Learn How to Say ‘Died’ in Japanese – Friendly Guide

Have you ever wondered how to say ‘died’ in Japanese? Perhaps you’re learning Japanese or have Japanese friends or family members you wish to communicate with. Knowing the appropriate word for ‘died’ in Japanese is essential to conveying your thoughts and feelings respectfully.

In this section, we’ll provide you with a friendly guide to understanding the different ways of expressing ‘died’ in Japanese. We’ll cover various Japanese words related to death and provide translations to help you communicate effectively.

Understanding the Concept of Death in Japanese Culture

Before delving into the specific words and phrases used to express death in Japanese, it is important to understand how death is perceived in Japanese culture. Japan has a unique approach to death, which is heavily influenced by its Shinto and Buddhist beliefs.

In Japan, death is seen as a natural part of life, and thus, it is not something to be feared. Death is viewed as a transitional state, where the deceased becomes a kami, or a spirit or god, and is believed to continue to watch over and protect their loved ones.

Japanese culture places great importance on respect and politeness, especially when discussing sensitive topics like death. It is important to use appropriate language and honorifics when referring to the deceased or their family members.

Cultural Beliefs

Shintoism and Buddhism are the main religions in Japan, and both have unique beliefs about death. In Shintoism, death is considered to be impure and requires a purification ceremony, whereas, in Buddhism, death is viewed as a path to enlightenment.

The Japanese also believe that the deceased continue to influence the world of the living, and therefore, it is important to maintain a connection with their ancestors. This is why the Japanese have a tradition of visiting graves and offering food and drink to their deceased loved ones during Obon, a festival that honors the spirits of the ancestors.

Japanese Vocabulary for Died

It is important to know how to express death in Japanese, especially if you plan to communicate with Japanese speakers or travel to Japan. There are several words and phrases used to express the concept of death in Japanese, and each has its own nuances and context.

The vocabulary for died in Japanese includes words such as shindeiru, shinanai, shinita, and korosareta. Shindeiru is the present tense of died, shinanai is the negative form, shinita is the past tense, and korosareta means to be killed or murdered.

Understanding these nuances and context is critical in effectively communicating in Japanese and avoiding cultural misunderstandings. The next section will explore the common expressions used to say ‘died’ in Japanese.

Common Ways to Say ‘Died’ in Japanese

Now that you understand how death is perceived in Japanese culture, let’s delve into the most common expressions used to say ‘died’ in Japanese. It’s important to note that some expressions may convey a stronger or more emotional tone than others, so choosing the appropriate phrase depends on the context and situation.

Japanese English Translation Usage
死んだ (shinda) died informal, direct expression
亡くなった (nakunatta) passed away polite, formal expression
逝った (itta) passed away emotional, poetic expression

The phrase ‘shinda’ is the most direct and informal way to say ‘died’ in Japanese. It’s commonly used in casual conversation among friends and family, but it may come across as crude or insensitive in certain situations.

If you’re speaking with someone outside of your close circle or in a professional setting, it’s best to use ‘nakunatta.’ This phrase is the most neutral and respectful way to talk about someone’s passing and is commonly used in obituaries and formal announcements.

Finally, ‘itta’ is a more poetic and emotional way of expressing passing, and it’s often used in literature and poetry. It’s important to note that ‘itta’ may come across as overly dramatic in some contexts, so use it with caution.

Equivalent of ‘Died’ in Japanese

Aside from the various phrases used to express death, there is also a specific word in Japanese that means ‘died.’ The most widely used term is ‘shinimashita,’ which is the past tense of the verb ‘shinu’ (to die).

Here are some examples of how ‘shinimashita’ can be used:

Japanese English Translation
彼女は昨日、亡くなりました。 She died yesterday.
父は10年前に死にました。 My father died 10 years ago.
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It’s worth noting that ‘shinimashita’ is a more formal way of expressing ‘died’ and is typically used in more serious or somber situations.

Japanese Word for ‘Died’: Shinimashita

The most widely used Japanese word for ‘died’ is ‘shinimashita’ (死にました). It is a polite and formal expression used to convey the news of someone’s passing. The word is formed by combining the verb ‘shinu’ (死ぬ), which means ‘to die,’ with the polite past tense suffix ‘-mashita’ (ました).

‘Shinimashita’ can be used in both written and spoken Japanese to refer to someone’s passing. For example:

Japanese English Translation
昨日、祖父が死にました。 Yesterday, my grandfather died.
彼女は病気で死にました。 She died of an illness.
大統領が突然死にました。 The president died suddenly.

It’s important to note that while ‘shinimashita’ is the most common expression for ‘died,’ it is also the most formal. In informal settings or conversations with friends and family, a more casual expression may be used.

Other Expressions for ‘Died’

Other Japanese expressions for ‘died’ include ‘shinda’ (死んだ), ‘shimatta’ (しまった), and ‘korosareta’ (殺された). However, these expressions are generally considered more blunt or even rude, so it’s important to use them with caution and only in appropriate contexts.

In conclusion, ‘shinimashita’ is the most widely used and formal expression for ‘died’ in Japanese. While there are other expressions available, it’s important to use them with cultural sensitivity and according to the situation.

Polite Ways to Express Death in Japanese

When discussing someone’s passing in Japanese, it’s essential to be respectful and use appropriate language. Here are some polite phrases and expressions you can use:

Japanese Romaji English Translation
亡くなる Nakunaru To pass away, to depart from this life
他界する Takai suru To cross over, to pass away
往く Yuku To go, to pass away

It’s also common to use the phrase “shiboritoru” (搾り取る), which literally means “to squeeze out,” to convey the idea that someone has lived their life to the fullest and left nothing behind.

