Family related Japanese Part 1 (Parents + children) + 親孝行 ( = Oyakoukou )


= Oyafukou shicha dameyo!

= Don’t trouble your parents, OK?


= Hai, oyakoukou shimasu

= No, I will be nice to them.

Hi everyone! How are you doing? Upon a request from Miranda, today’s lesson will be on family. She said she hadn’t seen many websites that have good lessons on this subject, only vocabulary lists with no explanations.Well, if I make this type of lesson, it is not going to be just a vocabulary list. You should know that by now. (I should make a Maggiepedia someday, huh? :) )

We’ll divide this lesson into two parts. I’m sure even you advanced students can learn something from this lesson!


First look at the picture!

「親不孝しちゃだめよ!」(female speech)

= Oyafukou shicha dameyo!

= Don’t trouble your parents, OK?

Note : しちゃ = shicha = casual form しては = shite wa

だめよ = dameyo = Don’t be/do ~ ! (female speech)


= Hai, oyakoukou shimasu.

= No, I will be nice to them.

So we see a key words for today.


= oyakoukou (wo) suru

= (verb) to be filial to one’s parents, to be a good son/daughter

Ex. 親孝行していますか?

= Oyakoukou shiteimasuka?

= Are you being a nice son/daughter?


= Tamani wa oyakoukou shite ryoushin wo ryokou ni tsurete ikou to omotte.

= I am thinking about being nice and taking my parents on a trip for a change.

:rrrr: (adjective) 親孝行な = oyakoukkou na = (adj) devoted, dutiful

*孝行息子 = koukou musuko = dutiful/ devoted son

*孝行娘 = koukou musume = dutiful / devoted daughter

There is an old saying that goes


= Koukou shitai toki ni oyawa nashi.

= When you wish to be filial, your parents are gone.

The antonym of 親孝行 = oyakoukou is

:rrrr: 親不孝 = oyafukou = unfilial (a bad child)

(verb) 親不孝(を)する = oyafukou (wo) suru

(adj) 親不孝な = oyafukou na

*親不孝者 = oyafukoumono = unfilial child

You may have seen a scene in a movie or TV drama that an angry parent shouting

「この親不孝者!」 = Kono oyafukou mono!= You are bad son/daughter!

to their unfilial child.

*親不孝な息子 = oyafukou na musuko = unfilial son

*親不孝な娘 = oyafukou na musume = unfilial daughter

Ex. 私はいつも親不孝(して)ばかりで…

= Watashi wa itsumo oyafukou (shite) bakari de…

= I have been a bad son/daughter…


How to address your family members.

In Part 1, we will learn “parents and children.”

Before I start, let me tell you why this list is going to be so long.

You can call your dad, お父さん = otousan for example, and when you talk about your dad with your friends, you can still refer to him as お父さん = otousan

Ex. うちのお父さん、変わってるんだよ。

= Uchi no otousan kawatterun dayo.

= You know my dad is strange.

Note : うちの ( = uchino ) is often used when you refer to your own family.

However when you write or talk about your dad in public you have to call him 父  ( = chichi) 

Ex. 父に聞いてみます。

= Chichi ni kiite mimasu.

= I will ask my father.

And if you refer to other people’s fathers you say お父さん ( = otousan) or お父様  ( = otousama) (more polite)

Ex. お父様はお元気ですか?

= Otousama wa ogenki desuka?

= How is your father?

Never refer to other people’s fathers this way!

!BUBU! あなたの父は何をしているのですか?

= Anata no chichi wa nani wo shiteiru no desuka?

= What is your father is doing?


So let’s learn all the basic names for your family members.


*家族 =  kazoku = family

Ex. うちは四人家族です。

= Uchi wa yonin kazoku desu.

= There are four of us in our family.

Ex. 何人家族ですか?

= Nannin kazoku desu ka?

= How many people are in your family?

:rrrr: ご家族  ( = gokazoku) will be more polite.

