How to Say ‘Tired’ in Japanese

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In this post, we will learn how to express our tiredness in Japanese! It is a feeling we all experience from time to time, whether we are working or studying hard, hitting the gym or just feeling mentally worn out. 

The standard Japanese word for ‘tired’ is tsukareta (疲れた / つかれた).

But of course, there are different types and different degrees of tiredness you can feel – and many different ways to express your tiredness in Japanese.

Keep reading to find out all the useful phrases you can use when you need to tell others that it’s time for you to take a rest and recharge. 




Tsukareta (疲れた / つかれた) is the Japanese word for ‘tired’! It is the plain past form of the verb tsukareru (疲れる / つかれる) meaning ‘to get tired’. 

You may hear people using this verb in various ways, such as present continuous (tsukareteiru) or the past masu-form (tsukaremashita). As long as you hear tsukare, you can assume that someone is saying that they are tired!

Tsukareta is pretty casual in tone and is fine to use with family and friends! If you are talking to someone in a more formal setting, you can use the masu form, tsukaremashita, in order to be more polite. 

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Hirou (疲労 / ひろう) is a noun which translates as ‘fatigue’ or ‘exhaustion’. You can see it contains the same kanji character from tsukareru

Nikutai hirou


Physically tired

Young Japanese woman lying on a couch wearing a red and white checked apron, holding her forehead in discomfort, eyes closed, in a bright room, looking very tired.

You can use nikutai hirou (肉体疲労 / くたいひろう) when describing how your body is ‘physically tired’. Perhaps after some strenuous activity. Nikutai refers to ‘the body’ and we know that hirou means ‘exhaustion’. 

Seishin hirou


Mentally tired

A Japanese woman dressed in black sitting at her laptop, pinching the bridge of her nose and looking tired.

If your body is not so physically tired but you feel mentally drained, you can use the phrase seishin hirou (精神疲労 / せいしんひろう) meaning ‘mentally tired’. Seishin refers to ‘the mind’.

Kuta kuta



Kuta kuta (クタクタ / くたくた) is one of many onomatopoeic words in Japanese. 

Onomatopoeia is basically a word that represents a sound. In Japanese, onomatopoeic words can be used to describe sounds, feelings, movements and more. For example, a dog in Japanese says wan wan (ワンワン / わんわん) and our heartbeat sounds like doki doki (ドキドキ / どきどき).

In English, we use some onomatopoeic words also, such as ‘woof’ or ‘buzz’. That being said, they are much more common in Japanese. If you haven’t grown up speaking Japanese, it can be hard to decipher the sound of the phrase and its meaning, it just takes some practice!

I’m not quite sure how kuta kuta gives across the feeling of tiredness… but here we are!

It is an easy phrase to utter when you are feeling beat, and I’m sure a Japanese person would be highly impressed by your casual use of their beloved onomatopoeic phrases!

Heto heto


Dead tired

A young Japanese girl with dark hair, wearing a striped shirt, rests her head on her arms on a table, looking tiredly at the camera.

Another onomatopoeic phrase would be heto heto (ヘトヘト / へとへと). This has a little bit of a stronger nuance to it. Think of the phrase ‘I’m dead tired’ or ‘I’m knackered’. 

You can use heto heto by itself as an exclamation of exhaustion, or you can add desu (です) on at the end to make it a bit more of a complete sentence. If you want to take it a step further, you can express the reason for your tiredness by marking it with de (で).

For Example:

Shigoto de heto heto desu
Work completely exhausted me




Guttari (ぐったり, sometimes グッタリ) is another onomatopoeic/mimetic word. However, this term is also an adverb! It can describe how you may complete an action when you are all tuckered out from the day.

It can mean ‘exhausted’, ‘lethargic’ or ‘unenergetic’ etc. 

For Example:

Hikouki no tabi de guttari shite shimatta
After the flight, I felt dead

Things to note!

Tsukareta vs nemui

In Japanese, there are two distinct words for feeling ‘tired’ vs feeling ‘sleepy’. Be aware of this, as in English, it’s quite acceptable to use the word ‘tired’ for either scenario. 

Tsukareta is that fatigue you tend to feel after a long day’s work, while nemui (眠い / ねむい) is that drowsiness you feel when you are apt to fall asleep at any moment.


If you read our article on how to say ’goodbye’ in Japanese, you may have recognised that tsukareta holds similarities to the phrase otsukaresama (お疲れ様 / おつかれさま).

This phrase is used an awful lot in daily Japanese conversation. You may have even picked it up from a Japanese anime or drama!

We know ostukaresama(deshita) as meaning ‘well done for your hard work’ or as a sort of goodbye to coworkers after a shift. However, literally translated, it means ‘you are tired’, in a very polite format. 

Not too tired to study more Japanese?

If you want to learn even more essential Japanese phrases, our top recommended website is JapanesePod101. There are hundreds of interactive online and audio lessons, at every level.

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Pinterest pin image titled: 8 ways to say tired in Japanese. A Japanese woman sits at her desk looking tired. There is a Japanese flag on her laptop.

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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