15 Aesthetic Japanese Words and Meanings You Will Love

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‘Aesthetic’ is hard to describe in words, perhaps because it is mainly a visual thing! Aesthetic is pretty much the concept of beauty and taste. If something is aesthetically pleasing, that means it is satisfying to the senses, particularly sight. 

We already talked about beautiful Japanese words, which were related to the deep and beautiful meanings behind Japanese terms.

Today, we will focus on aesthetic Japanese words that hold beauty also in how they appear; words which are aesthetically pleasing regardless of whether people know their meanings or not. 

Something which I find accentuates the aesthetic value of Japanese words is the art of Japanese calligraphy.

Japanese Calligraphy

The Japanese art of shodo (書道 / しょどう) or shuuji (習字 / しゅうじ) is a traditional style of calligraphy in Japan. It is the art of skillfully writing a script with black ink and a brush.

It is a form of artistic expression that has been practiced in Japan for hundreds of years, and is still kept alive to this day! 

Shodo is the art form of Japanese calligraphy itself, while shuuji refers to the study and practice of the aesthetic lettering. 

Shodo inspired tattoos are becoming increasingly popular due for the most part to their stylistic, aesthetic appeal.  

A Japanese miko (shrine attendant) dressed in traditional attire writes aesthetic calligraphy with a brush at a desk in a Japanese shrine.
A miko (shrine attendant) writing calligraphy at a Shinto shrine in Japan. Image: Miko, Shodo, Nikko by DavideGorla, shared under licence CC BY 2.0

Japanese Script Tattoos

Japanese kanji characters come from Chinese script. Kanji are logographic, meaning each character has its own meaning and pronunciation.

Not only can they have beautiful meanings, but kanji can also be quite intricate and interesting to look at. This is why Japanese calligraphy is so renowned and also why you may see many people sporting kanji tattoos as artistic expression!

These days, many people get tattoos for aesthetic purposes and Japanese style tattoos have become popular all around the world.

If you are looking for aesthetic Japanese words for the purpose of getting a tattoo, keep in mind that it is important to not focus solely on the visual aspect of Japanese words, but also the meaning.

If you get a tattoo in a language that you are not familiar with, doing your research carefully before getting inked is essential in order to show cultural awareness. (Also, to prevent getting weird looks from locals due to a Google Translate disaster forever inked on your arm!)

Aesthetic Japanese Words

Below is a list of words that would be perfect subjects of shodo or shodo inspired tattoos due to their aesthetic qualities. 



Cherry blossoms with paper lanterns. The Japanese character for "love" (愛) is displayed, along with the romaji "ai" and the English translation "love," all superimposed on the image. Text reads: "aesthetic Japanese words.

It is no surprise that the kanji character for ‘love’ is at the top of the list! This kanji is pronounced as pronounced ai (愛 / あい).

Love is just a beautiful word, in every language! Not only that, but the style of the kanji is quite interesting, without being too complicated and busy. 



The Japanese word "恋 (koi)" meaning "love" is elegantly displayed on an image featuring a neon-lit alley and flowers, perfectly capturing the charm of aesthetic Japanese words. More can be explored at teamjapanese.com.

Koi (恋 / こい) is another word that means ‘love’ in Japanese. The difference between koi and ai is that koi tends to refer to ‘romantic love’, while ai relates to a more general sense of love.

Ai is more of a true deep love which you may feel for family or friends. Koi is something you feel when you fall in love with someone and incorporates that feeling of yearning.



Image displaying the Japanese word "kokoro" with its English translation "heart" overlaid on a background of cherry blossoms and a light blue railing. Text at the top reads "aesthetic Japanese words," perfectly capturing the serene beauty and profound meaning of these phrases.

Kokoro (心 / こころ) translates as ‘heart’ in Japanese. In Japanese, kokoro refers not solely to the heart as the organ of the body, but encapsulates a spiritual interpretation of heart, mind and spirit.

For such a deep and complex term, the kanji is rather simple. Perfectly fitting for a minimal aesthetic!

