When learning another language its helpful to have vocabulary lists to study from. This section will provide lists of Japanese nouns categorized by subject to aid in building a more expansive vocabulary. This is not an exhaustive list. Its purpose is to provide a broad sampling of Japanese nouns for study. If there are specific words you wish to learn that are not on the list consult a English-Japanese, Japanese-English dictionary, or try an online dictionary such as ALC or Goo. While reviewing the lists, take notice of the following characteristics of Japanese nouns:

An Overview of Japanese Nouns

Japanese nouns generally exhibit three noteworthy characteristics:
  1. They have no gender (masculine, feminine, etc.)
  2. They have no case by themselves (normative, vocative, etc.)
  3. There is no distinction between singular and plural for the most part. Exceptions:
    1. The suffix - 達 (-tachi) to make the noun plural [i.e. 私たち (watashitachi, we), 子供達 (kodomotachi, children)].
    2. Repetition of the same noun to make the noun plural [i.e. 人々 (hitobito, people), 日々 (hibi, day after day), 島々 (shimajima, islands)].
Japanese nouns have various forms. Some examples include:
  1. True nouns [i.e. 本 (hon, book), 名誉 (meiyo, honor), 三 (san, three)]
  2. Copular nouns turned into abstract nouns by using -sa [i.e. 暖かさ (atatakasa, warmth), 便利さ (benrisa, convenience)]
  3. Nouns derived from other parts of speech [i.e. 考え(kangae, thought), 美しさ (utsukushisa, beauty), 遠く (touku, distance), 赤 (aka, red)]
  4. Compound nouns, often derived from other parts of speech [i.e. 食べ過ぎ(tabesugi, overeating), 食べ物 (tabemono, food), 飛び込み (tobikomi, dive)]
  5. Foreign loan words [i.e. ズボン (zubon, pants), レンジ (renji, range), アーモンド (aamondo, almond)]

Categorized Japanese Noun Lists

Don't get overwhelmed by the size of this list if you are just starting your study of the Japanese language. While the average Japanese person would know most all of the following nouns, they probably would not know the kanji for many of them. The reason for this is that kanji is not often used for some Japanese words [i.e. トンボ (蜻蛉, dragonfly), カカト (踵, heel)] in modern Japanese literature. Even so, the following lists provide the kanji (when possible) for these words as well so that advanced students may recognize them when they do appear. The frequency of kanji use depends on the word and on the date the literature was printed, so it is left to the student to recognize when kanji is commonly used in modern Japanese literature and when it is not.

Please note that many additional lists are nested within the following list. For example within the "Leisure" list you will find links to further lists for "Sports" and "Music," which in turn have further lists nested within them. Commas (,) serve to separate multiple translations. A forward slash (/) serves to separate words that are similar or redundant enough to be included on the same line but are actually quite unique to each other and not simply another way of saying the same word.

Categorized Japanese Noun Lists
動物どうぶつAnimals
服飾ふくしょくClothing & Accessories
色と模様いろともようColors & Patterns
コンピューターComputers
文化ぶんかCulture
方向と助数詞ほうこうとじょすうしDirections & Counters
教育きょういくEducation
雇用こようEmployment
家族かぞくFamily
飲食物いんしょくぶつFood & Drink
健康と衛生けんこうとえいせいHealth & Hygiene
住宅じゅうたくHousing
余暇よかLeisure
自然と地形しぜんとちけいNature & Geography
代名詞と疑問詞だいめいしとぎもんしPronouns & Interrogatives
宗教しゅうきょうReligion
人体じんたいThe Human Body
宇宙うちゅうThe Universe, Space
ときTime
道具どうぐTools
交通、輸送こうつう、ゆそうTransportation