Ex. ハワイへは、ご家族と一緒にいかれたんですか?

= Hawai yewa gokazoku to issho ni ikaretan desu ka?

= Did you go to Hawaii with your family?

Ex. 家族全員 = kazoku zen in = the whole family

Ex. 家族同伴 = kazoku douhan = taking your family / being accompanied by one’s family

Ex. 家族構成 = kazoku kousei = family structure

*核家族  = kakukazoku = nuclear familly

*大家族 = dai(or oo) kazoku = big family


!star! Parents :

* = oya = parent(s)

!star! Special expressions :

When you criticize someone

Ex. 親の顔が見てみたい。

= Oya no kao ga mite mitai.

= I would like to see your (one’s) parents’ face (who raised this kind of person.

Ex. 親ばか = oyabaka = a doting parent

:rrrr: You especially use it in a self-deprecating way.

For example, when you show your baby’s picture to people

Ex. 「かわいいでしょ。親ばかですみません。」

= Kawaii desho. Oyabaka de sumimasen.

= Isn’t he/she cute? Sorry I am a doting father/mother.

*両親 = ryoushin = both parents

Ex. 彼の両親は既に他界していた。

= Kare no ryosuhin wa sudeni takai shiteita.

= His both parents have already passed away.

(Note : 他界する = takai suru is a euphemism for passing away. 他  ( = ta/hoka) means “the other” ( =  kai) means “world” so it means “to go to the other world.”)

If you refer to other people’s parents politely, you say ご両親 = goryoushin

Ex. ご両親はご健在ですか?

= Goryoushin wa gokenzai desuka?

= Are both of your parents are in good condition?

Ex. 義理の両親

= giri no ryoushin

= parents-in-law

Note : 義理の = giri no = in-law

*片親 = kataoya = single parent

Ex. 片親に育てられた。

= Kataoya ni sodaterareta.

= I was raised by a single parent


!star! Father and mother :

*父親 = chichioya = male parent / father / fatherhood

Ex. 父親参観日

= chichioya sankan bi

= fathers’ visiting day to school

Ex. 父親の存在が薄い家庭

= Chichioya no sonzai ga usui katei

= A family in which the father’s presence is weak.

*母親 = hahaoya = female parent/ mother/ motherhood

Ex. あの子は母親がいなかったからずっと寂しがりやで..

= Anoko wa hahaoya ga inakatta kara zutto sabishigariya de.

= He/She doesn’t have a mother so he/she has been very lonely and……

Ex. 母親の役割

= hahaoya no yakuwari

= mother’s role

If we want to emphasize a gender, we also use

* 男親 = otoko oya = male parent

* = onna oya = female parent


★The most general words for father and mother will be,

* = chichi = father

* = haha = mother

When you refer your own parents you call them with  ( =  chichi) and  ( = haha).

We also use these for  all formal documents.

Ex. 母は今出かけております。

= Haha wa ima dekakete orimasu.

= My mother is away from home at the moment.

Ex. 父は釣りが好きです。

= Chichi wa tsuri ga suki desu.

= My father likes fishing.

★ father and mother in-law

*義理の父 = giri no chichi = father-in-law

:rrrr: *義父 = gifu

*義理の母 = giri no haha = mother-in-law

:rrrr: *義母 = gibo

*養母 = youbo = adopted mother

*育ての母 = sodate no haha

= foster mother

*生みの母= umi no haha

= birth mother

養父 = youfu = adopted father

★Now when you call your own father and mother, you call them,

*お父さん = otousan

*お母さん = okaasan

These are most general ways to address your parents.

Ex. ねえ、お母さん、今日の夕ご飯なに?

= Nee okaasan, kyou no yuugohan nani?

= Hey Mom, what’s for dinner today?

Ex. お母さん、今日、お父さん遅いの?

= Okaasan, kyou otousan osoi no?

= Hey Mom, will Dad be home late today?

You can call the parents of someone close to you or younger than you with these as well.

