Crunch crunch, munch munch. There are many sounds you make when you eat or drink. Words that express sound are called onomatopoeia, and they don't just exist in English! It is said that Japanese actually has 4500 onomatopoeia!
But here's the interesting part: they're not just for sounds! Japanese also has onomatopoeia to express motions, looks, condition, or how you feel. In regards to food, these can be jiggling or melty things.
The second type of onomatopoeia are called mimetic words, or ideophones. They represent something that has no sound. For the rest of this article, we will refer to all these types of words under the umbrella of onomatopoeia.
In this article, we will learn Japanese onomatopoeia you can use when you eat!
Onomatopoeia for food
サクサク (saku-saku) / crispy, crunchy
サクサク (saku-saku) means crunchy or crispy. This is used especially for food with a crispy coating. Rather than something really crunchy or crispy, this is for something slightly crispy. You can also use it for a flaky pastry!
These fish and chips are crispy and good!
Cookie, fish and chips, tempura (天ぷら), fried shrimp (エビフライ/ebi-furai), fried pork (とんかつ/ton-katsu).
カリカリ (kari-kari) / crispy, crunchy
カリカリ (kari-kari) means crunchy. It is different than サクサク (Sakusaku), the other crispy sound. It expresses a cracking sound on a hard surface. You can use it for potato chips or senbei!
This fried chicken would be good if it was more crispy.
Deep-fried chicken, crispy bacon, fried dumpling, crispy fried potato, and deep-fried cheese.
シャキシャキ (shaki-shaki) / crunchy for vegetables
シャキシャキ (shaki-shaki) means crunchy when used for vegetables! It sounds fresh and crunchy for Japanese people.
This vegetable is crunchy and fresh!
ホクホク (hoku-hoku) / soft and crumbly
ホクホク (hoku-hoku) means soft and crumbly. You can use ホクホク (hoku-hoku ) when you eat baked potatoes. ホクホク (hoku-hoku) expresses not only the softness but also the warmth of the potato.
This sweet potato is soft and good!
Baked or steamed potato, sweet potato, and pumpkin!
とろ～り (toro-o-ri) / creamy and melty
とろ～り (toroori) is an onomatopoeia for a long stretching, sticky, and melty thing. Imagine melted cheese as you pull a slice of hot pizza from the pie! You can also use とろーり for creamy custard!
I love this melted cheese!
Melted cheese, creamy custard, and creamy sauce or soup.
もちもち (mochi-mochi) / soft and sticky
もちもち (mochimochi) means chewy or doughy. You can use this for Turkish delight, donuts, and of course food with mochi in it!
This donut is chewy and good!
Soft rice, chewy pasta and other noodles, donut and mochi foods!
ふわふわ (fuwa-fuwa) / fluffy
ふわふわ (fuwafuwa) means fluffy and soft. You can use this for fluffy pancakes or marshmallows.
I want a fluffy pancake...
Fluffy pancake, sponge cake, chiffon cake, and whip cream.
ぷるぷる (puru-puru) / jiggle jiggle
ぷるぷる (purupuru) means jiggly. You can use this for flan or pudding! Do you know the Pokémon jigglypuff? It’s called プリン (purin) in Japanese!
It is said that the Japanese name is originated from the word “pretty” but Japanese people imagine ぷるぷる from プリン!
A pudding is jiggling!
All jiggly food!
Onomatopoeia for when you eat
Next we'll share about how to say munch munch and gobble gobble in Japanese.
Here are some ways to say munch munch in Japanese.
パクパク and モグモグ
パクパク (pakupaku) means eating lightly. You can use this word for eating lightly and focusing on just eating.
モグモグ (mogumogu) means munch munch. You can use this word when eating and chewing something without opening your mouth.
ガツガツ and ペロペロ
ガツガツ(gatsugatsu) means gobble gobble. It expresses that you are so into the food, you eat it fast and can’t stop eating!
Gobble curry rice.
ペロペロ(pero pero) means lick lick. You can use ペロペロ for when you lick candy or ice cream!
Lick a candy.
Express your feelings for food in Japanese!
Using onomatopoeia is a good way to express your feelings when you eat. But you can also see how Japanese onomatopoeia is complicated, since Japanese has many types of crunchy and crispy words.
The Japanese onomatopoeia world is really big, but don't worry. It is actually really fun to learn onomatopoeia because it connects Japanese culture and peoples' feelings!
Let's express your feelings when you eat your favorite food in Japanese.✨
I love melted cheese so much!
Good! Crispy cheese is the best too!