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8 Awesome Ways to Say “awesome” in Japanese

8 Awesome Ways to Say “awesome” in Japanese

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There’s not a lot that people agree about with regards to Japan. How to eat sushi, Tokyo vs Osaka, which anime is the GOAT? No consensus. But there is one thing virtually everyone can agree on.

Japan is awesome.

If you want to talk about the awesomeness that is Japan—in Japanese—then how do you go about it? We’re gonna tackle 8 ways you can do that in this article.


How do you say “awesome” in Japanese?

If you want to say “awesome” in the sense that something was impressive, you can say “sugoi.”


1. Sugoi (incredible; immense)

A word well known to anyone with even a passing familiarity with Japanese, sugoi is a great word to use when you want to say that something is awesome in the sense of being impressive or incredible. This can be awesome skill, strength, height, etc.

Sugoi is commonly written in kana as すごい. It can also be written with kanji as 凄い. Also, it sometimes gets pronounced as “sugee” (soo-gay), usually as a way to amp up the feeling behind the word.

There’s not much to know with regards to usage. See something sugoi? Just say “Sugoi!”


2. Kakkoi (cool; attractive)

Kakkoi is how you say awesome, but with the sense that something is “cool.” Furthermore, it’s usually directed towards males. So, if Tom has some sick kicks on, you can him with a “Kakkoi-yo!”

This one’s also usually written in kana, this time as かっこいい. You might also see it written with kanji as 格好いい. To avoid confusion, let’s look at a comparison with sugoi.


Kare-no-kuruma wa taihen sugoi ze.

His car is awesome (great performance).


Kare-no-kuruma wa taihen kakkoi.

His car is awesome (cool).

3. Saiko (the best; supreme)

No, no, not “psycho.” This is saiko, which means the “best, highest, most, supreme.” And it can be translated as “awesome” with these words in mind. In this way, it’d probably be closer to “the awesomest!”

We usually write this in kanji as 最高, though it can be written in kana as well as さいこう.


4. Yatta (Woo!)

Yatta is what you say when something good happens. It’s like “Woo!” or “Hooray!.” With that same feeling, you sometimes say “Awesome!” to exclaim how happy you are about an outcome. That’s where yatta comes in. Finished climbing a mountain? “Yattaaaaaa.” Got a good grade on the exam? “YatTA!” Team wins the cup. “YATTA!!”

This one only gets a kana transcription, no kanji, as far as I know. Here you go: やった.

Awesome in Japanese PIN



5. Subarashii (wonderful; fantastic)

Subarashii is a softer “awesome.” It lies in the same mental space as “wonderful” and “splendid.”


Sono patei wa subrashikatta.

That part was awesome (a good time, pleasant).

You’ll notice that this one can be written with kanji as 素晴らしい, although it’s frequently written in kana as すばらしい, so it’s good to recognize both.

Another quick example to get the feel of this one:


Fuji-san ga subarashi nagame datta.

I had an awesome (magnificent) view of Mt. Fuji.


6. Umai (delicious)

Ah, but what if you want to say that the food is “awesome,” aka “delicious”? Then you need our friend umai. Like the word “awesome,” umai is a little bit relaxed. That is to say, it’s not strictly formal speech, but neither is it rude. The slightly more polite version of “delicious” is “oishii.”

But when you want people to know that something is really delicious, then you have to break out the “Umai!” And if you’re really into it, you can contract the vowels into either a sharp “UmA!” or (similar to sugee) “Umee” (oo-meh). That’s when you know it’s seriously delicious.

This one is written in kana as うまい and in kanji as 上手い. Actually, depending on context, you might see it written a few other ways, such as 美味い or 旨い. When the word gets contracted it’s written as うまっ (umA!) or うめぇ (umee).

This one is often heard as a mere exclamation. If you wanted to say “This chicken skewer is awesome,” you would just say, “Umai!” If you really wanted to be specific, you could say “Kono yakitori umai!”

Heck, if you really want to pull out the stops, you could say, “Umai! Sugee umai!”


7. Osorubeki (dreadful; fearsome)

Ah, yes, that other meaning of awesome. I had to put this in here, even though it’s a pretty uncommon usage in modern English.

In this sense, we think of things vast and frightening. Literally something which inspires awe—awesome. To this end we have osorubeki.

This one gets written as 恐るべき in kanji. This one is literally a combination of “to fear” and “should.” It means, quite literally, “that which you should fear.” Neat. Let’s see it in a sentence.


Eizu-uirusu no kakusan wa osorubeki hayasa de susunndeiru.

AIDS is spreading with awesome speed.


8. Manji (thumbs up)

This next one is a part of internet slang and is a bit strange, especially to foreigners. Basically, you can express a sense of an approval-based “awesome” by writing the kanji 卍.

Now, that’s not connected in meaning to that terrible German appropriation from the mid-20th century. No, that’s the “manji,” a Buddhist symbol that is, frankly, everywhere in Japan and has no connection to Europe and its history.

Okay, so it’s not something problematic, and it is Buddhist…. Then how does that fit into the internet??

Great question! And I’m honestly not sure about the etymology of the expression (and neither is anyone else, apparently). It’s related to the Japanese way of saying “Really??” which is maji.

The original expression was maji-manji before it got shortened to just manji. My personal guess is that it was a punny and slangy way of saying something like, “For real for realz.”

And then, simply through the natural way expressions get shortened, the “maji” part was dropped.

It’s been really popular, especially among schoolgirls in Japan (voted most popular slang of 2016!). Heck, there’s a whole pose that goes with it.

So, how does this work, anyway? One tweet looked like this:


#愛夫弁当 #卍

Thank you for the adorable bento!

#Lover boy bento



?Goin’ for Starbucks?