Plants & Animals

第173課: Plants & Animals 動植物などの呼び方

As a speaker of any language, you know the names of many living things. This lesson will serve as the basis for learning those names in Japanese. 

Living Things 生物

All life, including mankind on the planet Earth is thought to have a common ancestor. This primitive life form is thought to have arisen at the same time if not shortly before the emergence of Earth’s oceans. From then, it would take nearly two billion years after the emergence of the oceans for single-cellular life to evolve into multi-cellular life. 

Even without being fully versed in biology, a trip to your local zoo, aquarium, or even a botanical garden will expose you to many of the taxonomical classifications used to classify life. 

生命“Life” as in the characteristic that separates the living from inanimate objects. Important derivatives include 生命体 (life-form), 原子生命体 (primitive life-form), and 生命力 (vitality/life force). 生命 may also figuratively mean one’s “life” as in “career.”
 起源 “Origin” as in the “beginning/rise” of things, especially for things of considerable significance. 
人類“Mankind” but extends to all species of human, extant and extinct. 
惑星“Planets” as in the celestial objects that generally orbit around a star. This word may also mean “dark horse” as “surprise contender” in a figurative sense.
地球The planet Earth.
共通祖先A “common ancestor” is the last ancestor that two species once shared. The “last universal common ancestor” (全生物最終共通祖先) is the last ancestor that all extant life (現存する生物) shares. 
海洋The Sino-Japanese equivalent to 海 meaning “ocean,” it is a more fitting word to describe the oceans of early Earth as the Earth’s surface had less land surface. The opposite of “ocean” in this sense is 陸地.
誕生Although this word usually means “birth,” it may also refer to the emergence of new things and situations. 
生物生き物These are the Sino-Japanese and native word respectively for “living thing/organism.” Any technical terms utilize the Sino-Japanese form such as in 生物学 (biology), 単細胞生物 (single-cellular organism) and 多細胞生物 (multi-cellular organism). 
進化“Evolution” as well as the word for “progress/improvement.” Derived words include 進化論 “the theory of evolution” and 進化形 “evolved form.” 
動物園A “zoo” is a facility (施設) where one can observe mostly land animals (陸上の動物), but there may still be some aquatic animals (水中の動物).
水族館Meaning “aquarium,” its Standard Japanese pronunciation is すいぞくかん, but you may also hear すいぞっかん.
植物園“Botanical garden.” Zoos and botanical gardens may be combined, in which case that would be a 動植物園.
分類学Taxonomy is a field in biology meant to categorize (分類する) living things via a hierarchy. Taking our species, humans (Homo Sapiens) as an example, our breakdown with what is called the Linnaean Hierarchy is as follows:
Linnaean Hierarchy リンネ式階層分類 
Organism 生物 |Domain ドメイン ・Eukaryote 真核生物|Kingdom 界・Animalia 動物界|Phylum 門・Chordata 脊索動物門|Class 綱・Mammalia 哺乳類綱|Order 目・Primate 霊長目|Family 科・Hominidae ヒト科|Tribe 族・Hominini ヒト族|Genus 属・Homo ヒト属|Species 種・Homo Sapiens ホモ・サピエンス(ヒト)

You may also be familiar with what is called a phylogenetic tree (系統樹) that connects all life together into a single diagram based on these classifications. 

Even with little knowledge of biology, most speakers of Japanese have a fairly good understanding of the broad terms that can be taken from taxonomy. For instance, people know most of the kingdoms of life (plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, etc.), and people generally know a large handful of classes (fishes, amphibians, etc.) and orders (rodentia = rodents) of animals. 

Everyday vs Technical Words

English possesses everyday words such as “dog” and “cat” as well as Latin-based terms such as “canine/Canis” and “feline/Felidae” when categorizing organisms. 

Words like “canine/feline” refer to clades, which are organisms who share a common ancestor,” but a clade can refer to any converging of branches on the phylogenetic tree of life that is pertinent. Even though “canine” and “feline” are naturally associated groups (clades) which people often view as being parallel, the taxonomically correct nomenclatures “Canis” and “Felidae,”, in fact, are not of the same hierarchy on the phylogenetic tree of life. “Canis” is a genus, whereas “Felidae” is a family. 

Japanese is parallel to English in its wording conventions, largely due to the fact that all terminology in taxonomy are derived from translated texts which were written in European languages. Consequently, Japanese has everyday words which derive from native vocabulary such as 鳥 and 魚 as well as technical words which derive from Sino-Japanese morphemes such as 鳥類 (clade)/鳥綱 (order) and 魚類 (clade)・魚綱 (order), demonstrating distinctions between “clades” and the more specific hierarchy on the tree of life. 

