The meaning of mirai (未来) in Japanese and how to use it

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

What does mirai mean?

The Japanese word mirai means the future. Mirai is written as 未来 in kanji characters and みらい in hiragana. The 未 kanji stands for not yet and 来 stands for to come, so this word literally means something which has yet to come (i.e. the future).

Mirai also serves as a fairly common first name in Japan, which can be given to either gender (but usually to girls).

It’s worth noting that mirai refers to the future in a general sense. Think spaceships, flying cars and all that jazz. You can’t use mirai to talk about your own future or plans for the future.

What’s the difference between mirai and shourai?

Mirai is the Japanese word for future in a general sense, but not in a personal one.

Shourai (将来、しょうらい) is another word that means future in Japanese. So how does it differ from mirai? Simply put, shourai is more personal and more specific.

Unlike mirai, you can use shourai to talk about your future career, your plans for a family, your dreams, and so on.

Like I said, mirai represents the future in a more general sense and often signifies the distant future. By contrast, shourai tends to refer to something a bit closer.

Accordingly, you cannot use mirai to say “I want to be a doctor in the future”. You need to use shourai instead.

Mirai wa isha ni naritai

Shourai wa isha ni naritai.

More examples using mirai

Below, we take a look at some more examples of how to use mirai 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.

Mirai no koto nante, dare mo shiranai.
Nobody knows the future.

Kore wa shigoto no mirai.
This is the future of work.

Mirai wo kangaeru koto wa sugoku omoshiroi.
It’s really interesting to think about the future.

Mirai wa hito ga kasei ni iku koto ni naru deshou.
In the future, people will probably go to Mars.

Mirai no robotto wa ima jya kangaerarenai koto wo dekite shimau kamoshirenai.
The robots of the future might be able to do things that are unthinkable to us now.