Mastering Painful Phrases: How to Say It Hurts in Japanese

As a language learner, one of the most important phrases to know is how to express pain or discomfort. In Japanese, there are various words and phrases used to convey these sensations, and it’s crucial to understand the cultural nuances surrounding their usage.

In this section, we’ll cover the basics of how to say it hurts in Japanese, the different words and phrases used to express pain, and non-verbal ways to communicate discomfort. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to effectively communicate your discomfort in Japanese.

Whether you’re a tourist on vacation or a resident in Japan, learning how to express pain can be incredibly useful in navigating through challenging situations. Let’s dive into the world of Japanese phrases for pain and discomfort.

Understanding Cultural Nuances in Expressing Pain

Expressing pain is a universal experience, but the way it is communicated can vary greatly across different cultures. In Japan, the expression of pain is often tempered by a desire to maintain social harmony and avoid causing discomfort to others.

Respect for Others

One cultural aspect that strongly influences the way in which pain is expressed in Japan is the emphasis on respect for others. Japanese society is highly communal, and individuals are expected to prioritize the needs of the group over their own personal desires or discomfort.

This often means that Japanese people are hesitant to vocalize their pain or discomfort in public settings, as they do not want to cause undue concern or distress to those around them. Instead, they may attempt to endure the discomfort quietly or remove themselves from the situation until the pain subsides.


In addition to their desire to respect others, Japanese people generally tend to be indirect in their communication style. This can manifest in a number of ways, including the use of euphemisms or indirect language to convey discomfort or pain.

For example, instead of saying “it hurts,” a Japanese person may instead use a phrase like “chotto fukuzatsu desu ne” which translates to “it’s a bit complicated.” This indirect phrasing is intended to soften the impact of the statement and avoid coming across as overly dramatic or attention-seeking.

Non-Verbal Cues

Finally, it’s important to note that Japanese people often rely heavily on non-verbal cues to communicate discomfort or pain. This can include things like grimacing, rubbing a sore spot, or clutching one’s stomach.

While these cues may be subtle, they are an important part of Japanese communication and can help others understand when someone is experiencing discomfort, even if they are not vocalizing it directly.

Overall, understanding these cultural nuances when it comes to expressing pain can be extremely helpful for navigating social situations in Japan. By being aware of these tendencies and adapting your own communication style accordingly, you can communicate your discomfort effectively without causing unnecessary distress to others.

Basic Japanese Phrases for Expressing Pain

If you are experiencing pain in Japan, it’s important to be able to express it clearly to those around you. Here are some basic Japanese phrases that will help you communicate your discomfort:

Japanese Romaji (pronunciation) English Translation
痛いです。 Itai desu. It hurts.
痛い! Itai! Ouch!
苦しいです。 Kurushii desu. I’m in pain.
辛いです。 Karai desu. I’m suffering.

Remember to use the appropriate level of formality depending on the situation and who you are speaking with. For example, when speaking with someone who is older or in a more formal setting, it’s important to use polite language.

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It’s also useful to know some basic anatomy vocabulary to accurately describe where you are experiencing pain. Here are some words and phrases that may come in handy:

Japanese Romaji (pronunciation) English Translation
Atama Head
I Stomach
Ude Arm
Ashi Leg/Foot

By using these phrases and words, you’ll be able to effectively communicate your pain to those around you in Japan.

Describing Different Types of Pain in Japanese

Pain is a common experience that we all go through, and it can be described in various ways depending on its intensity and location. In Japanese, there are specific words and phrases that are used to describe different types of pain. Learning these Japanese words and phrases can help you better express your discomfort and communicate your needs more effectively.

Japanese Words for Pain

Here are some of the most commonly used Japanese words for pain:

Japanese Word English Translation
いたい (Itai) Hurt
つらい (Tsurai) Painful
きゅうくつ (Kyuukutsu) Stiffness
しこり (Shikori) Knot

These words can be used to describe pain in different parts of the body, such as the head (atama), stomach (onnaka), and back (senaka).

Ways to Say It Hurts in Japanese

In addition to the basic word for “hurt” (itai), there are other Japanese phrases that can be used to describe pain. Here are some examples:

  • 頭が痛い (Atama ga itai) – My head hurts
  • 背中が痛い (Senaka ga itai) – My back hurts
  • 腹が痛い (Onnaka ga itai) – My stomach hurts
  • 手首が痛い (Tekubi ga itai) – My wrist hurts

By learning these phrases, you can more accurately describe the location of your pain and communicate your discomfort to others.

