How to Say Flower in Japanese: Words and Expressions

Flowers play an essential role in the culture of Japan. Every spring, people in Japan enjoy hanami, or cherry blossom viewing.  Ikebana is the beautiful art of flower arrangement. Gardening is also a popular hobby among many.  

This article will teach you how to say flower in Japanese and useful phrases and expressions related to flowers. Let’s get right into it!  

How to Say Flower in Japanese: 花 (Hana)

Flower in Japanese is 花 (hana).

In addition to the kanji, you might see it written in hiragana (はな) or katakana (ハナ).  You can use 花 (hana) to refer to any flower, regardless of the size, color, or species.   

In general, hana is written using kanji (花). Children that haven’t learned kanji yet will usually write it in hiragana はな (hana). Japanese people often use the prefix お (o) to express politeness. The お is added before the word; お花 (ohana) or おはな (ohana). 

Writing ohana in katakana only, オハナ (ohana), is very rare. This katakana version might be found in Japanese articles, books, or websites. オハナ (ohana) is also the Hawaiian word for “family,” which is often talked about in Japanese publications. If you see オハナ somewhere, it most likely refers to the Hawaiian word for family.  

Another Kanji For Hana (華)

There is another kanji for hana in Japanese: 華 (hana). The pronunciation is the same; however, the nuance is different.   

花 (hana) is used for vegetation (flowers), whereas 華 (hana) describes something gorgeous like flowers blossoming. Here are some examples:

Examples:

1. 育てていたがやっと咲きました。
(Sodateteita hana ga yatto sakimashita.
The flower I was growing finally bloomed.

2. 誕生日にお花をもらいました。
(Tanjōbi ni ohana o moraimashita.)
I got flowers for my birthday.

3. 彼女はがあるから、女優として成功するよ。
(Kanojo wa hana ga aru kara, joyū to shite seikō suru yo.)
She is gorgeous, so she’ll succeed as an actress.

4. 華やかな生活に憧れて東京に来ました。
(Hanayaka* na seikatsu ni akogarete tōkyō ni kimashita.)
I came to Tokyo because I was dreaming of a gorgeous life.

*Note: 華やか (hanayaka) is a な-adjective that means “gorgeous” or “brilliant.”

Pronunciation 花 (Hana) Vs. 鼻 (Hana)

You may have learned that “hana” in Japanese means “nose.” Hana is also the word for nose. However, the kanji characters are different: 花=flower and 鼻 (hana) = nose.  

If you say the word on its own, 花 (hana) and 鼻 (hana) are pronounced the same. However, when these words are in a sentence, the intonation will change depending on what particle comes after it.

Here are some examples:

花がきれい。
(Hana ga kirei.)
The flower is beautiful.

In this case, the pitch of “hana ga” should be the following:

は (ha) = low
な (na) = high
が (ga) = low

Conversely to the above, if you say,

鼻がかゆい。
(Hana ga kayui.)
My nose is itchy.

the pitch changes to:

は (ha) = low
な (na) = high
が (ga)= high

Commonly Used Words With 花 (Hana)

A picture of a lot of blossoming cherry blossom trees next to a river with Mt. Fuji in the background.

Here are some terms that use 花 in them.  

1. 花見 (Hanami): Cherry Blossom Viewing

花見 (hanami) is a traditional Japanese seasonal event. When cherry trees are blossoming, Japanese people go out with food and drinks, mostly alcohol, to sit down under the trees and enjoy the spring. 

Example:

週末に会社の花見があるから、ちょっと顔出してくるよ。
(Shūmatsu ni kaisha no hanami ga aru kara, chotto kao dashite kuru yo.)
I’ll swing by my company’s hanami to say hello this weekend.

2. 花吹雪 (Hana Fubuki): A Shower of Cherry Blossoms

This word describes cherry flower petals flying through the air like a blizzard.

Example:

青空をバックにしたピンク色の花吹雪の風景が忘れられない。
(Aozora o bakku ni shita pinku iro no hanahfubuki no fūkei ga wasurerarenai.)
I can’t forget the pink-colored cherry blossom shower with the blue sky background.

3. 花屋 (Hanaya): Flower Shop

If you put 屋 (ya) after a noun, it will become the store that sells the item of the noun. This is like saying “store” or “shop” in English (bookstore, flower shop, etc.). Japanese people often add the prefix お(o) and suffixさん(san) like this: お花屋さん (ohana ya san). This expresses politeness and friendliness.

