11 Ways to Say “Sky” in Japanese – Best Words Plus Kanji


How to Say “Sky” in Japanese – Best Words Plus Kanji

In this vocabulary lesson, I will explain to you how to saysky” in Japanese. Did you know that there are more than 11 Japanese words that meansky“? With today’s blog post, I want to tell you the most commonly used words, their meaning, translation, and kanji so that you can use and write them right away.

The most commonly used word to say sky in Japanese is “sora” and the Japanese kanji for it is 空 (そら). It means “sky” or “heaven” but can also be translated as “air” or “the air”. Less often the words “ten” (天), “tenkuu” (天空), and the English loanword “sukai” (スカイ) are used for sky in Japanese.

Let’s start with the detailed definition and meaning of these 4 Japanese words for the sky. After that, I will tell you some more advanced words so that you can say things like “blue sky“, “night sky“, “starry” sky“, “beautiful sky“, and “cloudy sky” in Japanese.

How to Say “Sky” in Japanese

  • sora – 空
  • sukai – スカイ
  • ten – 天
  • tenkuu – 天空

1. Sora – Most Common Way to Say “Sky” in Japanese

Sora” means “sky” or “the sky” and is the most commonly used word used to say sky in Japanese. The word can also be translated as “heaven“, “the heavens“, “air“, or “the air” and is also used in numerous weather-related words.

sora

sky, skies
air, the air
heaven, the heavens

This is a really nice video that teaches you how to write the kanji forsora“:

2. Sukai – English Loanword Meaning “Sky”

Sukai” (スカイ) is an English loanword that means sky in Japanese. In contrast to the word “sora”, it isn’t really used when talking about the sky or the weather, but it can often be found in names of characters or places. Probably because English loanword sounds cooler to non-native speakers.

sukai
スカイ
sky

Since it is an English loanword there is no kanji for the wordsukai” but it is written in katakana only.

3. Ten – Translates as “Sky” or “Heaven”

The Japanese word “ten” (天) translates as “sky” or “heaven“, but can also mean “god“. Nowadays it is mostly used in a religious context or in idioms. When you use the word “ten” for “sky” in Japanese it sounds more magnificent or majestic than the more commonly used word “sora”.

ten

sky
heaven
god

You can find the kanji 天 (てん) which can also be read as “ama” (あま) or “ame” (あめ) in many other Japanese words related to the weather, god, or sky. Here are a few examples:

  • tenki (天気) means “weather
  • uten (雨天) means “rainy weather
  • tenshi (天使) means “angel
  • tengoku (天国) means “paradise” or “kingdom of heaven
  • tennou (天皇) means “Emperor of Japan
  • ama no gawa (天の川) means “milky way
  • amaterasu (天照) is the name of the sun goddess

4. Tenkuu – Means “Sky” or “Firmament”

Tenkuu” (天空) is another less commonly used Japanese word that translates as “sky“, “firmament“, “the heavens“, or “air“. It is a poetic word that can be used when you want to talk about the sky in general or refer to the place where God lives in a more lyrical and artistic way.

tenkuu
天空
sky
firmament
the heavens
air

The Ghibli movieCastle in the Sky“, for example, uses the Japanese word “tenkuu” for “sky“. In Japanese, the title of the movie is “Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta” (天空の城ラピュタ) which literally translates as “The Sky’s Castle Laputa” or “Castle in the Sky Laputa“.

Advanced Words That Mean “Sky” in Japanese

  • aozora – 青空
  • seiten – 晴天
  • hoshizora – 星空
  • yozora – 夜空
  • yuuzora – 夕空
  • donten – 曇天
  • oozora – 大空

5. Aozora – “Blue Sky”

Aozora” (青空) means “blue sky” and is the word you should use when you want to refer to or talk about a blue cloudless sky.

It is written with the kanji 青 (あお, ao) which means “blue” and the kanji for “sky” which is (そら, sora), but is read as “zora” here.

aozora
青空
blue sky

Another way to say “blue sky” in Japanese is “aoi sora” (青い空). In this case, you use the adjective 青い (あおい, aoi) which translates as “blue“.

aoi sora
青い空
blue sky

This Naruto Shippuden openingBlue Bird” (ブルーバード) is a very nice Japanese song by the pop-rock duo Ikimono Gakari that uses the phrase “aoi aoi ano sora” which translates as “that blue, blue sky“.

https://open.spotify.com/track/1WdkBwAsdznWw9xM69KmvR?si=2e24cc3f62fe43af

6. Seiten – “Clear Sky”

Seiten” (晴天) is the Japanese word for “clear sky“, “fair weather“, “fine weather“, or “clear weather“. Use this word when you want to express that the sky had little or no clouds.

