What is an onomatopoeia?

It is…

 the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it.


According to a website, there are 4,000 – 5,000 onomatopoeias in Japanese which is 3 to 5 times more as many other languages.

In this article, I teach you 5 onomatopoeias that Japanese people often use.


When something is shining, we say きらきら(kira kira).

For example,

ほしが きらきら かがやいて いる。

The stars are glittering.

きらきらと かがやいた め。

Shining eyes.

Interestingly, we call “kira kira name” for bizarre names sounding completely different from Japanese traditional ones.


When you wash your car, the car will be shining, right?

The state is called ぴかぴか(pika pika)

Additionally, we say ぴかぴか for new things.

For instance, when someone enters elementary school, we say to the students that ぴかぴかの一年生 (kira kirano ichi nensei).

If I translate it literally, it means shining first grade.

We also say ぴか for strong light like thunder.

By the way, in Japanese, the sound a mouse makes is チュー(chu).

A lightning mouse is Pikachu.


When giving a presentation, You would probably be nervous and your heart will beat faster.

The sound heartbeat makes is どきどき(doki doki)

When can you say どきどき?

If you are dating someone for the first time, you would be どきどき.

When you propose someone, you would be どきどき as well.


べたべた is sticky.

あせで ふくが べたべたする。

My clothes are sticky with sweat.

ごはんつぶが べたべたする。

Rice grains are sticky.

We also say べたべた for a couple acting sweet and flirting each other.

For example, こどもが おかあさんに べたべたする。

A child is depending on his mother.


ふわふわ (fuwa fuwa) means fluffy or soft.

For instance, ふわふわ した いぬ。

A fluffy dog.

Moreover, we say ふわふわ for something light and floating.

For example, くもが ふわふわと うかんでいる。

Clouds are floating.

Do you know Shiki, who is one of the ONE PIECE characters?

He ate fuwa fuwa no mi.

When he touches something, the thing will float.

If you’d like to learn Japanese more, please feel free to contact me.

I teach Japanese in-person or online.

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