Discover How to Say Lunch in Japanese: A Simple Guide

If you’re planning a trip to Japan or just interested in their culture and language, knowing how to say lunch in Japanese can be incredibly useful. Whether you’re ordering food in a restaurant or having a conversation with a local, understanding basic phrases related to lunch can help you communicate effectively.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to say lunch in Japanese and explore different ways to express this concept in the language. You’ll also discover cultural customs and dining etiquette to keep in mind, as well as practical tips for communicating during a Japanese lunchtime experience.

So, let’s dive in and discover the world of lunch in Japanese!

The Japanese Word for Lunch

If you’re looking to express “lunch” in Japanese, the word you’re after is “hirugohan” (昼ご飯). This term is made up of three kanji characters, with “hiru” meaning “noon” or “midday,” “go” representing the honorific prefix, and “han” meaning “meal” or “rice.”

When pronounced, “hirugohan” sounds like “he-roo go-han,” with the emphasis placed on the second syllable of each word. Try practicing this pronunciation a few times to perfect your delivery.

In Japanese culture, lunch is an important mealtime that often involves sharing food and socializing with others. As such, it’s helpful to know some common lunch-related phrases to make the most of your dining experiences. Here are a few examples:

Vocabulary Word/Phrase Japanese Characters Pronunciation English Translation
obento お弁当 oh-ben-toh bento box lunch
kare raisu カレーライス ka-reh rai-su curry and rice
ramen ラーメン rah-men ramen noodles
omuraisu オムライス oh-moo-rai-su omelette with rice

These phrases are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to lunch vocabulary in Japanese. As you continue to study the language and explore the cuisine, you’ll encounter many more words and phrases that will enrich your understanding of Japanese culture.

How to Pronounce Lunch in Japanese

Learning how to correctly pronounce the Japanese word for lunch is essential for effective communication during mealtime experiences in Japan. The word for lunch in Japanese is pronounced “hiru-gohan,” which is written as “昼御飯” in kanji characters.

Kanji Hiragana English Translation
ひる Noon
Honorific Prefix
はん Cooked Rice or Meal

To properly pronounce “hiru-gohan,” break the word into its three syllables and emphasize the second syllable, “go.” The “hi” and “han” syllables should be pronounced quickly and without emphasis.

If you’re new to Japanese pronunciation, it may be helpful to use phonetic spellings or listen to audio clips as you practice saying “hiru-gohan” aloud.

Different Ways to Say Lunch in Japanese

In addition to the standard Japanese word for lunch, there are various other phrases and expressions that can be used to refer to this midday meal.

お昼ご飯 (ohirugohan)

This phrase combines the Japanese words for “lunch” and “rice,” and is a commonly used alternative to the word for lunch.

Japanese Romaji English
お昼ご飯を食べますか? Ohirugohan o tabemasu ka? Would you like to eat lunch?

ランチ (ranchi)

This phrase is borrowed from English and is used to refer to a Western-style lunch, such as a sandwich or salad.

Japanese Romaji English
今日はランチに何を食べようかな? Kyō wa ranchi ni nani o tabeyō kana? I wonder what I should eat for lunch today?
See also  Learn How to Say Magic in Japanese Easily

昼食 (chūshoku)

This phrase is a more formal way to refer to lunch and is commonly used in business settings.

Japanese Romaji English
昼食は何にしますか? Chūshoku wa nan ni shimasu ka? What would you like for lunch?

By learning these additional phrases, you can expand your vocabulary and become better equipped to communicate effectively during lunchtime in Japan.

Japanese Dining Culture and Etiquette

Understanding Japanese dining culture and etiquette is crucial to fully immerse yourself in the lunchtime experience in Japan. Meals are not merely about satisfying hunger but also a chance to connect with others and show respect for the food and those who prepared it.

In Japan, it is customary to say “itadakimasu” before starting a meal, which is a way of expressing gratitude for the food and those involved in preparing it. Similarly, saying “gochisosama deshita” after finishing a meal is a way of showing appreciation for the meal and those who served it.

Custom/etiquette Description
Chopsticks Learn how to use chopsticks properly as it will be used for eating almost everything.
Slurping Don’t be afraid to slurp your noodles as it is a sign of enjoyment and appreciation.
Seating Take note of the seating arrangements, as there are usually designated seats for each person.
Tipping Tipping is not customary in Japan. Instead, show gratitude by saying thank you or leaving a small gift.
Payments It is not customary to split the bill in Japan. Instead, one person usually pays for the entire meal.

By following these customs and etiquette, you will not only show respect for the culture but also enhance your dining experience in Japan.

