Mastering Japanese: Learn How to Say Head in Japanese

Welcome to the first section of our Japanese language learning series. In this section, we will focus on a fundamental aspect of language acquisition: vocabulary. Specifically, we will explore how to say “head” in Japanese and the various related terms. Mastering these words and expressions will contribute to your ability to engage in accurate and effective communication in Japanese.

So, how do you say head in Japanese? The Japanese word for head is 頭 (あたま or atama). It’s essential to learn how to pronounce this correctly to avoid any confusion in conversation. The pronunciation is AH-TAH-MAH. You can use this word on its own to refer to the head or in various expressions, as we’ll see later in this article.

Now that you know the Japanese word for head and how to pronounce it correctly, let’s expand your vocabulary with some related terms. For instance, “hair” in Japanese is 髪 (かみ or kami). “Forehead” is 額 (がく or gaku). “Brain” is 脳 (のう or nou). By adding these words and expressions to your Japanese vocabulary, you’ll be able to express yourself accurately and comprehensively.

Japanese Word for Head and Pronunciation

Now that you have a basic understanding of expressing “head” in the Japanese language, it’s time to focus on the specific Japanese word for head. The Japanese term for head is “あたま” (atama), which can also be translated as “頭” in kanji characters.

When it comes to pronunciation, the Japanese word for head is pronounced as “ah-tah-mah”. The “ah” sound is similar to the “a” in “father”, while the “tah” sound is pronounced as it appears. The “mah” sound is similar to the “ma” in “mama”.

While the term “atama” is a straightforward way to refer to one’s head, it also has cultural significance in Japanese language and society. In Japan, the head is considered the most sacred part of the body and is often associated with one’s identity and intelligence.

Using Honorifics with “Atama”

In Japanese culture, honorifics are a way of showing respect and formality when speaking to someone. When referring to someone else’s head, the honorific “お” (o) is often added before “atama” to show respect. Therefore, “o-atama” is the correct term for addressing someone else’s head in a polite and respectful manner.

Similarly, when addressing someone of higher social status or age, the honorific “ご” (go) may be added before “atama”. Hence, “go-atama” is the correct term for addressing someone of higher social status or age’s head respectfully.

Japanese English Translation
あなたのお頭を撫でてあげる。 I will pet your head respectfully.
ご年配の方のご頭を撫でてあげる。 I will pet the head of an elderly person respectfully.
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By using the correct honorifics when referring to someone’s head, you can show respect and politeness in Japanese conversations.

Other Ways to Express Head in Japanese

As you continue to learn Japanese, it’s important to expand your vocabulary beyond just the basic word for “head.” Here are some other ways to express this body part in Japanese:

Japanese Pronunciation English Translation
頭部 とうぶ Head (formal)
頭蓋骨 ずがいこつ Skull
頭痛 ずつう Headache
頭を打つ あたまをうつ To hit one’s head, to have a head injury

Using a variety of vocabulary words related to the head will allow you to express yourself more accurately and fluently in Japanese. In addition to these specific words, there are also various phrases and idioms that use the concept of “head” in Japanese. For example:

  • 頭が切れる (あたまがきれる) – to be sharp-minded
  • 頭が上がらない (あたまがあがらない) – to be overwhelmed, to feel inferior
  • 頭を下げる (あたまをさげる) – to bow one’s head, to apologize

Learning these additional vocabulary words and phrases related to the head in Japanese will not only enhance your language proficiency but also provide a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and mindset.

Common Phrases and Idioms Involving Head in Japanese

The Japanese language is rich in idiomatic expressions and phrases, many of which involve references to body parts. Understanding these expressions is essential to gaining a deeper appreciation of Japanese culture and language. Here are some common phrases and idioms involving the head:

Japanese Idiomatic Phrase Literal Translation Meaning/Usage
頭が上がらない Head doesn’t rise up To feel indebted or inferior to someone, or to be unable to refuse their request or order
頭に来る To come to the head To get angry or annoyed
頭が切れる Head is sharp To be quick-witted or clever
頭がいい Head is good To be smart or intelligent
頭を使う To use the head To think or use one’s intellect

These idiomatic expressions provide insight into Japanese cultural values and beliefs. For example, the phrase “頭が上がらない” reflects the importance of showing respect and humility towards others in Japanese culture. Meanwhile, the phrase “頭が切れる” emphasizes the value placed on quick thinking and mental agility.


By familiarizing yourself with these phrases and idiomatic expressions, you will gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and language. Keep in mind that many of these expressions may not have direct English translations, so it is essential to understand their cultural and linguistic context to use them correctly.

Expand Your Japanese Vocabulary: Body Parts Beyond the Head

Now that you’ve learned the Japanese word for head and various ways to express it, let’s explore other body parts in the Japanese language. By expanding your vocabulary to include various body parts, you’ll have the necessary skills to engage in conversations about health, anatomy, and daily life in Japanese.

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1. Arms

The Japanese word for arm is “ude” (腕) pronounced as “oo-de”. This word can be used in various situations, such as when referring to the upper arm “jiku ude” or forearm “jotei ude”.

2. Legs

In Japanese, the word for leg is “ashi” (足) pronounced as “ah-shee”. This word can be used to refer to the entire leg or specific parts of it such as “hiza” for knee or “shin” for the shinbone.

3. Chest

The Japanese word for chest is “mune” (胸) pronounced as “moo-neh”. It can be used to refer to the upper chest area where the heart and lungs are located or specifically to the breast area “chibusa”.

4. Stomach

The Japanese word for stomach is “hara” (腹) pronounced as “hah-rah”. This word can also be used to refer to the abdomen and is often used in phrases such as “hara ga itai” meaning “my stomach hurts”.

5. Back

In Japanese, the word for back is “senaka” (背中) pronounced as “seh-nah-kah”. It can be used to refer to the upper back, lower back or the entire back area.

By learning these Japanese words for body parts, you’ll be able to communicate effectively with native speakers and understand their conversations about health, wellness, and daily life. Practice using these words and continue to expand your vocabulary to become fluent in the Japanese language.


Q: What is the Japanese word for head?

A: The Japanese word for head is “atama” (あたま).

Q: How do you pronounce “atama”?

A: “Atama” is pronounced as “ah-tah-mah” with a slight emphasis on the first syllable.

Q: Are there any other ways to express “head” in Japanese?

A: Yes, besides “atama,” you can also use “kashira” (かしら) or “zutsu” (ずつ) to refer to the head.

Q: Can you provide examples of common phrases or idioms involving the head in Japanese?

A: Sure! One example is the phrase “atama ga ii” (頭がいい), which literally means “good head,” but is used to describe someone who is smart or intelligent.

Q: What other body parts can I learn in Japanese?

A: In addition to the head, you can learn words for various body parts such as eyes (me), nose (hana), mouth (kuchi), hands (te), and legs (ashi), among others.

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