September 8, 2023

Do you know how to say “storm” in Japanese?

Today, let's talk about hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones in Japanese. After that, we'll do a quick and fun storm-related kanji breakdown.

As you know, a hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone all refer to the same meteorological event; it just depends on the location.

  • Here in Florida, we get hurricanes, or in Japanese, ハリケーン.
  • Japan gets typhoons or 台風(たいふう).
  • India gets cyclones or サイクロン

Now, just because it's based on an English word doesn't mean you should let your guard down. Many beginners make the mistake of neglecting the Japanese pronunciation because the word is familiar in English.

It's best to pretend like ハリケーン isn't even related to "Hurricane." Think of it as a new word you must study closely.

Here are a few tips:

  • Focus on the vowels. Japanese has only 5 vowel sounds, whereas English has about 15. Don't pronounce ハリケーン as "hury cane"; instead, clearly articulate each vowel sound.
  • Maintain a consistent pace. Unlike English, each kana (mora) in Japanese has a fairly uniform length or beat. ハリケーン has 5 mora or beats; the 「ケー」 comprises two mora and should be pronounced as "ke," with the vowel held for two beats.
  • Practice shadowing and repeating the word multiple times, paying close attention to both the vowels and the pacing.

Listen and repeat after the speaker.


Now, let's talk about one more stormy subject. Storms.

The standard Japanese word for "storm" is あらし. You may know that word from the boy band (well, nearing middle-aged man band) Arashi, but do you know the kanji?

It's mountain over wind.


This kanji is made up of two other kanji:

  • (やま) mountain
  • (かぜ) wind

Maybe think of the storm's wind being so strong it causes even a mountain to lift up.

Kanji is fun like this. If you break a complex kanji into parts, you can create mnemonic stories to help you remember the meaning and even the pronunciation.

That's all for today, but if you are new to kanji, check out our free kanji lesson pages by clicking here.

Or if you are a Makoto+ member, you can access our beginning kanji course for no extra charge by clicking here. The Kanji course is free for both Samurai and Shogun members!

If you aren't a Makoto+ member, please click here to learn more. Or take the plunge and become a Lifetime member by clicking here.

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