Ohanasi Kagawa

Useful to Know! The Japanese Word for Pain

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The Japanese word for pain

It is painful when you feel pain in your body.

You may feel pain when you are sick, injured, or have stomach pain for an uncertain reason… There are many possible situations.

In Japanese, we don’t use difficult words to describe pain.

It can be conveyed with onomatopoeia, a word made up of a single word combined with other words.

For example, when you go to the hospital with a headache, the doctor may ask you:

“What kind of pain is it?”

How would you answer it?

  • Throbbing (zuki zuki)
  • Pounding (gan gan)

We use these words when we have a headache.

Today, I will introduce some useful Japanese words that you should know. This way, you could reduce stress of not being able to communicate well even though you are not feeling well.

What kind of pain do you feel?

When your tooth hurt

ずきずき Zuki zuki

When your finger is stuck in a door

じんじん Jin jin

When one has a stomach ache

きりきり Kiri kiri

しくしく Shiku shiku

When you have a sore throat

いがいが Iga iga

When the limbs go numb

じんじん Jin jin

びりびり Biri biri

When the skin is sunburnt

ひりひり Hiri hiri

When you have stomach ache

ちくちく chiku chiku

しくしく Shiku shiku

When your bones or joints hurt

ぎしぎし Gishi gishi

ごりごり Gori gori

When you have a burns and peeling skin

ぴりぴり Piri piri

ひりひり Hiri hiri

Words to use when you’re not feeling well


くらくら Kura kura


むかむか Muka muka

When the hands and feet are swollen

ぱんぱん Pan pan

When your heartbeat quickens

どきどき Doki doki

Will the hosipital understand?


“E ga kirikiri itamu (I have a splitting stomach ache).”

Most Japanese can imagine what kind of pain it is.

The expression “kiri kiri” is accepted as common knowledge.

Of course, it is also understood in hospitals.

When a doctor asks patients, 「どんな痛みですか」”What kind of pain do you have?”

It is better to use onomatopoeia such as “zuki zuki,” “gan gan,” or “shiku shiku” to convey the pain more accurately than explain it in other ways.

Things to watch out for

It can be complicated until you get used to describing pain.

When you feel a headache, you will realize that it is a throbbing feeling.

It is hard to experience each pain separately.

However, you must be careful not to use the wrong word for pain.

Do not say, “Nodo ga gangan itai (my throat is pounding),” or “Atama ga shikushiku itai (I have a griping pain in my head).”

Let’s first try to apply onomatopoeia to the pain you experience.

It is very useful to know what kind of pain you are experiencing by sensing the location of the pain and the symptoms.

Let’s have fun at Ohanashi Kagawa and learn about what expressions of pain we can use!