There are many onomatopoeias in Japanese and it is very daunting to remember all of them so good luck…  In this blog I will teach the most commonly used ones.

Japanese has a large inventory of sound symbolic or mimetic words, known in linguistics as ideophones.[1][2] Sound symbolic words are found in written as well as spoken Japanese.[3] Known popularly as onomatopoeia, these words are not just imitative of sounds but cover a much wider range of meanings;[1] indeed, many sound-symbolic words in Japanese are for things that don’t make any noise originally, most clearly demonstrated by shiinto (しいんと), meaning “silently”.(wikipedia)

First we will start with onomatopoeias for animal sound effects.

animal sound

Animal Onomatopoeia
Dog わんわん
Cat にゃーにゃー
Cow もーもー
Horse ひひーん
Pig ぶーぶー
Rooster こけこっこー
Frog けろけろ
Monkey うきうき
Bee ぶーん
Fox こんこん

Next we will see the onomatopoeias for people sound effects.

people sound

People sound effect Onomatopoeia
Light cough こほんこほん
Snoring loudly ぐうぐう
Sneezing くしゅん
Group of people being noisy わいわい
Whispering こそこそ
Gobble a drink がぶがぶ
To smile にこにこ
To slurp ずるずる
To scream ぎゃーぎゃー
To stare じろじろ

Now I will list the onomatopoeias for the sound effects made by things.

sound effects made by things

Sound effect Onomatopoeia
Light ちかちか
Train clacking がたんごとん
Knocking こんこん
Thunder rumbling, or large object rolling わいわい
Heavy rain ざーざー
Thunder rumbling, or large object rolling ごろごろ
Crash がしゃん
Rustling さわさわ
Scattered rain, going through pages ぱらぱら
Ringing りんりん

There are also onomatopoeias for conditions.

onomatopoeias for conditions

Meaning Onomatopoeia
humid むしむし
shiny つやつや
Sticky べとべと
Steamy ほかほか
Spicy ぴりぴり
Shocked with light びりびり
Soaked with sweat, to be lazy だらだら
Sparkling きらきら
Wet びしょびしょ

There are onomatopoeias for feelings as well.

onomatopoeias for feelings

Meaning Onomatopoeia
Being nauseaous むかむか
To be lazy のろのろ
To have a chill in your spine ぞっと
To be worried やきもき
Thinking up an idea むくむく
To be irritated いらいら
Surprised びっくり
Happy うきうき
To feel drained ぼろぼろ
Worrying about the past くよくよ
Being fascinated by something beautiful うっとり

Now I will introduce some onomatopoeias for movements.

onomatopoeias for movements

Meaning Onomatopoeia
Clapping ぱちぱち
To roll (something small) ころころ
To be slow たらたら
To spin くるくる/ぐるぐる
To move jaws with eating motion もぐもぐ
To grin にやにや
To flap something ぱたぱた

There are so many onomatopoeias in Japanese and it would take so much remember all of them. You do not need to remember the whole thing at first just try and enjoy the uniqueness of the language now. You will naturally start remembering them by reading or hearing Japanese so just find your favorite onomatopoeias and remember them.

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