Celebrating Father's Day in Japan

Japanese Family
Jorge Hernández Valiñan/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons 2.0

June 21st is Father's Day, which is known as, "Chichi no hi (父の日)" in Japanese. There are two terms that are mainly used for "father" in Japanese: "chichi (父)" and "otousan (お父さん)". "Chichi" is used when referring your own father, and "otousan" is used when referring somebody else's father. However, "otousan" can be used when addressing your own father. As for mother, the terms, "haha" and "okaasan" are used, and the same rules apply.

Here are some examples.

  • Watashi no chichi wa gojussai desu. 私の父は五十歳です。--- My father is 50 years old.
  • Anata no otousan wa gorufu ga suki desu ka. あなたのお父さんはゴルフが好きですか。--- Does your father like playing golf?
  • Otousan, isshoni eiga ni ikanai? お父さん、一緒に映画に行かない?--- Dad, do you want to go to a movie with me?

"Papa" is also used when addressing or referring to your own father and is mainly used by children. "Tousan" and "touchan" are informal ways of saying "otousan". "Oyaji" is another informal term for "father", which is mainly used by men.

  • Papa, kore mite! パパ、これ見て!--- Daddy, look at this!
  • Boku no papa wa yakyuu ga umai n da. 僕のパパは野球がうまいんだ。 --- My dad is good at playing baseball.

Father in law is "giri no chichi" "giri no otusan" or "gifu".

I hope the information above doesn't cause too much confusion. If you are a beginner, I think it is fine to use "otousan" as "father" at first. If you want to learn more Japanese vocabulary for family members, try my "Audio Phrasebook".

Popular Gifts for Father's Day in Japan

According to a Japanese site, the top five most popular gifts for Father's Day are alcohol, gourmet foods, fashion items, sporting goods and sweets. As for alcohol, local sake and shouchuu (an indigenous alcoholic beverage, which usually contains 25% alcohol) are especially popular.

People also like to make customized labels for gifts with either the recipient's name or a message. If you are curious about how to write your name in Japanese, try my, "Kanji for Tattoos" page.

One of the most popular gourmet foods to buy for one's dad is Japanese beef, which is known as, "wagyuu". Matsuzaka beef, Kobe beef and Yonezawa beef are considered to be the three top brands in Japan. They can be very expensive. The most desirable feature of wagyuu is its melt-in-your mouth texture and rich taste, which is derived from a generous amount of fat distributed throughout the meat. The beautiful pattern that the fat makes is called, "shimofuri" (know as marbling, in the west). Another popular item is eel (a delicacy in Japan). The traditional way to eat eel (unagi) is, "kabayaki" style. The eel is first glazed with a sweet soy based sauce and then grilled.

Origami Gifts for Father's Day

If you are looking for a little gift idea, here is a cute shirt shaped envelope and a tie made with origami paper. You can put a message card or a little gift in it. There are step-by-step instructions as well as animated instructions on the page, so it will be easy to follow. Have fun making one for your dad!

Messages for Father's Day

Here are some sample messages for Father's Day.

(1) お父さん、いつも遅くまで働いてくれてありがとう。
体に気をつけていつまでも元気でいてね。

Otousan, itsumo osokumade hataraite kurete arigatou.
Karadani ki o tsukete itsumademo genkide ite ne.

(2) 父の日のプレゼントを贈ります。
喜んでもらえると嬉しいです。
いつまでも元気でいてね。

Chichi no hi no purezento o okurimasu.
Yorokonde moraeru to ureshii desu.
Itsumademo genkide ite ne.

(3) 今年の父の日はなにを贈ろうか、すごく悩んだけど、
お父さんの好きなワインを贈ることにしました。
喜んでもらえるとうれしいな。
あ、くれぐれも飲み過ぎないでね。

Kotoshi no chichi no hi wa nani o okurou ka, sugoku nayanda kedo,
otousan no sukina wain o okuru koto ni shimashita.
Yorokonde morraeru to ureshii na.
A, kureguremo nomisuginaide ne.

(4) お父さん、元気ですか?
これからもお母さんと仲良くしてください。

Otousan, genki desu ka.
Korekaramo okaasan to nakayoku shite kudasai.

(5) お父さん、いつもありがとう。
家族にやさしいお父さんのこと、みんな大好きです。
日頃の感謝の気持ちを込めて父の日のプレゼントを贈ります。
いつまでも元気でね。

Otousan, itsumo arigatou.
Kazoku ni yasashii otousan no koto, minna daisuki desu.
Higoro no kansha no kimochi o komete chichi no hi no purezento o okurimasu.
Itsumademo genki de ne.

(6) いくつになってもカッコイイお父さん。
これからも、おしゃれでいてください。
仕事もがんばってね。

Ikutsu ni nattemo kakkoii otousan.
Korekaramo, oshare de ite kudasai.
Shigoto mo ganbatte ne.