11 Ways to Say “Light” in Japanese

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The Japanese language is known for its richness and complexity, and an example of this is the word “light”. In Japanese, there are several ways to refer to light, each with its own meaning and nuances. In this article, we'll explore the different ways of saying "light" in Japanese and their various applications and meanings.

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Hikari (光)

The most common word for "light" in Japanese is "hikari" (光). This word is used to describe light in general, including sunlight, light from a lamp, or light emitted from any other source. "Hikari" can be used both literally and figuratively to represent hope, kindness or wisdom. For example:

  • Taiyou no hikari (太陽の光) – Sunshine
  • Kibou no hikari (希望の光) – Light of hope

Read too: Hikari – Light – Investigating the meaning in Japanese

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Akari (明かり)

“Akari” (明かり) is another word used to describe light, although its meaning is more specific. “Akari” generally refers to artificial light, such as the light produced by a lamp, candle, or other light source. This word can also be used to describe the atmosphere or ambience created by light. For example:

  • Kyandoru no akari (キャンドルの明かり) – Candlelight
  • Heiwa na akari (平和な明かり) – Peaceful light
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Koumyou (光明)

“Koumyou” (光明) is a more formal and poetic word for “light”. It is often used in religious or spiritual contexts to represent enlightenment, divine wisdom, or the light that guides people through darkness. For example:

  • Bouddha no koumyou (仏の光明) – Buddha's light
  • Koumyou wo motomete (光明を求めて) – In search of light (enlightenment)

Rousoku (ろうそく)

"Rousoku" (ろうそく) is the Japanese word for "candle", which is a traditional light source. While not a word for "light" per se, it is closely related to the concept of lighting and can be used to describe the soft, warm light of a candle.

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Tōka (灯火)

"Tōka" (灯火) is a combination of "灯" (tomo), meaning "lamp" or "light", and "火" (hi), meaning "fire". "Tōka" is generally used to refer to a small source of light, such as light from a lamp or candle, and has a poetic tone. For example:

  • Tōka ga yurete iru (灯火が揺れている) – The light (from a lamp or candle) is flickering
  • Tōka no michibiki (灯火の導き) – The light guide (like a light that guides one through darkness)

Karui (軽い)

“Karui” (軽い) is usually used to describe something light in terms of weight or feel. While not a word for "light" per se, it can be used to describe something that has a lighter look or feel, such as light colors or a cheerful atmosphere. For example:

  • Karui iro (軽い色) - Light color
  • Karui kibun (軽い気分) - Light humor

Light (ライト)

"Raito" (ライト) is a loanword from the English "light". It is used to refer to various forms of artificial lighting such as lamps, lanterns and LED lights. "Raito" can also be used in technology-related contexts, as in "raitogun" (ライトガン), meaning "light gun" (a video game accessory). For example:

  • Raito wo tsukeru (ライトをつける) - Turn on the light
  • Raito wo keshite (ライトを消して) - Turn off the light
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Tomoshibi (灯)

“Tomoshibi” (灯) is a poetic word to describe light from a source such as a lamp or candle. It can be used to emphasize the soft, warm atmosphere created by this light source. For example:

  • Tomoshibi ga terasu (灯が照らす) - The light shines
  • Tomoshibi no naka de (灯の中で) – In the soft light (from a lamp or candle)

Fuwafuwa (ふわふわ)

“Fuwafuwa” (ふわふわ) is an onomatopoeia that describes something fluffy, light, or airy. While not directly related to light, it can be used to describe objects or atmospheres that evoke a sense of lightness. For example:

  • Fuwafuwa na keeki (ふわふわのケーキ) - Fluffy cake
  • Fuwafuwa na kumo (ふわふわの雲) – Fluffy and light clouds
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Keikai (軽快)

“Keikai” (軽快) is used to describe something agile, lively or vivacious. It can be applied to movements, rhythms or atmospheres that have a light, energetic quality. For example:

  • Keikai na undo (軽快な運動) – Light and lively exercise
  • Keikai na ongaku (軽快な音楽) – Upbeat music

Aoi (淡い)

"Aoi" (淡い) means "pale" or "soft" in Japanese. It can be used to describe light, muted colors, as well as atmospheres or emotions that have a subtle, delicate quality. For example:

  • Aoi hikari (淡い光) - Soft pale light
  • Aoi kanjou (淡い感情) - Subtle or delicate feeling

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