Ureshii and Tanoshii – Expressing Happiness in Japanese

Those who start to learn Japanese or live immersed in the language, whether through reading, anime, dramas or living with Japanese must have heard the word ureshii [嬉しい] or tanoshii [楽しい]. In this article, we will try to understand in depth these and other words that express happiness in the Japanese language.

Other interesting words that express happiness in the Japanese language are yorokobu [喜ぶ] and shiawase [幸せ]. Note that all these words can express feelings of joy, but both have different ideograms. Let's start by analyzing it word by word.

Ureshii and tanoshii - expressing happiness in Japanese

The meaning of Ureshii

The word ureshii [嬉しい] is an i-adjective meaning happy and pleasant. The word ureshii is mostly used in moments or short feelings of happiness. Like someone who is happy to accomplish something today. The ideogram [嬉] that makes up this adjective means happy, satisfied and joyful.

Below we will see some example sentences with the word ureshii:

連れてきてもらえて嬉しいです。 Tsurete kite moraete ureshīdesu. I'm glad you brought me.
僕はとてもうれしい。 Boku wa totemo ureshī. I am so happy.
僕だって彼女を恋人にできてうれしいんだ。 Boku datte kanojo o koibito ni dekite ureshī nda. I'm so glad she's mine.
また会えてうれしいわ。 Mata aete ureshī wa. I'm happy to see you again.

I noticed in the sentences and in the jisho translations that the word ureshii can be used in a variety of situations to replace words like great, thank you, comforting, pleased, proud, and grateful.

Ureshii and tanoshii - expressing happiness in Japanese

Below we will show some words that have the ideogram [嬉] or adjective ureshii:

Portuguese Japanese Romaji
crying with joy 嬉し泣き ureshinaki
Looks happy, looks happy 嬉しがる ureshigaru
Flattery, adulation, praise 嬉しがらせ ureshigarase
joke, pleasure 嬉戯 kigi
Happy, Joyful, Glad 嬉々 kiki
happy laughs 嬉笑 kishou

The meaning of Tanoshii

The word tanoshii [楽しい] means pleasant, fun, happy and delicious. Used in situations like "That day was so much fun” or ”I had a lot of fun with that”. The character [楽] can mean music, comfort and ease and is involved in many words related to pleasant things like wonderful music.

Ureshii and tanoshii - expressing happiness in Japanese

Unlike ureshii, the word tanoshii is often used to show sustained and long-term happiness. There are cases where the two are interchangeable when expressing happiness.

Below are some example sentences:

旅行中楽しい思いをした。 Ryokō-chū tanoshī omoi o shita. I had a lot of fun during the trip.
旅行は楽しかったですか。 Ryokō wa tanoshikattadesu ka. Did you like your trip?
あまり楽しくなかったな。 Amari tanoshikunakatta na. I didn't have much fun.
僕も君と同様楽しくない。 Boku mo kimi to dōyō tanoshikunai. I'm not happier than you.

in the sentences of jisho I could observe that tanoshii can substitute words like pleasure, like, amuse, yummy, delicious, pleasant, enjoy, and even talk or other fun actions. Sometimes we don't need to specify an action, we just say it was fun or that we were doing fun things.

Ureshii and tanoshii - expressing happiness in Japanese

Below we will show some words that have the ideogram [楽] or adjective tanoshii:

Portuguese Japanese Romaji
Comfort, ease (adjective-na) raku
enjoy, have fun (verb) 楽しむ tanoshimu
Pleasure, amusement, pastime (adjective-na) 楽しみ tanoshimi
sheet music 楽譜 gakufu
Optimism, being an optimistic person 楽観 rakkan
dressing room, backstage 楽屋 gakuya
Paradise 楽園 rakuen
Walkover 楽勝 gakushou
Musical instrument 楽器 gakki

 Other words that express happiness

Shiawase [幸せ] – Literally means happiness, good luck and blessing. A long-term and deeper lasting happiness. The word shiawase is used in situations like “married and lived happily ever after”. The word is formed with kanji [幸] which means happiness, blessing and fortune.

Ureshii and tanoshii - expressing happiness in Japanese

Yorokobu [喜ぶ] – It is a verb that literally means to be delighted, to be happy, to be satisfied, to congratulate and to have gratitude. Yorokobu has a nuance that is describing a feeling objectively. Its character [喜] means to rejoice, take pleasure and be glad. I see this word a lot in Bible.

Omoshiroi [面白い] – Literally means interesting, fascinating, intriguing, captivating, entertaining, funny, comical and enjoyable.

Portuguese Japanese Romaji
Satisfied, Grateful, Appreciative 幸甚 koujin
Cheerful expression, satisfied look 湯色 yushoku
Happy, auspicious, propitious, joyful, naive 目出度い medetai
Harmonious, Peaceful, Happy, Friendly, Trouble Free 円満 enman
Aggravable, cheerful, happy and fun. 愉快 yukai
Good mood, happy, cheerful 機嫌 kigen
Happy, exalted, good mood, cured 快然 kaizen
happy (english) ハッピー happi
play, have fun 遊ぶ asobu

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