A Comprehensive Guide to 40 Body Parts in Japanese

Imagine traveling in the beautiful green countryside of Japan when you suddenly feel a sharp pain in your stomach. You go to a hospital, but the doctors there don’t speak English. You find yourself unable to explain your symptoms.

This hopefully will never happen, but just in case, it would be nice to be able to describe your ailment to a doctor. This guide will teach you body parts (and organs) in Japanese and how to describe things like pain and numbness to a doctor.  

Of course, being able to say the body parts in Japanese is not only useful in medical situations but is also helpful for daily conversations (or for your pets when you bring them to the veterinarian).  

Basic Body Parts

Below we have 31 basic body parts, from head to toe. 

A basic formula for how to describe pain in a specific body part is: 

Body part + が痛い (ga itai) = My (body part) hurts. 

This formula can be used for all of the below body parts unless specified otherwise. Keep in mind that there’s more than one way to say “it hurts,” depending on the body part. 

For body parts on both sides of your body (eyes, arms, legs, etc.), you can use the words for right and left to refer to a specific side.    

  • 右 (migi): right 
  • 左 (hidari): left

Just add either the word for right or left before the body part.  

1. 頭 (Atama): Head

Commonly used in set phrases such as 頭が良い (atama ga ii), meaning “smart/intelligent,” and 頭にくる (atama ni kuru), which means “to become angry” or ” to lose your temper.”

There are two ways to describe headaches:

  • 頭が痛い (atama ga itai): my head hurts.
  • 頭痛がする (zutsū ga suru): I have a headache.

Specific Parts of the Head: 

  • 後頭部 (kōtōbu): back of the head
  • おでこ (odeko) / 額 (hitai): forehead 

2. 首 (Kubi): Neck

3. うなじ (Unaji): Back of The Neck

Yes, there is a separate word for the back of the neck– as anime fans who watch Attack on Titan may know. You could also say 首の後ろ (kubi no ushiro) to refer to the back of your neck.  

Not to be confused with unajū (鰻重), which sounds similar but is an expensive dish of broiled eel over rice.

4. 喉 (Nodo): Throat

5. 顔 (Kao): Face

To describe the left or right side of your face:

  • 顔の右半分 (kao no migi hanbun): right half of the face
  • 顔の左半分 (kao no hidari hanbun)): left half of the face

6. 目 (Me): Eye, Eyes

目 (me) can mean one eye or both. If you want to specify, you can say:

  • 片目 (kata me): one eye
  • 両目 (ryō me): both eyes

To say right or left, add the kanji for right or left in front of 目 (me):  

  • 右目 (migi me): right eye
  • 左目 (hidari me): left eye

7. 耳 (Mimi): Ear, Ears

Similar to 目 (me), 耳 (mimi) can be both singular and plural:

  • 片耳 (kata mimi): one ear
  • 両耳 (ryō mimi): both ears
  • 右耳 (migi mimi): right ear
  • 左耳 (hidari mimi): left ear

8. 鼻 (Hana): Nose

In Japan, people might often remark on how “tall” the bridge of your nose is by saying 鼻が高い (hana ga takai) for a nose that extends out further, or鼻が低い (hana ga hikui) for a flat nose. Usually, people wouldn’t say you have a low nose bridge as it could be insulting.

Nostril is 鼻の穴 (hana no ana).

9. 口 (Kuchi): Mouth

This is commonly used in phrases such as 口が悪い (kuchi ga warui) or 口が汚い (kuchi ga kitanai), which both describe someone who swears like a sailor.

10. 唇 (Kuchibiru): Lips

When you want to focus on your lips instead of the mouth as a whole.

11. ほっぺ (Hoppe): Cheeks

Sometimes also spoken as ほっぺた (hoppeta)、or 頬 ()、 though hō is more common in writing.

12. 眉毛 (Mayuge): Eyebrows

Also known as just 眉 (mayu) sometimes. Generally used to describe both eyebrows. If you wanted to talk about a specific eyebrow, you would say:

  • 左の眉毛 (hidari no mayuge): left eyebrow
  • 右の眉毛 (migi no mayuge): right eyebrow

13. 瞼 (Mabuta): Eyelids

14 睫毛 (Matsuge): Eyelashes

15. 胸 (Mune): Chest

A commonly used phrase is 胸がいっぱい (mune ga ippai), which means you are overcome with emotion. 

Similar to eyes and ears, to describe the left or right side of the chest, add either the word for right, 右 (migi), or left, 左 (hidari) before mune.

16. 肩 (Kata): Shoulder

To refer to a specific side, you can also use the words for left and right before the word 肩 (kata).

17. 腕 (Ude): Arm / Arms

18. 上腕 (Jōwan): Upper Arms

19. 前腕 (Zenwan): Forearms

20. ひじ (Hiji): Elbow / Elbows

21. 手 (Te): Hand / Hands

The palm of the hand is 手のひら (te no hira), also written as 掌, and the back of the hand is 手の甲(te no kō).