Ex. マギーのお母さんは元気?

= Maggie no okaasan wa genki?

= How’s your mom, Maggie?

Ex. お父さんとお母さんに許可をもらって下さい。

= Otousan to okaasan ni kyoka wo moratte kudasai.

= Please ask your father and mother for the approval.

:ddd:Culture note :

You might hear Japanese people (local shop clerks, casual sales people etc.) addressing people middle aged or older as お父さん  ( = otousan)、お母さ ( = okaasan).

They also call female customers 奥さん( = okusan) = wife, housewives, old ladies with おばあちゃん =  obaachan=grandma and old men with おじいちゃん = ojiichan = grandpa.

Ex. お母さん、今日は、このお肉が安いよ!

= Okaasan, kyou wa kono oniku ga yasuiyo!

= Madame, this meat is very cheap today!

Now there are more ways to address your own parents.


父さん = tousan

母さん = kaasan

!to right! There are no rules but men tend to use these more often than women.

お父ちゃん = otouchan   •お母ちゃん = okaachan

父ちゃん = touchan   •母ちゃん =kaachan

!to right! These sound a bit old fashioned and very rustic. Kansai (west area in Japan) often call their parents

*おとん = oton = dad

*おかん = okan = mom

There is a movie called

「東京タワー オカンとボクと、時々、オトン

= Tokyo Tower Okan to boku to tokidoki oton.

= Tokyo Tower, Mom, I and sometimes Dad.

If you are going to watch this movie, don’t forget your hanky!

Now many men refer to their own parents this way. (They sound a bit rough but manly.)

*親父 = オヤジ = oyaji = dad, old man(male speech)

*お袋 = ofukuro = mom (male speech)

Ex. うちの親父、新車買ったばかりでぶっつけた。(male speech/ casual)

= Uchi no oyaji shinsha katta bakari de buttuketa.

= My old man just got a new car, and he crashed it.


= Ore oyaji ni na nda.

= I am like my dad. or I look like my dad.

Some refer to their close friends’ parents this way as well.

Ex. お前んとこのお袋、料理が上手いからいいじゃん。(male speech / casual)

= Omaen toko no ofukuro ryouri ga umai kara iijan.

= I envy you ’cause your mom is a good cook!

When we refer other people’s parents politely, we usually use polite form.

お父様 = otousama = father

お母様 = okaasama = mother

Ex. お父様によろしくお伝え下さい。

= Otousama ni yoroshiku otsutae kudasai.

= Say hello to your father. / Give your father best regards.

More polite :u:

お父上 = ochichiue

お母上 = ohahaue

Ex. お母上はお元気でいらっしゃいますか?

= Ohahaue wa ogenki de irasshaimasu ka?

= How is your mother.

In the old days, Japanese people respected their parents much more and they addressed their own parents using these honorific expressions. You might have heard these in Samurai dramas. We almost never use these anymore in daily life.


父上 = chichiue

母上 = hahaue

more polite

父上様 = chichiuesama

母上様 = hahauesama

お父上 = ochichiue

お母上 = ohahaue

Some children and women (even though they get older) refer to their parents with

パパ = papa

ママ = mama

!to right! It will sound strange if a grown up men use these in public.

:k: Cultural note : A lot of Japanese married couples start to call each other, お父さん ( =  otousan)、お母さん = okaasan、or パパ  ( = papa) or ママ  ( = mama) when they have a child in lieu of calling each other by their first names. And they call each other おじいさん (or ちゃん) ( = ojiisan (or chan) ) or おばあさん  ( = or ちゃん)obaasan (or chan) when they have grandchildren.


:qq: Children

* = ko = child

Ex. うちの子は悪くありません!

= Uchi no ko wa waruku arimasen.

= It is not our child’s fault! / Our child is not bad!


= kobonnou

= doting parent

子供 = kodomo = child / son(s) or daughter(s)

Ex. 子供が二人います。

= Kodomo ga futari imasu.

