Planets in Japanese

250px-Wuxing_ja.svgLet’s take a look into our solar system and what the eight planets are called in Japanese, and more. The root of where these names come from is from China. The Chinese Five Elements (Wu Zing), also known as Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets was used by the Chinese thousands of years ago.

Naturally the Japanese inherited these planet names and are using them today. Same writing, but different pronunciation, as it is with Japanese and Chinese a lot of times. The “Five Elements” are Wood (木), Fire (火), Earth (土), Metal (金), and Water (水). Note that 金 doesn’t only mean gold, but have the meaning metal too, and in this case metal. Since new explorations China has modernized their naming technique and follow the ancient roman Greek god naming standard. 星 means star, but also “Heavenly body”, and since saying star for these planets would be wrong, “Heavenly body” is used instead. Defining “a planet, star, or other celestial body”.

海王星 “かいおうせい” “Kaiousei” Neptune

neptune_www

  • 海 Sea
  • 王 King
  • 星 Heavenly body

If you break down this name you’ll get Sea King Planet. Neptune Greek god, god of the sea and earthquakes.

天王星 “てんのうせい” “Tennousei” Uranus

Uranus2_

  • 天 Heaven
  • 王 King
  • 星 Heavenly body

Another Greek God called Uranus. He was a primal God personifying the sky.

Neptune and Uranus were found much later compared to the other planets of the solar system. Astronomers decided to continue naming the planets after Roman gods. Ever since the new discoveries China followed the Roman naming tradition, which you can see the meaning of the formerly mentioned kanji.

木星 “もくせい” “Mokusei”  Jupiter

Jupiter_and_its_shrunken_Great_Red_Spot_w

  • 木 Wood
  • 星 Heavenly body

Other things 木 (wood) stands for are springtime, the east, the planet Jupiter, the color green, windy weather, and the Azure Dragon (Qing Long) in Four Symbols.

火星 “かせい” “Kasei” Mars

Mars_23_aug_2003_hubble_www

  • 火 Fire
  • 星 Heavenly body

One common misconception is that on the planet Mars it’s very hot, but it’s not true since it’s further away from the sun than earth even. It’s actually very cold on Mars, -55 C (-67 F) on average. Fire represents the color red, as Mars. Some of the other major things fire is associated with is Summer. The South, hot weather and daylight.

土星 “どせい” “Dosei” Saturn

Saturn_during_Equinox

  • 土 Earth
  • 星 Heavenly body

土 (earth) is associated with the color yellow and the planet Saturn.

金星 “きんせい” “Kinsei” Venus

Venus_globe_

  • 金 Metal
  • 星 Heavenly body

The planet Venus is associated with metal because it is white in color. Interesting fact: white is the Chinese color of death.

水星 ”すいせい” “Suisei” Mercury

Mercury_in_color_-_Prockter07-edit1_w

  • 水 Water
  • 星 Heavenly body

水 (water) is not only associated with Mercury, but also the moon. Other associations are winter, the north, the color blue/black, cold weather and night.

 

地球 “ちきゅう” “Chikyuu” Earth

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17_w

  • 地 Earth, Ground
  • 球 Sphere/Ball

The planet you and are present on right now. Also known as Terra in Latin. Since the word 地球 becomes earth with “earth” + “ball”, it is very straight forward and makes it fairly easy to remember if you got these two kanji down to memory. All you need to think of is earth ball.


As you can see from the old Chinese theology “Wu Xing”, “The Five Elements” (木, 火, 土, 金 and 水). While still being in the subject, we listed a few more useful astronomical words for your vocabulary.

  • 天文学 てんもんがく (tenmongaku) – Astronomy
  • 五行 ごぎょう (gogyou) – wu xing, the five elements of traditional Chinese philosophy: wood, fire, earth, gold and water.
  • 月 つき (tsuki) – Moon
  • 宇宙 うちゅう (uchuu) – Space
  • 星 ほし (hoshi) – Star
  • 惑星 わくせい (wakusei) – Planet
  • 太陽系 たいようけい (taiyoukei) – Solar System

 

Take the Japanese Planets Quiz

If you are ready for a quiz please feel free to challenge yourself below.

Question #1: What is Mars called?

Question #2: What is Jupiter called?

Question #3: How do you say earth?

Question #4: What is Saturn called?

Question #5: What is Neptune called?

Question #6: What is Uranus called?