How to Say Sad In Japanese: 10 Ways

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Now that we know how to express happiness in Japanese, it’s time to learn how to express sadness 😢

Of course, no one likes to feel sad… However, it’s important and healthy to express our emotions and talk out our feelings, whether they be sad or happy.

The most common way to say ‘sad’ in Japanese is kanashii (悲しい / かなしい).

But depending on how exactly you are feeling, there are a few different ways to convey sadness in Japanese.

Let’s get learning! 

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Kanashii

悲しい

Sad

The most common and most general Japanese term for ‘sadness’ is kanashimi (悲しみ / かなしみ). Kanashimi is a noun, so if you want to describe yourself or something else as ‘sad’ you would use the adjective kanashii (悲しい / かなしい).

Kanashii is a great all-round word for sad in Japanese, which covers many different situations, from feeling slightly blue to immensely upset.

Example:

Kanashii desu
悲しいです
かなしいです
I’m sad.

Ochikomu

落ち込む

Down in the dumps

A sad young Japanese boy resting on a white bed with chin in hands and a sad expression.

As in English, the word sad has many synonyms to choose from depending on what kind of sadness you wish to express.

For example, if you received some bad news which brought your mood down, you can use the verb ochikomu (落ち込む / おちこむ).

Ochi (落ち) comes from ochiru (落ちる) which means ‘to fall’ and komu (込む) can have the meaning ‘to go into’ or ‘to become (completely)’. Ochikomu depicts that low feeling that one experiences in times of sadness, in English we may compare it to feeling ‘down in the dumps’.

Example:

Kanojo wa kareshi ni furarete, ochikondeiru
彼女は彼氏にふられて、落ち込んでいる
かのじょはかれしにふられて、おちこんでいる
She is feeling down because her boyfriend broke up with her

Tsurai

辛い

Heart-breaking, tough

Tsurai (辛い / つらい) is a very strong term to express a heavy, taxing sadness. This adjective can be used in various ways, such as describing ‘hard work’, ‘painful memories’ or ‘heart-breaking experiences’.

All in all, it refers to negative emotions which can be encapsulated under the umbrella term of ‘sadness’. 

Example:

Rikon wa totemo tsurai keiken desu
離婚はとても辛い経験です
りこんはとてもつらいけいけんです
Divorce is a heart-breaking experience.

Kurai

暗い

Doom and gloom

You may know the adjective, kurai (暗い / くらい), as meaning ‘dark’, i.e. in terms of light and dark. Similarly to its use in English, the word ‘dark’ or kurai can also be used to describe a gloomy, bleak mood.

Kurai kimochi ni naru (暗い気持ちになる / くらいきもちになる) is an expression you can use to say ‘I feel gloomy/melancholic’. Kimochi means ‘feelings’ therefore, paired with kurai, depicts dark emotions one may feel when sad.

Sad Snow Monkey in hot pool Japanese Macaque, Jigokudani Monkey Park,

Gakkari suru

がっかりする

To feel dejected/disheartened

Gakkari (がっかり) is the most commonly used term to express disappointment. It is what’s known as a ‘suru verb’, which is essentially a noun with suru (する – to do) tagged on the end to make it a verb.

You may use it to describe the type of sadness you feel when something doesn’t go the way you wanted or planned, a regretful feeling.

Example: 

Jon-san wa paatii ni sasowarenakattanode, gakkari shita
ジョンさんはパーティーに誘われなかったので、がっかりした
じょんさんはぱーてぃーにさそわれなかったので、がっかりした
John was disappointed that he was not invited to the party. 

Mijime

惨め

Miserable

Mijime (惨め / みじめ) is an adjective which can be used to describe someone or something as miserable, meaning a state of great distress and sadness.

Mijime also holds the nuance of feeling sorry for someone and can be used to portray pity on the misfortune of others.

Example:

Kare wa mijimena seikatsu wo shiteiru
彼は惨めな生活をしている
かれはみじめなせいかつをしている
He is living a miserable life

Rakutan suru

落胆する

Discouraged / dejected

Rakutan suru (落胆する / らくたんする) is another ‘suru’ verb which describes a feeling of depression and disappointment, usually brought about by some sort of failure.

Example:

Shippai shitemo, rakutan suruna
失敗しても、落胆するな
しっぱいしても、らくたんするな
If you make a mistake, don’t be discouraged

Itamashii

痛ましい

Painful

Itamashii (痛ましい / いたましい) is an adjective which is often translated as ‘pitiful’, ‘tragic’ and of course ‘sad’ in general. However, as itamashii stems from the word itami (痛み / いたみ) meaning ‘pain’, it may be easiest to remember this term as meaning ‘painful’, in the emotional sense. 

Example:

Nyuusu de itamashii tensai no koukei wo mimashita
ニュースで痛ましい天災の光景を見ました
にゅーすでいたましいてんさいのこうけいをみました
I saw the scene of the tragic natural disaster on the news

Utsubyou

うつ病

Depression

Utsubyou (うつ病 / うつびょう) is the medical term for the illness of clinical depression.

Utsu refers to ‘depression’ or ‘low spirits’ while byou means ‘disease’.

Zannen

残念

Regrettable

Although zannen (残念 / ざんねん) does not explicitly mean ‘sad’ per se, it expresses that regrettable feeling of an unfortunate situation.

In English we may say ‘oh, that’s too bad…’

Example: 

Sore wo kiite, totemo zannen desu
それを聞いて、とても残念です
それをきいて、とてもざんねんです
I’m so sorry to hear that 

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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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