add (しゃ), which means person, to create 同性愛者 (どうせいあいしゃ).

The English loanword ホモセクシュアル (homosekushuaru) is also used. This term is sometimes shortened to ホモ (homo), though this can be offensive to some.


The most common term used for “gay” is also a loanword: ゲイ (gei).


The same goes for lesbian: レズビアン (rezubian).

The shortened version, ビアン (bian), is the most used version. It can also be shortened to レズ (rezu).


The official term for bisexuality in Japanese is 両性愛 (りょうせいあい, ryousei ai). This is very similar to the term for homosexuality, however, in this case, 両 (りょう, ryo) is used, which means both or two.

The term バイセクシャル (baisekusharu) is also used. Like in English, it is often abbreviated and written as バイ (bai) to mean bi.


The concept of pansexuality is not well-known in Japanese society. Even so, it has an official title: 全性愛 (ぜんせいさい, zenseiai). 全 (ぜん, zen) means “all” so the term literally translates to “all sex love.”

The much more common term for pansexual, however, is the loanword パンセクシャル (pansekusharu). It is also shortened to just パン (pan) like in English!


Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. In Japanese, the official term is 無性愛 (むせいあい, museiai), because 無 (む, mu) means no. Literally “No sex love.”

Like the other phrases, the more commonly used term is the English loanword: アセクシュアル (asekushuaru).

If a person has no sexual attraction but does feel romantic attraction, we typically use the term “aromantic” in English. In Japanese, this orientation is known as ノンセクシュアル (nonsekusharu), literally “non-sexual.” It can be shortened to ノンセク (nonseku). The official term is 非性愛 (ひせあい, hiseiai).


Let’s also look at the terms for heterosexuality.

The official term for heterosexuality is 異性愛 (いせいあい, iseiai). 異(い) means opposite or different, so this term translates to “opposite sex love.”

A common slang word for straight is ノンケ (nonke). This word comes from the English prefix “non” and the Japanese word 気 (き), which, in this instance, means “feeling.” The term originated in the LGBT community, so it is used mostly within the community, but is still common knowledge. It generally refers to straight men.

Loanwords are also used: ストレート (sutorēto) means straight and ヘテロ (hetero) is the same as in English.


The concept of gender identity is rather new in Japan, so it is not as well-known or as understood as it is in some countries. Due to this, the term for gender identity, 性自認 (せいじにん, seijinin), is not often used.


The most common term for transgender is トランスジェンダー (toransujenda). It can be shortened to トランス (toransu) or トラ (tora).

The terms FtM (Female to Male) and MtF (Male to Female) are also used the same as they are in English. They are not common knowledge in the general public, but are used within the trans community.


Unlike most of the other terms, nonbinary does not have an official term or loanword. This is because the concept is much newer in Japan and awareness is only just beginning.

The term closest to nonbinary or gender-queer in Japanese is X-ジェンダー (ekusu jenda) which can also be written as エクスジェンダー.

Reclaimed Terms


You may have heard of sexualities in Japanese being compared to cooking pots. The term おかま (okama) is believed to have originated during the Edo period (1604 and 1867). Its official definition is rice pot. The pot became a euphemism for a person’s–especially a male’s–backside. From that, it became a derogatory term used to describe gay men, drag queens, and trans women. This word can be offensive and so it should not be used to refer to a person or group. However, some in the LGBT community have reclaimed the term and use it to describe themselves. It is especially common among drag queens now.


The female counterpart to おかま is おなべ (onabe), which means cooking pan. This word is used to describe lesbians, trans men, and even tomboys. Like おかま, it is a derogatory term that has been reclaimed by some who want to use it to describe themselves.


The last cooking term is not an LGBT word, per se. It is おこげ (okoge), which literally means “burnt rice stuck to the pot.” This term refers to women, particularly straight women, who love gay men, prefer their company, and/or fetishize them. This term is mostly used by the LGBT community.

Blanket Terms

The loanword クィア (kuia) is the literal translation of the word “queer.” In English, queer has become a reclaimed word that many in the LGBT community use to describe themselves. In Japanese, the word is mostly used in an academic sense. It may be seen in research papers, news articles, and similar platforms.

Another term found in news articles in addition to common conversation is “sexual minority.” The official term used for this is 性的少数者 (せいたきしょうすうしゃ, seiteki shousuusha). It is also referred to by its loanword 性的マイノリティー (せいてきマイノリティー, seiteki mainoriti), which can be shortened to セクマイ (sekumai). “Sexual minority” is used both inside and outside the LGBT community. It is an umbrella term for anyone within the LGBT community, aka the sexual minority.

