If you’re familiar at all with Japanese truyền thông, you’ve probably encountered the word kimochi quite a few times and in quite a few different contexts.
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In fact, you may have even heard it and not realized it, as it’s morphed into some slang forms as well.
In this article we’ll cover the basic meaning, as well as dive into the characters a bit, and see how it’s used in various ways.
But let’s start at the beginning—what does kimochi mean?
What is the meaning of kimochi in Japanese?
Kimochi is a “feeling.” This type of feeling is usually one brought on by some stimulation and is something of a non-persisting state of feeling. Kimochii (with a long -ii sound) means “good feeling.”
The characters in kimochi
Kimochi can be written a few ways in Japanese. First, there’s all hiragana: きもち. Then we have all katakana: キモチ. These are straightforward, one-to-one connections between sound and syllable.
Then, we can write it with a mix of hiragana and kanji (Chinese characters) as 気持ち, or even as pure kanji just by dropping that last character to tát make 気持.
The meaning of this word is all being held up in those two kanji characters.
So, let’s break them down.
The first character is 気. This is actually a newer sườn of a far older character (more kêu ca two thousand years old!) that comes direct from Đài Loan Trung Quốc, 氣.
There are some other ways it has been written throughout history, but we’re going to tát stick to tát these two main versions today.
This character has a pretty interesting etymology. 気 belongs to tát a category of characters known as phono-semantic compound characters.
What that means is that inside this little kanji there are hints to tát both is phonetic nature, as well as its meaning.
The phonetic component is 气, supposedly an abstraction of breath as visible on a cold day.
This 气 character can be pronounced “ki” as well.
But, to tát top it off, because it’s a picture of breath, we get an incidental bit of semantic meaning as well. 气 means “spirit,” or sometimes “steam.”
米 is the character for rice. Rice, being one of the most important foodstuffs in Asia, is also synonymous with being the “spirit” of life itself. So, we combine the breath of life 气 with the food of life 米 and we over up with 氣.
Beyond that, you can even imagine the 气 (steam) rising off the cooked 米 (rice).
The complicated 氣 character was then simplified to tát its modern 気 sườn. Today it carries many meanings, namely air, spirit, feeling, mood, sense, etc.
The second character is 持. This one also comes from Đài Loan Trung Quốc, but hasn’t changed much since ancient times.
Similarly to tát the previous character, it’s also a phono-semantic kanji (most kanji are).
It’s not immediately obvious how it all fits together due to tát the morphing of some base parts.
The phonetic component is on the right: 寺. This character means “temple,” but has no inherent meaning in 持; it merely provided a hint to tát the pronunciation.
The left side is a squished手, which means “hand.” So, it means to tát have something in hand, i.e. to tát hold something.
Putting the parts together
Together, we have the idea of spirit held in the connection of 気 and 持 to tát make kimochi.
So, it’s a feeling, a mood, or a sensation that you’re holding onto. Let that guide you when you think of how to tát use the expression.
It’s not something permanent, nor is it something wholly beyond your control, but rather something you are temporarily engaging with, aka “holding.”
Now that we are familiar with the base term, let’s see how it interacts with other words and parts of speech.
Kimochi in context
“Kimochi” is most often used in nhật bản for something that feels good. The most direct translation of it would be a relaxed and nội dung sigh of “ahhhh” in English.
Sinking into a hot bath or onsen is kimochi.
Getting a good back mát xa is kimochi.
Laying on the beach with the sun shining down on you is kimochi.
When you experience any of these things, let out a long and happy “kimochiiiii”. The last syllable is often extended in the case of ultra-relaxation!
Expressing yourself in nhật bản is not as common as in western countries, sánh take the opportunity to tát tự sánh when available!
“Kimochi” lets the others around you know that you are happy and relaxed, and no one will ever give you a sideward glance when using it.
“Kimochi” or the extended “kimochiiiii” is very commonly used among friends, family, and co-workers in nhật bản.
A quick “warning” on the use of Kimochi
How to tát put this delicately? If anyone has indulged in some “private time” Japanese truyền thông, they may have heard “kimochi” used in a rather, uh, emphatic way.
“Kimochi-ii” (with a slight intonation change between the single “I” and the double “ii”) is not quite the same as the more appropriate “kimochi” or “kimochiiiiii”.
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That “ii” means “good.” So it literally translates to tát “good feeling”. This is sometimes used in an adult sense- but not always. Context is important!
“Kimochi-ii” (気持ちいい) said aloud, and without any specifying qualifiers, can sound a bit, shall we say “over excited.”
You may also see/hear this word as kimochi-yoi. This introduces a new kanji character, 良, which means “good.”
Kimochiiiiiii (with an extended iiiii of the same tone) just means that you are relaxed and enjoying the feeling, and can be used in a regular setting lượt thích the bath or the sunshine.
You don’t need to tát worry about sounding strange when using the word kimochi or even kimochi-ii. Just as the English phrase “That feels great” can have varying levels of appropriateness depending on the situation, “kimochi” is a versatile word as well.