22. 手首 (Tekubi): Wrist

23. 指 (Yubi): Fingers

The names of the fingers are: 

  • 親指 (oya yubi): thumb
  • 人差し指 (hitosashi yubi): index finger
  • ● 中指 (naka yubi): middle finger
  • 薬指 (kusuri yubi): ring finger
  • 小指 (ko yubi): pinky

24. お腹 (Onaka): Stomach, Abdomen

Another way to say stomach in Japanese is 腹 (hara), but it is considered rougher and less polite. Men tend to use 腹 (hara) more than women.

Similar to headaches, there are also two ways to describe a stomachache:

  • お腹が痛い (onaka ga itai): my stomach hurts
  • 腹痛がある (fukutsū ga aru): I have a stomachache.

25. お尻 (Oshiri): Butt

You can also call it 後ろ (ushiro: behind), and there are less polite ways as well, but we won’t go into it here.

26. 足 (Ashi): Feet, Legs

This word can be a little ambiguous, as it means both the feet and the legs. There is another kanji, 脚 (ashi), with the same reading, but it is used to refer only to the legs.  

27. 太もも (Futomomo): Thighs 

The inner thighs are called 内腿 (uchimomo), while the outer thighs are called 外股 (sotomomo).  

28. 膝 (Hiza): Knee

29. 脹脛 (Fukurahagi): Calf

30. 足首 (Ashikubi): Ankle

31. 足指 (Ashiyubi): Toes

10 Major Organs

Internal organs are called either 内蔵 (naizō) or 臓器 (zōki) in Japanese. Here are some of the most common ones you’ll encounter in conversations or at the doctor’s office.  

  1. 脳 (): brain
  2. 心臓 (shinzō): heart
  3. 肺 (hai): lungs
  4. 腎臓 (jinzō): kidney
  5. 肝臓 (kanzō): liver
  6. 膵臓 (suizō): pancreas
  7. 脾臓 (hizō): spleen
  8. 胃(i): stomach* 
  9. 腸 (chō): intestines
  10. 膀胱 (bōkō): Bladder

*Note:– Earlier in this guide, we mentioned that お腹 (onaka) means stomach. So what is the difference between 胃 (i) and お腹 (onaka)? お腹 refers more to your abdomen or the whole area of your body where your stomach is. 胃 refers to the actual stomach sac on the inside of your body. Both 胃 and お腹 can be used to say that you have a stomachache. If you have pain in your 胃, that is something that feels unpleasant on the inside, while pain in your お腹 usually refers to pain in the abdomen (cramps, muscle pain, etc.).  

Expressing Different Types of Pain

If you encounter a medical emergency in Japan, the below will help you describe what type of pain you have.

1. 痛い (Itai): It hurts, Painful, Ouch

2. 苦しい (Kurushii): Painful, Difficult

苦しい (kurushii) describes suffering, lasting pain, or difficulty in doing something that usually is easy. For example, it is often used when you have trouble breathing. 呼吸が苦しい (kokyū ga kurushii): it’s hard to breathe).

3. 刺されるような痛み (Sasareru Yō Na Itami): Stabbing Pain

This comes from the verb 刺す (sasu), which means to prick, stab, or pierce. This phrase literally means “a pain that feels like being stabbed/pricked.”

4. 時々痛い (Tokidoki Itai): Sporadic Pain

This is the phrase to use if you experience pain that comes and goes.  

5. ずっと痛い (Zutto Itai): Constant Pain

This phrase is used when you have the pain is constant and doesn’t go away.  

6. きつい (Kitsui): Tight, Tough

きつい (kitsui) describes something that has a tight fit (like clothes) or describes the effort it takes to do something. Imagine going up a small flight of stairs and being completely out of breath and dizzy. This word can be useful to describe if you can do certain activities easily or not.  

7. チクチクする (Chikuchiku Suru): A Prickling Sensation 

チクチクする (chikuchiku suru) differs from 刺されるような痛み (sasareru yō na itami) in that it’s not particularly painful. It’s the feeling you get when your leg or arm falls asleep.  

8. ピリピリ(Piripiri): Tingling, Stinging

ピリピリ (piripiri) is commonly used to describe that feeling in your mouth when you eat something spicy or drink something with strong carbonation. If you have this feeling in other parts of your body, you can use this word to describe it.  

9. 痺れる (Shibireru): Numb, Limb Falling Asleep

痺れる (shibireru) describes both a feeling of numbness or when one of your limbs falls asleep.  

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned 31 body parts, 10 organs, and 9 different words for different types of pain and sensation in the body, you’ll be a little more prepared for any visit to a doctor. We hope that you’ll only need to use these words for friendly conversation and not for a check-up!

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