The meaning of kanashimi (悲しみ) in Japanese and how to use it

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on the Japanese word kanashimi, including its Japanese definition and translation, example sentences, and more!

What does kanashimi mean?

Kanashimi (悲しみ、かなしみ) means sadness or sorrow in Japanese. It can also be used to express a feeling of grief. Kanashimi comes from the adjective kanashii (悲しい、かなしい), which means sad. Kanashii tends to be more conversational than kanashimi.

Kanashimi is an emotional and somewhat literary word (i.e. you will read it more often than you say it or hear it), so you will come across it in musical lyrics, poetry, and literature. Indeed, it make an appearance in Gackt’s Last Song, a melancholic hit that is still going strong in Japan’s karaoke booths!

降り続く悲しみは 真っ白な雪に変わる
Furitsuzuku kanashimi wa masshiro na yuki ni kawaru
Zutto sora wo miageteta
The continually raining sadness changes to pure white snow
I always looked up at the sky

GACKT: Last Song
(Source: Lyrics Translate)

Without further ado, let’s take a look below at how kanashimi is actually used.

Kanashimi = Sadness

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

Kanojo no kanashimi ga yoku wakarimasu.
I understand her sadness well.

Kare no kanashimi ni kizukanakatta.
I didn’t pick up on his sadness.

Kanashimi no amari naita.
I was so sad that I cried (Lit: I cried out of so much sadness)

Nantoka, kono kanashimi wo norikoetai desu.
I want to get over this sadness somehow.

Kanashimi wa kanjiru kedo, sukoshi mo koukai shiteinai.
I do feel some sadness, but I have no regrets at all.

Kanashimi wa shiawase no hantai de aru to kangaegachi da ga, kanarazushimo sou de wa nai.
People tend to think that sadness is the opposite of happiness, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Kanashimi: Also means grief

As mentioned above, you can also use kanashimi when expressing a feeling of grief. Admittedly, the difference between sadness and grief is pretty subtle in English, but it’s useful to note that kanashimi can stand for both of these words.

Kanashimi wa, kojinteki na soushitsu no keiken da.
Grief is a personal experience of loss.

Chichioya wa nakunatta toki, mainichi kanashimi de ippai datta.
When my father died, I was full of grief every day.

Hi ga tatsu ni tsurete, kanashimi wa usureru.
Grief fades as the days pass by.