Common “Macro” Terms 

In everyday speech, words like “giraffe,” “dog,” “shark,” etc. relate to individual species, and although those terms are, in fact, the primary focus of this lesson, getting down the most important macro terms relating to kingdom, phylum, order, family, clade, etc. is especially helpful when deciding which words to focus on.

Animal動物 Plants 植物Bacteria 細菌(類)
Mammals哺乳類 Reptiles爬虫類Amphibians両生類
Birds鳥類 Insects昆虫(類)Dinosaurs恐竜(類)
Primates 霊長類Apes類人猿Spermatophytes種子植物
 Gymosperms 裸子植物 Angiosperms 被子植物Monocotyledons 単子葉植物
 Dicotyledons 双子葉植物Arthropods 節足動物 Protists 原生生物
 Caninesイヌ属 Felinesネコ類Mollusks軟体動物
Ungulates   有蹄類 Carnivora 食肉目Vertebrates脊椎動物
Archaea 古細菌Eukaryotes 真核生物Procaryotes原核生物

■Understanding “Clades” between English and Japanese:

It may seem tempting to equate ~類 with ~綱, but remember that because ~類 equates to “clade” and “clade” is as big as is relevant so long as everything is related, what~類 relates to is entirely contextual. Sometimes, this is problematic when English and Japanese speakers don’t see eye-to-eye. For instance, in Japanese イヌ科 means “Canidae” which is the family of animals that includes dogs, wolves, foxes, etc. However, the word イヌ itself historically only refers to “dogs” with wolves occasionally being referred to as ヤマイヌ. And so, when イヌ類 was coined, the clade of “canines” it referred to didn’t include other related animals in the same genus such as coyotes, foxes, or even tanuki, essentially being synonymous with just “dogs” but lumping domestic and wild ones together. As all dogs do share a common ancestor, this “clade” is just as valid, but it isn’t the same “clade” as is meant by the English word “canine.” Instead, “canine” and “Canis” are both translated into Japanese as イヌ属. Contrastingly to this, “feline” and “Felidae” do happen to correspond neatly with ネコ類 and ネコ科 respectively. As for イヌ科, it includes various other genera which have since gone extinct. 

This logic also applies to how the word 人類 is understood. People for religious beliefs may only apply this word our species Homo Sapiens, but in science, it is equivalent to ヒト属, the genus that includes all ‘human’ species. 

What say about terms such as “arthropod” which relates to a phylum, which is much larger than the order of “insects”? In such a scenario, 昆虫類 has already come to be equivalent to 昆虫綱, so it cannot be misconstrued as something higher up on the tree. Conjecturally, both 哺乳類 (mammals) and 霊長類 (primates) exist despite being related, but this further shows how the use of ~類 boils down to natural and meaningful associations that people immediately recognize. Plus, once something is as large as a “phylum,” it becomes more logical to simply refer to them as 〇〇動物/〇〇植物.

※類人猿 is not a proper term in taxonomy and is instead replaced by ヒト科 (Hominidae).

■Categorizing Things By What They Eat

Although such categorization is not helpful when talking about living things which are not animals, the terms “carnivore,” “omnivore,” and “herbivore” are wildly used, which in Japanese are 肉食動物, 雑食動物, and 草食動物 respectively. 


Spelling plants, animals, etc. is notably difficult even for native speakers. Given that Kanji represent individual Chinese morphemes (units of meaning), it is only natural that most plants and animals have their own separate or pair of Kanji. 

Certain Kanji such as 犬 (dog), 猫 (cat), 鳥 (bird), etc. should already be recognizable to you, but others such as 熊 (bear), 鯨 (whale), 蛇 (snake), etc. are likely out of reach at least at the intermediate level. Even well-versed, native readers struggle to always recognize high-level spellings. For example, 山梔子 is the flowering plant “gardenia” and is read as くちなし, which is not readily apparent even if the reader were to know each Kanji individually. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that not all plants and animals are found natively in Japan, or China for that matter. As obvious as this might seem, this fact is crucial to guessing whether something will have a Kanji spelling in Japanese in the first place or not. If the organism is not native to Japan, it likely has no native word for it, and in that case, it is less likely for that word to have been borrowed into the language soon enough for it to have a Kanji spelling. 

Chinese, on the other hand, as you may know is solely written in Kanji, and in many instances, translations as well as Ateji spellings unique to Chinese have been coined for non-native things to them. Some of those inspirations have been since carried over into Japanese in recent years, so much so that Japanese writers may choose to use said Chinese spellings verbatim in Japanese. 

All being said, spellings can be categorized as following under one of the following three scenarios:

1. The ‘basic’ native/Sino-Japanese vocabulary for plants/animals are all potentially written in Kanji, and these spellings are easily recognizable by any reader. 
Exs. 馬 (horse) (bird), 鮫 (shark), etc.

2. Obscure spellings coined when Japan was catching up with the rest of the world with its vocabulary to describe non-native things.
Exs. 狩猟豹 (cheetah), 亜米利加豹 (jaguar), etc.