Example:

駅前の本屋さん、お花屋さんになるらしいよ。
(Ekimae no honya-san, ohanaya-san ni naru rashii yo.)
It seems like the bookstore in front of the station will become a flower shop.

Two Different Wants to Read the Kanji 花

Most kanji characters have two or more readings. These ways are the following: 訓読み (kun yomi) and 音読み (on yomi).  

訓読み (kunyomi) is the native Japanese reading of the kanji. Based on the kunyomi alone, you can generally understand the meaning of the kanji. 音読み (onyomi), based on Chinese pronunciation, is combined with other characters to form a word.  

The kanji character, “花,” has both a kunyomi and an onyomi.  

  • i訓読み (kunyomi):  hana
  • 音読み (onyomi):  ka 

Here are some words that use onyomi ka” to form words related to flowers.

  1. 花瓶 (kabin): Vase
  2. 花壇 (kadan): Flower bed
  3. 生花 (seika): Fresh flower
  4. 造花 (zouka): Artificial flower
  5. 花粉 (kahun): Flower pollen

Expressions in Japanese Using 花 (Hana)

A young woman dressed in a red kimono hold a red Japanese style umbrella. She is standing next to blooming cherry blossom trees.

Since flowers are a common item in Japan, there are many expressions using 花 (hana) in Japanese.

1. 両手に花 (Ryōte Ni Hana): Good Things In Both of Your Hands

This expression describes that a person receives two good things simultaneously, often used for men who have two women on both sides of them. It can be used either romantically, like two women fighting over a man, or non-romantically, like a father surrounded by his two lovely daughters. 

Example: 

素敵な奥さんと娘さんに囲まれて、両手に花の人生だね。
(Suteki na oku-san to musume-san ni kakomarete, ryōte ni hana no jinsei da ne.)
You are surrounded by a great wife and daughter. Your life is good.

2. 花より団子 (Hana Yori Dango): Practical Value Over Beauty

If someone chooses dango, a type of Japanese sweets, over a flower (hana), this person is said to value practicality over beauty. 

Example: 

こんなに綺麗な桜が咲いているのに、花を見ないで食べてばっかりなんて、本当にあなたは花より団子ね。
(Konna ni kirei na sakura ga saite iru noni, hana o minai de tabete bakkari nante, hontō ni anata wa hana yori dango ne.)
Beautiful sakura flowers are blossoming, but you just keep eating. You’re too practical (to enjoy the flowers).

3. 壁の花 (Kabe No Hana): A Shy Woman At a Party

This expression may be used if a woman is just standing by a wall (kabe) at a party because she is too shy. It is similar to the expression “wallflower” in English.  

Example:

そんなところで壁の花になってないで、一緒に楽しもうよ。
(Sonna tokoro de kabe no hana ni nattenaide, issho ni tanoshimou yo.)
Let’s not just stand here and have some fun!  

4. 高嶺の花 (Takane No Hana): Something Great That You Cannot Get/Achieve

Like a beautiful flower blooming on the top of a mountain, you can see it from afar but will never be able to reach it. This expression is often used for a very expensive item or a beautiful woman out of reach for someone. 

Example:

彼女をデートに誘いたい気持ちはわかるけど、高嶺の花だからやめておきなよ。
(Kanojo o dēto ni sasoitai kimochi wa wakaru kedo, takane no hana dakara yamete okinayo.)
I know you want to ask her to go out, but she is out of your league.

5. 鬼も十八番茶も出花 (Oni Mo Jūhachi Bancha Mo Debana): Everything Has Its Moment to Shine

Even the daughter of a monster (oni) will look attractive at a certain point. This somewhat shallow expression means that all women will look attractive at 18 (or in their youth). It also means “cheap tea leaves will still taste good if freshly made.”

Example: 

うちの娘も鬼も十八番茶も出花で、やっと彼氏ができましたよ。
(Uchi no musume mo oni mo jūhachi bancha mo debana de, yatto kareshi ga dekimashita yo.)
My daughter finally got a boyfriend just as she was starting to blossom.

In Japanese expressions, 花 (hana) is often used to describe something good; many traditional expressions use 花 (hana) to describe women, especially beautiful women.  

In today’s world, saying something which describes only women or beautiful women may not be politically correct. To avoid getting in trouble, you may want to keep quiet, or in other words, “言わぬが花 (iwanu ga hana), which means “some things are better left unsaid.”

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