If you need to express condolences, you can use the following phrases:

Japanese Romaji English Translation
お悔やみ申し上げます Okuyami moushiagemasu I offer my condolences
ご冥福をお祈りします Gomeifuku wo oinori shimasu May the deceased rest in peace

It’s important to note that using the word “shinimashita” to say “died” is considered quite direct and may be seen as impolite in certain situations, such as when speaking with the deceased’s family members.


When in doubt, it’s best to use the more indirect expressions like “nakunaru” or “takai suru” to express someone’s passing, especially when speaking with those who are grieving.

Other Expressions Related to Death in Japanese

Besides the word ‘died,’ the Japanese language has several expressions used to discuss death. Understanding these phrases can help you communicate effectively and respectfully in Japanese. Here are some examples:

Expression Meaning
死去 (shikyo) This is a formal, respectful term used to indicate someone’s passing.
没 (botsu) Another formal term used to describe someone’s death. This word is often used in news reports or obituaries.
他界 (takai) This term refers specifically to someone passing away and entering the afterlife.
永眠 (eimin) Used to describe someone passing away peacefully in their sleep.

It’s important to note that some of these expressions may be more appropriate in certain situations than others. For example, using a formal term like ‘shikyo’ may be more suitable in a business or academic setting, while ‘takai’ might be more commonly used in a religious or spiritual context.

Slang and Informal Expressions

As with any language, Japanese also has some slang and informal expressions used to describe death. These expressions may not be suitable in all situations, so use them with caution.

Expression Meaning
死ぬ (shinu) This is a casual, straightforward way of saying ‘to die.’ It’s often used in informal conversation among friends.
逝く (yuku) This is a poetic and somewhat archaic way of describing someone’s passing. It’s not commonly used in everyday conversation.
旅立つ (tabidatsu) This expression translates to ‘to leave on a journey,’ implying that the person who passed away has gone on to another world or realm.

While these expressions may seem more lighthearted or poetic, it’s important to use them with respect and sensitivity.

Cultural Considerations When Discussing Death in Japanese

Language and culture are deeply intertwined, and discussing death in Japanese requires sensitivity and awareness of cultural norms. Japanese culture places great importance on respect and politeness, especially when discussing sensitive topics like death.

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One cultural consideration to keep in mind is the use of euphemisms when discussing death. In Japanese culture, it is common to use indirect expressions to convey the news of someone’s passing. For example, instead of saying “he died,” one might say “he has gone to another world.”

Additionally, it is important to be mindful of hierarchy and social status when discussing death in Japanese. In traditional Japanese culture, it is customary to use honorific language when speaking to someone of higher social status or age. This means using polite expressions and formal language when discussing death with elders or those in positions of authority.

Another important consideration is the use of proper etiquette when attending a funeral or offering condolences. In Japanese culture, it is customary to bring a small gift or offering when attending a funeral or visiting the home of the deceased. It is also important to bow respectfully and avoid loud or boisterous behavior.

When offering condolences, it is customary to express sympathy and offer kind words of comfort. In Japanese, the phrase “osore irimasu” is commonly used to express sympathy, and phrases like “may he rest in peace” or “may his soul find peace” are appropriate for offering comfort.

In conclusion, discussing death in Japanese requires a deep understanding of cultural norms and customs. By being mindful of proper etiquette, using appropriate language, and showing respect and sensitivity, you can communicate effectively and with compassion.

Recap and Conclusion

Now that you have learned about the proper way to say ‘died’ in Japanese, it’s important to remember the cultural considerations that come with discussing death in this language. Respect and politeness are highly valued in Japanese culture, so it’s crucial to use appropriate expressions and phrases when discussing someone’s passing.

To recap, we explored different Japanese words and expressions used to express death, including the most commonly used term, ‘shinimashita.’ We also discussed the Japanese perspective on death and introduced polite ways to talk about someone’s passing.

It’s important to note that outside of the word ‘died,’ there are various expressions and idiomatic phrases related to death in Japanese, which can vary depending on the situation and cultural context. Therefore, always consider the circumstances and cultural norms before discussing death in Japanese.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, saying ‘died’ in Japanese requires both linguistic and cultural understanding. By recognizing the importance of respect and politeness in Japanese culture, you can confidently navigate conversations related to death. We hope that this friendly guide has helped you learn how to say ‘died’ in Japanese and provided valuable insight into cultural considerations when discussing death in this language.

Remember to continue practicing and exploring various expressions related to death in Japanese, while also being mindful of cultural norms and expectations. With these skills, you can communicate respectfully and accurately in Japanese, even when discussing sensitive topics like death.


Q: How do you say ‘died’ in Japanese?

A: In Japanese, the word for ‘died’ is ‘shinimashita’.

Q: What are some other ways to express death in Japanese?

A: Apart from ‘shinimashita,’ there are other expressions like ‘shinda’ and ‘inakunatta’ that can be used to convey the concept of death.

Q: Are there any polite ways to talk about someone’s passing in Japanese?

A: Yes, there are polite phrases like ‘ikite inakunatta’ or ‘otsukaresama deshita’ that can be used to express someone’s passing in a respectful manner.

Q: What cultural considerations should I keep in mind when discussing death in Japanese?

A: It’s important to be aware that Japanese culture places great importance on respect and politeness, especially when discussing sensitive topics like death. It is advisable to use the appropriate level of formality and show sensitivity towards the feelings of others.

Q: What are some other idiomatic phrases related to death in Japanese?

A: Along with the word ‘died,’ there are expressions like ‘shinde shimau’ (meaning ‘to die completely’) and ‘shibo’ (meaning ‘death’) that are commonly used in Japanese.

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