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!
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.
Down in the dumps
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’.
Kanojo wa kareshi ni furarete, ochikondeiru
She is feeling down because her boyfriend broke up with her
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’.
Rikon wa totemo tsurai keiken desu
Divorce is a heart-breaking experience.
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.
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.
Jon-san wa paatii ni sasowarenakattanode, gakkari shita
John was disappointed that he was not invited to the party.
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.
Kare wa mijimena seikatsu wo shiteiru
He is living a miserable life
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.
Shippai shitemo, rakutan suruna
If you make a mistake, don’t be discouraged
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.
Nyuusu de itamashii tensai no koukei wo mimashita
I saw the scene of the tragic natural disaster on the news
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’.
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…’
Sore wo kiite, totemo zannen desu
I’m so sorry to hear that
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Ready to take the next step in your Japanese language journey? Our recommended online course is JapanesePod101.
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!