The meaning of omoide (思い出/想い出) in Japanese and how to use it

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

What does omoide mean?

Omoide (思い出/想い出、おもいで) means a memory or recollection in Japanese. Japanese people use this word when recalling past experiences, often with some sense of nostalgia.

Below, we will take a look at how to use and write omoide.

In Japanese, omoide means a memory or recollection.

Omoide = Memory

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.

Isshoni takusan no ii omoide wo tsukutte ikou!
Let’s make lots of good memories together!

Arigatou. Totemo tanoshii omoide ni natta.
Thanks. This will be a really fun memory.

Nominagara, ojisantachi ga gakkou jidai no omoide de moriagatteta.
The older gents drank merrily as they reminisced about their school days.

Kono ryokou wa boku ni totte isshou no omoide desu.
This trip will be a lifelong memory for me.

Watashi ni totte, okaasan no omoide wa kichou na mono.
My memories of my mother are precious to me.

Which kanji should you use for omoide?

As it turns out, you can write omoide in two different ways: either as 思い出 or 想い出. I honestly had to look up the difference myself, as I have almost always used (and seen) the former!

The former, 思い出, is the most common way to write omoide, and I would suggest you stick to using this one. Indeed, 思 is a joyou (standard) kanji whereas 想 is not. The implication of this is that 想 isn’t often used in official materials.

When does 想い出 actually make an appearance then? You will tend to see it in literature or song lyrics. This is because it expresses a stronger emotion than 思い出. It can also stand for something of greater importance.

Tomodachi to gakusei jidai no omoide wo hanasu to egao ni naru.
Talking with friends about our memories of school makes me smile.

Natsukashii omoide no shashin.
A photo evoking nostalgic memories

I hope this clears up the (admittedly subtle) difference between the two ways of writing omoide. This is another area where native speakers are not always sure about, so don’t worry too much about remembering the distinction. Just knowing that it exists should suffice for your journey on the road to Japanese fluency!

Kioku: A different kind of memory

Kioku (記憶) also means memory, but in the sense of remembering facts, events, or experiences. Unlike omoide, kioku does not have any emotional significance.

Kare wa kioku ga warui.
He has a bad memory.

Sonna koto wa toku ni kioku ni nai.
そんなことは とくにきおくにない。
I don’t have any particular memory of anything like that.