Learning to Say ‘Old’ in Japanese: A Fun Guide

Are you interested in learning how to say “old” in Japanese? Whether you’re planning a trip to Japan or just curious about the language, this guide will teach you the Japanese word for “old” and several ways to express age in Japanese. You’ll also learn how to translate “old” into Japanese and discover other ways to say “old” in the language.

Learning how to express age in Japanese can be a fun and rewarding experience. Not only will it allow you to communicate with native Japanese speakers more effectively, but it will also give you insight into Japanese culture and customs.

The Japanese Word for “Old”

When it comes to learning Japanese, it’s important to start with the basics. In this section, we will focus on the specific word used in Japanese to mean “old.”

The Japanese word for “old” is “老いた” (oita). This word is pronounced as “oh-ee-tah” and consists of two characters: “老” and “いた.” The first character, “老” means aged or old, while the second character, “いた” is the past tense form of “いる,” which means “to be.”

The word “oita” can be used to describe an object or a person. For example, you can say “この車は老いた” (kono kuruma wa oita), which means “this car is old.” Similarly, you can say “あの人はとても老いた” (ano hito wa totemo oita), which means “that person is very old.”

It’s worth noting that Japanese culture places a great emphasis on showing respect to elders. Therefore, when speaking to someone older than you, it’s common to use honorifics such as “-san” or “-sama” after their name. For example, you would say “Tanaka-san wa oita desu” rather than “Tanaka wa oita desu” to show respect to an older person.

Expressing Age in Japanese:

Learning how to express age in Japanese is an essential aspect of the language. It is important to know how to describe someone’s age, and how to ask someone’s age politely.

Phrases to Describe Someone’s Age:

Here are some useful phrases for describing someone’s age in Japanese:

Expression Translation
歳を取った Got old
年を取った Got older
年をとっている Is getting old
高齢者 Elderly person

It is important to note that when describing someone’s age in Japanese, it is generally considered impolite to use the word “old.” Instead, it is more appropriate to use phrases that imply aging, such as “got older” or “is getting old.”

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Asking Someone’s Age:

When asking someone’s age in Japanese, it is important to use the proper level of politeness.

Here are some examples of how to ask someone’s age politely:

Expression Translation
お年はいくつですか? How old are you? (polite)
ご年齢はいくつですか? How old are you? (even more polite)
失礼ですが、おいくつですか? Excuse me, but may I ask your age? (very polite)

Remember to use the appropriate level of politeness when asking someone’s age, as it is a sensitive topic in Japanese culture.

Now that you have learned some useful phrases for expressing age in Japanese, you can confidently talk about age with your Japanese-speaking friends and colleagues!

Translating “Old” to Japanese

When it comes to translating the word “old” to Japanese, there are a few options to consider. The most straightforward translation is “老いた” (oi ta), which is the past tense of the verb “老いる” (oiru) meaning “to age” or “to grow old”.

However, this word can be a bit too blunt or direct for certain contexts or situations. In Japanese culture, age is often a sensitive and important topic, so it’s important to choose the right word for the right context. Here are a few additional options to consider:

Japanese Word/Phrase Meaning
年を取った literally “took years”, meaning “to have aged”
年配の meaning “elderly” or “of advanced age”
高齢の meaning “old” or “aged” and is commonly used in legal or medical contexts

As with any translation, the context and tone of the conversation or text will dictate which word is most appropriate. It’s important to choose the right word to avoid any unintentional offense or disrespect.

Other Ways to Say “Old” in Japanese

When it comes to expressing age in Japanese, there are numerous ways to convey the concept of “old.” Here are some additional phrases and terms to add to your vocabulary:

Jukunen (熟年)

Jukunen refers to someone in their late middle age, typically in their 50s or 60s. This term can also be used to describe a couple who have been married for a long time.

Rojiura no jiji/baba (路地裏の爺/婆)

Rojiura no jiji or baba literally translates to “grandpa/grandma from the back alleys” and is used to describe people who are old-fashioned in their ways.

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Toshiue no otoko/onna (年上の男/女)

This phrase is used to refer to someone who is older than you. It can also be used to describe a romantic partner who is older.

Kanreki (還暦)

Kanreki is a term used to describe one’s 60th birthday, which is an important milestone in Japanese culture. It is also the age at which a person is said to have completed a full cycle of the zodiac signs.

Learning these additional ways to express “old” in Japanese will help you better understand and communicate with native speakers. Keep in mind that the appropriate term to use will vary depending on the context and relationship between the speakers.


Q: How do you say “old” in Japanese?

A: The Japanese word for “old” is “furui.”

Q: How can I express someone’s age in Japanese?

A: There are various phrases and vocabulary you can use to describe someone’s age in Japanese. For example, you can say “X-sai desu” to mean “X years old.” However, it is important to note that asking someone’s age directly can be considered impolite in Japanese culture.

Q: How can I ask someone’s age politely in Japanese?

A: To ask someone’s age politely in Japanese, you can use the phrase “Nansai desu ka?” which means “How old are you?” It’s important to use the appropriate honorific language and be mindful of the context and relationship with the person you are speaking to.

Q: Are there alternative translations for the English word “old” in Japanese?

A: Yes, there are alternative translations for the English word “old” in Japanese. Some possible translations include “toshi,” “rōjin,” and “kōrei,” each with their own nuances and usage in different contexts.

Q: Are there other ways to express the concept of “old” in Japanese?

A: Yes, besides the direct translation, there are other ways to express the concept of “old” in Japanese. This can include using synonyms like “aged,” idiomatic expressions, or referring to specific stages of life or experiences related to aging. Japanese culture also has unique perspectives and cultural nuances surrounding age, which can influence the ways “old” is understood and expressed.

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