How to Say Happy in Japanese: 11 Ways

Team Japanese uses affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something through a link on this site, we may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you).

If you go to Japan, hopefully you will experience a lot of happy times during your visit!  But how would you express this happiness in Japanese conversations?

The two most common ways to say ‘happy’ in Japanese are ureshii (嬉しい / うれしい) and shiawase (幸せ / しあわせ). Generally, ureshii describes that temporary feeling of joy you experience when something good happens, while shiawase describes a more general state of happiness.

But depending on the situation in which you are speaking and the type of happiness you want to describe, there are several different words you can opt for when you want to say ‘happy’ in Japanese.

Smile! Let’s take a look:

Want to learn Japanese?

JapanesePod101 is our top recommendation to learn Japanese online. We love the fun, current audio lessons and interactive online tools. Sign up for your free lifetime account and see for yourself!

Join for free!
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.



Happy, glad

A young happy Japanese girl with her arms outstretched in the air, expressing happiness.

Ureshii (嬉しい / うれしい) is the most versatile, commonly used option for when you want to express happiness in Japanese. It describes that sudden joy you feel when something pleasant occurs.

It can be used in a range of different situations – from casual conversations with friends to higher-ups and elders alike.

Other than ‘happy’, ureshii can also be translated to ‘glad’ or ‘delighted’.

Ureshii! by itself, said as an exclamation, can mean ‘I’m so happy!’ or ‘I’m glad!’. It’s an appropriate response when you hear some good news or receive a surprise gift.



Happy, happiness, contentment

A young happy Japanese woman wearing sunglasses on the beach, radiating happiness.

Shiawase (幸せ / しあわせ) is another frequently used term to say ‘I’m happy’ in Japanese. However, unlike ureshii which represents a temporary feeling of joy, the nuance of shiawase suggests a content, almost deeper state of happiness.

For example, when you finally get comfy on the sofa to relax after a long day at work you may feel aah, shiawase!

Shiawase can also be said in various situations whether it be with friends/family or even in more polite situations.

Shiawase is a noun that also functions as a na-adjective.




Luckily enough, the English word ‘happy’ is such a universal term that Japanese people have even adopted it into their own language! Happii (ハッピー / はっぴー), as indicated by the use of katakana characters, is the Japanese loan word for ‘happy’!

Happii tends to be used by the younger generations, and it is more casual in feel. You can use this word with close friends in place of ureshii.

It’s also used in set phrases borrowed from English, such as:

  • Happii basudee (ハッピーバースデー) – Happy Birthday
  • Happii harowin (ハッピーハロウィン) – Happy Halloween
  • Happii endo (ハッピーエンド) – happy ending
  • Happii setto (ハッピーセット) – Happy Meal (McDonalds)
Download a FREE printable workbook to learn the Japanese scripts hiragana and katakana here.



To be happy; to be delighted

While the last three terms were all adjectives to describe the feeling of ‘happiness’, yorokobu (喜ぶ / よろこぶ) is actually a verb!

It translates as ‘to be pleased’ or ‘to be glad’. It can be used by itself to simply say ‘I am happy’, although, it is pretty common to see it used in conjunction with other verbs.

In this case, we use the te (て) form of yorokobu to connect it with the second verb. 


Watashi wa yorokonde tetsudaimasu
I would be happy to help you.




A row of three happy Japanese doll figurines.

You may have noticed that the kanji from shiawase (幸せ) is found as part of koufuku (幸福 / こうふく). The second kanji 福 means ‘blessing’ or ‘fortune’.

The utterance as a whole conveys a deep happiness/joy, quite similar to shiawase. Having said that, this form of the word is more often than not used in situations of greater formality.




A happy Japanese woman in a blue kimono holding a parasol and smiling.

Although, it’s not as directly translated as ‘happy’ like the previous terms, manzoku (満足 / まんぞく) can be said in order to signify happiness in the form of contentment or satisfaction.


Kanojo wa atarashii doresu ni manzoku desu 
She is happy with her new dress.




Even though tanoshii (楽しい / たのしい) is generally translated as ‘fun’, it also holds the meanings ‘enjoyable’ and ‘happy’.

You can use it to describe happy times and/or experiences as it is an overall positive expression! 


Tomodachi to issho ni irutoki, tanoshii kibun ni naru
When I am with my friends, I feel happy.



Happy, merry

Tanoshige (楽しげ / たのしげ) also means ‘happy’ or ‘cheerful’ in Japanese!

Despite that, it is actually not a word you may find yourself using and/or hearing in everyday conversation. But, there’s no harm in being familiar with tanoshige as you may come across it in writing, especially in older stories.

Think of it as ‘merry’ in English: old-fashioned and rarely used today, but ‘happy’ nonetheless! 



Over the moon

Uchouten (有頂天 / うちょうてん) is not a word you would want to use too often, but solely for those times of extreme happiness and delight. 

  • 有(う) – u means to ‘possess’ or ‘have’
  • 頂(ちょう) – chou means ‘summit’ or ‘top’
  • 天(てん) – ten means ‘heaven’

Therefore, uchouten expresses such happiness where you feel as if you are on top of the heavens. In English, we could compare it to ‘I’m over the moon!’ or ‘I’m beside myself with joy!’. 



I’m happy for you

Yokatta is the past tense of the adjective yoi (よい) or ii (いい) meaning ‘good’. If someone tells you some good news, you can say yokatta to convey ‘I’m happy for you!’ or ‘I’m glad to hear that!’

Genki wo dashite


Be happy; cheer up

Genki (元気 / げんき) is an extremely multifaceted, positive word. It is usually translated as ‘lively’ or ‘energetic’ and represents general wellness.

If you know someone who may be feeling down you can say to them genki wo dashite! (元気を出して / げんきをだして). Dashite is an imperative form of the verb dasu (出す / だす) meaning ‘to take/get out’.

This phrase has the same effect as saying ‘cheer up’ or ‘be happy’ in English. 

Related posts

Ready to take the next step in your Japanese language journey? Our recommended online course is JapanesePod101.

Learn Japanese with

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!

Leave a Comment

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.