The general way to say “wear” Japanese is 着る (kiru).
However, there are actually many different ways to say “to wear” in Japanese, depending on the item you will put on your body. In this article, we’ll look at all the different ways to say to wear in Japanese.
1. 着る (Kiru): To Wear; To Put Something on Your Upper Body (From the Neck Down)
As already mentioned, this is the most general way to say to wear. You use it when you’re talking about wearing t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, or even pajamas. Here are examples of how you could use it in a sentence:
(Kanojo wa kiiroi jaketto o kite imasu.)
She’s wearing a yellow jacket.
(Kyō wa sētā o kinai to samui ne.)
It’s cold today without a sweater.
(Pajama o kite nenai to kaze o hiku yo!)
Wear your pajamas to your bed, or you’ll catch a cold!
2. かぶる (Kaburu): To Put Something on Your Head
Kaburu is generally used for anything that goes on your head, like hats, hoodies, wigs, and crowns.
(Kyō wa neguse ga hidoi kara bōshi o kaburō!)
I have a terrible case of bed hair today, so I’m gonna wear a hat!
(Jō-ōu wa hōseki no tsuita kanmuri o kabutta.)
The queen wore a crown with gemstones.
3. 履く(Haku): Clothing You Pull Up (From the Waist Down)
Haku is used for anything you’d wear below your hips. Examples include pants, jeans, underwear, socks, shoes, and leggings.
(Kyō wa atarashii kutsu o haite ikō.)
I’m going to wear my new pair of shoes today.
(Aoi sukāto o haiteiru no ga watashi no haha desu.)
The one wearing a blue skirt is my mother.
(Machigaete ana no aita jīpan o haite kichatta!)
I wore the pair of jeans with holes by accident!
Note: In Japanese, we say jīpan to say jeans. This word comes from a combination and shortening of “jeans” and “pants.” Although the younger generation calls them “ジーンズ (jīnzu) nowadays.
4. する (Suru): For Accessories, Neckties, Gloves, and Make-Up
Maybe some of you have learned that する means “to do.” However, when used in the context of wearing something, you use this term for things you add to your outfit, like jewelry or gloves*. Here’s an example of how to use it:
(Kekkon yubiwa wa nerutoki demo shite imasu.)*
I have my wedding ring on even when I’m sleeping.
(Nekutai o suru to kimochi ga hikishimaru.)
I feel put together when I have my tie on.
It’s important to remember that this word isn’t generally used for the main parts of outfits like shirts or pants.
*Note: For some clothing items, you can use several terms to say “to wear.” In the wedding ring example above, you could also use the verb “はめる (hameru) instead of suru. Hameru a word that means to put a ring-like object over something (like a ring on your finger).
Also, to say “to wear a tie,” you could use any of these words:
- Tsukeru: Explained below
- Shimeru – A word that means to fasten or to tie.
5. つける (Tsukeru): Perfume/Cologne, Surgical Masks,
Sometimes, both in Japanese and English, we can say “to put on” instead of “to wear.” Tsukeru is a word that can be translated as “to put on,” and we use it for things like perfume or earrings**.
(Kare wa kankitsukei no kōsui o tsuketeita.)
He was wearing some citrus perfume.
(Watashi ga yoku tsukeru iaringu wa, hoshi no katachi o shiteimasu.)
The earrings I wear often are shaped like stars.
**Note: As is the case with suru, tsukeru also has different meanings when used in other contexts. Both can mean “to put on.” However, tsukeru can also mean “to glue on, to join together to build, or to attach.”
Both suru and tsukeru can be used interchangeably for certain items. For example, accessories you put on your clothes or in your hair, some types of make-up, and masks can use both suru or tsukeru.
6. かける (Kakeru): For Glasses/Sunglasses
This word is used for wearing glasses – although it has different meanings in other contexts too. Kakeru means “to hang on or to lean against something. In the context of wearing clothing items or accessories, though, you only ever use it for wearing glasses. You are “hanging” glasses over your ears.
(Megane o kakeru to kao no inshō ga kawaru.)
My face looks different with glasses on.
(Shashin satsuei no toki wa sangurasu o kakeraremasen.)
You may not wear your sunglasses during the photo session.
I hope this article helped you learn the different ways to say “to wear” in Japanese. As an English speaker, I understand that it can be difficult to distinguish the differences between all these words that mean the same in English. However, with just a little practice, you’ll be using these words in your conversations in no time.