To write "on" or "in" something

Ok, this just popped up into my head and I don’t really I have got so far that I am able to solve it. Hence the question.
If someone is going to write on or in something.

Ok, for readers who haven't read this thread before, There is a huge risk of spoiler if you haven't watched 'Your Name' 君の名は。 If you haven't don't even think about reading the rest of this thread!

I guess it could be something like the sentence below, but it most likely needs some corrections.


It is supposed to be: Taki wrote “I love you” on Mitsuha’s hand.
If I use the “marvelous” google translate I get a better translation into english if I use 「に」 instead of 「で」 in front of the quotation.
Yes, I am lost and hope to learn something.

Edit: changed “in Misuha’s hand” to “on Mitsuha’s hand”…

Compact answer I think:


There are many, many ways to say “on” or “in” in Japanese, it greatly depends on the context. One of the most useful things you can do is stop thinking of an English sentence and try to translate that into Japanese. Instead what you want to do is think of a general idea, and ask yourself “how can I express this in Japanese?” When referring to writing で is usually used for the tool you use, and に whatever you’re writing on.


Thank you.
So then
is more correct.
I should have remembered the thing about で being used for the tool.
Then at least the choice of trying with にwas not completely wrong.

Hopefully I will be able to think in Japanese at some point the same way as I can think in English, which isn’t my native language.
And using にmeans that the destination of the by the act of writing generated text is Mitsuha’s hand.

I’d say this actually sounds like “with Mitsuha’s hand(writing)” although I could be way off on that. Maybe somebody else can shed more light on that.

This also sounds like another way to say “with/in Mitsuha’s handwriting” to me. I can confidently say that “on Mitsuha’s hand” is what you’re trying to say here :grin:


Correct on that. On Mitsuha’s hand.
The problem with different languages. Sometimes things get wrong.

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Spoilers thoooo

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に also marks the surface on which an action takes place. 紙に書く = write on a piece of paper. で in this case would mean “by means of”, or “using” (i.e. “wrote using Mitsuha’s hand”).


I thought in instead of “inside” which would mean the palm in my language, while on wouldn’t be that specific or more on the other side of the hand.

I apologize for that.

Thanks for that.

…So to be more specific then it would end up something like:

If I got the word for palm right. There were some to choose form in Jisho.

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If で marked the location of the action taking place, then it would probably have to be the hand of a giant, with you standing on it.

If you imagine “writing on” the hand as, you are standing on the hand while writing something in a notebook.

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Or I am a very small person.
Sometimes I really feel like a bear with a very small brain.

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手で書く writing by hand
手に書く writing on a hand


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