100 Most Common Japanese Adjectives You Need to Know

Last Updated on 06.01.2022 by Coto Japanese Language School

How do you tell your friend that their home-cooked meal is delicious? How do you compliment someone? You can’t make a conversation interesting by just nodding and smiling — you need to describe. This is why adjectives — no, Japanese adjectives — are important.

When you’ve learned the basic Japanese sentence patterns, this is the next step. In its essence, adjectives are used to describe or modify a noun. The good thing about the Japanese language is that, unlike English, you don’t have to sort adjectives into an order: does the color “red” come before “hot”; does “new” need to be put after “soft”? It doesn’t matter.

The (slightly) bad news? Japanese adjectives are categorized into two: な-adjectives and い-adjectives — and you need to be careful of them. The easiest way to separate one from the other is by checking the ending — more precisely, whether or not the word ends with an い (i).

KanjiRomajiEnglishAdjective Type
高いTakaiHighい-adjective
低いHikuiLowい-adjective
元気GenkiHealthy; livelyな-adjective
きれいKireiPretty; cleanな-adjective

Of course, the rule isn’t entirely accurate either. Notice that the word げんき and きれい ends with い, when in fact they are na-adjectives? What’s more important is knowing the Japanese grammar particles and modifications (to past, negative or past-negative forms) involved. It can be perplexing at first, especially if you’re new to the game.

A Quick Recap on Na and I Adjectives

Here’s where things get complicated: Japanese I-adjectives modify themselves. For example, when you say “this is not expensive” in English, you’re not actually modifying the word “expensive”. Rather, you’re modifying the “to be” verb.

However, in い-adjectives, you will need to transform the end. Take a look at the table below. We’ll be using the adjective たかい・高い, which means high (depth) or expensive.

Form Japanese
Present positive高い 
Past positive → 高かった
Present negative → 高くない
Past negative → 高くなかった

な-adjective is more convenient and similar to that of English. Its most defining trait is the な particle put between the adjective and the noun.

田中さんは有名歌手です。
Tanaka-san wa yuumei na kashu desu.
Tanaka-san is a famous singer

関口先生は親切人だ。
Sekiguchi-sensei wa shinsetsu na hito da.
Sekiguchi-sensei is a kind person.

When you want to change a na-adjective’s tense — be it to negative, past or past-negative — you cannot transform the stem word itself. Instead, you alter the linking verb: です. To paint a better picture, we’ve set another table using a common N5-level Japanese, 元気・げんき, which means health or lively.

Form Japanese (Casual)Japanese (Polite)
Present positive元気元気です
Past positive元気だった元気でした
Present negative元気じゃない元気じゃありません
Past negative元気じゃなかった元気じゃありませんでした

Haven’t fully learned Japanese adjectives? We’ve made a complete guide about all the essential grammar elements, rules and exceptions here (it only takes five minutes, we swear)

Before we go further into the article, note that from now, we’ll be using hiragana for example sentences. If you’re still learning them, don’t worry — take a look at our hiragana chart for the ultimate review.

Table of Content

In English, adjectives are divided into seven fundamental categories: opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin and material. In this article, however, we’ll be breaking them down based on how they’re contextually used.

Words with the particle な attached to them indicate na-adjective.

Jump to Japanese adjectives for describing:

Japanese Adjectives For Sense and Taste

The word あつい can be easily translated as “hot”, but depending on the context, the kanji used differs. In this category, the あつい we’re referring to takes on the kanji of 熱い instead of 暑い. This is because 熱い implies the hot sensation by touch instead of the surrounding temperature.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
熱い あついatsuiHot (touch)
冷たいつめたいtsumetaiChilly
あたたかいatatakaiWarm (touch)
美味しいおいしいoishiiDelicious
不味いまずいmazuiDisgusting
塩辛いしおからいshiokaraiSalty
甘いあまいamaiSweet
苦いにがいnigaiBitter
酸っぱいすっぱいsuppaiSour
辛いからいkaraiSpicy
臭いくさいkusaiSmelly
硬いかたいkataiHard
柔らかいやわらかいyawarakaiSoft
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Japanese Adjectives For Number and Quantifier

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
多いおおいooimany
少ないすくないsukunaifew
たくさんなtakusan naa lot
十分なじゅうぶんなjuubun naenough
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Japanese Adjectives For Dimension and Speed

Here, note that there are two meanings (and two kanji) for the word はやい: 速い and 早い. 速い is used to describe something or someone’s speed, while 早い has closer meaning to “early”.

田中さんは速いランナーです。
たなかさんははやいランナーです。
Tanaka-san is a fast runner.

