A lot of Japanese learners immediately want to learn the common Japanese phrases but not necessarily how to read and write it.

This poses possible problems for those who want to take official language tests and read documents written in Japanese. In this blog, we will learn kanjis used for family related uses, which are important for those who want to be able to write in future kanji, especially for those who want to write details about themselves and their future relationships. As you know, respect is very important when speaking in Japanese, so don’t be surprised if you see a few different terms / kanji depending on who you are talking to!

Top 10 must know kanji related to family
家族 (kazoku) – Family
This kanji is very straight forward and combines the kanji for “house” (ie house) with the kanji for “group / tribe” (tribe: zoku). Based on this, the combined kanji literally translated as “friends who live in the same house with”, is technically meaningful!

父 (chichi) – Dad
The kanji for the father is quite easy to remember as it looks like two swords that look like they are shielding something – easy to remember since the father has a protective role in the family! Below are the exact terms and usage of kanji / words depending on the context.

Father of another person お 父 さ ん (otousan)
Normal with family and friends お 父 さ ん (otousan)
My father 父 (chichi)
Other family members お 父 さ ん ・ パ パ (otousan / papa)
ス ク ロ ー ル で き ま す
母 (haha) – Mother
The kanji for the mother looks like something like a structure that holds and somehow protects something within it. It partly reflects how mothers conceive and nurture their babies in the womb and are also quite easy to write and remember. Below are the terms and exact usage of kanji depending on the context.

Another person’s mother お 母 さ ん (okaasan)
Normally with family and friends お 母 さ ん (okaasan)
A common way to call your mother 母 (haha)
Other family members お 母 さ ん ・ マ マ (okaasan / mama)
ス ク ロ ー ル で き ま す
両 親 (ryoushin) – Parents
The first kanji is “both” (both: ryou) and the second kanji is “oya” (parent: parent) and literally translates as “both parent”. Remember to write the correct abbreviations when speaking to sound more polite!

祖父 (sofu) – Grandpa
The first character is the kanji for “ancestor / founder” (grandfather: ojiisan) and the second is the kanji for “cha” (cha: chichi). I know what you’re thinking… No, that doesn’t mean “the founding father” because it’s a completely different thing! The last characters that bring you the kanji for grandfather. Here are the exact terms and usage of kanji.

someone else’s grandfather お じ い さ ん (ojiisan)
my grandfather お じ い さ ん / ち ゃ ん (ojiisan / chan)
Formal orders in the family 祖父 (sofu)
Other family members お じ い さ ん / ち ゃ ん (ojiisan / chan)
ス ク ロ ー ル で き ま す
祖母 (sobo) – Grandma
Similar to the first character in him, the kanji for her uses his kanji for “ancestor / founder” (Bàobaasan:) and then uses the kanji for “mother” (mother: haha). Here are the exact terms and usage of kanji ..

Another person’s grandmother お ば あ さ ん (obaasan)
My grandmother お ば あ さ ん / ち ゃ ん (obaasan / chan)
Formal calling in the family 祖母 (sobo)
Other family members お ば あ さ ん / ち ゃ ん (obaasan / chan)
ス ク ロ ー ル で き ま す
兄弟 (kyoudai) – Older brother
This kanji is a combination of the characters “big brother” (brother: ani) and “sister” (sister: ane), giving us the word “siblings”. The person you’re talking about doesn’t have to be your sister or brother as it applies to either your sister or brother!

主人 ・ 夫 (shujin / otto) – Husband
As we all know, Japan is a very patriarchal country so it is not surprising that the kanji in the word “shujin (husband)” of the character for “main / Lord / Chief / head” (main: omo) ) and “people” (person: hito). For the term “otto” (husband), the kanji looks like a man standing with pride – easy to recognize and write! Here are the exact terms and usage of kanji.

other’s husband ご 主人 (goshujin)
my husband 旦 那 (danna)
Common ways to call 主人 ・ 夫 (shujin / otto)
Other family members お 父 さ ん (otousan)
ス ク ロ ー ル で き ま す
妻 ・ 家 内 (tsuma / kanai) – wife
For the first word, “tsuma”, which looks like someone holding a child in their arms while sitting down, a kanji suitable for the traditional role of a Japanese wife (though, you don’t have to Take care of a child to be a wife – just wanted to make it clear!). For the second word, it includes the character for “home” (ie.) And the character for “inside / inside / house” (inside: uchi). Here are the exact terms and ways use kanji.

other’s wife 奥 さ ん (okusan)
normal way to call family and friends 奥 さ ん (okusan)
my wife 妻 ・ 家 内 (tsuma / kanai)
Other family members お 母 さ ん (okaasan)
ス ク ロ ー ル で き ま す

義理 の ~ (giri no-) – in-law
If you are a fan of the Japanese mass media, you have certainly heard of “bridegroom chocolates”, which are chocolates given by women to men they don’t. has a romantic feel for the politeness / portal on Valentine’s Day and is technically translated as “duty / / burden”. It has a kanji that is similar to this “giri” and is used to express that a person is not related to you but is related to you through marriage. Here is an example.

義理 の 父 (giri no chichi) – Father-in-law or father-in-law
義理 の 母 (giri no haha) – Mother-in-law or mother-in-law
Even though we have discussed the top 10, there are still many other kanji related to families. We really doubt that we can fit all of them in one blog but hopefully these kanji can be useful to you in the future! Don’t forget that perfection takes time! ?

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