The meaning of shiki (四季, 式) in Japanese and how to use it

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

What does shiki mean?

The Japanese word shiki (しき) has many meanings. One such meaning is an official ceremony or event (written as 式). Another is the four seasons (written as 四季, which are literally the kanji for four and season).

Below, we take a look at some examples of how to use shiki in Japanese.

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.

Shiki meaning 1: Ceremony

Shiki can mean four seasons or ceremony in Japanese, but it also has lots of other meanings

The first meaning of shiki is a ceremony or event. The word can either be standalone or (more often) used within words such as kekkonshiki (新婚式, wedding ceremony) or sotsugyoushiki (卒業式, graduation ceremony).

Shiki wa doyoubi ni okonawareru yotei desu.
The ceremony will take place on Saturday.

Kekkonshiki wa totemo tanoshikatta desu.
I really enjoyed the wedding.

Soushiki de wa jibun no kanashimi wo kakusu koto wa dekinakatta.
I could not hide my grief at the funeral.

Igai to sotsugyoushiki de nakanakatta.
Surprisingly, I did not cry at the graduation ceremony.

Shiki meaning 2: Four seasons

Shiki can mean four seasons or ceremony in Japanese, but it also has lots of other meanings

Shiki can also mean the four seasons of spring (haru, 春), summer (natsu, 夏), autumn (aki, 秋), and winter (fuyu, 冬).

It is a fairly common Japanese belief that Japan is the only place in the world to have four seasons. I don’t know where this idea comes from, but people are often surprised to hear that England has four seasons too (albeit with all of them resembling a Japanese winter 😉 )

Nihon ni wa shiki ga aru.
Japan has four seasons.

Tounan ajia ni wa shiki ga nai.
Southeast Asia does not have four seasons.

Nihon igai ni shiki no aru kuni ga arun desu ka?
Do any other countries except Japan have four seasons?

Shiki no naka de ichiban suki na kisetsu wa docchi?
Of the four seasons, which (season) do you like the most?
Note: Kisetsu means season in a more general sense.

Keshiki wa shiki wo tooshite utsukushii desu.
The scenery is beautiful throughout the year (lit: throughout the four seasons)

Wrapping up the shiki

As discussed here, Japanese is a sound-poor language so the two meanings I discussed today are just the most common ones of many possibilities for shiki. Check out this Wiktionary page for more examples.