How to say meat in Japanese

Niku (or more politely oniku) is the Japanese word for meat

This article will give you all the information you need on how to say meat in Japanese, with example sentences, related words, and more!

Meat in Japanese

The Japanese word for meat is niku, written as 肉 in kanji. To make this more polite, you can add an “o” to the front of the word, which becomes oniku (お肉). The meaning is the same, but oniku tends to be used more often in Japanese conversations.

Is this meat?

Perhaps you’re in a restaurant and you just received a dish from the waiter, but you’re not sure what’s in it. Here’s how to ask if it is meat or not.

Kore wa oniku desu ka?
Is this meat?

Alternatively, you might want to ask if there is meat in your dish.

Kono ryouri wa oniku ga haitteimasu ka?
Does this dish have meat in it?

Japanese is a contextual language, so feel free to omit “this dish”. The meaning will be understood if you are pointing at the food in question!

Oniku ga haitteimasu ka?
Does this dish have meat in it?

Different meats in Japanese

The Japanese word for chicken is toriniku, literally chicken meat. This is written as such in kanji – 鶏肉.

Most meats follow this pattern too, so you simply say the name of the animal plus niku.

Chicken: Toriniku (鶏肉)
Pork: Butaniku (豚肉)
Beef: Gyuuniku (牛肉)
Lamb: Hitsujiniku (羊肉)
Venison: Shikaniku (鹿肉)

Being derivatives by nature, processed meats like bacon don’t follow the above rule. That being said, many are based on English words which makes them easy to remember.

Bacon: Beekon (pronounced bay-con; ベーコン)
Sausage: Sooseeji (ソーセージ)
Ham: Hamu (ハム)

Meaty example sentences

Below, we take a look at some examples of how to use some of these words for meat in Japanese.

To make it easier for you, I have written each sentence in full Japanese kanji on the first line, followed by roman letters (romaji), and hiragana, with the English meaning coming last. I have also highlighted the new word in bold.

Watashi wa oniku ga suki desu.
I like meat.

Kouhai wa oniku wo tabenain datte!
My younger coworker apparently doesn’t eat meat!

Niku dake taberu daietto wo hajime mashita.
I started eating a meat-only diet.

Kono hamu wa takai desu.
This ham is expensive.

Toriniku yori wa gyuuniku no hou ga umai.
Beef tastes better than chicken (casual).