Basic Japanese: Too Much & Not Enough (すぎる・足りない・十分〜ない)

Basic Japanese: Too Much & Not Enough (すぎる・足りない・十分〜ない)

In our Season 4 Episode 4 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, we looked at the ways to say “too much” and “not enough” in Japanese as part of our Study Saturday Language Series.

I remembered the times I went somewhere in Japan and needed to express something that’s too much or not enough — let alone having to request for something more or less because of it. My beginner Japanese textbooks did not teach me these. 

So I thought, hey, I can take my past struggles and make it into something someone else can learn from.And here I am — guiding you through all the language you need to navigate through the excessive and insufficient!

The Study Saturday language series on the podcast is formatted just like the Nihongo Master online learning system, so for a sneak peek at what our program has to offer, tune in to our podcast!

Too Much using すぎる

Maybe you ate too much for dinner? Or over the weekend you were in bed practically the whole day because the night before you drank too much beer! 

The phrase to use to say “too much” is “sugiru” (すぎる). So to say “too much”. We attach this to the end of adjectives and verbs

With Adjectives

For adjectives, we take off the i (い) from i-adjectives and na (な) from na-adjectives, then attach the phrase at the end. The format is:

I-adjective (without い) + すぎる

Na adjective (without な) + すぎる

Let’s say you want to say “it’s too old” in Japanese. The world for “old” is “furui” (古い). First we take い out of furui to get furu (古),  then add the phrase. You get: “furusugiru” (古すぎる). 

That’s an example for i-adjective. Here’s an example for na-adjective: “It’s too easy.” The word for “easy” is na-adjective “kantanna” (簡単). First you take out the な from kantanna to make kantan (簡単) Then you add the phrase to get: kantansugiru (簡単すぎる).

With Verbs

For the verbs, it’s pretty similar to adjectives. Take out ru (る) from ru-verbs, and change u (う) from u-verbs to i (い). The format is:

U-verb (without う) + い + すぎる

Ru-verbs (without る) + すぎる

Here’s an example for u-verb in a sentence: “I drank too much beer”. “Beer” is easy: bīru (ビール). To drink is nomu (飲む), then and because it’s an u-verb, you change the ending う to い, and you get nomi (飲み) Using the format, you get: “bīru wo nomisugita.”(ビールを飲みすぎた。)

すぎる conjugates like a ru-verb, so its past tense is sugita.

Here’s an example for a ru-verb in a sentence: “I ate too much for dinner.” “Dinner” is yūshoku (夕食). “To eat” is taberu (食べる), which becomes tabe (食べ). The sentence you get using the format is: “yūshoku ni tabesugita. (夕食に食べすぎた。) 

Now, to say something’s not enough, there are two ways — the first is using the word tarinai, the negation of tariru which means “to be enough”. So if you want to say “I don’t have enough money”, we say it as “okane ga tarinai”. Oh, aren’t we all short on cash… But anyway, this phrase is more often attached to nouns as it translates more closely to “there isn’t enough….”

Another way is using juubun (it literally translates to ten parts but in Japanese it refers to being 100%). If you want to say you haven’t eaten enough, you say it as “juubun ni tabetenai”. You have to negate the verb in the sentence when you use juubun.

Not Enough 足りない and 十分〜ない

What about… if you don’t have enough money! Or what if for dinner, instead of eating too much, you didn’t eat enough?

To say something’s not enough, there are two ways: the first is using the word tarinai足りない, the negation of tariru足りる which means “to be enough”. This phrase is more often attached to nouns as it translates more closely to “there isn’t enough….” You add ga after the noun. The format is:

Noun + が + 足りない

Here’s an example sentence: “I don’t have enough money”. “Money” is “okane” (お金). Then using the format we get this sentence: “okane ga tarinai.” (お金が足りない。)

Another way is using “juubun” (十分). It literally translates to ten parts but in Japanese it refers to being 100%. This phrase can be used with verbs. First, you add the phrase then add ni (に). Then, you have to negate the verb in the sentence. The format is:

十分 + に + Verb (ない form)

Noun + 十分 + じゃない

十分 + な + Noun + がない

Let’s translate this sentence using the verb format: “I haven’t eaten enough”. Following the format, you get: “juubun ni tabenai.” (十分に食べない。)

BONUS: Requesting using 多めで and 少なめ

When you get something too much or not enough, you might find yourself requesting to fix it. You might want to make requests to add more of something because it’s not enough or add less of something because it’s too much. This was something I had to figure out the hard way, but not for you guys!

