Centering: ~を中心に(して)

第309課: Centering: ~を中心に(して)

The noun 中心 means “center,” and it may refer to the “center” of concrete and abstract entities. It is also most notably used in the grammar pattern ~を中心に in which it translates as “with a focus on.”  

The Noun 中心 

As stated above, 中心 is at its simplest understanding a basic noun that means “center.” This meaning applies in various situations including the center of physical objects, the center of abstract concepts, the center of something in geometric terms, or even the center of someone’s heart/mind. 

1. 僕が通っている学校は、町の中心にある。
The school that I go to is in the center of town.

2. その中心では、太郎君と慎太君が対峙している。
At its center, Taro-kun and Shinta-kun are standing off. 

3. 日本文化の中心はといえば、やはり関西ですかね。
When I think of the center of Japanese culture, I’d say it’s Kansai. 

4. 釜石市の中心部に住んでいます。
I live in the center part of Kamaishi City.


The pattern that 中心 is seen the most is “N +~を中心に(して)”, which may translate to “with a focus on/focused on/centered on/primarily/focused around X (N).” You may also see the pattern rendered as ~を中心として. Its nuancing can be summarized as follows: 

  • With X (the noun) at the center of said scope, A (the speaker) performs Y or Y occurs without the aid of A but with X at the center. 
  • X (the noun) is the most important thing to take note of, and Y is being carried out under that circumstance. 

To directly modify another noun, you must modify the pattern to~を中心[に・と]した. The choice between に and と is one of formality and tone with the latter being more formal with a succinct tone to it. 

5. ヨーロッパを中心に海外旅行をしてみたいと思う。
I would like to travel abroad, primarily focusing on Europe.

6. 駅を中心に商店が並んでいます。
Shops are lined up and centered around the train station.

7. 今日の会議では海外展開を中心に議論をしましょう。
Let’s discuss overseas expansion as the center topic at today’s meeting.

8. 惑星は太陽を中心に回っていると思われがちだが、実際には、太陽系の共通重心が太陽の中心に重なることはほとんどない。

9. 関東地方を中心に電力の供給停止が起こった。
A suspension of electrical power occurred primarily in the Kanto Region.

10. 本日は、来年度の予算を中心にご議論いただきます。
Today, I will have (everyone here) debate with next year’s budget as the focus.

11. 魚や野菜を中心とした食事に変えたほうがいい。
It’s best to switch to a diet focused around fish and vegetables. 

12. イギリスは元々、工業を中心として発展してきているのだ。

From the onset, England has developed with manufacturing as its focal point. 

13. その国は武器交易を中心として発展を遂げてきた。
That country had achieved advancement with arms trade as its focal point.

14. このキャラを中心に配置し会話している雰囲気を持たせてください。
Please make it have an atmosphere in which you have them conversating with this character placed in the centerfold. 

15. その棒道なるものを、甲府を中心として、西へも東へも南へも、幾条も持っているために、隣接の諸国、たとえば、北条、徳川、織田、斎藤などにしても、彼と外交し、彼と戦い彼と悶着するなど、明けても暮れても、応接にいとまがなかった。
These “dash roads” had a number of split-offs that went east, south, and west with Kofu at its center; therefore, every adjacent province – for instance, Hojo, Tokugawa, Oda, and Saito –  never had a time they were not having diplomacy with him, not fighting with him, not quarreling with him – going on day in and day out. 
From 『上杉謙信』by 吉川栄治.

16. 働く親を中心にした対話を重ねる中で、2023年1月現在、当社の男性育休の取得率は45%、平均取得日数も110日に伸びています。
In the midst of repeated dialogues centered around working parents, currently as of January 2023, our company’s paternity leave percentage is at 45%, growing to an average days taken to 110 days.

17. 梅雨前線の影響で九州を中心とする西日本は昨夜から各地で激しい雨に見舞われています。
West Japan, with Kyushu at the center of it all, has been hit everywhere with heavy rain since last due to a seasonal rain front. 

Grammar Note: When directly modifying another noun, the する may stay in the non-past. This is because the use of した is not meant to be interpreted as past tense but as “continuous state” or even an “affirmation of the current state.” 


Identical in meaning, the use of the verb おく helps add the meaning of “to put/place,” emphasizing how X is being put at the centerfold of action Y. 

18. その課題を中心において検討を進めることとしたい。
I would like for us to proceed with our review with that issue at the center. 

19. 人を中心において真摯に取り組むことで、新しい可能性は、未来に向けてきっと拓かれていくはずだ。
By earnestly engaging with people at the center (of what we do), new possibilities will surely open up towards the future. 


A paraphrase that will often show up in explanations on this grammar point is ~を基点[に・と]して, but this is not quite the same thing as ~を中心[に・と]して even in the literal sense. Whereas 中心 is the literal center of activity, 基点 is a base point chosen as the reference. 

20. 駅を基点として半径10キロ圏内のスーパーを調査します。
I will investigate supermarkets within a 10-kilometer radius with the train station as my base point. 

The Noun 焦点

The word for focus is 焦点. However, to say “to place the focus on X,” the particles may not be what you expect. Instead, you get Xに焦点を当てる. Imagine if nothing were said after ~を中心に, then phrases utilizing 焦点 would have that effect. Meaning, there is no concurrent action being implied as the “focus” is X. 

21. 新型コロナ対策に焦点を当てる。
To place one’s focus on handling COVID-19. 

22. 今度の歴訪は子供をめぐる問題に焦点を合わせている。
This tour of visitation places its focus on matters involving children.

23. 外国人の労働者の受け入れが今国会で焦点となっている。

The focus in the Diet right now is on the acceptance of foreign laborers. 


Although very similar, 集中的, seen either as an adjectival noun meaning “intensive/focused” or as an adverb meaning “intensely/concentratively,” but unlike ~を中心に, speaker A is simply doing action X intensely. Whether that is being done amid an overarching situation is simply not touched. 

24. 現在は集中的に英語を勉強しています。
I am currently intensively studying English.

25. 夜間帯の列車を運休しての集中的な修繕工事を実施してまいります。
We will proceed with intensive repair work involving the suspension of trains that operate during the night. 

The verb form 集中する “to focus/concentrate” is also of the same vein and is not about a sub-event being done amid a larger phenomenon. 

26. 誰しも仕事に集中できないときがあるでしょう。
Anyone has times when they can’t concentrate on work.