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This article is in the series Teach Yourself Japanese

8.5. Colours


First of all, please note that the colours you see on your computer screen are highly dependent on your particular system. Different systems often display different colours. The colour files used here are adjusted for my system.

8.5.1. Basic colour names


All Japanese colour names are nouns, but the six basic colour names shown below have corresponding adjectives. The basic Japanese colours are a system based on colour warmth/coolness and lightness/darkness. The adjective of a basic colour is a combination of the colour noun and the adjective suffix い "i". In this chart, the upper words are nouns, and the lower words are adjectives.[/SIZE]

colours02.png


It is interesting that brown seems more important than green in Japanese. Since green is not a basic colour, the word あお is often used for it in old compound words, such as あおやさい "aoyasai" (green vegetables).

Remember Japanese adjectives contain tense. あか means the colour red, while あかい means something is red. Its past form is あかかった "akakatta" (something was red).

8.5.2. Important colour names


Colours other than the basic colours only have nouns. Use a copula to make a colour noun predicator. Most colour names have the suffix いる "iro", which means colour. You can add it after a colour name if it is not there.

ColorHiraganaDescription
みどり
midori
Green
むらさき
murasaki
Purple
はいいろ
haiiro
Gray.
The word はい "hai" means ash. The imported word グレー "gu",
which came from gray, is also common.
ももいろ
momoiro
Pink.
The word もも "momo" means peach. The imported word ビンク "pinku",
which came from pink, is common too.
だいだい
daidai
Orange.
It is the name of a kind of orange, but it is not well known. The common name for Japanese
oranges are みかん "mikan".
Western oranges are called オレンジ "orenji", and it is also used for the color orange.
みずいろ
mizuiro
Light blue.
The word みず "mizu" means water.

8.5.3. Additional colour names


Colour names shown here are not so common, but they should be understood by any native Japanese speaker. Japanese has hundreds of colour names, but to my regret, many of them are being lost, as Japanese traditions are being lost.

ColorHiraganaDescription
さくらいろ
sakurairo
Pale pink
あかねいろ
akaneiro
Crimson.
The word あかね "akane" is a plant whose root is used to dye cloth deep red.
しゅいろ
syuiro
Vermilion
やまぶきいろ
yamabukiiro
Orange yellow.
The word やまぶき "yamabuki" means a kind of yellow flower.
うぐいすいろ
uguisuiro
Olive green.
The word (うぐいす "uguisu" refers to the Japanese bush warbler, a kind of bird.
きみどり
kimidori
Yellow green
ふかみどり
hukamidori
Deep green.
The prefix ふか comes from the adjective ふかい "hukai", which means deep.
あいいろ
aiiro
Dark blue.
The word あい "ai" means Japanese indigo.
こんいろ
kon'iro
Dark purplish blue
ふじいろ
huziiro
Lavender
だいだい
ôdoiro
Yellow ochre
みずいろ
kogetya
Dark brown


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Takasugi
My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

I work as a display engineer.

One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.

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