Today’s lesson is electrifying! You are in for quite a shocker! Alright, I will quit it on all the terrible dad jokes. You didn’t come here to be tortured. You can here because you wanted to learn about lightning. What is the Japanese word for lightning?
That question will be answered in the first section of today’s post along with its kanji, some of the common compound words that it appears in, and some example sentences to help you can remember it.
Then we will continue on with some related words like thunder, and the Japanese 擬音語 (giongo), or “sounds made by nature” and such, for these things.
What Is The Japanese Word For Lightning?
The Japanese word for lightning is かみなり (kaminari) and uses the kanji 雷.
The interesting thing about this kanji is the parts that it is made up of. The first one is 雨 (ame) which means “rain” and the second one is 田 (ta) which means “rice field” in Japanese.
Too bad you can’t just sing “rain, rain, go away” to get rid of it.
I’m sure many farmers knew that when it started raining 雨 in their fields 田 that the lightning 雷 was soon to follow.
- kaminari kara mi o mamoru tameni
- in order to protect oneself from lightning
If you want to talk about a “flash of lightning” then the word you will want to use is 稲光 (inabikari).
Again, when we break down this word into its two pieces we see that 稲 (ina) means “rice field” and 光 (hikari) means “light” in Japanese.
It’s interesting that there’s another kanji for rice field in Japanese, and it’s also interesting to see a reoccurring theme of lightning + rice fields. At any rate, we can see that a “light in the rice field” refers to a lightning flash.
Probably because they didn’t have things like electricity and field lamps back in the day when these kanji were invented.
- kaminari to inabikari no chigai wa nan desu ka?
- What’s the difference between lightning and a flash of lightning?
The last word in this section that I wanted to cover was 落雷 (rakurai) which combines the word for fall 落 with lightning 雷 to create “lightning strike” which you probably guessed already from reading those two kanji.
- rakurai kara hinan suru houhou
- how to take cover from lightning strikes
Thankfully, I’ve never been hit by lightning. Hopefully, neither have you.
What Is The Japanese Word For Thunder?
So now that we’ve finished up talking about lightning, lightning flashes, and lightning strikes, let’s move on to the auditory side of things by learning about thunder. What is the Japanese word for thunder?
Well as it turns out, it’s 雷 (kaminari) again!
This makes sense when you consider that lightning and thunder are just two sides of the same coin, so to speak. One of them being the visual element and the other one being the auditory element.
- kaminari no oto
- the sound of thunder
Speaking of the sound of thunder, the next word we’re going to go over is 雷鳴 (raimei) which takes our well known kanji for lightning/thunder and then adds on to it the kanji for 鳴 which means “to roar; to rumble.”
The translation for 雷鳴 is “thunderclap” or we could say it’s “the roar of thunder” whichever sounds cooler!
Now that you know this word, you are able to talk about both the roars of thunder, and also the flashes of lightning. But how exactly would you go about saying “lightning is striking” or “the thunder is rolling” and stuff like that?
Well in order to do that you will need to know a couple of verbs that go with them.
What Japanese Verbs Go With Lightning And Thunder?
Let’s start with lightning first, since it’s faster than thunder (weather joke, lol!).
In English, we say that lightning “strikes” but in Japanese they say that it “falls.”
You may remember our word for “lighting strike” from earlier which was 落雷 and included the kanji 落ちる (ochiru) which means “to fall (down)” in Japanese.
This is the verb you’ll want to use.
- kaminara ga ochitara dou suru?
- What should I do if lightning strikes?
If the lightning actually does hit something though, then the Japanese verb 襲う (osou) meaning “to attack; to strike” can be used to say that the lightning hit something specific.
Here’s a link to a Japanese flier about protecting helicopters while they’re parked from “sudden lightning strikes.”
- totsuzen no rakuraku ga osou!
- Sudden lightning strikes!
Then we switch over to thunder. This is all about sound so the verbs are going to be related to things that produce sounds.
There are actually two of them that you can use. The first one, and more common one to see, is 鳴る (naru) and some of its possible meanings are “to echo; to roar; to rumble”.
You might remember this from the kanji 雷鳴 earlier when we talked about thunderclaps.
- kaminaru ga naru toki wa abunai desu.
- It’s dangerous when thunder rings.
Another verb that you can use, although it’s not quite as common, is 轟く (todoroku) which means “to roar; to reverberate” in Japanese.
- kaminari ga todoroite iru oto.
- The sound of thunder rolling in.
But what is the sound of thunder rolling in? And what about the flashes of lightning?
Well as it turns out, the Japanese language has words that represent these things and we are going to cover them next.
What Japanese Sounds Do Lightning And Thunder Make?
In Japanese there are lots of words that are used to represent sounds, feelings, and natural events.
You know, in English it’s stuff like “Bam!” or “Whoosh!” or “cha-ching!”
In Japanese there are three of these words that are related to lightning and thunder that I thought you would probably want to know.
The first one is ぴかぴか (pika pika) and is actually one that a lot of Americans know about thanks to the electric mouse Pokemon Pikachu.
This word is often written in katakana as ピカピカ and describes something sparkling, shining, or flashing brightly.
- inabikari ga pika pika!
- The lightning flashes brightly!
The next two words both have to do with the sounds of thunder.
The first one is the sounds of “rolling thunder” that you often hear in the distance. The word used for this is ゴロゴロ (goro goro) and, just like ピカピカ, is most often written in katakana.
- kaminari ga goro goro to nari hajimeta.
- The thunder began to rumble
The last sound word to learn is the exploding sound that thunder makes when lightning strikes. This is sometimes referred to the “clash of thunder” and in Japanese the word used to represent it is ドドーン (dodōn).
The picture above of a kid and some lightning is a Japanese children’s book called 「かみなりドドーン!」
This Lesson Was Over In A Flash!
I just couldn’t resist from one last terrible joke!
Hey man, at least I admit how bad they are. (^_^)b
If you want, you can learn how to say “stop” in Japanese and then tell me to knock it off.
If you’ve got any questions or comments to make about today’s topic, then you can let me know by writing them in the section down below.
Otherwise, I will catch you later! Thanks!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: