Have you ever felt the need to say “fun” in Japanese with an extra dash of excitement? Imagine missing out on the coolest way to say “fun” in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Don’t be left out of the conversation. Buckle up as we dive into the world of fun in the Japanese language!
How to say “fun” in Japanese
The Japanese word for fun is たのしい (tanoshii|楽しい). Like in English, this word is an adjective that describes something that makes your neck tickle and your heart race. More specifically, this would be an い (i)-adjective as opposed to a な (na)-adjective – one of the two types of Japanese adjectives.
たのしいゆうえんち (tanoshii yuuenchi | 楽しい遊園地)
A fun amusement park.
たのしかったわ！さいきんのコンサートが (tanoshikatta wa! saikin no konsaato ga | 楽しかったわ！最近のコンサートが)
That concert was so much fun!
Just like in English, a Japanese adjective can be used directly before a noun to describe it, or it can be used in tandem with a subject marker. In English, the subject marker is the verb “to be,” whereas in Japanese, the special particle は (ha) is used. For a deep dive into the critical topic of Japanese particles, check out our article on the subject.
Tip: Note that the adjective for fun has been changed in the second sentence example to make it a past-tense adjective! This does not exist in the English language, but it does in Japanese. Be sure to master your Japanese adjective list if you haven’t already, and take your language to the next level!
Does interesting mean “fun” in Japanese?
You may have come across the Japanese word おもしろい (omoshiroi | 面白い) in your studies by now. This word technically means “interesting,” but it is often also used to mean “funny” or just “fun” in general.
The quality of “fun” that something interesting often points to that fun which is of the mind and perhaps peculiar. The crossover here between these two Japanese words and how they appear in both languages is pretty straightforward, offering an interesting perspective on the nuances of the Japanese language.
That being said, be aware of the context in which this word is used!
あのおもしろいはくぶつかんにはとしによんかいだけじゅうぎょういんがひつようですよ(ano omoshiroi hakubutsukan ni ha toshi ni yon kai dake juugyouin ga hitsuyoudesu yo|あの面白い博物館には年に四回だけ従業員が必要ですよ)
That fun/interesting museum only needs employees 4 days out of the year.
How to say “not fun” in Japanese
As mentioned before, an adjective can get conjugated or change its form. If we want to say “not fun,” we must change the actual word for fun.
Thus, たのしくない (tanoshikunai | 楽しくない) is how to say not fun in Japanese. It functions exactly the same way as its positive form within a sentence, outside of its polarity.
Here are some example sentences to get a glimpse of what can sometimes be a tricky concept to grasp:
たのしくないパーティー (tanoshikunai patii | 楽しくないパーティー)
A not fun party.
パーティーはたのしくない (patii wa tanoshikunai | パーティーは楽しくない)
The/That party isn’t fun.
れきしのじゅぎょうはすごいたのしくなかったよ。だからねっちゃうさ。。。さいあくだった！(rekishi no jugyou wa sugoi tanoshikunakatta yo. Dakara necchau sa… saiaku datta! | 歴史の授業はすごい楽しくなかったよ。だから寝っちゃうさ。。。最悪だった！)
The history class was so boring! That’s why I fell asleep… it was the worst!
Wishing others to have fun in Japanese
So, the adjective たのしい (tanoshii | 楽しい) is not the only word of its kind that uses the Kanji and reading of 楽, a character that means “ease” or “comfort.” This adjective for fun actually comes from the verb たのしむ (tanoshimu | 楽しむ), which means to enjoy or to have fun.
Understanding this verb is our base for wishing someone a good time in Japanese. The expression to do so is 楽しんで (tanoshinde!), or in a more polite way, 楽しんでください (tanoshinde kudasai). This is simply the conjugated て (te)-form of the verb 楽しむ, and while this verb form does have many purposes, one of them is to give commands.
These commands are colloquial and usually not harsh, like if you were to command someone to “take a cookie.” In this case, you are simply telling someone to enjoy themselves in some activity.
ゆうたさん (Yuuta San | 雄太さん): そろそろやきゅうのしあいははじめてくるのか？じかんもないさ！じゃあ、いってきます！(sorosoro yakyuu no shiai wa hajimetekuru noka? Jikan mo nai sa! Jaa ittekimasu!｜そろそろ野球の試合は初めて来るのか？時間もないさ！じゃあ、いってきます)
おかあさん (okaasan |お母さん): はいいってらしゃい！たのしんでね！(hai, itterashai! tanoshinde ne! | はい、いってらしゃい！楽しんでね！)
Using fun as a noun in Japanese
The word “fun” functions as both an adjective and a noun, right? It doesn’t work the same in Japanese. Actually, there is a system for changing an adjective into a noun in Japanese depending on their type – but that’s for another time.
Today, we only introduce you to the word たのしさ (tanoshisa | 楽しさ) or the noun form of the word “fun.” To make things clearer, let’s think of this word as enjoyment. Here’s how this term may take shape within a Japanese sentence.
いなかのたのしさはすきです (inaka no tanoshisa wa suki desu | 田舎の楽しさは好きです)
I like the enjoyment of/offered by the countryside.
りょこうのたのしそをしらないひとがおおいんだ (ryokou no tanoshisa o shiranai hito ga ooinda | 旅行の楽しさを知らない人は多いんだ)
Many people don’t know the joy/fun of traveling.
How to say “looking forward to something” in Japanese
To say you are looking forward to something in Japanese uses the same root we’ve been discussing today, which is why we are including it here. This expression looks like this: たのしみにしている (tanoshimi ni shiteiru | 楽しみにしている). Let’s break this down for a better understanding:
Tanoshimi is the masu-stem or root stem of the verb たのしむ (tanoshimu | 楽しむ). All on its own, this word can be said to mean “look forward to.” To make it a full phrase, にする(~ni suru) gets added on at the end. する (suru) is the verb to do in Japanese, and に (ni) is the particle pointing to what’s benign in this sentence.
Thus, they come together to say someone is “doing” looking forward to something. For example:
じゅういっさいのときからそれをたのしみにしている (juuissai no toki kara sore wo tanoshimi ni shiteiru | 十一歳の時からそれを楽しみにしている)
She has been looking forward to it since she was 11 years old.
So there you have it, folks. As a recap, remember that the word for interesting in Japanese can also be used to mean fun. This word also looks different as an adjective than as a noun and needs to be conjugated when used in its negative form.
In Japanese, two types of adjectives change in different ways, and you might find it interesting to learn how to use them. Also, it’s easy to express excitement about something in Japanese using the same root word!
Understanding these details is not just about language but exploring the finer points of Japanese culture.
がんばってください (ganbatte kudasai)! ^^