Iro - Japanese Color Guide

Do you know the colors in Japanese? Talking about colors in the nihongo can be more complicated than it sounds. There are a couple of important points regarding its use. There can be several ways to speak a certain color in Japanese. 

Some colors were adapted from another language with their writing in katakana. Not to mention how to use them as an adjective or not. In this article, we will try to explain quickly and basicly the colors in the Japanese language.

Japanese Colors - Primary

The primary colors in Japanese are adjectives that end with the letter “i - い“. But, it is by no means wrong to write colors without the "i" there are some rules that we will see. Before we will see the primary color chart:

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HiraganaKanjiRōmajiEnglish
あかい赤いakaiRed
あおい青いaoiBlue green
きいろい黄色いkiiroiYellow
しろい白いshiroiWhite
くろい黒いkuroiblack

We can notice the use of kanji iroi - 色 in yellow, which means color, while the other colors do not need it. So it's basically like you're saying: Yellow color rather than yellow. We will not discuss these small peculiarities.

You may have noticed that green and blue are the same thing, hope that later we will explain.

Adjective of colors in Japanese

To color things up, like any adjective that ends with “i”You simply put the noun in front.

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HiraganaKanjiRōmajiEnglish
あかいくるま赤い車Akai KurumaA red car
きいろいほん黄色い本kiiroi honA yellow book
しろいマグ白いマグshiroi maguA white mug
くろいペン黒いペンkuroi penA black pen
Iro - Japanese color guide
How can we insult a color article without nyancat?

However, when you want to say that a thing "is" a certain color, you must remove the "i" from the word. Example:

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KanjiRōmajiEnglish
車は赤ですkuruma wa aka desuThe car is red
本は黄色ですhon wa kiiro desuThe book is yellow
マグは白ですmagu wa shiro desuThe mug is white
ペンは黒ですpen wa kuro desuThe pen is black

This rule applies only to primary colors, since there are other colors that are not adjectives “i“. You can also use the form without the “i”To refer to color.

You are not required to use the adjective “i” to refer to some things, such as:

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KanaKanjiRōmajiEnglish
あかワイン赤ワインakawainRed wine
くろねこ黒猫KuronekoBlack cat

Blue and Green in Japanese

In fact, there is the word 緑 (midori) which means green. however the word 青い can mean either “blue” or “green” according to the occasion. Aoi refers to all green and blue tones as an entire spectrum.

You can even notice the similarity between the colors blue and green, like in a car, some say they are green others say they are blue, that is the purpose of the word.

So, occasionally, when we go to call something green, the Japanese people use To

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KanaRōmajiEnglish
くさはあおです.Kusa wa Ao desu.The grass is green.
あおしんごうaoshingogreen light (traffic signal)

Curiosity: Japanese traffic lights are actually a little bluish compared to those in the west.

The Japanese also consider the ocean To, which makes sense considering that sea water is as green up close as it is blue in the distance.

But don't forget that there is the word to refer to Green: "Midori" 緑

Japanese colors
We wrote a text about it, you can read it by clicking on the image.

Other Colors in Japanese

The other colors are not adjectives “i“, And has no complications.

Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
KanaKanjiRōmajiEnglishGrades
こん- いろ紺色kon or konirodark bluea tone of To (blue green)
みずいろ水色mizuirolight blueliterally “the color of the water”, a shade of To.
みどりmidorigreeneven in the English sense - bright green and dark green, a shadow of To
むらさきmurasakiviolet / purplethere is no distinction between “violet” and “purple” in Japanese
オレンジ (オレンジいろ) orenji (orenjiiro)orangea similar color is daidaiiro (dark orange)
ピンク pinkurosea similar color is Momoiro"Peach color"
ちゃいろ茶色chairoBrownliterally “tea color”
はいいろ灰色HaiiroGreyliterally “gray color”, another word is nezumiiro "Color rat"
きんいろ金色kin'irogoldkin is the "gold" metal
ぎんいろ銀色gin'irosilvergin is the "silver" metal
せいどう seidouScarlet 
しゅいろ深緑shuirogreenDark green
あかねいろ akaneiroBronze 
ももいろ桃色momoirorosemomo means peach, and the peach is pink.
ベージュ黄緑be-ju kimidoriKissKimimidori means yellow green
グレー GureGrey 
だいだいいろ橙色DaidaiiroDark orange 
あいいろ藍色AiiroIndigo Blue 
こげちゃいろ焦げ茶色KogechairoBrown 
やまぶきいろ茶色YamabukiiroBright yellow 
ターコイズ銅色Ta-koizuLilac(Kanji is Akaganeiro)
Iro - Japanese color guide
Speaking of colors, look at how these figures are colored ...

Many colors, it is a normal word (like Gold and Peach) + [color 色]. So if you want to say that one thing is the color of another, you say [Word] + [Iro 色.]

Japanese color example sentences

Unlike the colors that have the adjective "i" in most cases you will need to use the particle "no" の to say that something has a certain color. Examples:

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KanaRōmajiEnglish
みどりのかばんMidori no kabanGreen bag
紫の自転車Murasaki no jitenshaPurple Bicycle

Remembering that the way of saying that a thing is a certain color, remains the same. Example: 自転車は紫です - Jitensha wa murasaki desu.

And To ask “what color” is a thing, you can use the word question nani-iro.

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KanaRōmajiEnglish 
何色ですか.Nani-iro desu ka?What color is this?
オレンジです.Orenji desu.And orange.

Well, that was a little explanation of colors in Japanese. I hope you enjoyed it, leave your comment, share and follow us on social networks.

See a video of the pronunciation of the colors, for you to train:

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