3. Imported spellings from Modern Chinese (coined for the same reason as Scenario 2), by writer’s discretion. 

Exs.  小袋鼠 (wallaby), 更格廬 (kangaroo), etc.

To simplify everything in biology settings, all species are written in Katakana. When average people don’t know or don’t wish to use the Kanji spelling of a particular plant/animal, opting to either Katakana or Hiragana is permissible.

Given everything mentioned thus far, when parsing through the significant amount of information shown in the charts, spellings in bold are of Category 1 from above, but advanced spellings in this category beyond the average collegiate level may not be in bold. However, just because a Kanji spelling is not in bold does not necessarily mean the word is not important. This may also hold true for indigenous animals in Japan being important in Japanese even if the English equivalent term is rare because said thing isn’t common or native in the West.

The Animal Kingdom (動物界)

Now that we’ve learned about how life is categorized, it’s time to learn about all the animal words that are relevant to you as a Japanese learner. In doing so, we will be covering mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and sea creatures. The last category lumps many different kinds of animals not directly related to each other for the sake of simplicity. 

Out of fairness to learners from all over the world, animals particular to specific parts of the world are also listed. 

Mammals 哺乳類

English 漢字 カタカナ English 漢字 カタカナ
Aardvark 土豚ツチブタ Alpacaアルパカ
Anteater蟻喰アリクイ Antelope 羚羊レイヨウ
 Armadillo 鎧鼠アルマジロ Aye-ayeアイアイ
Baboon 狒々ヒヒBadger 穴熊アナグマムジナ
Bat 蝙蝠コウモリBear クマ
Beluga Whale 白海豚 シロイルカBisonバイソン
 Blue Whale 白長須鯨 シロナガスクジラ Bongoボンゴ
Bonobo  倭黒猩々ボノボBoar イノシシ
Brown Bear 
Capybara鬼天竺鼠カピバラ CaracalClick to edit textカラカル
 Caribooカリブー Cheetah 狩猟豹 チーター
Civet 麝香猫ジャコウネコClouded Leopard 雲豹ウンピョウ
CoyoteコヨーテCuscus クスクス
Dolphin 海豚イルカDormouse山鼠
Dugong  儒艮ジュゴンDonkey驢馬ロバ
ElephantゾウFalanoucClick to edit text ファラノーク
 Ferret フェレット Fossa フォッサ
Flying Squirrel鼯鼠モモンガ
Fur Seal 膃肭臍 オットセイGiraffe麒麟キリン
Gorilla   大猩々 ゴリラGnu牛羚羊ヌー
Guinea Pig豚鼠モルモットHamster 倉鼠ハムスター
Kangaroo長尾驢更格廬袋鼠カンガルーKiller Whale  シャチ
 Kinkajou キンカジュー Koala 袋熊
KodkodコドコドKuduClick to edit textクーズー
Least Weasel飯綱 イイズナLemur狐猿   キツネザル
LeopardヒョウLesser Panda小熊猫 レッサーパンダ
Lion獅子シシ Loris ロリス
 Llama羊駝リャマ Lynx 大山猫 オオヤマネコ
Moose箆鹿ヘラジカ Moon Bear月輪熊  ツキノワグマ
Manatee海牛マナティーMarkhorClick to edit text マーコール
MartenテンMeerkat ミーアキャット
MinkミンクMole土竜 モグラ
Mongooseマングース Monkey サル
  Mouse/Rat ネズミ Mule 騾馬ラバ
Orangutan   猩々オランウータンOryxオリックス
Otter(川)獺 カワウソPanda熊猫パンダ
 Pig  ブタ Platypus 鴨嘴 カモノハシ
Polar Bear北極熊 ホッキョクグマPorcupine山荒豪猪 ヤマアラシ
Rabbit 兎・兔ウサギRaccoon洗熊
Raccoon DogタヌキReindeer 馴鹿トナカイ
Sea Hare雨虎アメフラシSea Lion海驢
Sea Otter海獺
Sloth樹懶 ナマケモノSnow Leopard 雪豹ユキヒョウ
Squirrel栗鼠リスSteller Sea Lion海馬トド
Tapirバク  Tigerトラ
 Warthog 疣猪イボイノシシ Watter Buffalo水牛  スイギュウ
Wolfオオカミ Wombat袋熊ウォンバット
 Yak犛牛ヤク Zebra縞馬シマウマ

Reading Notes: Some Kanji spellings are direct imports from Chinese and, thus, may have alternative readings, but these readings rarely see the light of day in the spoken language. On occasion, native names have been coined for animals non-native to Japan. This, though, allows a reader to potentially read those new coined Kanji spellings with the foreign word which entered the language first as Ateji. Examples of these scenarios include the following:
1. 熊猫 = シューマオ (from Modern Chinese reading)・くまねこ (new KUN reading derived from Chinese spelling).
2. 狩猟豹 = しゅりょうひょう.
3. コアラ = 袋熊(ふくろぐま)・子守熊(こもりぐま).
4. 猩々 = しょうじょう.

