Understanding Waku Waku: What Does It Mean in Japanese?

Have you ever heard the phrase “waku waku” in Japanese and wondered what it means? Well, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll explore the cultural significance and usage of this phrase in Japanese society.

First, let’s start with the basics. “Waku waku” is a Japanese expression that conveys a sense of excitement or anticipation. It’s often translated as “thrilled” or “excited” in English.

However, the meaning of “waku waku” goes beyond just excitement. It’s a term that embodies the essence of the Japanese culture and values, and it’s used in a variety of contexts ranging from personal to professional.

In this section, we’ll explore the definition and translation of “waku waku” in Japanese. We’ll also discuss its usage in different situations, giving you a better understanding of this popular Japanese phrase.

So, what does “waku waku” mean in Japanese? Let’s find out.

Exploring the Meaning of Waku Waku

Now that you have a basic understanding of what “waku waku” means in Japanese, let’s explore its meaning in more detail.

The phrase “waku waku” can be translated into English as “excitement” or “thrill.” However, interpreting its meaning solely based on these translations would be oversimplifying it. In Japanese, “waku waku” is not just an emotion; it’s a state of being, a feeling of energy and anticipation that’s associated with an exciting event or experience.

For example, imagine the feeling you get before going on a roller coaster or skydiving for the first time. That sense of nervous energy and excitement is what “waku waku” represents.

In addition to this general meaning, “waku waku” can also have specific connotations based on the context in which it’s used. For instance, it can convey the excitement of a child on Christmas morning or the anticipation of an upcoming trip or adventure.

Overall, “waku waku” is a complex and nuanced phrase that defies easy translation. Its meaning and usage are deeply intertwined with Japanese culture and values, and it’s a concept that’s difficult to fully appreciate without a deeper understanding of the language and society.

Understanding the Origins of Waku Waku

The phrase “waku waku” is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and language. Its origin can be traced back to the early 20th century during the Taisho era. Its first appearance in print was in the popular magazine “Shonen Sekai” (Boy’s World) in 1919. At the time, it was used to describe the feeling of excitement and thrill that young people experienced when exploring the world around them.

The phrase consists of two repetitions of the same word “waku,” which means “to boil” or “to bubble.” The repetition of the word emphasizes the intensity of the feeling and adds a sense of urgency and excitement. The phrase has evolved over time and is now widely used in various contexts to convey the feeling of anticipation, excitement, and thrill.

Cultural Significance of Waku Waku

Waku waku has a significant cultural importance in the Japanese language. It represents the excitement and anticipation experienced before an event or activity. In Japanese culture, it is highly valued to show enthusiasm and excitement towards everything one does, and waku waku conveys this sentiment beautifully.

The phrase is often used by Japanese people when they are looking forward to a new experience or activity, such as a new job, a trip, or even a meal. It signifies a sense of curiosity, adventure, and optimism towards life.

The cultural significance of waku waku goes beyond just the phrase itself. It reflects the values and mindset of the Japanese people, emphasizing the importance of finding joy and excitement in even the smallest things in life. It also demonstrates the Japanese appreciation of the process of anticipation, making the experience of waiting just as important as the event itself.

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Japanese term English Translation Meaning
Shitsukoi Unadventurous Describes someone who is not enthusiastic about new experiences
Chouheki Anticipation The feeling of eagerly waiting for something

Waku Waku Significance in Japanese Language

In the Japanese language, waku waku is classified as an onomatopoeic word. Onomatopoeia is an important aspect of the Japanese language, with many words being made up of sounds that imitate the thing they describe.

Waku waku is a unique example of onomatopoeia in Japanese language because it doesn’t imitate any specific sound or action. Instead, it captures a feeling or emotion, making it a symbolic representation of a state of mind.

Usage of Waku Waku in Everyday Life

In Japan, “waku waku” is a commonly used phrase that conveys a feeling of excitement and anticipation. It can be used in a variety of situations, from a child eagerly awaiting a surprise to an adult feeling energized by a new endeavor. Understanding how “waku waku” is used in everyday life can provide insight into Japanese culture and values.

One common use of “waku waku” is in relation to an upcoming event or experience. For example, if someone is looking forward to a vacation or attending a concert, they might say “waku waku shiteru” to express their excitement. Similarly, if a child is eagerly anticipating their birthday or a holiday, they might say “waku waku shiteiru” to convey their anticipation.

Another use of “waku waku” is to describe a feeling of adventure or exploration. If someone is trying something new or stepping outside of their comfort zone, they might say “waku waku suru” to indicate their excitement and willingness to embrace the unknown.