Describing Different Types of Pain

Pain can also be described in different ways depending on its intensity and sensation. Here are some Japanese phrases that can be used to describe different types of pain:

Japanese Phrase English Translation
刺すような痛み (Sasu you na itami) Stabbing pain
じわじわした痛み (Jiwajiwa shita itami) Dull pain
痛みが引く (Itami ga hiku) Pain subsides

By using these phrases, you can better describe the intensity and sensation of your pain.

Overall, understanding the different ways to describe pain in Japanese can help you better express your discomfort and receive the necessary assistance or treatment.

Non-Verbal Ways to Communicate Pain in Japanese

While verbal expressions are the most common way to communicate pain in Japanese, non-verbal cues can also be effective in conveying your discomfort. In fact, Japanese people often use non-verbal cues alongside verbal expressions to provide a more complete picture of their pain. Here are some non-verbal ways to communicate pain in Japanese:

Non-Verbal Cue Meaning
Facial expressions Facial expressions can provide a clear indication of the intensity of your pain. For example, furrowing your brow and clenching your teeth can show that your pain is severe.
Body language Your posture and movements can also communicate your discomfort. For example, hunching over and holding your stomach can indicate stomach pain.
Gestures Gestures such as holding a body part that hurts or rubbing a sore spot can also convey your pain.

When communicating pain in Japanese, it’s important to consider both verbal and non-verbal cues to provide a clear and accurate description of your discomfort. By incorporating non-verbal cues, you can ensure that your message is understood even if you aren’t able to express it in words.

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Common Japanese Phrases for Seeking Help or Relief

When experiencing pain, it can be helpful to seek assistance or relief. In Japan, there are various ways to communicate your discomfort and ask for help. Here are some common Japanese phrases to remember:

Japanese Translation
痛いです。 I’m in pain.
助けてください。 Please help me.
病院に行きたいです。 I want to go to the hospital.
薬が欲しいです。 I want medicine.

It’s important to note that in Japan, it’s common to be indirect when asking for help or expressing discomfort. It’s considered impolite to be too direct or forceful. Therefore, it’s best to use polite language and show appreciation for any assistance you receive.

Remembering these simple phrases can go a long way in helping you communicate your pain effectively and get the assistance you need.

Mastering the Art of Expressing Pain in Japanese

To effectively communicate your discomfort in Japanese, it’s important to understand the cultural nuances surrounding the expression of pain. Remember that Japanese people generally avoid direct expressions of pain, so it’s important to use polite language and non-verbal cues to convey your discomfort.

In addition to basic phrases for expressing pain, it’s helpful to know specific words and phrases used to describe different types of pain. Use these to accurately communicate the location and intensity of your discomfort:

  • Itai – “Ouch” or “ouchie”
  • Kayui – “Itchy”
  • Kesanai – “Numb”
  • Tsukareta – “Tired”
  • Itamimasu – “It hurts” (polite form)

Remember to also pay attention to non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, to effectively convey your discomfort. For example, holding the affected area and wincing can indicate pain.

When seeking help or relief, use these common phrases:

  • Tasukete – “Help me”
  • Byouin – “Hospital”
  • Kusuri – “Medicine”
  • Yoyaku – “Appointment”

By following these tips and practicing your Japanese language skills, you can effectively communicate your discomfort and navigate through challenging situations. Remember to use polite language and pay attention to non-verbal cues to convey your message effectively.


Q: What are the basic Japanese phrases for expressing pain?

A: Basic Japanese phrases for expressing pain include “itai” (いたい) which means “it hurts,” “kurushii” (苦しい) which means “painful,” and “tasukete” (助けて) which means “help.”

Q: How do Japanese people culturally express pain?

A: Japanese people often express pain indirectly through non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language. They may also use more polite language when talking about their pain.

Q: What are some Japanese words for different types of pain?

A: Some Japanese words for different types of pain include “kitsui” (きつい) for intense pain, “itamidome” (痛み止め) for pain relief, and “kayui” (かゆい) for itching.

Q: How can I non-verbally communicate pain in Japanese?

A: Non-verbal communication of pain can be conveyed through facial expressions such as wincing or grimacing, holding a body part, or using gestures to indicate discomfort.

Q: What are common Japanese phrases for seeking help or relief?

A: Common Japanese phrases for seeking help or relief include “tasukete kudasai” (助けてください) which means “please help me” and “yoyuu arimasu ka?” (余裕ありますか?) which means “do you have any availability?”

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