5.  大猩々 = だいしょうじょう.
6.  The reading りぎゅう of 犛牛 is the Sino-Japanese word for “yak,” but there is also another Sino-Japanese word, ぼうぎゅう, which can be spelled as 旄牛, 氂牛, or 犛牛.

7. The reading  うしかもしか of 牛羚羊 is the alternative native name for “gnu.”
8. The native name for “capybara” is おにてんじくねずみ.

Word Notes

1. Dugongs and manatees are collectively often referred to as 海牛.
2. モモンガ and ムササビ are technically different species of flying squirrel with the latter being much larger. モモンガ also has the rare Kanji spelling of 摸摸具和 and ムササビ has the rare Kanji spelling of 鼺鼠. ムササビ may alternatively go by ノブスマ(野臥間・野衾) depending on the region.
3. There is a species of civet native to Japan known to ハクビシン(白鼻心) which is translated into English as the “masked palm civet.”

4. ライオン and タイガー are commonly heard for “lion” and “tiger” respectively.

5.  The word レイヨウ doesn’t quite refer to just “antelopes” but to any of the many closely related species such as gazelles, impalas, etc. In older Japanese, the native reading カモシカ was also applied to these animals as they looked like longer leg versions of the native animal that bears that name. 

6. 麒麟 may also refer to the “quilin” which is a mythical creature from Chinese folklore often described as the ‘Chinese unicorn.’ Though the Kanji both have a high-stroke count, this spelling is very popularized. 

7. 獏 may also refer to the “baku” spirit in Japanese folklore know for devouring dreams and nightmares, which is the inspiration behind the Drowzee-line in Pokémon.

8. 鯱, when read as しゃちほこ, refers to a mythical creature with that said name in Japanese folklore.

1. 野生のが山から下りてきた。
The wild bear came down from the mountain.

2. オオカミ(狼)がいないと、ウサギ(兎)が滅びてしまう。
If there were no wolvesrabbits would die out.

3. に乗ったことがありますか?
Have you ever ridden a horse?

4. 数頭のがそこの柵を壊して逃げてしまった。
Several cows broke that fence over there and escaped. 

5. を数えても眠れない。
I can’t sleep even if I count sheep

6. 日本には昔からウサギ(兎)が月に棲むという説話が伝わっている。
There is a legend in Japan that has been told since ancient times that rabbits live on the moon. 

7. は木から落ちてもだが、議員が選挙で落ちれば、ただの人なのだ。
monkey is still a monkey when he falls out of a tree, but an assemblyman is simply a regular man when he falls out of the election. 

8. あたしはトラ(虎)になる夢を見るですにゃあ。
I’m a cat who dreams of becoming a tiger.

 9. キツネ(狐)を飼いたい。
I want to raise a fox.

10. 現在、上野動物園にはは何頭いるか知っていますか。
How many elephants are there currently at Ueno Zoo? 

11. キリン(麒麟)に乗れる場所を探しています。
I’m looking for a place where I can ride a giraffe

12. ライオンシマウマ(縞馬)を食べますよね。
Lions eat zebras, right?

13. パンダは中国にしかいない。
Pandas are only in China.

14. シカ(鹿)が多すぎる。
There are too many deer.

15. 本物のクジラを見てみたい。
I want to see an actual whale.  

16. タヌキ(狸)は日本特有の動物です。
The tanuki (raccoon dogs) is a unique animal to Japan. 

17. 日本ではかつてネズミ罠を仕掛けるとき、油揚げを餌として用いるのが一般的だった。     
In the past in Japan, it was commonplace to use deep-fried tofu as bait to trap mice.

18. 海洋生物で食物連鎖の頂点にいる動物こそ「シャチ(鯱)」です。
The one animal that is at the top of the food chain among sea creatures is the “killer whale.”

19. カモノハシは、卵を産む段階のまま別 の進化の道筋を辿ったのだ。
Platypuses went down a different path of evolution in which they remained at the stage of laying eggs. 

20. イッカクの牙には多くの神経が通っている。
Many nerves run through a narwhal’s tusk.