If you look closely, you can see 心 in both 愛 and 恋!



A large ocean wave with the Japanese character for "power" (chikara) in front. Text reads "aesthetic Japanese words" and "teamjapanese.com".

Chikara (力 / ちから) means ‘power’ or ‘strength’ in Japanese. This is a super popular kanji tattoo as it looks simple and clean, but has a strong meaning. 



A bamboo forest with the word "shin" in Japanese kanji and English, meaning "trust." At the top, the phrase "aesthetic Japanese words" graces the scene, while "teamjapanese.com" sits subtly at the bottom.

Shin (信 / しん) is a noun that translates as ‘trust’, ‘faith’ or sometimes ‘honesty’. People have gotten the kanji shin as a stand alone tattoo, however it is more commonly used in Japanese as a compound word with other characters. For example, the word jishin (自信  / じしん) is a compound of the word ‘self’ (自) and ‘belief’, and means ‘self confidence’!

If you know some Japanese, you may recognise shin from the verb shinjiru (信じる / しんじる) meaning ‘to believe’. 

Fubo / chichi haha


Father and Mother

Text reads "aesthetic Japanese words. 父母 fubo father and mother." Cherry blossoms and a wooden bridge by a river in the background, creating an idyllic scene that perfectly complements the beauty of these aesthetic Japanese words.

As tattoos often relate to something meaningful, it is no surprise that fubo (父母 / ふぼ) is a popular option for many people! On their own, chichi (父 / ちち) means ‘father’ and haha (母 / はは) means ‘mother’. When put together, it is pronounced as fubo and means ‘parents’.

These kanji characters have a unique look to them and are instantly recognisable as meaning ‘father mother’, so both aesthetically and meaning wise, they are wonderful Japanese words to know.




Moss-covered stone lanterns in a forest with the aesthetic Japanese word "kazoku" and its English translation "family" written over the image.

Kazoku (家族 / かぞく) means ‘family’ in Japanese. The first kanji 家 means ‘house’ or ‘home’ while the second kanji 族 means ‘tribe’ or a group of people. So ‘family’ is essentially a group of people living together under one roof.

Of course, a family is be more than just that, but it’s a good example of how characters can come together and paint a picture of the word it intends to depict! 



A scene with traditional Japanese umbrellas illuminated under soft light. The Kanji character for "wa," meaning "harmony," is prominently displayed, enhancing the beauty of aesthetic Japanese words.

Wa (和 / わ) is often translated as meaning ‘harmony’. Wa is a very meaningful Japanese word, as well as a super important aesthetic and core value in Japanese culture!

Living by wa means that you strive to maintain harmony and peaceful unity in all aspects of life. It is definitely one of the reasons Japanese people are seen as so polite, as wa is so ingrained in the culture.

Wa is so Japanese in fact, that the kanji character wa can also be translated to literally mean ‘Japan’ or describe something as ‘Japanese’. For example, washoku (和食 / わしょく) is ‘Japanese food’!



Image of a Tokyo skyline at night with glowing skyscrapers. The text reads "Explore aesthetic Japanese words. 勇 yuu bravery" with the URL "teamjapanese.com".

The kanji character yuu (勇 / ゆう) means ‘bravery’ in Japanese. That being said, when you want to use ‘bravery’ in a sentence in Japanese, it is generally used as the compound word yuuki (勇気 / ゆうき). 

Even just the look of the character itself seems to convey an air of strength and bravery. Perhaps due to the bottom of the kanji 勇 holding some semblance to the previously mentioned 力 (chikara) meaning ‘strength’!




Japanese word "tsuyoi" meaning "strong" displayed over an evening cityscape featuring an illuminated tower and green foliage. Text states "aesthetic Japanese words.

The Japanese word for ‘strong’ is tsuyoi (強い / つよい). The good thing about kanji is that you don’t need a full sentence or compound to express a term. Although the adjective tsuyoi is spelled using a mixture of kanji and hiragana, the kanji character 強 by itself is enough to represent the idea of ‘strength’. 