If you want more of something, you use the phrase “omori de” (おもりで) or oome de” (多めで) after the noun. The format is:

Noun + おもりで / 多めで

Say you want a larger portion of rice or pasta at a restaurant. You’d want to say something like this: “a large portion of rice, please”. “Rice” is gohan (ご飯). Then add the phrase to get: “gohan omori de onegaishimasu”. (ご飯おもりでお願いします)

Let’s have an example with the other phrase. Say you want more pickles in your dish, for whatever reason, just say “pikurusu oome de onegaishimasu”. (ピクルス多めでお願いします。)

What about the opposite? What if you want less of something? 

Something that’s extremely fresh in my memory is when I went to Starbucks and wanted to ask for less syrup in my coffee — I don’t know why, but Starbucks coffee is always extremely sweet! So I found out that all you have to do is say “sukuname” (少なめ) to mean less than usual.

Noun + 少なめ

So in my case, using the format we get: “shiroppu sukuname onegaishimasu!” (シロップ少なめお願いします。)

Vocab Recap

We used a lot of new words in the episode, so let’s have a list for reference:

Furui (古い) — old

Kantan (簡単) — easy

Tariru (足りる) — to be enough

Okane (お金) — money

Karai (辛い) — spicy

Chuumon (注文) — order. The verb is chuumon suru (注文する)

Kirai (嫌い) — hate

Sushi ya (寿司屋) — sushi shop. Ya (屋) can be attached to anything to mean shop, like ramen ya  (ラメン屋) is Ramen shop

Itsumo (いつも) — always

Aji (味) — flavour or taste

Nemu (眠む) — to rest or sleep. Nemuru (眠る) is also another way to say to sleep 

Enki (延期) — postponement

Tanoshimi suru (楽しみする) — to look forward to something

Tomodachi (友達) — friend

Shoukai suru (紹介する) — to introduce

Nomikai (飲み会) — drinking party

Too Much or Not Enough?

So you see, the grammar language introduced here is useful for both travel and everyday conversations. What is something that is too much or not enough for you recently?

If you’re interested in similar bite-sized grammar pointers, head over to the Nihongo Master Podcast for more. On the blog, we have recap posts of our podcast episodes — not only is there a brief summary of what we discussed in each episode but also the full vocab list for you to refer back to.

Basic Japanese: Asking and Receiving Directions

Basic Japanese: Asking and Receiving Directions

In one of our Study Saturday language series episodes on the Nihongo Master Podcast, Season 4 Episode 6, we looked at directions in Japanese. This is one of the basic Japanese knowledge that one should master when starting out with learning Japanese. In fact, we can also agree that this is a key essential in any traveller’s Japanese language travelling kit.

Study Saturday is our language series that gives you bite-sized grammar pointers on-the-go. It is formatted just like the Nihongo Master online learning system – we cover the language point, give a few examples through role playing scenarios and listing out the new vocabulary words used. If you’re considering signing up for our program but unsure of how it goes, give our Study Saturday language series a listen to try out! 

Grammar Point 

When you’re in a new country, there’s a pretty high chance of getting lost. I must admit that I’m not that good with directions, so I get lost even in my own country! There are two sections under the category of directions: asking for them and receiving them.

Asking for directions

So what’s the most basic question you’d ask when you’re looking for something? “Where is…”. To ask that in Japanese, it’s “…ha doko desu ka?” (〜はどこですか?) If you’re asking someone you’re more familiar with, drop the polite form and just say ”…doko?” (〜どこ?)

Where is (place/item)?

(Place/item) はどこですか? (formal)

(Place/item) どこ?(informal)

Say you asked someone where the toilet is — the most common question in the world. 

Where’s the toilet?

Toire ha doko desu ka?


If you want to be a little fancy and ask someone, “how do I get to…”, then you can say this: “…ni ha douyatte ikimasuka?” (にはどうやって行きますか?)

How do I get to (place)?

(Place) にはどうやって行きますか? (formal)

(Place) にはどうやって行く?(informal)

Another important question you might want to have in your notebook is “dono kurai kakarimasu ka?” (どのくらいかかりますか?). This translates to “how long/much will it take?” 

How long/much will it take…?


Say you want to know how long it takes to go from the station to the park, you can ask it with this sentence: “eki kara Koen made dono kurai kakarimasu ka?” (駅から公園までどのくらいかかりますか?) You can even use it to ask about how much it’ll cost — “ryōkin ha dono kurai kakarimasuka?” (料金はどのくらいかかりますか?)