Birds 鳥類

Albatross阿呆鳥アホウドリBald Eagle白頭鷲ハクトウワシ
Bee-Eater蜂喰ハチクイBlue Jay青懸巣アオカケス
Bulbul ヒヨドリChickenニワトリ
Domestic Duck家鴨・鶩アヒルDoveハト
FlamingoフラミンゴGoose 鵞鳥 ガチョウ
Large Perrot鸚鵡オウムLapwing田鳧タゲリ
Lesser Cuckoo杜鵑不如帰時鳥沓手鳥霍公鳥郭公ホトトギスMacaw金剛鸚哥コンゴウインコ
MagpieカササギMandarin Duck鴛(鴦)オシドリ
Mountain Pheasant山鳥ヤマドリNightjar夜鷹ヨタカ
OwlフクロウParakeet背黄青鸚哥  セキセイインコ 

Small Parrot鸚哥インコSparrowスズメ
Wild GooseカリWoodpecker啄木鳥キツツキ

Word Notes

1. The Sino-Japanese name for “toucan” is 巨嘴鳥.
2. An alternative name for “pelican” is 伽藍鳥.

3. The alternative names for “penguin,” 人鳥(じんちょう) 企鵝(きが), are typically read as such, but ペンギン may still be applied to them. 
4. The シャモ is a species of chicken brought to Japan from Thailand in the Edo Period. 

21. 祖母に肉を使ったレシピを教えてもらいました。
I had my grandmother teach me a recipe that uses duck meat. 

22. ペンギンはなぜ南半球にしかいないの?
Why are penguins only in the Southern Hemisphere? 

23.  オスの軍鶏を戦わせることは、動物愛護管理法違反で、罰則の対象に成り得る。

Cockfighting with male shamo is a violation of the Animal Protection and Control Act and may be subject to punishment.

24. インコは人間の言葉や会話を必ずしも理解しているわけではない。
It is not necessarily the case that parrots understand human speech or conversations. 

25. を使って獲物を狩る。
To hunt prey by using hawks.

27. ダチョウ(駝鳥)やエミューが飛べない理由は何ですか。
What is the reason for why ostriches and emus can’t fly?

28. セキレイ(鶺鴒)は害虫を食べてくれる益鳥です。
Wagtails are beneficial birds which eat harmful insects.

29. クジャク(孔雀)といえば羽を広げる姿を思い浮かべるが、美しい羽があるのはオスだけだ。
When speaking of peacocks, one thinks of when they spread their wings, but the ones with the beautiful wings are just the males.

Reptiles 爬虫類

AlligatorアリゲーターBaby Pond Turtle銭亀ゼニガメ
Boa ConstrictorボアコンストリクターCaimanカイマン
CrocodileクロコダイルCrocodilian・ 鱷ワニ
Grass Lizard金蛇蛇舅母カナヘビHabu波布飯匙倩ハブ
Horned Lizard角蜥蜴ツノトカゲIguanaイグアナ
Komodo Dragon コモドオオトカゲLizard蜥蜴石竜子トカゲ
Pond Turtle石亀イシガメRat Snake青大将アオダイショウ
RattlesnakeがらがらガラガラヘビRock Snake/Python錦蛇ニシキヘビ
Sea Snake海蛇
ウミヘビSea Turtle海亀ウミガメ
Soft-shelled Turtle円鼈マルスッポンSnapping Turtleスッポン
Venomous Snake毒蛇毒ヘビViperマムシ

Word Notes:
1. In the Japanese-speaking world, the distinction between “lizards” and “skinks” is not well known. 
2. Crocodilians have historically been collectively known as ワニ. Some other complicated Kanji with the same KUN reading are believed to have referred to specific species endemic to China (exs. 鼉 and 鱓). Nowadays, such Kanji in China typically refer to the species 揚子江鰐, which is an alligator species native to the country.

30. 道の真ん中でを踏んだらどうなりますか?
What happens when you step/stomp on a snake in the middle of the road?

31. 小さいトカゲ(蜥蜴)が部屋の壁にくっついていた。
There’s a small lizard stuck on the wall inside the room. 

32. カメ(亀)に噛まれた時はどうすればよいでしょうか。
What should you do when you’re bitten by a turtle?

33. スッポン(鼈)を捌く時は軍手をしてください。
When preparing a snapping turtle to cook, please wear cotton gloves.

34. なぜカメレオンは色が変わるのですか。
Why do chameleons change color?

35. は体が小さくて毒の量が少ない。
Vipers are small and have little venom.

Amphibians 両生類 



Word Notes:
1. Although not the name of a species, “tadpole” is an essential word related to amphibians.
2. The words for toad listed are completely interchangeable.

36. カエル(蛙)を轢いたことがあります。
I have run over a frog before.

37. サンショウウオは、古くは、椒魚(はじかみいを)と呼ばれた。
Salamanders were called “pepper-tree fish” in olden times. 

38. ヒキガエルを舐めるな!
Don’t lick toads!