The word consists of the kanji 晴 (せい, sei) which means “clear up” and the kanji 天 (てん, ten) which has the meanings “heavens“, “sky” and “imperial“.

seiten
晴天
clear sky
fair weather
fine weather
clear weather

Another way to say “clear sky” or “cloudless sky” in Japanse is “hareta sora” (晴れた空).

hareta sora
晴れた空
clear sky
cloudless sky

7. Yozora – “Night Sky”

Yozora (夜空) means “night sky” and is the Japanese word that refers to the sky seen at night. The word is written with the kanji for night or evening 夜 (よ, yo) and the kanji for sky 空 (そら, sora).

yozora
夜空
night sky

Sometimes the word “yaten” (夜天) is also used to say “night sky“. However, you will probably only encounter this word in lyrics, poems, etc.

yaten
夜天
night sky

8. Hoshizora – “Starry Sky”

Hoshizora (星空) translates as “starry sky” and is used to refer to a night sky in which a lot of stars are visible. The first kanji 星 (ほし, hoshi) means “star” or “stars“.

hoshizora
星空
starry sky

9. Yuuzora – “Evening Sky” or “Twilight Sky”

Yuuzora (夕空) is the Japanese word you should use when you want to say “evening sky” or “twilight sky“. The kanji 夕 (ゆう, yuu) means “evening“.

yuuzora
夕空
evening sky
twilight sky

10. Donten – “Cloudy Sky” or “Ovecast Sky”

Donten (曇天) translates as “cloudy sky“, “overcast sky“, or “cloudy weather“. The kanji 曇 means “cloudy weather” or “cloud up” and is either read as “don” or “kumo“. It is used in the word “to be cloudy” which is “kumoru” (曇る) but shouldn’t be confused with the Japanese kanji for “cloud” which is 雲 (kumo).

donten
曇天
cloudy sky
overcast sky

The word “kumori zora” (曇り空) can also be used to say “cloudy sky” in Japanese.

kumori zora
曇り空
cloudy sky

11. Oozora – “Wide Open Sky” or “Vast Sky”

The Japanese word “Oozora (大空) is used to say “wide open sky“, “wide sky“, “open sky“, “vast sky“, or “endless sky“. Its first kanji 大 (おお, oo) means “large” or “big“. Sometimes the word is also translated as “heavens” and “firmament“.

oozora
大空
wide open sky
vast sky
endless sky

How to Say “Beautiful Sky” in Japanese

In order to say “beautiful sky” in Japanese, you combine the na-adjective “kirei na” (綺麗な) or the i-adjective “utsukushii” (美しい) with the word for the sky which is “sora” (空). Both words mean “beautiful” or “pretty“, but “utsukushii” (美しい) is only used to say that something or someone is extremely beautiful in Japanese.

That’s why the most common way to say “beautiful sky” or “It’s a beautiful sky” in Japanese is “kirei na sora” (綺麗な空). If you want to be more polite add the word desu (です) at the end.

kirei na sora
綺麗な空
beautiful sky
It’s a beautiful sky.

kirei na sora desu
綺麗な空です
beautiful sky (polite)
It’s a beautiful sky. (polite)

However, if the sky is exceptionally beautiful you could also use “utsukushii sora” (美しい空).

utsukushii sora
美しい空
(really) beautiful sky
It’s a (really) beautiful sky.

utsukushii sora desu
美しい空です
extremely beautiful sky (polite)
It’s an extremely beautiful sky. (polite)

Instead of sora (空), you can also use the other Japanese words for “sky” like “aozora” (blue sky) and “yozora” (night sky) to say things like “beautiful night sky” or “beautiful blue sky“.

kirei na yozora
綺麗な夜空
beautiful night sky
It’s a beautiful night sky.

kirei na aozora
綺麗な青空
beautiful blue sky
It’s a beautiful blue sky.

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Alex (No war please!)

おはよう. I'm Alex. I have started studying Japanese when I was still a high school student and I have been living and working in Japan since 2015. I'm still learning new Japanese phrases and words every day and I thought that publishing them online will be useful for you, too. Hopefully, my study notes and free Japanese lessons will help you to reach the Japanese level you want to have! If you want to practice your Japanese for free follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram.

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