Vocabulary for Ordering Lunch in Japanese

Now that you know how to say “lunch” in Japanese, it’s time to expand your lunch-related vocabulary. Here are some essential words and phrases you can use when ordering lunch at a restaurant or cafe.

Vocabulary Pronunciation English Translation
ごはん gohan Rice
ライス raisu Rice (loan word)
パン pan Bread
うどん udon Thick wheat flour noodles
そば soba Thin buckwheat flour noodles
ラーメン ramen Chinese-style noodles in soup
カレー karee Curry
サンドイッチ sandoicchi Sandwich
サラダ sarada Salad
スープ suupu Soup
おにぎり onigiri Rice ball with filling
エビフライ ebifurai Deep-fried shrimp
鶏肉 toriniku Chicken meat
豚肉 butaniku Pork meat

Don’t forget to add polite expressions like “お願いします” (onegaishimasu) meaning “please” and “ありがとうございます” (arigatou gozaimasu) meaning “thank you” when ordering your lunch.

Practical Tips for Communicating During Lunch in Japan

Now that you know how to say lunch in Japanese and have a basic understanding of the language, it’s time to put your skills to the test and enjoy a meal in Japan. Here are some practical tips to help you communicate during lunchtime:

1. Know How to Order

When ordering lunch in Japan, it’s important to be clear and specific to avoid any confusion. Here are a few useful phrases to keep in mind:

Japanese English Translation
これをください I’ll have this one, please.
何がおすすめですか? What do you recommend?
辛いのが苦手です I don’t like spicy food.

2. Be Aware of Customary Etiquette

When dining in Japan, there are certain customs and etiquette that are expected to be followed. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Remove your shoes before entering a traditional tatami room or a restaurant with a raised floor area.
  • Avoid blowing your nose at the table.
  • When someone pours you a drink, it is customary to hold your cup with both hands to show respect.
See also  Uncover the Secret: How to Say Moto in Japanese Correctly

3. Learn Polite Expressions

Using polite expressions is important in Japanese culture, especially when interacting with people outside of your social circle. Here are a few phrases to keep in mind:

Japanese English Translation
失礼します Excuse me.
お願いします Please.
ありがとうございます Thank you.

By following these tips and practicing your Japanese language skills, you can confidently enjoy a delicious lunchtime experience in Japan.


Congratulations! You now know how to say lunch in Japanese. Learning new vocabulary is an essential step in understanding the language and culture of Japan. Remember that effective communication is key to having an enjoyable dining experience in Japan. By following the tips in this guide and practicing your pronunciation, you can confidently order your favorite dishes and interact with locals during lunch.

Don’t stop here! Keep exploring the Japanese language and culture to deepen your understanding and appreciation. And next time you are in Japan, impress your friends and colleagues by ordering your lunch in Japanese.

Thank you for reading this guide on how to say lunch in Japanese. We hope it has been helpful in your language learning journey!


Q: Can I use the word “lunch” in Japanese?

A: While the word “lunch” is understood in Japan, it is more common to use the Japanese word for lunch, which is “hirugohan” (昼ごはん) or simply “hiru” (昼).

Q: How do I pronounce “hirugohan”?

A: The pronunciation of “hirugohan” is hee-roo-goh-hahn. Break it down into syllables and pronounce each syllable with equal emphasis.

Q: Are there any alternative ways to say lunch in Japanese?

A: Yes, there are alternative phrases you can use to refer to lunch in Japanese. Some common ones include “chuushoku” (昼食) and “obento” (お弁当).

Q: What should I know about Japanese dining culture and etiquette during lunchtime?

A: Japanese dining culture places emphasis on respect and courtesy. It is important to be mindful of your manners, such as not talking loudly or slurping your food. Additionally, it is customary to say “itadakimasu” (いただきます) before eating and “gochisousama deshita” (ごちそうさまでした) after finishing your meal.

Q: What are some useful vocabulary words for ordering lunch in Japanese?

A: Here are some essential vocabulary words you can use when ordering lunch in Japanese: “menus” (メニュー) for menu, “osusume” (おすすめ) for recommendations, “omakase” (おまかせ) for chef’s choice, and “oishii” (美味しい) for delicious.

Q: Do you have any practical tips for communicating during lunch in Japan?

A: Absolutely! Some practical tips include learning basic phrases such as “sumimasen” (すみません) for excuse me, “kudasai” (ください) for please, and “arigatou gozaimasu” (ありがとうございます) for thank you. It’s also helpful to have a dietary restriction card or know how to express your dietary preferences in Japanese.

Leave a Comment