Insects 昆虫

Grasshopper飛蝗バッタHairy Caterpillar毛虫ケムシ
Hermit Crab宿借寄居虫ヤドカリHorseflyアブ
Millipede馬陸ヤスデMole Cricket螻蛄ケラ
Praying Mantis蟷螂カマキリ  Psocid茶立虫チャタテムシ
Rice Grasshoper稲子イナゴScale Insect貝殻虫カイガラムシ
Spider蜘蛛クモStink Bug亀虫カメムシ
 Tarantula大土蜘蛛オオツチグモTermite 白蟻 シロアリ
Walking Stick七節ナナフシWasp雀蜂スズメバチ
Weevil象虫ゾウムシWorm虫螻  ムシケラ

Word Notes:
1. In older language, かげろう could also mean “dragonfly,” which is why 蜻蛉 can either be read as とんぼ or かげろう. 
2. Bees/wasps go by many names in the English-speaking world as is also the case in the Japanese-speaking world. Due to the heightened danger that bee species pose to humans in Japan, it’s best to get your bees-ness in check when in Japan.

2a. アシナガバチ and スズメバチ both relate to wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets by English speakers, but the former has long legs as the name suggests. 

2b. クマ(ン)バチ may regionally refer to “yellow jackets,” but their English name is more accurately “Japanese carpenter bee,” whereas キイロスズメバチ is the native species of “yellow jacket,” which happens to be far more dangerous. Given its dangerous nature, it also goes by the regional names カメバチ (瓶蜂), トックリバチ (徳利蜂), and アカバチ (赤蜂). 

2c. “Giant hornets” are referred to as オオスズメバチ (giant hornet)

2d. 花蜂 may refer to any bee which feeds on larvae and spreads pollen. 
2e. 丸花蜂 refers to “bumblebees.” 

2f. クロスズメバチ and シダクロスズメバチ are native wasps of Japan known for building their nests in the ground. Other regional names for them include ジバチ (地蜂), ドバチ (土蜂), ハイバチ (灰蜂), ヘボ (used in the 東海地方), or スガレ・スガリ (used throughout 東北). 

39. クモ(蜘蛛)の巣は飛んでいるを捕まえる罠です。
spider web is a trap to catch flying insects

40. たまにを手で殺した時に血が付着するけど、あれって僕らの血なの?それともの血なの?誰か教えてください!
Occasionally blood gets on me when I kill a mosquito with my hand, but is that our blood? Or, is it the mosquito‘s blood? Someone, please tell me. 

41. アリ(蟻)を殺すと雨が降る。
When you kill an ant, it rains. 

42. の寿命は長くても数ヶ月程度です。
The lifespan of a butterfly, at most, is around several months. 

43. ハチ(蜂)やスズメバチ(雀蜂)に気をつけましょう!
Be careful of bees and wasps

Word Note: “Bee-sting” is 蜂刺され, and as far as the verb for “to be stung” by a bee, you may hear these three verbs: 刺される (to be stung), 噛まれる (to be bitten), 食われる (to be bitten). 

Sea Life 海洋生物

Cod鰔大口魚ハマグリConger Eel穴子アナゴ
Crucian CarpフナDaggertooth Pike Conger𩸕ハモ
EelウナギElectric Eel電気鰻デンキウナギ
 Flying Squid鯣烏賊スルメイカGarガー
Goby鯊沙魚ハゼGreat White Shark頬白鮫ホオジロザメ
HamachiハマチHammerhead Shark撞木鮫シュモクザメ
Konoshiro鰶鯯鱅コノシロLarge Sharkフカ
Littleneck Clam浅蜊アサリLoach(泥)鰌鯲鰍ドジョウ
MackerelサバMackerel Tuna須万スマ
PlanktonClick to edit textプランクトンPollock介党鱈鯳スケトウダラ
Pufferfish河豚鮐鯸魨鯺吹吐魚フグRighteye Flounderカレイ
Sea Anemone磯巾着イソギンチャクSea Bream タイ
Sea BreamタイSea Cucumber海鼠ナマコ
Sea Urchin海胆海栗雲丹ウニSea Lily海百合ウミユリ
Sea Slug海牛ウミウシSharkサメ
Sillago鼠頭魚キスSmall Fry雑魚雑魚
Snail蝸牛カタツムリSpanish Mackerel鰆馬鮫魚サワラ
Stingray鱏鱝鰩海鷂魚 エイStriped Mullet鯔鰡鮱𩹉ボラ
TilapiaClick to edit textティラピアTiger Prawn車海老クルマエビ
Turban Shell栄螺サザエWobbegong大瀬オオセ

Fish-related Kanji are particularly diverse in number, and many fish have several Kanji associated with them. What’s more, there are many fish with regional names as well as fish names that don’t refer to the same fish depending on region. Even for the spelling listed above, this is by no means exhaustive as obscure Kanji abound. 

