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Beginners Guide to Happiness in Japanese

Beginners Guide to Happiness in Japanese
Beginners Guide to Happiness in Japanese

Beginners Guide to Happiness in Japanese

How do you say “happy” in Japanese? I have been asked this question many, many times and this is one of the hardest questions to answer. It really depends on the context and in the course of my career as a professional translator, I’m sure I used tens of different words to translate it, but we have to start somewhere, so here is a very basic list of words that can be used for “happy”.

If you are talking about general, prevailing “happiness” for a period of time: 幸(しあわ)せ(な)、幸福(こうふく)(な)

a happy marriage
幸せな結婚(生活)

しあわせなけっこん(せいかつ)

I think my mum was happy.
母は幸福だったと思います。
はははこうふくだったとおもいます。

If you are talking about a temporary, passing feeling: うれしい or たのしい (I probably need to write another article about the difference between these two one of these days.)


I’m happy to meet you.
お目にかかれてうれしいです。

おめにかかれてうれしいです。

Children look very happy.
子どもたちはとても楽しそうだ。

こどもたちはとてもたのしそうだ。
Sometimes, “happy” is used for “satisfied”, then: 満足(まんぞく)している
He’s happy with his present job.
彼は今の仕事に満足している。
かれはいまのしごとにまんぞくしている。
“happy to do something (in the future)” would be: 喜(よろこ)んで~する
I’m happy to accept your invitation.
喜んでご招待をお受けします。
よろこんでごしょうたいをおうけします。
As I said before, these are just a few examples and sometimes a word listed in one section can be used in another section, i.e. people do sometimes use しあわせ to describe a happy feeling that will disappear soon, etc. If you want to understand subtle differences fully, you will need to read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies in Japanese and it is fun to do so!

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