Fruits: Japanese Vocabulary

Learn to pronounce and write the names of popular fruits

Fruits

Fruits are an important part of both the diet and the culture in Japan. For example, Obon is one of the most important Japanese holidays. People believe that their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during this time. In preparation for Obon, Japanese people also clean their houses and place a variety of fruits and vegetables in front of butsudan (Buddhist altars) to nourish the spirits of their ancestors.

Knowing how to say the name of fruits and write them is an important part of learning Japanese. The tables present the names of the fruits in English, the transliteration in Japanese, and the word written in Japanese lettering. Though there are no strict rules, some of the names of fruits are commonly written in katakana. Click each link to bring up a sound file and hear how to pronounce the word for each fruit.

Native Fruits

The fruits listed in this section are, of course, also grown in many other countries. But, Japanese growers do produce native varieties of these fruits, according to Alicia Joy, writing on the website, the Culture Trip, who notes:

"Almost all Japanese fruits are cultivated as both generic and affordable types alongside their luxurious and pricey counterparts. A few of these fruits are native to Japan, and some were imported, but it’s safe to say that all of them have been cultivated in some way to be purely Japanese.​"

So it's important to learn how to pronounce and write the names of these varieties.

Fruit(s)

kudamono

果物

Persimmon

kaki

Melon

meron

メロン

Japanese Orange

mikan

みかん

Peach

momo

Pear

nashi

なし

Plum

ume

Adopted Japanese Words

Japan has adapted the names of some fruits grown in other parts of the world. But, the Japanese language has no sound or letter for "l." Japanese does have an "r" sound, but it is different from the English "r." Still, fruits that Japan imports from the West are pronounced using the Japanese language version of "r," as the table in this section shows.

Other fruits, such as "banana," are literally transliterated into a Japanese word. The Japanse word for "melon" is repeated here to illustrate the point.

Fruit(s)

kudamono

果物

Banana

banana

バナナ

Melon

meron

メロン

Orange

orenji

オレンジ

Lemon

remon

レモン

Other Popular Fruits

Of course, a variety of other fruits are popular in Japan. Take a few moments to learn how to pronounce the names of these fruits too. Japan does grow some varieties of apples—the Fuji, for example, was developed in Japan in the 1930s and not introduced to the U.S. until the 1960s—but it also imports many others. Learn these fruits and then enjoy sampling the wide variety available in Japan as you speak about them knowledgeably with Japanese speakers. Or as the Japanese would say:

  • Nihon no kudamono o o tanoshimi kudasai. (日本の果物をお楽しみください。) > Enjoy sampling the fruits in Japan.

Fruit(s)

kudamono

果物

Apricot

anzu

Grapes

budou

ぶどう

Strawberry

ichigo

いちご

Fig

ichijiku

いちじく

Apple

ringo

りんご

Cherry

sakuranbo

さくらんぼ

Watermelon

suika

スイカ