Japanese Onomatopeia


a classic disney onomatopoeia

You might remember learning about onomatopoeia in grade school. You probably enjoyed saying these words out loud and marveling at the fact that they sound the way they are spelled. In English, it’s words like “pop” “meow” and “whoosh”. The Japanese language is filled with symbolic ideophones, or words that evoke a feeling, memory or vivid image. Hira hira is Japanese onomatopoeia that means “to flutter”. Kira kira means to sparkle. When a Japanese person hears the word kirakira, it is like they can actually se things that are sparkly. To English-speaking people, these words might now sound like what they mean, but that’s the beauty of different languages. Here are some more Japanese words that are really fun to say. Practice saying them with your little citizen to make the foreign a little more familiar in your home. Can they name things that take on these attributes?


nurunuru – slimy
What in your world is slimy?


pikapika – bright
What is something that is bright to you?


wakuwaku – excited
What makes you excited?


iraira – angry
What makes you angry?


guzuguzu – moving slowly
What moves really slowly?


kurukuru – spinning around
What makes you spin around? How many times can you spin around without getting dizzy?


kosokoso – walking quietly
Who or what walks really quietly? Can you walk quietly?


gochagocha – messy
When was the last time you were messy?


garagara – empty
What is currently empty in your house? The garbage? The bathtub?


tsurutsuru – smooth
What around you is smooth?


Make sure to share your little citizen’s answers and experiences with onomatopoeia with us in the comments below!

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