Hobbies in Japanese: Guide for Daily Conversation

Learn essential words and phrases used to talk about your hobbies in Japanese.

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By Ayako Sasso · June 11, 2024 · 10 minute read

Learning to discuss your hobbies in Japanese is one of those things that you can use on a daily basis as you meet and talk with new people. Sharing or discussing your hobbies can be a great way to start or continue a conversation or to simply get to know a person better.

In this guide, we provide you with the sentence structure, useful phrases and vocabulary you need to talk about your hobbies in Japanese.

How to talk about hobbies in Japanese

What is ‘hobby’ in Japanese?

The Japanese word for ‘hobby’ is shumi (しゅみ・趣味). There are two ways to tell about your hobbies using basic sentence patterns. You can initiate your conversation by using these phrases to state your interest.

Let’s have a look at these two sentence patterns to discuss hobbies.

Pattern 1: Shumi wa [ hobby ] desu. 趣味は〜です

(“My hobby is __.”)

This sentence pattern is the basic noun sentence pattern, which is probably the very first sentence a Japanese language learner encounters. It has the following format:

[noun A] wa [noun B] desu. ([noun A] は [noun B] です。)

This translates to mean, “A is B,” which is how you describe noun A. If you know how to say the particular word for your hobby, you are all set.

Below is a table of some common words for hobbies, which you can apply to the [noun B] part and get started on forming sentences.

List of hobbies in Japanese

English Rōmaji Hiragana・katakana Kanji
Reading dokusho どくしょ 読書
Photography shashin しゃしん 写真
Sports supōtsu スポーツ
Cooking ryōri りょうり 料理
Traveling ryokō りょこう 旅行
Movie eiga えいが 映画

By plugging in the name of a particular hobby into the sentence pattern “Shumi wa [ hobby ] desu,” you can easily create sentences like the ones below:

  • My hobby is reading. Shumi wa dokusho desu. 趣味は 読書です。
  • My hobby is cooking. Shumi wa ryōri desu. 趣味は 料理です。

Are you finding this quite easy?

When you simply wish to mention your hobbies, this sentence pattern is all you need. But if you want to specify the action in the activity, you need to know another sentence pattern.

Let’s say that your hobby is sports, and you wish to talk about watching sports or playing sports. In order to do this, you need to include verbs to provide more details. Let’s look at the next pattern.

Pattern 2: Shumi wa [ hobby ] o [ verb ] koto desu. 趣味は〜を〜ことです

(“My hobby is [verb + noun].”)

Using the pattern ‘verb (the dictionary form) + koto (こと),’ you can change the verb to fit the sentence pattern that we have already learned. We can sort of transform the verb into a noun by adding ‘koto’ (こと).

If you know the verbs ‘miru’ (みる), which means ‘to see’ or ‘to watch,’ and ‘suru’ (する), which means ‘to do’ or ‘to play,’ you can add depth to your sentence. Let’s look at the following sentences using verbs to express more detail:

  • My hobby is watching sports. Shumi wa spōtsu o miru koto desu. 趣味はスポーツをみることです。
  • My hobby is playing sports. Shumi wa spōtsu o suru koto desu. 趣味はスポーツをすることです。
  • My hobby is movies. Shumi wa eiga desu. 趣味は映画です。
  • My hobby is watching movies. Shumi wa eiga o miru koto desu. 趣味は映画をみることです。
  • My hobby is making movies. Shumi wa eiga o tsukuru koto desu. (tsukuru = ’to make’) 趣味は映画をつくることです。

Knowing how to change the verb as we’ve done here by adding koto (こと) is very useful to know since we can also apply this to another sentence pattern to express interest. We will be looking at that pattern in the ‘expressing your interest’ section later on.

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How to say multiple hobbies in Japanese

To talk about multiple hobbies, we can list the hobbies in noun form and connect them by using the conjunction ‘to’ (と), which means ‘and.’

For example, let’s say you want to say that your hobbies are traveling and cooking. Using the vocabulary from the above table, you can easily form your sentence:

My hobbies are traveling and cooking.

Shumi wa ryokō to ryōri desu.


How easy is that! Now you might want to know more vocabulary to express your hobbies. Here are some words to express a variety of activities related to sports, arts and common outdoor activities.

Words for hobbies, sports, art and outdoors activities

English Rōmaji Hiragana・katakana Kanji
Tennis tenisu テニス
Baseball yakyū やきゅう 野球
Swimming suiei すいえい 水泳
Painting kaiga かいが 絵画
Pottery tōgei とうげい 陶芸
Hand crafts shugei しゅげい 手芸
Fishing tsuri つり 釣り
Mountain climbing tozan とざん 登山
Listening to music ongaku kanshō おんがくかんしょう 音楽観賞
Hiking haikingu ハイキング

Useful vocabulary for expressing your interests

There are some words that are worth remembering for expressing your interests or talking about your hobbies. Let’s look at three patterns.