Receiving directions

Ifyou’re going to ask somebody questions for directions, be prepared to get answers for directions. What’s the point of knowing how to ask when you can’t understand the answer?

First off, you need to know your basic directions like left, right, front and back.

Hidari (左) — left

Migi (右) — right

Mae (前) — front

Ushiro (後ろ) — back

Some directional answers are like “it’s over there” — that’s where your “soko” (そこ), “asoko” (あそこ) and so on come in handy. Here are the general directional words:

Koko (ここ) — here

Soko (そこ) — there

Asoko (あそこ) — over there

Some other important words to note are “massugu” (まっすぐ) which means “straight” and “magaru” (曲がる) to mean “to turn”. 

Usually, you combine “massugu” with “iku” (行く) to make “massugu iku” (まっすぐ行く) to say “to go straight”. There are also other directional responses like “turn left” or “turn right”. For those, you have to add the direction to the word “magaru”. 

To turn left/right

Left/right + に + 曲がる

“To turn left” it’s hidari ni magaru (左にまがる) and “to turn right” it’s migi ni magaru (右に曲がる). Here’s the basic directions listed:

Massugu (まっすぐ) — straight

Magaru (曲がる) — to turn

Massugu ni iku (まっすぐに行く) — to go straight

Hidari ni magaru (左に曲がる) — to turn left

Migi ni magaru (右に曲がる) — to turn right

When you ask a worker “toire ha doko desu ka?” (トイレはどこですか?), they might respond with directions like: 

Massugu itte, kado de hidari ni magatte kudasai.


Please go straight and turn left at the corner.

Vocab Recap

Let’s wrap it up with a quick vocab recap: 

Ryōkin (料金) — price

Kaban (カバン) — bag

Omoidasu (思い出す) — to recall or remember 

Jinja (神社) — shrine

Michi (道) — street or way

Eki (駅) — station

Hanasu (話す) — to speak 

Hayai (早い) — fast or early 

Yukkuri (ゆっくり) — slowly

Ichibanme (一番目) — the first. You can change ichi to another number to make it second, third, fourth and so on.

Kōen (講演) — park

Oboeru (覚える) — to remember

Saisho ni (最初に) — firstly

Deguchi (出口) — exit

Daigaku (大学) — university 

Daigakusei (大学生) — university student 

Yaku (やく) — approximately

Soto (外) — outside

Jitensha (自転車) — bicycle

Don’t be afraid to ask and receive directions!

How confident are you now with your directional language? I feel so much better every single time I revise it. With this basic guide, i assure you that you have nothing to worry about when asking and receiving directions during your Japan trip! Be sure to tune in to Season 4 Episode 6 of the podcast for the full detailed explanation of directions in Japanese!

Basic Japanese Grammar: Making Comparisons (の方が・より・ほど)

Basic Japanese Grammar: Making Comparisons (の方が・より・ほど)

As part of our Study Saturday language series on the Nihongo Master Podcast, we cover bite-sized language pointers in a fun and easy way. It’s formatted just like our online learning system: : we’ll go through the grammar point, then have a few role playing scenarios for you to get yourself accustomed to the new grammar language, and end it off with a recap of all the new vocab words we used.

In our Season 3 Episode 11, we learn how to make comparisons with “more than” and “less than”. Have you ever needed to make a comparison before? I do it on a daily basis — whether it’s to say that taking the train is faster than the bus or if coffee’s better than tea. 

Regardless of what type of comparison you’re making, we can all agree that it’s a pretty common daily occurrence and we must definitely learn how to say it in Japanese, right? And the best part of it all is that it’s not difficult in the least to do that!

This article is a recap of what was discussed in the episode, so check the full episode out on our podcast (where we have some scenarios for you to practice with). But don’t worry, you’ll be able to get the sufficient amount of information to use the grammar in this article, too!

Grammar Point 

If you’ve checked out our previous Study Saturday episodes, we covered how to give advice using “hou ga ii” in Season 3 Episode 9. Check out our recap article here, too. You’ll find that a part of this week’s grammar language is pretty similar. In summary, there are three ways to state comparison: “no hou ga…yori”, “yori” and “hodo”.

No hou ga…yori (の方が〜より)

The first way of comparison is by using “no hou ga…yori” (の方が〜より). It’s pretty similar to “hou ga ii” which is a way of saying “you should” in Japanese. “No hou ga” is like saying “more”, and “yori” is like saying “than”. The format is:

A の方が B より(adjective)

(Adjective) A more than B.

