What Is The Japanese Kanji For Wife? | How To Say Wife in Japanese? 

Japanese kanji for wife is 妻. We break down the components of 妻 and learn how to say wife in Japanese. Read on to learn more!

The Japanese writing system is a tapestry woven with intricate characters, known as kanji, each holding deep cultural and linguistic significance. 

One such character that embodies the essence of relationships, family, and partnership is the kanji for “wife.” 

Delving into the strokes and history of this character unveils a rich narrative of Japanese culture and language.

What Is The Japanese Kanji For Wife?

In Japanese, the kanji character for “wife” is written as 妻, pronounced as “tsuma.” This single character encapsulates the notion of a life partner, someone with whom a deep emotional and familial bond is shared. 

To the observer, 妻 consists of two distinct parts: the radical 女 (onna) on the left, which means “woman,” and the radical 示 (ji) on the right, which signifies “altar” or “offering.” 

This composition creates a character that symbolizes the woman’s role within the family unit as the spiritual and emotional center, contributing to the overall well-being and harmony of the household.

Cultural Significance Of 妻

Understanding the kanji for “wife” extends beyond linguistic analysis; it offers a window into Japanese culture, values, and traditional gender roles. 

Historically, the concept of “tsuma” was deeply intertwined with ideas of duty, respect, and loyalty. 

In traditional Japanese society, a wife was expected to be a supportive partner and a diligent homemaker, nurturing not only her immediate family but also fostering a sense of interconnectedness within the extended family.

The radical 示 (ji) in the character 妻 (tsuma) holds additional symbolism. In traditional Shinto practices, the “offering” radical references a sacred space, an altar where offerings are made to invoke blessings from the divine. 

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In this context, the wife was seen as the heart of the home, maintaining a harmonious environment akin to a sacred space.

How To Say Wife In Japanese?

In the vibrant tapestry of the Japanese language, the word “wife” finds its own unique expression that reflects both linguistic nuances and cultural values. To say “wife” in Japanese, one would use the term “妻” (tsuma). 

This single word holds within it a rich linguistic history and cultural connotation that speaks volumes about the role of a wife in Japanese society.

  • The Word: 妻 (Tsuma)

The Japanese term for “wife” is written with the kanji character 妻. As mentioned earlier, this character consists of two radicals: 女 (onna), meaning “woman,” and 示 (ji), often translated as “altar” or “offering.” 

When spoken, the term “tsuma” encapsulates both the visual beauty of the kanji and its profound symbolism, making it a harmonious blend of language and culture.

  • Cultural Implications: A Linguistic Portrait

The word “tsuma” transcends its linguistic definition and opens a window into the cultural landscape of Japan:

  • Respect and Tradition: The term “tsuma” carries an inherent respect for the role of a wife in the family structure. It reflects traditional values of loyalty, duty, and honor associated with a wife’s contributions to her household.
  • Harmony and Unity: Just as the kanji 妻 combines the woman radical and the offering radical, “tsuma” reflects the harmonious unity a wife brings to her family. She is seen as a pillar of emotional support and the driving force behind maintaining family equilibrium.
  • Continuity and Connection: Through the word “tsuma,” a wife’s significance extends beyond her immediate family to include her role in fostering connections within the extended family. She is often the glue that binds generations together, emphasizing continuity and shared experiences.

Navigating Modern Interpretations

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While the word “tsuma” retains its traditional weight, it has also adapted to encompass evolving gender dynamics and family structures in modern Japan. 

As the society shifts towards greater gender equality and diversified roles, “tsuma” continues to evoke a sense of partnership and companionship within relationships.

Breaking Down the Kanji for “Wife” 妻

The Japanese writing system is a treasure trove of characters, each a work of art that tells a story through its strokes and components.

When we break down the kanji character 妻, meaning “wife,” we unlock a visual narrative that unveils its symbolic depth and linguistic structure.

Visual Composition: The Artistry of Strokes

The kanji 妻 is a calligraphic masterpiece that weaves together two radicals, or building blocks, each contributing to its overall meaning. Let’s dissect its components:

  • The Radical 女 (onna): This radical, found on the left side of 妻, represents “woman.” Its graceful strokes encapsulate the feminine essence and stand as a testament to the importance of women in Japanese culture. The flowing lines of this radical evoke the image of a person, embracing the human connection that the character 妻 signifies.
  • The Radical 示 (ji): Positioned on the right side of 妻, this radical is often translated as “altar” or “offering.” Its structure reflects an altar with a central vertical line and two horizontal lines on top, symbolizing the act of making offerings to the divine. This component adds a layer of depth, suggesting that a wife holds a spiritual role within the household, maintaining harmony and providing a sense of sanctuary.

Symbolic Significance: Deeper Meanings

The combination of these two radicals within 妻 crafts a potent symbol for “wife” that extends beyond the mere literal translation. The kanji encapsulates profound layers of meaning:

  • Unity of Roles: The union of 女 and 示 in 妻 signifies the unity of roles that a wife traditionally embodies. She is both the nurturing presence of a woman and the spiritual anchor of the family. This dual symbolism highlights the multifaceted nature of a wife’s contributions to her home.
  • Sacrifice and Harmony: The radical 示, often associated with offerings to the divine, suggests a wife’s sacrificial efforts to maintain harmony within the family unit. Just as offerings are made to appease and seek blessings, a wife’s actions are akin to offerings that sustain familial balance and tranquility.
  • Cultural Heritage: The kanji 妻 reflects the historical cultural values of Japan, where women played pivotal roles in maintaining family cohesion and tradition. The character serves as a reminder of the importance of honor, loyalty, and duty that were associated with the role of a wife in traditional society.


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The Japanese kanji 妻 for “wife” is more than just a combination of strokes; it is a linguistic and cultural embodiment of the role and significance of women within the familial and societal framework.

It carries with it a history of tradition, respect, and interconnectedness, while also being flexible enough to adapt to the evolving landscape of modern Japan.

As with all kanji characters, 妻 invites us to explore the interplay between language and culture, allowing us to uncover layers of meaning that shape our understanding of the world around us.

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