Pattern 1: ~ ga suki desu 〜が好きです

‘Suki’ means ‘to like’ or ‘to adore something.’ In Japanese this word is an adjective, though in English it is a verb.To form a sentence with “I like…,” you can use this sentence pattern:

I like tennis.

Tenisu ga suki desu.


Here we can use the word ‘koto’ as we learned earlier to specify the action in the activity, as you can see in the examples below.

  • I like playing sports. Spōtsu o suru koto ga suki desu. スポーツをすることがすきです。
  • I like watching movies. Eiga o miru koto ga suki desu. 映画をみることがすきです。

If you like a certain activity and do not want to mention it as a hobby in a formal way, you can simply use this sentence pattern.

Pattern 2: ~ ga tokui desu 〜が得意です

When you wish to tell about a skill you have, you can use this pattern. This word ‘tokui’ (とくい・得意) is mostly used to express your own ability, as in the example below:

I am good at swimming.

Watashi wa suiei ga tokui desu.


Pattern 3: ~ ga jōzu desu. 〜が上手です

When you wish to mention someone’s skill as a compliment, you can use the word ‘jōzu’ (上手・じょうず). Simply mention the person you would like to compliment and the skill you admire as follows:

Mr.Tanaka is good at singing.

Tanaka san wa uta ga jōzu desu.


Interesting and unique Japanese hobbies

Besides the kinds of hobbies you might be used to, there are many interesting hobbies that are unique to Japan. Let’s now learn about some Japanese traditional activities that are still practiced by many people in Japan as well as other countries. This will give you deeper insight into Japanese culture, which is helpful as you learn to speak Japanese.

Shodō 書道

Shodō is Japanese calligraphy. It may be a meditation-like activity with an art element in it. You will need a calligraphy brush, a special ink stick called a sumi (墨・すみ), a suzuri (硯・すずり) stone to grind the ink stick, and some traditional washi (和紙・わし) paper.

If you pick shodō as your hobby, it can help you with your Japanese writing skills as well. It’s an activity that provides not only enjoyment but also improves your language skills! Shodō is also part of the school curriculum in Japan, meaning Japanese kids are given the opportunity to practice calligraphy at school.

Kyūdō 弓道

Kyūdō is Japanese archery. In Japan there are many high schools and universities that have a kyūdō team or club as an extracurricular activity. The students practice or perform kyūdō in traditional Japanese hakama (袴・はかま) costumes. It is a sport that requires deep focus.

Sadō 茶道

Sadō is a Japanese tea ceremony. It is said that sadō was established during the Muromachi (室町・むろまち) period, which goes back to the 14th to 16th centuries.

The Japanese tea ceremony consists of preparing, serving and drinking tea in a ritualized way, typically in a traditional tea room with a tatami (畳・たたみ) floor. The tea ceremony is believed to be a way of creating a bond between the participants, the guests and the host, and also a way to cultivate inner peace and the awareness of well-being and inner harmony.

Kadō 華道

Kadō is a traditional Japanese flower arrangement, and it is also called ‘ikebana’ (生け花). The word ‘ka’ of Kadō means flower and ‘ikebana’ literally means ‘living flower.’

The Japanese style of flower arrangement tends to look more minimalistic compared to Western styles, as Japanese value the natural line of branches of a flower rather than the symmetry preferred in Western flower arrangements.

You may have noticed that so far all the activities mentioned, shodō, kyūdō, sadō, and kadō, end with the word ‘dō.’ This word means ‘path’ or ‘way,’ with a connotation of philosophy or doctrine.

Famous martial arts such as aikidō (合気道・あいきどう), kendō (剣道・けんどう) and judō (柔道・じゅうどう) all contain the word . All of these activities have an element of mental, spiritual and personal growth achieved by mastering the respective activities.

Bonsai 盆栽

Since bonsai is well known in many countries, you have probably not only heard of the word ‘bonsai’ but also seen a photo of a miniature bonsai tree.

Bonsai trees will be a good fit in your home or office and appreciated by many. It’s not just because of how lovely they look, but also because it takes time and patience to achieve and maintain that beauty. Bonsai can be a great hobby to pursue in the long term.

Wrapping up

We have covered some key phrases for stating your hobbies in Japanese as well as useful sentences to express your interests. We’ve also looked at lists of vocabulary for hobbies.

By now, you are ready to try talking about your hobbies in Japanese. As a reminder, here are the key phrases:

  • Shumi wa [ hobby ] desu. (My hobby is ___.)

  • Shumi wa [ hobby ] o suru koto desu. (My hobby is verb + noun.)

By practising our list of words and key phrases, you’ll be able to improve your communication skills in Japanese. Learning a new language and sharing your interests with new people can be such an enjoyable experience. And it’s a great way to start conversations with the people you meet, which will give you even more practice in daily Japanese conversation.

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