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Japanese Vocabularies: Talking about human body

Let’s talk about human body in Japanese!

First, we’ll talk about head (頭 atama). Japanese word for head doesn’t include the face. That is why this word is used often in figurative speech such as 頭が良い (atama ga yoi) which means “smart” or literally “head is good” and 頭が良い (atama ga warui) which means “stupid” or literally “head is bad”.

Face in Japanese is 顔 (kao). Notice that the right part is similar to 頭 (atama). Let’s start with the basic of face. Eye is 目 (me), mouth is 口 (kuchi), tongue is 舌 (shita), tooth is 歯 (ha), ear is 耳 (mimi) and the nose is 鼻 (hana). Note that flower is also 花 (hana). They both have different kanji.

Another part of 顔 (kao) are まゆ毛 (mayuge: eyebrow), まつ毛 (matsuge: eyelash), くちびる (kuchibiru: lips) ほお (hoo: cheek), あご (ago: chin) and ひたい (hitai: forehead). Our hand is 手 (te) and finger is (指 yubi). Talking about 指 (yubi), 親指 (oya yubi) is the thumb and literally translated as parent finger. 人差し指 (hitosashi yubi) is index finger and the literal meaning is a finger to point at people. 中指 (naka yubi) literally means center finger. Ring finger is 薬指 (kusuri yubi) which translated as drug finger. In the old days, people use that finger to take their powder drugs since they though it was the cleanest of all. And 小指 (koyubi) literally means small finger.

お腹 (onaka) means stomach. When someone is hungry, they said お腹が空いた (onaka ga suita) which literally means that “one’s stomach is empty”. When someone is full, they said お腹がいっぱい (onaka ga ippai) which literally means that “one’s stomach is full”.

足 (ashi) is foot and the toe is 足の指 (ashi no yubi). Note that in Japanese, 足 (ashi) cover for both leg and foot. So if someone said 足が痛い (ashi ga itai), they might mean that their foot or leg is hurt or it also could be both of them. When required, they do have a more distinct word for heel, knee, and other parts though.

And that’s all for today! Whew, what a lot of words. And this is not even the complete list! It’s okay if you take it easy and memorize just one part at a time. Happy learning 😉

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