Overall, “waku waku” is a versatile phrase that can be used to express a range of emotions related to excitement and anticipation. Understanding its usage in Japanese can help to deepen your appreciation of the language and culture.

Similar Expressions in Japanese

While “waku waku” is a unique phrase in Japanese that captures a specific feeling, there are other expressions that convey a similar sentiment. Here are some alternative phrases that you can use in different situations:

Expression Meaning
Doki doki This expression is used to convey a sense of excitement or anticipation. It is often associated with a racing heartbeat.
Hyokkori This expression is used to express a sense of lightheartedness or carefreeness. It can be used to describe a happy-go-lucky attitude or a carefree moment.
Uki uki This expression is used to describe a feeling of happiness or excitement. It is often used to describe a general sense of happiness rather than a specific event or moment.

These expressions may not have the exact same meaning as “waku waku,” but they can still capture the same feeling of excitement or anticipation. Experiment with these phrases to find the one that best expresses the sentiment you want to convey.

Incorporating Waku Waku into English

Translating phrases from one language to another can be a tricky task, especially when trying to capture the essence and cultural significance of a phrase like “waku waku” in English. However, there are ways to express the feeling and excitement associated with “waku waku” in American English.

One way to convey the excitement of “waku waku” in English is to use similar phrases like “excited” or “pumped up.” For example, instead of saying “I’m feeling waku waku about the concert tonight,” you could say “I’m really excited about the concert tonight.” Similarly, instead of saying “She had a waku waku expression on her face,” you could say “She looked pumped up and eager.”

Another way to incorporate “waku waku” into English is to use onomatopoeic words that convey a sense of excitement or anticipation. For instance, you could say “I’m so waku waku, I can hardly contain myself,” or “The atmosphere was filled with waku waku energy.”

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It’s important to note that while these phrases may capture the feeling of “waku waku,” they may not fully convey its cultural significance. Therefore, it’s important to understand the context in which “waku waku” is used in Japanese society and to use these phrases appropriately in English.


In conclusion, by understanding the meaning and cultural significance of phrases like “waku waku” in Japanese, you can gain a deeper insight into the values and beliefs of Japanese society. It is vital to recognize that language is not merely a tool for communication, but a means of expressing ideas, feelings, and emotions.

By incorporating phrases like “waku waku” into your vocabulary, you can enrich your communication and express your excitement and enthusiasm more effectively. Remember that understanding the nuances and subtleties of language is an ongoing process, and the more you immerse yourself in different cultures and languages, the greater your understanding will be.

So, embrace the spirit of “waku waku” and continue to explore the richness and diversity of language.

Thank you for reading and we hope this article has helped you in understanding “waku waku”.


Q: What does “waku waku” mean in Japanese?

A: “Waku waku” is a Japanese phrase that is often used to describe the feeling of excitement or anticipation. It can be loosely translated as “thrilling” or “heart-pounding.”

Q: How is “waku waku” used in different contexts?

A: “Waku waku” can be used to express excitement about various things, such as upcoming events, new experiences, or even everyday activities. It is a versatile phrase that captures the feeling of anticipation or thrill.

Q: What is the origin of the phrase “waku waku”?

A: The exact origin of the phrase is not known, but it has been used in Japanese language and culture for many years. It is believed to have its roots in the onomatopoeic nature of the Japanese language, where words are often created based on the sounds associated with a particular feeling or action.

Q: What is the cultural significance of “waku waku” in Japan?

A: “Waku waku” holds cultural significance in Japan as it reflects the value placed on experiencing excitement and joy in everyday life. It is often associated with the concept of “omotenashi,” which refers to the Japanese spirit of hospitality and creating memorable experiences for others.

Q: Can you provide some examples of how “waku waku” is used in everyday life?

A: Sure! “Waku waku” can be used to describe the anticipation before a trip, the excitement of trying a new activity, or the thrill of watching a suspenseful movie. It can also be used to express the excitement of receiving good news or participating in a thrilling event.

Q: Are there any alternative expressions in Japanese that convey a similar feeling as “waku waku”?

A: Yes, there are other expressions in Japanese that share a similar sentiment, such as “doki doki” (describing a fast heartbeat) or “happi happi” (describing extreme happiness). These phrases can be used interchangeably depending on the situation.

Q: How can the concept of “waku waku” be expressed in English?

A: While there may not be an exact translation for “waku waku” in English, you can convey the feeling of excitement or anticipation by using phrases like “thrilled,” “excited,” or “eager.” It’s important to consider the context and choose words that best capture the essence of “waku waku” in American English.

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