色 ( = いろ = iro) : Color related Japanese


:P 「マギー先生は、何色が好きですか?」

= Maggie sensei wa naniiro ga suki desu ka?

“Miss Maggie, what is your favorite color?”

:maggie-small: 「私の好きな色は金色です。なんか金運がよくなりそうな気がするから…」

=Watashi no sukina iro wa kin iro desu. Nanka kin-un ga yoku narisou na ki ga surukara…

“My favorite color is gold. Because I feel like it will bring me better luck with money…”

Hello everyone! Konnichiwa~!! Maggie desu!
You know what? It has been almost two months since I started these blog lessons — with my assistants Yukari and the other one… Vincent or something, I forget.
I really appreciate all of you who have come to study at my site. Please feel free to leave any comments and questions you might have. We welcome your feedback. I will try to answer as many of your questions as possible.
The lessons tend to be very long because I want to include as many related vocabulary and cultural notes as possible so that I can reach many different language levels in each lesson. Hopefully everyone will be able to learn something here!

I hope you’ll come back here again and again!

OK!! Today we will focus on colors and color related expressions! 「準備はいい?」( = Junbi wa ii?) Are you ready?


First, color in Japanese is 色  ( = iro/shiki).

色合い ( = iroai) tint, color shade

色が鮮やか( = iro ga azayaka) brilliant in color

:rrrr: 鮮やかな色  ( = azayakana iro) a brilliant color

• 色あせた  ( = iroaseta) faded color

• 色とりどり ( = iro toridori) colorful

• 色々 ( = iroiro) various

:rrrr:色々な ( = iroiro na) variety of

• 色が濃い  ( = iro ga koi)

→ 濃い色  ( = koi iro) dark color

• 色が薄い  (= iro ga usui)

:rrrr: 薄い色 ( = usui iro) light color

• 色黒 ( = iro guro) dark skin

Ex. 彼は色黒だ。

= Kare wa iroguro da.

= He is dark-skinned.

• 色白 ( = iro jiro) fair skin

!star! A proverb :

• 十人十色  ( = jyuunin toiro) : Every person is different./Many men, many minds.

You will be surprised to see that many of the 色 ( = iro) words are related to something sexual. :oops:

• 色っぽい ( = iroppoi) sexy

(Note: Remember this word? Please check ~ppoi lesson!)

• 色気 ( = iroke) sexual charm

• 色気がある  ( = iroke ga aru) sexy, to have sexual charm

• 色男 ( = irootoko) a lady killer, a stud, a Don Juan, a lover boy,play boy

or 色女  ( = iroonna) a play girl: kind of old fashioned.

• 好色  ( = koushoku) sensuality, a person who loves sex

• 色情  ( = shikijyou) sexual desire

• 色欲 ( = shikiyoku) lust

There are lots of color related idioms in English. It is very interesting to see the difference a color’s image has in different languages.

For example a person who lacks experience is called “green” in English, but in Japanese we use “blue.
And in the old days “blue movie” in English meant “porn film,” but in Japanese a porn film is called a “pink movie.” The color pink has a sexual image in Japan.

OK, let’s take a look at each color, one by one!

:mm: White: 白  ( shiro/haku)


白星  ( = shiro boshi): If you love Sumo, you might be already familiar with this word.

( = hoshi/boshi/sei) originaly means stars.

When a Sumo wrestler wins, we say

白星を取る ( = Shiroboshi wo toru) means “to win a victory”. (see 黒星 ( = kuroboshi) below)

白々しい ( = shirajirashii)lame, plastic


= shirajirashii uso wo tsuku

=  bald-face lie

潔白  ( = keppaku) innocence

” means innocence.

Ex. 警察は彼は白だと思った。

= Keisatsu wa kare wa shiro dato omotta.

Police thought he was innocent.

白一点  ( = shiro itten) Only man in the group.

