How to say picture in Japanese (with examples)

Picture in Japanese is "e" or "shasshin".

Got an artistic streak? Or maybe you just want to ask someone to take a photo for you? This post will give you all the info you need on how to say picture in Japanese, with definitions, translations, usage, example sentences, and more!

How to say picture in Japanese

E“, pronounced “eh”, means picture or painting in Japanese. This is written with the kanji character 絵 (hiragana: え).

Another possible choice is shashin, which means picture or photo. You would write this as 写真 (しゃしん).

Unless you are specifically talking about drawings or art, in our selfie-crazy times you are probably more likely to say shashin.

Watashi wa e ga umai desu.
I am good at drawing pictures.

Kono shashin wa suteki da ne!
This photo is nice, isn’t it?

How do you say “take a picture”?

Take a picture or take a photo is shashin wo toru (写真を撮る、しゃしんをとる) in Japanese. The verb toru means to take, so this phrase actually matches up with the English.

The wo particle is a grammar word that marks the object of the sentence (i.e. the thing you are doing something to – in this case the photo).

Boku wa shashin wo toru koto ga suki desu.
I like taking photos.

Could you take our photo?

Perhaps you’re out on a date with that special someone. Or maybe you’re just hanging out with friends.

If you’re anything like me, the chances are you will want to get your picture taken at some point. How do you say this in Japanese?

Shashin wo totte morattemo ii desu ka?
Could you take our photo?

Ii desu ka translates as is it okay? Totte morattemo literally means if you took this for me. So, you’re saying something like would it be okay if you took this photo for me?

You might want to thrown in a sumimasen (すみません), which means excuse me, before saying the above phrase. This makes it more polite, but it also gets the other person’s attention.

Sumimasen. Shashin wo totte morattemo ii desu ka?
Excuse me. Could you take our photo?

In Japan, I usually find that people are generally happy to be asked to take photos. If you’re in a nice spot, they might even ask you back!

Can I take a picture with you?

In some situations, you might want to take a picture with someone you just met or maybe with the J-pop star who happens to be at the same restaurant as you (hey, it could happen!).

Watashi to issho ni shashin wo tottemo ii desu ka?
Can I take a picture with you?

This phrase is the same as the one we used before, except that you say watashi to issho ni at the beginning, which means with me. Watashi stands for I or me while issho ni means together.

You probably noticed that this literally translates as would it be okay to take a photo with me? The reason is that Japanese people tend to avoid saying the word “you” because it can sometimes sound a bit rude. Referring to yourself is therefore a more common way to ask this (another option is to simply drop the watashi to part).