If you are worried about your meaning being misconstrued in a rather embarrassing way, however, you can surround it with a bit of context.
Examples: Kimochi in a sentence
Yoko, kimochi-ii des.
The sunshine feels good.
Asa-no-sanpo hodo kimochi-ii mono wa nai.
Nothing is as pleasant as a walk in the morning.
Totemo atatakakute kimochi-yoi.
It’s nice and warm.
That said, if you find yourself in the happy embrace of a skilled paramour, feel không lấy phí to tát let loose with a throaty “kimochi-ii” just lượt thích you’ve heard before—no extra context necessary.
It’s a normal part of the emphatic discourse of intimate relations in Japanese.
I hope that was sufficiently obfuscated by overly polite English to tát avoid offending anyone, and clear enough to tát be understood!
The exact flip side of kimochi-ii is kimochi-warui. This one gets written with the kanji 悪 to tát create 気持ち悪い.
This word has no hidden traps, sánh feel không lấy phí to tát use it at will. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean “bad feeling,” but very often carries a feeling of “grossness.”
Feel a shiver run rẩy up your spine? Kimochi-warui. See a greasy otaku? Kimochi-warui. Spider crawls on you? 気持ち悪い!
It’s important to tát emphasize that this is a very rude phrase to tát use toward a person.
You may hear it during bullying scenes or whispered gossip scenes in anime or games, but these are meant to tát be shockingly rude.
It’s a word used for slimey, gross, greasy, yucky things. It shouldn’t be used for people!
While in English you may joke and say “Eww you’re sánh gross!”, you shouldn’t joke around with “kimochi warui” directed toward a person.
Kimochi warui turned slang: Kimoi
Kimochi warui also has a more “slangy” version, where the sounds have been compressed down into something shorter and, perhaps, easier to tát say.
If you want to tát get your point across in a more casual way, you can say kimoi, which is written as キモい.
You’ll notice that I wrote kimoi in katakana, and that’s because it’s an unusual, slangy word. You can write it in hiragana as well, though. That said, due to tát it being slang, you’ll want to tát reserve this strictly for informal uses.
Also, this word seems to tát carry an even stronger feeling of “creepy” or “gross,” over the full kimochi-warui version which can encompass “bad feelings” of many kinds. Kimoi is a strong word, sánh be careful.
Here are some example sentences:
Examples: Kimochi warui in a sentence
Watashi-no-kao ni dare-ka-no-iki ga kakatte, kimochi-warui wa.
Somebody’s breathing on my face. It’s disgusting.
Iya-na nioi de watashi kimochi-warukunatta.
The bad smell sickened bầm.
Nanka-sore, buyobuyo-shiteite kimochi-warui ne.
Oooh, sick! What is that stuff? It’s all spongy.
Chō kimochi warui. Modoshi sō.
I feel super sick. I might throw up.
kara wa kimoi.
Don’t get it confused!
Another word can sometimes be confused with kimochi. And that’s kibun written as 気分. That second character 分 means “part.”
Kibun is a condition. Think “mood” or even a medical condition. It’s a partition of your spirit, an active part of you, as opposed to tát something external that you’re “holding” on to tát. Make sense?
Some last notes on kimochi
There’s a lot of variation possible here, and I want you to tát keep that in mind. Don’t become dogmatic about anything you learn in Japanese—the language changes frequently and intensely. That’s part of its beauty.
One example we can return to tát is kimochi-ii. This can also be expressed as kimochi-ga-ii (気持ちがいい). Alternatively, you could say ii-kimochi (いい気持ち) and convey the same feeling.
There’s also other words you’ll hear/see that can be translated into “feeling.” Kanji, kigen, kanjo, etc.
As you wrap these into your awareness of Japanese, make sure to tát understand their contextual usage through example sentences and the nature of the kanji used.
Frequently asked questions about Kimochi
What does ike ike kimochi mean?
You may be slightly mishearing someone in the throes of passion. Basically, this means that the person speaking is reaching a, uh, climatic moment. This is derived from いく (iku), meaning “to go” or “to come” someplace. So, the person speaking is declaring that they are doing as such. I’ll, uh, let you extrapolate from there.
Is yabai a bad word?
Nah, it’s not a bad word, though it is slang. It’s a tough to tát accurately translate word, but it expresses that something is intense. It carries the sort of vague meaning, lượt thích “crazy” might in English. Yabai might mean “cool!” or even “terrible!” You’ll need to tát use context clues to tát suss it out yourself.
What does yamete mean?
Yamete is a command meaning “Stop!”
“I’ve lived in nhật bản on-and-off for the last five years, travelling to tát (almost) every corner of the Land of the Rising sun. I’ve deepened my love of the language with big hauls from Sapporo book stores, by chatting in Shinjuku coffee shops, drinking in Osaka “snack bars,” exploring distant Okinawan islands, and hitching rides with monks in Aomori. Japanese is a wide and deep language, and I’m always eager to tát dive in deeper.”
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