What words are used for the sun?

I’m talking about this bad boy: :sunny:
The big yellow ball in the sky
I’ve seen a couple different terms for it in Japanese and I can’t really tell what’s more formal or childish
太陽 (たいよう)
日 (ひ)

I’m pretty sure the first one is the most childish, but I feel like there isn’t this confusion with the つき・月・ :crescent_moon:

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Going off a Google image search おつきさま brings up cartoony personified moons, much like おひさま brings up cartoony personified suns. “Most childish” seems accurate in that sense, though what I’m seeing in JP→JP dictionaries suggests it’s also a term of reverence (the same goes for おつきさま, by the way). Not sure in what context it would be used as such, maybe religious contexts?

There’s also 太陰, which I suppose is the moon’s counterpart to 太陽. AFAIK these are technical/astronomical terms, referring to the celestial bodies themselves and not for instance their appearance in the sky.

For common everyday usage, 日 and 月 are generally used, again AFAIK - I could be wrong.


So, if I wanted to say to someone ‘oh, the sun is bright today!’
I could say something like 「今日は日が明るいだよ!」?


Yeah, that checks out to me. I’ve definitely seen 日 used in such general contexts.

It’s also specifically a context where for instance 太陽 may not be correct, seeing as the actual sun itself may not actually be brighter than usual, it’s just atmospheric conditions and such meaning you get more light into your eyes.

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In such cases I also encountered - for example in VNs - expressions using sunlight - 日差し - instead of sun as an object itself. And those 日差し seem to often be 眩しい or 激しい :slight_smile:


さま is a much more formal and polite version of さん. So where you might use さん in everyday conversation, roughly equivalent to ‘Mr.’ or ‘sir’ (or ‘ma’am’), さま is more appropriate for addressing deities, very high-ranking individuals, and so on. (In Japan, this would include customers of a service business, but that’s a separate topic.) Similarly, the お prefix is also an honorific.

So おひさま would be most appropriate when addressing or talking about the Sun’s Divine Personage. Outside of religious contexts, that’s most likely to happen in fairy tales. So it isn’t really that the usage is “childish,” but rather that stories in which the Sun is a character are more likely to be aimed at children.


It’s also just a thing people (especially kids) call the sun, not necessarily that deep.


It’s like Mr. Sun, I’d say.


I’ve also come across 天道てんとう様, though I imagine that’d come across as rather poetic if used in modern times. And also that ladybugs are seen as having a connection to the sun - not just in Japanese culture, but also several European ones - which is why they’re called テントウムシ.


太陽 will basically be used for anything scientific where you’re talking about the sun as a big ball in space emitting radiation.

Solar panels for example are 太陽電池パネル. Looking up diagrams for photosynthesis in Japanese, they use 太陽光 as opposed to 日光 (even for diagrams for children). For explanations on the earth’s orbit of the sun, 太陽 is used.

If you’re talking about there still being light outside because the sun hasn’t set yet, then you’d use 日 (with words like 日の出 and 日の入り), but if you’re talking about the length of the day being dependant on the sun, then you use 太陽.


Huh this is so interesting!! Thank you… now I understand that one scene in Jujutsu Kaisen ep 5 where Megumi says Panda smells like おひさま and then Nobara and Maki are completely shocked… LOL. I’m sure it was surprising he said that given his usual always-serious personality. That scene definitely got a bit lost in translation

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