How do you say spicy in Japanese ? Spicy level expressions and how to say you love spicy foods!

Many people’s image of Japanese food is mild, miso- or dashi-based food, but Japan also has a large variety of spicy foods. For example, Japanese curry (カレー) or tantan men (担々(たんたん)(めん)) are very popular for spicy food lovers!

Have you ever wondered how to tell people what type of spicy food you like?

In this article we’ll tell you about how to say "spicy" and different levels of spiciness in Japanese!

I love spicy food! How can I say that?
We'll share how to say that you love spicy food, too!

How do you say spicy in Japanese ?

(から)い (karai) means spicy. You can use this for any kind of spicy food.

You might see this kanji, 辛 in supermarket. Yes, there is a Korean instant noodle, 辛 ramen using this kanji, too!

You use からい as an adjective. If you want to say "(something) is spicy," you can say "(something) wa karai."

If you want to say spicy curry, with the adjective before the noun, you can say 辛いカレー. In this case, just like in English you should say karai (adjective) before a food name (noun).

When you want to say "this curry is spicy" you can say as below.

Example sentence

Japanese) このカレーはからいね!

    /kono kare-e wa karai-ne!/

English) This curry is spicy!

Japanese) これはからいカレーだね!

    /kore-wa karai kare-e dane!/

English) This is spicy curry!

Spicy Level Expressions


辛口からくち (karakuchi) also means hot. This is used in reference to curry.

甘口(あまくち) (amakuchi) means sweet, but it's also used for curry, and is normally used in contrast to 辛口(からくち). For example, if you are eating curry, you’ll have the option of having sweet curry (甘口(あまくち)) or spicy curry (辛口(からくち)).

中辛(ちゅうから) (chuukara) means medium spicy. You can use this for any medium spicy food.

You can see those words on curry sauce mixes at the supermarket!


ピリ(から) (piri-kara) means slightly spicy. It’s for foods that have a small kick of spiciness in them.

(げき)(から) (geki-kara) means very hot. This is for hellfire spicy food, the kind you cry when eating. The kanji (げき) means “extreme.”

ピリ辛's piri is an Japanese onomatopoeia.

We express the stimulation on your tongue when you eat spicy food as ピリピリ (piri-piri) !

We wrote about Japanese onomatopoeia for food in another article, so please check it out if you have not read it yet!

Japanese onomatopoeia for food ! -Part 2-

How to say you like spicy foods

When you want to say you like spicy foods, there are some phrases you can use.

If you like all sorts of spicy foods, you can say you are karaimono-zuki ((から)いもの()き).

Example sentence

Japanese) からいものきだから、担々たんたんめんべようかな。

English) I love spicy foods, so I’ll have tantan-men.

If you love really spicy food, you can say you are gekikara-zuki((げき)(から)()き).  

Example sentence

Japanese) げきからきには、このからさのカレーはものりないね。

English) This curry isn't spicy enough for big spicy food lovers.

Enjoy spicy food in Japan!

Thanks for reading!

Japan didn't have much spicy food in the old era because they didn't have chili peppers. It is said that , after the age of discovery, some foreigners brought in chili peppers to Japan.

Nowadays Japanese food is influenced by Chinese cuisine , Korean cuisine and Indian cuisine. You can have all sorts of spicy food in Japan!

Whether you like spicy foods or mild foods, you can use these words to express your preferences😊

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