Guide: How to Say “Sea” in Japanese

Japan, a beautiful archipelago surrounded by the majestic ocean, holds great significance and appreciation for the sea. If you find yourself in Japan and want to express your admiration for the sea, it’s essential to know how to say “sea” in Japanese. In this guide, we will explore the formal and informal ways to express “sea,” provide you with regional variations if necessary, and offer useful tips and examples along the way.

Formal Ways to Say “Sea”

When speaking in formal settings or using polite language, the following terms are commonly used to refer to the sea:

1. Umi (海): This is the most common and versatile term for “sea” in Japanese. It represents the vastness and mystique of the ocean. For example, if you want to say “I love the sea” formally, you would say “Watashi wa umi ga suki desu.”

2. Kaiyō (海洋): This word has a more technical connotation and is often used when discussing marine sciences or referring to the ocean as an ecosystem. For instance, if you wanted to say “The ocean is full of life” formally, you would say “Kaiyō wa ikimono de ippai desu.”

Informal Ways to Say “Sea”

In casual conversations or among friends, you can use these less formal expressions to convey your love for the sea.

1. : As mentioned earlier, “umi” is the most commonly used term for “sea” in Japanese and is appropriate for both formal and informal contexts. You can use it to express your fondness for the sea among friends or family.

2. : This word typically refers to a harbor but is also used conversationally to mean “sea.” When using this term, your expression will have a slightly more local and informal touch. For example, you can say “Minato he ikitai” to express your desire to go to the sea casually.

Regional Variations

While the above terms are widely understood throughout Japan, there are a few regional variations that you may come across. Here are some variations of “sea” in specific Japanese regions:

  • : This term is universally understood and used across Japan.
  • : Primarily used in the Tohoku region, particularly in Aomori, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures, this variation still means “sea.”
  • : Hachijō-jima, a small island south of Tokyo, also uses “umi” to refer to the sea.

Tips for Proper Usage

To ensure you use the term “sea” correctly in Japanese, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Mind the Context: Pay attention to the formality of the situation and choose the appropriate word accordingly, using “umi” in most cases for its universal applicability.

2. Consider Local Language: If you are living in or visiting a specific region, it is helpful to learn and adopt the local variation. This will not only enable you to communicate more effectively but also show your respect for the local culture.

3. Practice Pronunciation: As with any language, pronunciation is crucial. Listen carefully to native speakers and mimic their intonation to ensure you are understood correctly.


To solidify your understanding, here are a few examples of how to use the word “sea” in Japanese:

1. “I enjoy swimming in the sea during summer vacations” in a formal setting: “Natsuyasumi ni wa umi de oyogu no ga tanoshī desu.”

2. “Let’s have a picnic by the sea this weekend” in an informal setting: “Konshūmatsuri umi de pikunikku shiyō yo.”

3. “The sea breeze is refreshing” in a casual conversation: “Umi no kaze ga saitei.”

With these examples and variations, you are well-equipped to express your love for the sea appropriately when speaking in Japanese.

Remember, whether you choose the formal or informal way to say it, the essential aspect is the warmth and appreciation you convey for the beautiful oceans surrounding Japan.

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