= I have two children.

When you refer to other people’s chilren,

お子さん = okosan

Ex. 「お子さんはいらっしゃいますか?」

= Okosan wa irasshaimasu ka?

= Do you have any children?

Even more polite :

:rrrr: お子様

= okosama

*男の子 = otoko no ko = boy (it could refer one’s son)

*女の子 = onna no ko = girl (it could refer one’s daughter)

Ex. 「はい、男の子が二人います。」

= Hai, otokono ko ga futari imasu.

= Yes, we have two boys.

親子 = oyako = parent and child

Ex. あの親子そっくりだね。

= Ano oyako sokkuri dane.

= That mother (father) and child really look alike.

Ex. 仲良し親子

= nakayoushi oyako

= close parent and child

★When you refer to your own son and daughter

*息子 = musuko = son

:rrrr:うちの息子 = uchi no musuko = my (our) son

せがれ = segare = one’s son

:rrrr: うちのせがれ = uchi no segare = my (our) son

* = musume = daughter (also a young girl)

:rrrr:うちの娘 = uchi no musume = my (our) daughter

★When you refer other people’s sons,

:rrrr:息子さん = musuko san = your son/ their son


When you refer to other people’s little boys, you also use,

お坊ちゃま = obocchama

お坊ちゃん = obocchan

Ex. お坊ちゃん、大きくなりましたね。

= Obocchan, ookiku narimashitane.

= Your son got bigger, didn’t he?

more polite

ご子息 = goshisoku (formal)

ご令息 = goreisoku (formal)

Ex. ご子息はおいくつですか?

= Goshisoku wa oikutsu desuka?

= How old is your son?

When you refer to other people’s daughters,

:rrrr:娘さん = musume san more polite

:rrrr: お嬢さん = ojousan (young daughter)

:rrrr: お嬢ちゃん = ojouchan ( A little girl) more polite

:rrrr:お嬢様 = ojousama

Ex. お嬢さんはもう大学ですか?

= Ojousan wa mou daigaku desu ka?

= Your daughter is already going to the University? (The feeling being that the speaker is surprised the daughter is already that old.)

more polite

:rrrr:ご令嬢 = goreijou

Note : お坊ちゃん = obocchan /お坊ちゃま =obocchama and お嬢様= ojousama are also used to refer to preppies who were raised in a wealthy family.

Ex.マギーはお嬢様だからあなたとは釣り合わないわよ!( female speech)

= Maggie wa ojousama dakara anata towa tsuriawanai wayo.

= Maggie is a lady so she is out of your league.

Ex. 彼はお坊ちゃんだから普通の人の苦労がわからない。

= Kare wa obocchan dakara futsuu no hito no kurou ga wakaranai.

= He is from a rich family so he won’t be able to understand the hardships of average people.

一男一女 = Ichinan ichijo = one son and one daughter

一姫二太郎 = ichi hime nitarou

:rrrr: = hime means “princess” and 太郎 =taro is a common name for a boy.

So it means to have a girl first and then a boy.

一人っ子 = hitorikko = only child

長男 = chounan = oldest son, first-born son

Ex. 長男だからしっかりしないと!

= Chounan dakara shikkari shinaito!

= You are the oldest son so pull yourself together.

長女 = choujo = oldest daughter, first-born daughter

Ex. 彼女は山田家の長女として生まれた

= Kanojo wa yamadake no choujo to shite umareta.

= She was born as the oldest daughter of the Yamada Family.

次男 = jinan = second son

:rrrr: (conversational)

次男坊 = jinanbou = cute casual way to refer to youngest son

次女 = jijo = second daughter

末っ子 = suekko = the youngest child

三男 = sannan = third son

三女 = sanjo = third daughter

四男 = yonnan = fourth son

四女 = yonjo = fourth daughter

Now go on to the Part 2!

マギー先生より = Maggie-Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Minasan mo ryoushin wo taisetsu ni shimashoune.