Let’s have an example sentence: “I like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate ice cream.“

The adjective in this sentence is “I like” which is suki (好き). Subject A, which is the one that is more than the other, is vanilla ice cream (バニラアイス). Subject B is then chocolate ice cream (チョコアイス). You get this structure:

バニラアイス (A) + の方が + チョコアイス (B) + より + 好きです(adjective) = 


Banira aisu no houga choco aisu yori suki desu.

Here’s another example sentence: “I think horror movies are more interesting than action movies.”

Subject A in this sentence is ”horror movies” (hora- eiga, ホラー映画). Subject B is “action movies” (akushon eiga, アクション映画). The adjective is “interesting” (omoshiroi, 面白い). To say “I think”, it’s “to omou” (と思う). Check out Season 2 Episode 8 of the podcast, or the recap article here.

You get the sentence:


Hora- eiga no houga akushon eiga yori omoshiroi to omou. 

Ha…yori (は〜より)

The second way of stating comparisons is similar to the first way. You can switch out no hou ga with the particle ha (は), and just use yori to make comparisons. The format is: 

A は B より(adjective)

(Adjective) A more than B.

So the above sentence can also be said as: 

ホラー映画 (A) + は + アクション映画 + より + 面白いと思う。


hora eiga ha akushon eiga yori omoshiroi to omou.

One thing to note is that you can only use “ha~yori” when the thing that’s being compared is the topic of the sentence. For the previous example, “horror movies” is the subject of the sentence. If the topic of the sentence is just “movies”, then the sentence becomes:


Eiga ha hora- no hou ga akushon yori omoshiroi to omou.

As for the first sentence on ice cream, the topic of the sentence is “vanilla ice cream”. If the topic of that sentence is just “ice cream”, the sentence than becomes: 


aisu ha banira no hou ga choco yori suki desu. 

See the difference?

~Hodo (〜ほど)

Last but not least, the third way of comparing. We use ~hodo (〜ほど) to talk about the opposite construction: X is not as something as Y. “Hodo” can translate to mean “to the extent of”. The format is: 

X は Y ほど (adjective in the negative form) 

X is not as (adjective) as Y.

Let’s translate this sentence: “I think running is not as fun as swimming.” 

X in this sentence is “running”, which is hashiru (走る). Y in this sentence is “swimming”, which is oyogu (泳ぐ). The adjective in this sentence is “fun”, and the negative form “not fun” is tanoshikunai (楽しくない). You will get this full sentenceL:


Hashiru ha ogogu hodo tanoshikunai.

We can also have this sentence using the previous grammar point (using ha…yori), and it becomes: 


Oyogu hou ga hashiru yori tanoshii. 

Swimming is more fun than running. 

If you’re comparing verbs, you don’t say “no hou ga”, but rather just “hou ga”.

It might be a bit overwhelming but let’s have a quick recap:

We use no hou ga…yori (の方が〜より) to make comparisons.

We can also use ha…yori (は〜より), only when the subject of comparison is also the topic.

We use ~hodo (〜ほど) when comparing in the opposite construction of “not as something as”. 

Vocab Recap

In the podcast episode, we used a few Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:

banira (バニラ) — vanilla

Choco (チョコ) — chocolate

Aisu (アイス) — ice cream

Sukina (好きな) — like

Hora- (ホラー) — horror 

Akushon (アクション) — action

Eiga (映画) — movie 

Omoshiroi (面白い) — interesting 

Hashiru (走る) — to run 

Oyogu (泳ぐ) — to swim 

Tanoshii (楽しい) — fun

Amai (甘い) — sweet

Shiokarai (塩辛い) — salty

Takai (高い) — expensive

Yasui (安い) — cheap

Chuumon suru (注文する) — to order 

Kau (買う) — to buy

Kaban (カバン) — bag

Kutsu (靴) — shoes 

Kaimono (買い物) — shopping 

Gogo (午後) — afternoon 

Iro (色) — colour

Tenki (天気) — weather

Aka (赤) — red

Aoi (青) — blue

Kuro (黒) — black

Shiro (白) — white

Start Comparing!

Adding comparisons to your everyday sentences quickly levels up your skills in the language. And it makes for great conversations with your friends. Why don’t you give this a try the next time you’re practicing your Japanese? For more ideas and examples of these grammar points, check out the full episode on the Nihongo Master Podcast!