143 - ♪ Happy Days ♫

This week, the weather is spectacular. I am one of those people who is always cold, so now that the temperature is up above 15 degrees every night (that is around 59 degrees in Freedom Units), I am finally happy with life. So this lesson is bound to be about happiness.

If you have been learning Japanese for a while you might have run into 擬声語(ぎせいご)or 擬態語(ぎたいご)which are pretty much fancy words for onomatopoeia. The former being the title of onomatopoeia used for humans and animal sounds, and the latter being used for conditions or states.

Onomatopoeia are fairly easy to recognize in Japanese, because they are usually short hiragana words that repeat the same syllables twice, like ぺらぺら which means “to speak fluently.” Japanese is one of the only languages that has this unique repeat of sounds for onomatopoeia, and they are super fun to learn about.

Because this weather is making me happy, let’s go through 5 different onomatopoeia that are used to describe different states of happiness in Japanese.

わくわく means “eagerness” or “excitement.” It is used when your heart is full of good expectations for a future event. It comes from the word 沸く(わく)which means “to boil” or “to grow.”

明日から2週間スペインに行くんだけど、わくわくするわ!
あした から にしゅうかん スペイン に いく んだけど、 わくわく する わ!
From tomorrow I am going on a trip to Spain for 2 weeks, I am excited!
Literally: “tomorrow + から + 2 weeks + Spain + に + trip + excited + わ”
Note: This sentence-ending わ is feminine-sounding.

やる気が出たので、わくわくしながら勉強している。
やるき が でた ので、 わくわく しながら べんきょう している。
Since I got motivation, I am eagerly studying.
Literally: “motivation + が + came out + ので + eagerly + while + studying”

うきうき also means “excited” but it has a connotation that you are jumping up and down with excitement. It comes from the word 浮く (うく)which means “to float.”

お祭りで私の息子はうきうきしている。
おまつり で わたし の むすこ は うきうき している。
My son was giddy with excitement at the festival.
Literally: “festival + で + I + の + son + は + giddy”

私は大学に合格したものだから今はうきうきしている.
わたし は だいがく に ごうかく した もの だから いま は うきうき している。
I am in high spirits now because I got accepted into University.
Literally: “ I + は + University + に + passed (an exam) + もの だから + now + は + in high spirits”

どきどき is the sound your heart makes as it beats in your chest. It can be used to describe how you feel after you exercise, if you are worried, or even if you have expectations of some kind. Since we are talking about happiness in this lesson, we will just focus on the positive connotations, so in this case it will have a meaning of “nervous happiness.”

有名なアイドルに見つめられて、どきどきしていた。
ゆうめいな あいどる に みつめられて、 どきどき していた。
I saw a famous superstar and got nervous.
Literally: “famous + idol + に + look at + nervous”

If you read manga, you might also find a scene where the boy hugs the girl when she is sad and ドキドキ appears in the illustration like a sound effect.

Note: Because these words are onomatopoeia, they are sometimes written in katakana for emphasis.


にこにこ is the description of a happy, smiling, or laughing face.

すごい人だよ。どんなにつらいときでもにこにこしている。
すごい ひと だよ。どんなに つらい とき でも にこにこ している。
He is amazing. Even in bad times he is smiling.
Literally: “amazing + person + だよ + whichever + difficult + time + でも + smiling”

今日はにこにこして嬉しそうだね。デートでもするの?
きょう は にこにこ して うれしそう だね。 デート でも する の?
You look happy and smiling today don’t you? Do you have a date?
Literally: “today + は + happy + そう + smiling + date + するの”

いきいき means a feeling of brightness and happiness. If you know the word 元気 (げんき) in Japanese, which means “vigor” or “liveliness,” いきいき is very similar to that. It actually comes from the word 生きる (いきる) which means “to live.”

いきいきと過ごしたら、本当の年より10歳は若く見えるよ。
いきいきと すごしたら、 ほんとう の とし より じゅっさい は わかく みえる よ。
If you are warm and lively, you will seem 10 years younger.
Literally: “lively + したら + age + than + 10 years + は + young + seem like + よ”

彼女は夢についていきいきと説明した。
かのじょ は ゆめ について いきいき と せつめい した。
She explained her dream excitedly.
Literally: “she + は + dream + about + lively + と + explained”


Onomatopoeia are so much fun (except spelling the word 1000 times in the lesson >.<). Once you get used to some of these expressions about happiness, your Japanese will sound much more natural. Now, I will get back to my beautiful-weather day. I feel わくわく about what this summer will bring!

This lesson was written by Cassy L., a guest contributor:

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