Japanese onomatopoeia

So I love umeboshi, whether it’s in onigiri, or just eating it straight out of a packet. Some people find it weird, but I’m also the type to eat spoonfuls of Nutella straight out the jar 😀 Knowing how much I love umeboshi, my friend asked me if I had ever tried カリカリ (kari kari) umeboshi. kari kari? Was this some kind of new Japanese flavour? 違う。Wrong. kari kari was just the onomatopoeic word for “crunchy”. As you study Japanese, you’ll soon find out that it is full of onomatopoeic words! And learning these words will make your Japanese sound a lot more native 😉 Here are a few you may have heard of already:

ドキドキ doki doki: sound of a heart beat (thump-thump). It is often used when you are excited or nervous about something, especially when it comes to love 😉 ドキドキする doki doki suru. Most of these words will take the verb suru, which means “to do”.

ワクワク waku waku: this means to be excited, thrilled or nervous. You’ll often hear me say this as I tend to get over excited about anything related to Japan.

プンプン pun pun: I love this one, just because I find the word really cute 😀 But actually it means to be furious.

もぐもぐ mogu mogu or モゴモゴ mogo mogo: this means to chew (food) or chew on your own words/ mumble.

ごくごく goku goku: gulping repetitively. ごくごく飲んでいます goku goku nondeimasu.

スヤスヤ suya suya: sleeping peacefully or soundly

ワンワン wan wan: a dog’s barking sound or a baby’s cry

カチカチ kachi kachi or コチコチ kochi kochi: the ticktock sound of a clock or to be frightened, nervous.

These are but a few examples, and there are sooo many of them. You’ll often find that they use a lot of onomatopoeia in manga, to describe the mood or actions within the drawings. Also you may find that some Japanese people actually only use onomatopoeia to speak! Which can be so confusing sometimes (@_@)!


「今朝犬がワンワン吠えていたから、早くに起きて、頭がガンガンしていた。本当にプンプンしていた。スヤスヤと寝られなかったから、諦めた。ぱっと、部屋には日光がさんさんと注いでいた。一人でバカバカしいニコニコしていた。ワクワクしくなりました。今日はいい写真が撮られると思った ^^」

Do you know any onomatopoeia? If so, share in the comments below!


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