Word Notes:

1. One such word that is very common but difficult to ascertain because it can refer to several kinds of fish is ゴリ.  Written in Kanji as 鮴, it most often refers to freshwater goby, which may also go by the name ヨシノボリ(葦登). In some regions, though, it may refer to “sculpin” which is generally カジカ(鰍) in Standard Japanese. Yellowfin goby, on the other hand, which is common on sushi menus worldwide, is usually differentiated despite being a kind of gobi. 

2. When flying squid are dried, スルメ(鯣) is used in isolation with the full-phrase スルメイカ(鯣烏賊)reserved for when the creature is alive. 

3. When sea urchin is used in seafood products, it may be spelled as 雲丹, but this spelling is not preferred when referring to the live animal. 
4. Confusingly, the Kanji 鰒 may both refer to abalone (アワビ) and the pufferfish (フグ). Usually, though, it refers to the former as plenty other spellings have been applied to the latter. 

5. Confusingly, the Kanji 鰍 may refer to sculpins (カジカ) as well as loaches (ドジョウ),  but it can also even more confusingly refer to hamachi (young amberjack) in which case it is read as イナダ. Usually, it refers to カジカ with the other fishes being spelled normally as 泥鰌 and イナダ respectively. 

6. To complicated matters, many communities across Japan have developed numerous names to refer to the same fish which refer to different stages of growth of said fish, and these words in turn can also differ from community to community. Such fish are known as 出世魚(しゅっせうお). Many of these words have become quintessential in marketplaces as well as sushi/Japanese-themed restaurants across the world. The greatest example of this involves the amberjack, known as ブリ(鰤) when fully grown. When not fully grown, its name differs whether you are in East or West Japan, but all of these words can be seen used on sushi menus in Western countries. 

SizeEast JapanWest Japan
Small Fry モジャコ(藻雑魚) モジャコ(藻雑魚)
20 cmワカシツバス
40 cmイナダ(鰍)ハマチ(魬)
60 cmワラサ(稚鰤)メジロ
80 cm+ブリ(鰤)ブリ(鰤)

モジャコ may also refer to small fry of another species of amberjack known as the カンパチ(間八)- the “greater amberjack” in English – which also finds itself on sushi menus. It, too, is so important that its younger versions have different names based on the growth stage of the fish. In the Kanto (greater Tokyo area), it goes by: ショッコ(35 cm or below) → シオゴ(汐子)(35-60 cm) → アカハナ (60-80 cm) → カンパチ (80 cm+).

7. The bass (スズキ) is a 出世魚: コッパ (0-10 cm) → セイゴ(鮬)(10-25 cm) → フッコ (25-35 cm) → スズキ (35- 60cm +) → オオタロウ (old fish). 

8. The striped mullet (ボラ) is a 出世魚: オボコ (0-10 cm) → イナッコ (10 cm)・スバシリ (10 cm)  → イナ (10-30 cm) → ボラ (30-50 cm+) → トド (old fish).
9. The sardine (イワシ) is a 出世魚: シラス(白子)(0-1 cm) → カエリ (1-10 cm) → コバ(小羽)(10-15 cm) → チュウバ(中羽)(15-20 cm) → オオバ(大羽)(around 20 cm). 

10. The words 鮫 and 鱶 are not examples of 出世魚. Rather, the latter is an alternative word that exclusively refers to large-sized sharks. The word is popularized in other expressions such as shark fin (鱶鰭). 
11. 海牛 when read as ウミウシ and when read as カイギュウ do not refer to the same animals. The former is “sea slug” and the latter refers to “manatees/dugongs.”

12. Just as with other words ending in ~類, 貝類 refers to all “shellfish” as a group of animals. In everyday speech, they may be simply referred to as 貝. 
13. Though snails are not typically viewed as sea-dwelling, there are such thing as sea snails, and snails are actually a kind of mollusk, which is why they are listed along with other mollusks. 

14. 魚 is marked with an asterisk because of how it is the overall word for fish, and thus, wouldn’t typically be written in カタカナ. As for the reading うお, this actually derives from the original native word for “fish,” which was いを in earlier stages of the language. This can still be seen in many set phrases. 

44. 近い将来、海のが絶滅状態になるかもしれない。
In the near future, the fishes of the sea may become extinct. 

45. 引き上げる度に、10~20匹ずつ網にカニが付いてくる。
Each time I lift the net up, 10-20 crabs are in it. 

46. 東京の葛西臨海水族園に訪れた人たちは勢いよく群れで泳ぐマグロ(鮪)の姿を楽しんでいました。
The people who visited the Kassai Marine Aquarium in Tokyo were enjoying seeing the schools of tuna swimming energetically. 

47. フグ(河豚)を食べる国は日本以外にはどれくらいありますか?
How many other countries are there aside from Japan where people eat puffer fish?

48. 妊娠中にはイカ(烏賊)やタコ(蛸)を食べてはいけない。
You mustn’t eat squid or octopus while pregnant. 