It comes from 紅一点 ( = kou itten) (See below )

Ex. 今日は白一点だね。

= Kyou wa shiro itten dane.

You are the only guy in our group!

ホワイト( = howaito)

ホワイトデー (  =howaito dei) March 14th. If you are a man and receive chocolates or gifts from girls on Valentine’s day, you are expected to return some gifts on March 14th — called White day.

:jjj: Gold : 金  ( = kin)

金メダル ( = kin medaru) a gold medal

金髪  ( = kinpatsu) blond hair

:l: Silver : 銀  ( = gin)

銀河 ( = ginga) ( 河 ( = kawa/ka/ga) = river) →The Milky Way

Some of the words which use 銀 ( = gin) means bright white.

銀世界 ( = ginsekai) snowy world


=Ichimen wa ginsekai datta

There was snow everywhere.

• 銀シャリ ( = ginshari) white rice

:ee: Sanguine: 紅:( kurenai, beni,aka/ kou) This color came from China.

• 紅一点( = kouitten) the only girl in the group

• 紅白( = kouhaku) red and white

:jjj: Cultural Note: The combination of red and white is considered good luck in Japan and the red and white striped curtains are used for happy events and ceremonies.

We make sweets or food for happy occasions such as 紅白まんじゅう ( = kouhaku manjyuu) and 紅白かまぼこ ( = kouhaku kamaboko) fish paste.

Also it is customary to have sports festivals or athletic meets divided into two groups, red and white in schools or companies.

!onpu! 紅白歌合戦 ( = Kouhaku Utagassen) :

A big singing contest show on New Year’s Eve on NHK (National Broadcast Television in Japan.) They divide all the singers into two group by sex,白組 (=Shiro gumi), male group and 紅組  ( = Aka gumi), female group.

:mm: Black: 黒  ( = koku/kuro/kuroi)

• 黒星 ( = kuroboshi) to be defeated (especially in a Sumo match)

• 腹黒い ( = hara guroi) evil minded

• 黒字 ( = kuroji) black in figure

•  means guilty

Ex. 容疑者は黒だった

= Yougisha wa kuro datta.

The suspect was guilty.

:rrrr: Black and white = 白黒  ( = shirokuro)

• 白黒つける

= shirokuro tsukeru

to make something clear

• 白黒はっきりさせる

= shirokuro hakkiri saseru

to make something clear


= Kono mondai no shirokuro hakkiri sasetai.

I would like to set the record straight regarding this problem.

白黒写真 ( = shirokuro shashin) black and white pictures

Note : See the difference of the order of the colors? In English you say “Black and white”

:s: Brown茶 ( = cha) 茶色 ( = chairo)

茶化す ( = chakasu) to turn something into a joke

茶番 ( = chaban) farce

Ex.とんだ茶番だ! ( = Tonda chaban da!)

It was such a ludicrous farce.

茶髪 ( = chapatsu) brown hair   

:qq: Red : 赤 ( = aka)

赤ん坊  ( = akanbou) 赤ちゃん( = akachan) 赤子 ( = akago) : baby

赤字  ( = akaji) the red, unfavorable balance, red figure

Ex. 赤字路線 ( = akaji rosen) unprofitable railway (or bus) line

赤恥  ( = akahaji wo kaku) or 赤っ恥 ( = akappaji) total embarrassment

Ex. 赤っ恥をかく( = akappaji wo kaku) to get humiliated in public

赤の他人 ( = aka no tanin) absolute/perfect strangers

• 彼女は赤の他人だ。( = Kanojou wa aka tanin da.) She is a complete stranger to me.

Also is the symbolic color of 共産主義者  ( =kyousan shugisha )  communists in the old days.

 Cultural Note :

Avoid writing people’s names in red in Japan. It is considered to be very rude especially for the older generation. Some says it is because red ink was used to write criminal’s names or red reminded them of blood, etc.