Green bamboo forest background with the Japanese word "無" and its readings "mu" and "nothing" on top. The text at the top reads "aesthetic Japanese words," emphasizing the beauty of such language. "teamjapanese.com" is at the bottom.

Mu (無 / む) is a noun that means ‘nothing’ and expresses absence or lack of something. 

Mu is a very significant concept in Buddhism. In fact, it is said to be ‘beyond concept’ as it is hard to describe in mere words. If I were to try to explain it, I would say mu is regarded as pure awareness or consciousness. It is not easily explained as it is something that must be discovered through one’s own spiritual journey. 

無 is a popular and stylistic Japanese word for many people who may have a spiritual background.



Industrial skyline at night with smokestacks. Text: "Aesthetic Japanese words: 風 fuu wind. teamjapanese.com".

If you have some knowledge of Japanese, you make recognise the kanji symbol 風 as the Japanese word for ‘wind’, pronounced kaze (かぜ).

Additionally, 風 when pronounced as fuu (ふう)can mean ‘manner’ or ‘style’. For example, nihonfuu (日本風 / にほんふう) means ‘Japanese style’ or ‘Japanesque’.

It’s been said that the kanji for 風 stems from 鳳 which is a large mythical bird. It was thought that wind was generated by the bird flapping its wings. 



The text reads "aesthetic Japanese words" with the kanji for "dream" (夢), accompanied by "yume" and "dream" against a backdrop of blurred city lights. At the bottom, teamjapanese.com is mentioned.

Yume (夢 / ゆめ) is the Japanese word for ‘dream’. It is also a popular girls name in Japan!

‘Dream’ is a beautiful word both in Japanese and English. A dream can be your hopes and ambitions for the future, or can represent those funny little stories our brain creates while we sleep.

It’s an aesthetically whimsical word, and I think the kanji character itself is reflective of that!



Two ceramic Shisa lion-dog statues are placed on a rock with a beach and blue sky in the background, evoking an air of tranquility. The text reads "aesthetic Japanese words, kou, fortune." Website: teamjapanese.com.

Kou (幸 / さち) means ‘good luck’ or ‘fortune’ in Japanese. The character also represents ‘happiness’, but is pronounced as shiawase (幸せ / しあわせ) in that particular context!

I find 幸 aesthetically pleasing as the kanji is simple and balanced and it’s positive connotations makes it all the more pleasing to look at. When you go to a Japanese temple or shrine, this is the symbol you want to see written on your fortune slip!

If you are getting this tattooed, please make sure you don’t confuse it with 辛! Although they do look similar, 辛 means ‘spicy’, which arguably is not so much of an aesthetic term. In shuuji, every small detail is studied and perfected.


Cherry blossom

Image with pink cherry blossoms on the left and blue sky in the background. Text reads: "aesthetic Japanese words, 桜 sakura cherry blossom, teamjapanese.com". Perfect for those who appreciate the beauty of aesthetic Japanese words.

Sakura (桜 / さくら) is the famous Japanese ‘cherry blossom’! This is probably my favourite aesthetic word in Japanese as I think the beauty of the kanji itself is demonstrative of what it represents. 

If we break down the make up of the kanji, we can see the left radical 木, which represents a ‘tree’. On the right we see the radical 女, which represents ‘woman’. You can remember the three strokes above the 女 as being sakura petals falling!

So, if you think of 桜 as a picture, it looks like a woman sitting under a tree with petals falling from above her!

Learn more beautiful Japanese words

I hope you enjoyed this list of aesthetic Japanese words. Perhaps it could help you choose a beautiful Japanese character for your next calligraphy or art project, or gave you some ideas for a Japanese inspired tattoo.

I hope you also learned some new words and deepened your understanding of the beautiful Japanese culture!

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Hannah Stafford

Hannah is a half Irish/half Japanese girl living in Ireland. Her love for Japan and the Japanese language led her to studying languages and translation in university where she specialised in Japanese. She spent a year studying abroad at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. In her free time, Hannah enjoys using her sewing machine to upcycle clothes and create new pieces!

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