Exploring The Meaning Of "Boy" In Japanese


When it comes to learning a new language, one of the first things you need to know is how to refer to people, places, and things. In Japanese, the word for “boy” is an important term to understand, especially if you plan on speaking with native speakers. In this article, we’ll explore the various meanings and nuances of the word “boy” in Japanese.

What is the Japanese Word for “Boy”?

The Japanese word for “boy” is “otoko no ko” (男の子). This term is commonly used to refer to male children or young boys. It can also be used in a more general sense to refer to male individuals, regardless of their age or status.

Alternative Words for “Boy”

In addition to “otoko no ko,” there are several other words in Japanese that can be used to refer to boys or young men.

Kodomo (子供)

“Kodomo” is a more general term that refers to children, including boys and girls. While it doesn’t specifically mean “boy,” it can be used in contexts where the gender of the child is not important.

Shonen (少年)

“Shonen” is a term that specifically refers to young boys, usually between the ages of 7 and 18. This term is commonly used in anime and manga to refer to the male protagonist.

Otoko (男)

“Otoko” is a more formal term that is used to refer to adult men. However, it can also be used to refer to boys in certain contexts, such as when emphasizing their masculinity or strength.

Cultural Meanings of “Boy” in Japanese

In addition to its literal meaning, the word “boy” in Japanese can also have cultural connotations and associations.

Yankee Boys

In Japanese culture, “yankee boys” (ヤンキー) refers to young men who are rebellious or delinquent. These boys are often associated with motorcycle gangs, and are known for their rough attitudes and tough-guy personas.


“Bishonen” (美少年) is a term that refers to young men who are considered beautiful or attractive. This term is commonly used in anime and manga to describe male characters who have delicate features and feminine qualities.

Boys’ Day

“Boys’ Day” (こどもの日) is a Japanese holiday that is celebrated on May 5th each year. This holiday is dedicated to celebrating the health and happiness of young boys, and is marked by the display of traditional “koinobori” (鯉のぼり) flags and the eating of special foods.


Learning the word for “boy” in Japanese is an important step in mastering the language. By understanding the various meanings and nuances of this term, you’ll be better equipped to communicate with native speakers and navigate Japanese culture.