• 赤道  ( = sekidou) equator

• 赤裸裸(or 赤裸々)( = sekirara)

Ex. 赤裸(or 赤裸々な告白  ( = Sekirara na kokuhaku) confession of downright truth

• 赤面する ( = Sekimen suru) to blush

• 顔が赤くなる ( = Kao ga akaku naru) to blush

• 赤くなって怒る ( = Akaku natte okoru) to be red with rage

• 真っ赤 (  = makka)  to be really red

Ex. 恥ずかしくて真っ赤になった。( = Hazukashikute makka ni natta.)

(I/he/she…) blushed red with embarrassment. (Stronger than 赤くなった.( = akaku natta) 

Ex. 真っ赤になって怒る ( = Makka ni natte okoru.)

to be red with rage (Stronger than 赤くなって怒る.

Note : By adding “真っ ” (=mah) in front, you can emphasize the color. (Careful ! Sometimes it change the way of reading the following kanji. ex.

• 真っ赤 = Makka not Ma aka)

• 真っ青 ( = Massao) go white , pale

Ex. 顔色が真っ青になる。( = Kao iro ga massao ni naru.) I turned pale.

• 真っ黒 ( = Makkuro) jet black

Ex.日に焼けて真っ黒になる。( = Hi ni yakete makkuro ni naru.)

I got a deep tan.

• 真っ白 ( = Masshiro) sparkling white

Ex.頭の中が真っ白になった。( = Atama no naka ga masshiro ni natta.)

My mind went blank.

:: Yellow : 黄 ( = ki) 黄ばむ ( = kibamu) turn yellow

• くちばしが黄色い ( = kuchibashi ga kiiroi ) (くちばし ( = kuchibashi) = a beak)

to be wet behind the ears.

• 黄色い声援をおくる ( = kiiroi seien wo okuru)  (声援  = seien) root, cheer to shriek)

• 黄色い声  ( = kiiroi koe) shrill voice or shriek

(Usually fans shriek when they see their idols.)

:jjj: Blue : 青 ( = ao/sei)

• 青年  ( = seinen) youth, young man

• 青年時代  ( = seinen jidai) adolescent years youth

• (or ケツ) が青い  ( = shiri ( ketsu) ga oai (尻 (or ケツ) (shiri (or ketsu) : butts)

wet behind the ears.  (Note: ketsu is impolite. Women don’t use it.)

• 青二才 ( = ao nisai) (二才( = nisai) 2 years old )spring chicken, punk

• 青くさい ( = aokusai) くさい(=kusai) to stink, to smell (too) young, not mature, inexperienced

  青春  ( = seishun) adolescence, youth

• 青くなる  ( = aokunaru) to turn pale

• 青々とした木々 ( = aoao to shita kigi) lush trees

:jjj: Green : 緑 (  =midori)

• みどりの窓口 ( = midori no madoguchi)

The place you can buy shinkansen, bullet trains tickets in JR (Japan Railway) stations.

• 緑の黒髪  ( = midori no kurokami) beautiful silky black hair

(old fashion/ It doesn’t mean “greenish black”.)

!candy! Culture Note : As many of you have already known, the signal’s colors are exactly the same as other countries, green, yellow and red, in Japan. However we call green as blue.

So if you hear 青信号 ( = ao shingou) blue light , that means green light

Ex. 信号が青になったら渡って下さい

= Shingou ga ao ni nattara watatte kudasai.

=  Please cross the street on a blue light. -means on a green light.

:l: Pink : ピンク ( = pinku)

ピンクサロン ( = pinku saron) 、

Note : Maggie sensei will avoid explaining the details to keep her wholesome image! :oops: : please check this wikipedia site yourself!

ピンク映画  ( = pinku eiga ) porn movie

:k: Peach : 桃色  ( = momoiro) peach color (It also has a sexual connotation like “pink”.)

:: Rose color : 薔薇(バラ)色  ( = bara iro) rose color, it has very happy image.

