In Japanese, idiomatic words are called Kanyouku [慣用句]. These are words or phrases that have meanings beyond the interpretation of the word. For those who live in a world of the moon, idioms are phrases or words with hidden meanings that cannot be seen just by reading, but by living the daily life and culture of the nation. Expressions such as abandoning ship (give up), hanging up your boots (retire), walking on eggshells (delicate situation), and so on.


1. What is Kanyouko - 慣用句?

The word Kanyouku [慣用句] is composed of the characters [慣] which means to get used to; [用] which means to use and employ; and [句] which means phrase. Meaning that we need to get used to the fact that the expression means something other than what we read or hear.


In English this type of expression is called Idom which in Japanese is transcribed as [イディオム] language. There are other Japanese words that basically refer to the same thing, which are:


Kanyouku [慣用句] – Composed of two or more words;

Kanyougo [慣用語] – idiomatic language;

Kanyougoku [慣用語句];

Kanyouhyougen [慣用表現] – Fixed Expression;

Kanyourengo [慣用連語]

Seiku [成句 – Idiomatic expression; Aphorism; Saying; Quote;

Jyukugo [熟語] – With Ideograms;

Yojijukugo [四字熟語] – With four ideograms;


Generally an idiom can contain proverbs, lessons, sarcasm, the law of things and others. It is also worth remembering the word Kakugen [格言] which are easy to remember expressions about human life, truths, commandments, martial arts, prices, quotes, warnings and business.


2. Why should you use Kanyouku?

  • Kanyouku helps us “think outside the box”

Incorporating Kanyouku into your writing is an effective way to make your work more creative. This is because a kanyouku can be used as an artistic expression.

  • Kanyouku helps us find our “sense of humor”

Kanyouku can also add humor to your writing in places where you may otherwise seem brash.

  • Kanyouku “dress [our writing] to impress”

There are quite a few Kanyouku that can take dull writing and make it more impressive, which used in the right context will serve writers well.

When you add some Kanyouku in your Japanese writing or Japanese speaking,... that becomes more “professional”, and absolutely you can get a high score on your test!


3. Some popular Kanyouku in Japanese?


  • Barcode Man: Bākōdo hito [バーコード人] Used to refer to some types of hairstyles.  

  • The join keep suffixed kun [君]: Kiipukun [キープ君] - It means keeping a relationship until you find someone better.  

  • Hard Butt, Soft Butt and Clean Butt: Shirigaomoi [尻が重い] - Heavy Butt to refer to the lazy and indolent. Shirigakarui [尻が軽い] - Light Butt to refer to the careless; reckless and promiscuous. Shirinugui [尻拭い] - Cleaning the Butt means cleaning up someone else's mess. 

  • Pull the hand: Tewonuku [手を抜く] - Doing a bad job; 

  • Light mouth: Kuchi ga karui [口が軽い] - Unable to keep a secret. 

  • My head hurts: Atama ga itai [頭が痛い] - To get stressed about something. 

  • Fire in hand: Hinote [火の手] - Attack, aggression. 

  • Good in the head: Atamagaii [頭がいい] - Intelligent, brilliant; 

  • Two melons: Urifutatsu [瓜二つ] - As similar (two peas in a pod). 

  • Sleep with ears in the water: Nemiminimizu [寝耳に水] - Great surprise, fright, astonishment; 

  • Sell oil: Aburawouru [油を売る] - Wasting time; to take time; 

  • Black belly: Haragakuroi [腹が黒い] - Conspirator; malicious; wicked.

  • Cat's tongue: Nekojita [猫舌] - Used to refer to people who are sensitive to hot drink. 

  • Cat's veil: nekokaburi [猫かぶり] - Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, someone who pretends to be naive. 

  • Sparrow tears: Suzume no namida [雀の涙] - Small amount, insignificant amount, fall into the bucket.  

  • In the horse field: Yajiuma [野次馬] - Curious spectators, people who go after an incident they have nothing to do with; rubber neck; 

  • Mushigaii [虫がいい] – Selfish; asking too much;

  • Kenennohaka [犬猿の仲] – Like dogs and cats (in this case, monkeys and dogs);

Save them and try to use them in daily life. If you think this information is useful, follow TODAI Japanese and download the application TODAI Japanese here to learn more Japanese in an easy way.