49. うなぎ(鰻)釣りの餌は何がいい?
What sort of bait is best for fishing eels

50. サメ(鮫)は滅多に人間を襲わない。
Sharks seldom eat people.

Plant Kingdom (植物界)

Although most people recognize dozens of animal names, plant names are bit harder to recall, but that doesn’t devalue the importance the existences of the plants listed in the chart below. Those listed in the chart below are are all well-known plant words to Japanese speakers.

Curriculum Note: Many plant-related terminology involving vegetables, fruits, and other food stuffs such as nuts, berries, etc. are not listed. 

English漢字 カタカナEnglish漢字 カタカナ
BambooタケBamboo Shoot竹の子たけのこ*
Barley (wheat)ムギBarnyard Milletヒエ
Box Tree柘植黄楊樿ツゲBrackenワラビ
Bush灌木かんぼく*Bush Cloverハギ
Cactus仙人掌サボテンCamellia椿 ツバキ
CamphorクスノキCherry Blossomサクラ
Cherry BurchアズサChinese Moonseed葛藤ツヅラフジ
CypressヒノキDaimyo Oak槲檞棌栢カシワ
Dianthus撫子ナデシコElm Treeニレ
Evergreen Oak橿櫧
Horse Chestnut(ノ木)杤橡杼トチ(ノキ)Hydrangea紫陽花アジサイ
Judas TreeカツラKnotweed タデ
Olive Plant木犀モクセイOrchidラン
Palm Tree椰子ヤシPampus Grassススキ
Paperplant八手ヤツデPaper Mulberryコウゾ
ReedアシヨシRice Plantイネ
Rose薔薇バラ Royal Fernゼンマイ
Satsuki Azalea皐月杜鵑花サツキSawtooth Oak櫟椢槶櫪栩椡 クヌギ
SilvergrassオギSilver Vine (Catnip)木天蓼マタタビ
Tree Peony牡丹ボタンTumbleweedタンブルウィード
Venus Flytrap蠅地獄ハエジゴクWasabi山葵ワサビ
Water ChestnutヒシWeed雑草ざっそう*
WillowヤナギWinter Daphne沈丁花ジンチョウゲ
Yellow Rose山吹ヤマブキZelkova槻槁ケヤキ

Word Notes:

1. There are several reasons as to why certain plants have multiple Kanji. Some may be most common when used as surnames, whereas the large majority of the diversity is due to the creation of Kanji by Japanese people overtime to write native plant life. Species of oak particularly have the most available Kanji. 

2. Words with an * are shown in ひらがな as opposed to カタカナ because they are not species names but plant-related words that are especially common.

3. 海藻, as well as 藻 (algae), which is not listed, are not all technically plants but they are related to them nonetheless.

4. The “lotus” has various other names: 芙蓉・水芙蓉・不語仙・池見草・水の花.
In Buddhism, it is referred to as the 蓮華.
5. The technical word for “grass” is 草本.

6. The technical word for “tree” is 木本. You will also see the Sino-Japanese 樹木, which is synonymous with 木・樹. 

51. バラ(薔薇)の咲く楽園へようこそ。
Welcome to paradise where roses blossom. 

52. その畑には多くの樹木が並んでいました。
Many trees were lined up by each other in the field. 

53. 庭にを植えたいです。
I want to plant bamboo in my yard.  

54. 家の庭に果樹を植えてはいけない。
You can’t plant fruit trees or cherry blossom trees in your yard.

Fungi Kingdom (菌界)

It would be remiss to not mention fungi given that they are in our everyday lives in the form of mold and most importantly mushrooms. Many of the fungi mentioned below are endemic to Japan, and both edible and poisonous species are listed. 

Burnt Knight柿占地カキシメジEnoki榎茸エノキタケ
Galerina Fasciculuta(lit. cholera mushroom)虎列剌茸コレラタケKing Oysterエリンギ
Laughing Gym大笑茸オオワライタケMaitake舞茸マイタケ
Meadow Mushroom原茸ハラタケMold霉醭カビ
Neoboletus Venenatus毒山鳥ドクヤマドリPanther Cap Pleurocybella天狗茸テングタケ
Pleurocybella杉平茸スギヒラタケPowdery Mildew饂飩粉ウドンコ
Oyster Mushroom平茸ヒラタケMushroom  木ノ子菌蕈キノコ
Rust (fungus)錆菌銹菌サビキンShiitake椎茸シイタケ
Shimeji占地(茸)湿地(茸)王茸シメジSulphur Tuft苦栗茸ニガクリタケ
Tsukiyotake月夜茸ツキヨタケWood Pinkgill臭裏紅茸 クサウラベニタケ

Word Notes:

1. Although a very rare Kanji, 醭 specifically refers to mold found on liquids. 

2. The Kanji 菌 originally means “fungus” and was later purposed in words such as 細菌 to mean “bacteria.”