= Take care of your parents, everyone!

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  1. Hi Maggie,

    The book I’m reading at the moment refers to お母ちゃん but I’m fairly sure he’s using it to refer to his wife. Is お母ちゃん sometimes used for wife rather than mum?

    I know in English we sometimes say “Mum” or “Dad” when talking to your wife or husband but that is old-fashioned and/or regional.

    The person relating his story is from 焼津市, 静岡県 if that helps?

    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Peter,

      Yes, if you have a child/children, it is common to refer to your wife,お母さん・ お母ちゃん
      and also refer to your husband, お父さん・お父ちゃん.
      お母ちゃん・お父ちゃん sound friendly and it may sound a little old fashioned.

  2. Sensei, I learned a lot with this lesson, I guess I didn’t even know the half of the things you taught us here.
    Now it’s time to move to part 2 (^o^)/!

    Thank you very much for your hard work!!

  3. WOW!! I almost skipped this one as I thought it was just another standard “father-mother-son-daughter” textbook lesson, but I ended up learning over 20 new words & expressions! やっぱりマギー先生のブログは最高!!

  4. オッス Maggie先生:) This was an extremely informative lesson. I couldn’t imagine how much time and effort went into writting this. じゃあ、もうありがとう I look forward to more hefty -not to mention interesting- entries like this;)

    If you wouldn’t mind a suggestion, I would really enjoy it if you would dedicate your next entry to slang;) Also I was wondering if you could think of a future posts on affixes, but not the ones like さん and さま that attach to names, but instead the ones like 〜ず、み〜、ect. that work to change the grammar it’s being used with. You know, like grammar suffixes (ex. English affixes ab-, aero-, ect.)

    1. @ゾモチ
      Thank you for all the interesting suggestions. Actually there are tons of requests right now but I will keep them in mind.
      Also I myself have tons of ideas for lessons. Feels like we never run out of ideas for the lessons…

  5. Hey Maggie + Yukari i really like this lesson so far and thought i should come over like always and say hi and give you guys a huge hug for doing this for us! Thank you so much! I help take care of some kids so this lesson will help me out even though i am not a father. ^>^ Take care.

    1. @Itsumaru

      Hi, Itsumaru!!! Arigatou for the comment. Yes, come over more often!!!
      Big hug for you from Maggie + Yukari

  6. Hi Ms. Maggie Sensei! I have a question! I heard that the eldest son on the family is oblige to take care of his family despite the fact he’s married… that’s why some japanese women prefer to marry younger japanese guys because they are more liberated and they don’t have to carry such tasks.. well what do you think? is it true?

  7. Hi Ms. Maggie Sensei! I just want to ask a question! hope you don’t mind (^_^)

    is it true that the eldest son in the family is oblige to take care of his family despite the fact that he’s married? I also heard that some japanese women prefer to marry young japanese guys because they are more liberated… what do you think? o.o

    1. @roulette225
      Hi, roulette225!! (Somehow I got two comments from you.) But thank you for always visiting this site!
      Yes, as I mentioned in the reply to Aki below, many families still expect their oldest son to take care of the family. And women prefer to marry younger sons. Go check my 婚活 = konkatsu lesson!

  8. yatta ne ;) fix-shite kurete arigatou^^
    so what’s 父親参観日 like? do schools organize those? ^^
    is adopting/fostering children common in japan or not really?
    in a typical japanese family, does 長男 have to take up a lot of responsibility??
    tokoro de okaachan is such a KAWAII word ne :) (it kinda makes me wanna have japanese kids so I could be called that ;)

    1. @Aki

      Yay! 1st comment from Aki! Yes, there are 父親参観日 and 母親参観日 at some kindergartens or elementary schools.
      Adopting/fostering children are not so common in Japan compared to the U.S.
      Things have been changing but I would say 長男 is still expected to have more responsibility. That is why girls prefer to marry 次男.
      Haha you will be a cute okaachan!

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