[Japanese Language Material] Japanese Onomatopoeia Guide #1

Hi everyone, this will be a short introduction to Onomatopoeia.  In Japan, you’ll often hear a lot of Onomatopoeia not only in writing and illustrations but used in speech as well.  Unlike in English where it is rarely used but more sound effects, the Japanese have differentiated OMTP(shortened it) into varying groups with each having their own meanings.
Let’s quickly get into the different types of OMTP

  • Giseigo (擬声語)

    Sounds that people and animals make. Simple words like a dog’s “woof!” or a baby’s cry or a cat purring.

  • Giongo (擬音語)

    More for sound effects that aren’t animal related, more object sounds like the wind blowing, an explosion, or rainfall. Out of the three types of onomatopoeia, giongo is the most inconsistent, and the one type of word you’re least likely to find in a dictionary. Think of giongo like the action words that comic books artists make up.

  • Gitaigo (擬態語)

    Words that describe actions and emotions that don’t necessarily make noises. Gitaigo is not technically OMTP because there is no sound but more of abstract things like a facial expression or a feeling.

I think the easiest way to memorize OMTP is to see it in action so i will list a few of them and try to find them throughout things.  There are many more, but for now some of the easier ones will do.


 Animal Name (English) Noise (日本語)
Bird ピチュピチュ
Cat ニャン
Cow モーモー
Crow カーカー
Dog ワンワン


Action Noise
Explosion どん
Screech きい
Sparkle ぴかぴか
Heart beating どきどき
Knock on the door どんどん
Silence しいん
Action Noise
Sizzle ピリピリ
Lick ペロペロ
Full stomach パンパン
Gulp コグコグ
Chomp; munch パクパク
Slurp ズーズー
Swallow ごくごく
Action Noise
Pouring Rain ザーザー
Rain パラパラ
Wind ぴゅう
Heat (from a fire or the sun) かんかん
Thunder ごろごろ


Next time! for now enjoy some great examples of OMTP from one of my favorite Japanese-American Youtubers, Sharlet Shay, who blogs about Japanese things and Hawaii.


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