Ex. バラ色の人生 ( = barairo no jinsei) rosy life, happy life

:k: Gray: 灰色  ( = haiiro)

Ex.灰色の人生 ( = haiiro no jinsei) unhappy life

Ex.灰色高官  ( = haiiro koukan) senior officials suspected of corruption.

:ee: Other colors:

• 紫  ( = murasaki) purple

薄紫  ( = usu murasaki) light purple

• 橙  ( = daidai) orange =オレンジ(色)( = orenji (iro))

• 水色  ( = mizuiro) water color light blue

• きつね色  ( =kitsune iro)

きつね ( = kitsune)==a fox golden

Ex. きつね色になるまでパンを焼く ( = Kitsune iro ni narumade pan wo yaku).

Toast the bread until golden.

• 小麦色  ( = komugi iro) = tan color, cocoa brown

小麦  ( = komugi) = wheat

Ex.小麦色に肌を焼く( = Komugi iro ni hada wo yaku) to get a nice tan

 • 紺  ( = kon) dark blue

• Proverb : 紺屋の白袴 (=Konya no shirobakama)

Few lawyers die well, few physicians live well.

!greenapple! <Grammar>

白 ( = shiro) white + 色 ( = iro) = 白色 ( = shiro iro /sometimes it reads” hakushoku” )  white ( color)

( = ki) yellow  + 色 ( = iro) = 黄色 ( = ki iro)  yellow  ( color)

茶  cha)  brown/tea  + 色 ( = iro) = 茶色 ( = cha iro) brown ( color)

金  = kin)  gold + 色 ( = iro) = 金色 ( = kin iro) gold ( color)

•緑  ( = midori)  green + 色 ( = iro) = 緑色 ( = midori iro) green ( color)

:ee: How to make an adjective form of color?

1) 形容詞 i-adjective

•   ( = aka) red


Ex.車 ( = akai kuruma) red car

:rrrr: あの車は赤い ( = Ano kuruma wa akai) That car is red. 

• 黒 (  =kuro) black

:rrrr: 黒い

Ex. 黒い髪 (  = kuroi kami) black hair 

:rrrr: 彼の髪は黒い ( = Kare no kami wa kuroi.) His hair is black.

• 白 ( = shiro) white

:rrrr: 白い

Ex. 白い服  ( = shiroi fuku) white clothes.

:rrrr: その服は白い ( = Sono fuku wa shiroi.) The clothes are white.

2) Noun form of the color + の ( = no)

• 緑の ( = midorino) green

Ex. 緑のカーペット  ( = midori no kaapetto) green carpet

:rrrr: 緑色だ ( = midori iro da) more natural

:rrrr: そのカーペットの色は緑(色)だ(or です)。

= Sono kaapetto no iro wa midori(iro) da.(or desu.)

= That carpet’s color is green.

ピンクの  ( =  pinkuno) pink  

:rrrr:ピンク色のドレス  ( = pinku iro no doresu) pink dress

:rrrr: 私のドレスはピンク色だ(or です)

=Watashi no doresu wa pinku iro da.(or desu.)

= My dress is pink.

:rrrr:  私のドレスの色はピンクだ(or です)

= Watashi no doresu no iro wa pinku da.(or desu.)

My dress’ color is pink.

:kkk: From the dialogue in the picture.


= Naniiro ga suki desu ka?

“What is your favorite color?”

You can also say:


= “Donna iro ga suki (desuka) ?

= “What kind of color do you like?”


= “Ichiban sukina iro wa nani? (nandesuka?)

= What is your most favorite color?”

Note: “desuka” is more polite.

Variation : You can use this sentence if you take out and replace it with something else.

(If you want to askWho is your favorite?”, You have to say誰ですか?( = Dare desuka?) instead of 何ですか?( = Nan desuka.)


=Nanka ~ souna ki ga surukara….


= Nanka ~ souna ki ga shimasu.