去年、春の訪れが早かった
きょねん、はるのおとずれがはやかった。
Last year, spring came early.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglih
大きいおおきいookiiBig
小さいちいさいchiisaiSmall
長いながいnagaiLong
短いみじかいmijikaiShort
広いひろいhiroiWide
狭いせまいsemaiNarrow
深いふかいfukaiDeep
浅いあさいasaiShallow
速いはやいhayaiFast (Speed)
早いはやいhayaiEarly
遅いおそいosoiSlow
高いたかいtakaiTall
低いひくいhikuiLow
重いおもいomoiHeavy
軽いかるいkaruiLight (weight)
近いちかいchikaiNear
遠いとおいtooiFar
太いふといfutoiFat; thick
遅いおそいosoiThin
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Japanese Adjectives For Colors, Shapes and Texture

Historically, the Japanese language doesn’t make a distinct separation between blue and green. This is why the adjective for the color blue and green is あおい・青い.

However, there is a word to describe green in modern Japanese: みどり・緑, although it is still less commonly used. To use this, instead of attaching the adjective to な, you will use の instead.

地球を守りましょう。
みどりのちきゅうをまもりましょう。
Let’s protect this green earth.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
青いあおいaoiBlue, green
黄色いきいろいkiiroiYellow
赤いあかいakaiRed
黒いくろいkuroiBlack
白い しろいshiroiWhite
明るいあかるいakaruiLight
暗いくらいkuraiDark
鋭いするどいsurudoiSharp, pointy
四角いしかくいshikakuiRectangular
丸いまるいmaruiRound
荒いあらいaraiRough
平らなたいらなtaira naFlat
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Japanese Adjectives For Weather and Physical Condition

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
きれいなkirei naPretty, clean
美しいうつくしいutsukushiiBeautiul, lovely
かわいいkawaiiCute
醜いみにくいminikuiUgly
若いわかいwakaiYoung
古いふるいfuruiOld
強いつよいtsuyoiStrong
弱いよわいyowaiWeak
寒いさむいsamuiCold
暑いあついatsuiHot
蒸し暑いむしあついmushiatsuiHumid
汚いきたないkitanaiDirty
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Japanese Adjectives For Social Situation and Condition

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
良いよい, いいyoi, iiGood, alright, enough
すごいsugoiAmazing, great
素晴らしいすばらしいsubarashiiWonderful, splendid
悪いわるいwaruiBad
安全な あんぜんなanzen naSafe
危ないあぶないabunaiDangerous
高いたかいtakaiExpensive
安いやすいyasuiCheap
裕福なゆうふくなyuufuku naRich
貧しいまずしいmazushiiPoor
賢いかしこいkashikoiSmart
忙しいいそがしいisogashiiBusy
詰まらないつまらないtsumaranaiBoring
複雑なふくざつなfukuzatsu naComplicated
大切なたいせつなtaisetsu naImportant
難しいむずかしいmuzukashiiDifficult
簡単なかんたんなkantan naEasy
変なへんなhen naWeird
無理なむりなmuri naImpossible
上手なじょうずなjouzu naSkillful
下手な へたなheta naUnskillful
煩いうるさいurusai Noisy
静かなしずかなshizuka naQuiet, peaceful
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Japanese Adjectives For Positive Feelings

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
優しいやさしいyasashiiKind, gentle
親切しんせつなshinsetsu naKind
好きなすきなsuki naLike
親しいしたしいshitashiiClose (friendly)
嬉しいうれしいureshiiHappy
元気なげんきなgenki naCheerful, healthy, lively
面白いおもしろいomoshiroiFunny, interesting
楽しいたのしいtanoshiiEnjoyable, fun
幸せなしあわせなshiawase naHappy
懐かしいなつかしいnatsukashiiNostalgic
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Japanese Adjectives For Negative Feelings

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
ひどいhidoiCruel
悲しいかなしいkanashiiSad
寂しいさびしい`sabishiiLonely
つらいtsuraiPainful, bitter
羨ましいうらやましいurayamashiiJealous, envious
嫌いきらいkirai naHate
心配なしんぱいなsinpai naWorry
失礼なしつれいなshitsurei naMean, impolite
痛いいたいitaiHurt
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What’s Next?

A hundred adjectives might seem overwhelming at first, but with practice, you’ll be able to use them effortlessly in conversations. We like to remind our students to never treat い-adjectives and な-adjectives the same way (there’s no such thing as genkikunai!). While memorizing these Japanese adjectives, be sure to always note their classifications.

Now that you’ve learned how to describe a noun, what happens if you want to describe a verb? An adjective? Or even the whole sentence? How do you transform an adjective into an adverb in Japanese?

Make your conversation more interesting and descriptive by taking look at our guide to top basic Japanese adverbs you need to know.

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