Because I feel like~/Because it seems like/it appers to be

なん(だ)か( = nan(da)ka) for some reason, somehow

〜そうな ( = ~ souna) or ~様な ( = youna) : It appears to ~ / It seems like~/ I feel like it will (would) ~

Ex. (なんか) 雨が降りそうだ。

= Ame ga furi souda.

=  It seems like it is going to rain.

Ex. なんだかイケそうな気がする。

= Nandaka ikesou na ki ga suru.

= I feel like I can make it (or in some cases, sleep with someone) for some reason.

(Note : This line has become very popular and even all the children have starte to say as a joke since one of the Japanese comedians started to say. This gag ends with a line 「あると思います( = Aruto omoimasu) “I think it’s possible. “)

〜から ( = kara) because ( = un) “luck” “fortune”

•運がいい ( = un ga ii) lucky

運がよくなる ( = un ga yokunaru) to have better luck.

運が悪い  ( = un ga warui) unlucky

金運  ( = kin-un) economic fortune, luck with money

恋愛運 = ren-ai-un) luck with love

  frenchbulldogマギー先生より  ( = Maggie-sensei yori) From Maggie-sensei


(= Watashi ga pink-iro no fuku wo kiru to mina ga niwanai tte iu no. Mina no sukina iro wa nani?)

Whenever I wear something pink, everybody says I don’t look good in pink. What is your favorite color?)

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  1. Konnichiwa Maggie-sensei ^^

    sensei, is the 建物は赤く色づいている in 海の表面を日光が反射してきらきらと光り、建物は赤く色づいている。

    means “the buildings are colored in red”?

    1. @just a novel lover’s

      Yes, you got it the meaning. The buildings are colored in red (or The buildings look red) “with (reflection of) the sun light”

    2. phew, I’m glad I’m right

      at first I though it’s “the buildings color are changed to crimson” hehehe

      thanks for confirming it sensei ^^

      1. @just a novel lover’s

        Wait a minute, maybe I misunderstood you. (I added some words in my previous comment.)
        I think you know but the original color of the buildings are not red. But because of the reflection of the sun light, they turned in red.

  2. Some more questions for today sensei. XD

    1) 赤っ恥をかく

    What is the “kaku” verb?

    2) 日に焼けて真っ黒になる。

    I got a deep tan.

    Sensei, does the “hi ni” part tries to convey the message that the “tan” was during “that day”?

    1. @NecroMadMat

      1) It is an idiom 恥をかく= to get embarrassed. It simply means “to get” here but to be more precise, かく has many meanings as かける and this one is used when something annoying shows up on surface.
      汗をかく = to sweat
      いびきをかく = to snore

      2) this 日 means “the Sun” not “a day”.

      1. Got it. :)

        So 日に焼けて真っ黒になる would mean something like “I got heated by the sun got tanned.”. :D Thank you sensei.

        1. @NecroMadMat

          Yes. The literal meaning is “to get roasted/grilled by the sun” and get tanned.
          By the way, we say 日焼け for suntan and sunburn.

          1. Oh, I looked 日焼け up and it can also be used as a “suru” verb as well, right sensei. That is a useful word!

          2. @NecroMadMat

            That’s right. There is a verb. 日焼けする
            Japanese girls hate to get 日焼け.

          3. That makes sense, sensei. :) Sunburn is bad, especially during the night when it deprives of sleep with the red skin and the ardor on the skin.

          4. @NecroMadMat

            That’s right. Luckily I am covered with fur so… I don’t need to worry about that. :maggie-small:

    1. @Cygnus

      もともと赤裸(せきら)= 全裸(ぜんら)という意味です。
      だから裸=raw, without hidingの意味は赤裸裸に入っていますよ。

  3. aikawarazu arigatoo.
    omoshiroi koto wo takusan naraimashita.
    watashino daisuki na iro ha akadesu.
    resson no naka de ichiban suki na bubun ha kouhaku no setsumei deshita.

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