The meaning of tanoshii (楽しい) and how to use it

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

What does tanoshii mean?

Tanoshii (楽しい、たのしい) means fun or enjoyable in Japanese. Oh wow, what an important word! You simply must know this one if you want to have conversations with your friends in Japanese!

First, let’s look at some examples of how to use it below.

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.

Example sentences using tanoshii

Tanoshii is a really common word in Japanese that means fun or enjoyable.

Tenisu wa tanoshii supootsu desu.
Tennis is a fun sport.

Kanojo to no deito wa itsumo tanoshii.
Dates with my girlfriend are always enjoyable.

Kyou wa hontou ni tanoshii ichinichi datta ne!
Today really was a fun day, wasn’t it?

Tanoshii shigoto wo mitsukeru houhou
How to find an enjoyable job

Tanoshikatta: Going back in time

The past tense of tanoshii is tanoshikatta (楽しかった、たのしかった). Accordingly. I had fun or I enjoyed myself is simply tanoshikatta (the “I” is understood without the need to spell it out).

Again, I can’t overly stress how often you will use this if you are even a little bit sociable.

Kinou wa domo arigatou. Tanoshikatta!
Thanks very much for yesterday. I had fun!

この間、楽しかったね! また飲みに行こう!
Kono aida, tanoshikatta ne! Mata nomi ni ikou!
このあいだ、たのしかったね! またのみにいこう!
I had fun last time we went out. Let’s go drinking again!

Hajimete yakyuu wo kansen suru koto ga dekita no de totemo tanoshikatta desu.
I saw a baseball game for the first time. It was very enjoyable.

Tanoshikunai: When you’re not having fun

Tanoshikunai (楽しくない、たのしくない) means not fun or boring. As you probably guessed, grammatically speaking, tanoshikunai is the negative form of tanoshii.

Kono shiai wa tanoshikunai.
This match is boring.

Saikin, suki na geimu wo shitemo tanoshikunai.
Recently it’s not fun even when I play my favorite games.

Kaisha no nomikai wa ki wo tsukau kara amari tanoshikunai.
Company drinking parties are not that fun because you can’t be yourself.

How to use tanoshii and tanoshikunai

One thing you will learn when spending any decent amount of time in Japan is that most people emphasize the positive and play down any negatives. At least when around other people they don’t know that well.

This means you will hear tanoshii a lot more often than its negative counterpart. Not that it’s untrue, but this is how the culture often works here in Japan. Conversely, even when an event or outing isn’t that great most Japanese will just smile and say “tanoshikatta ne” while keeping their real opinion to themselves.

The same goes for food, which is always oishii (美味しい、おいしい) almost no matter what. Anything but oishii makes people think you aren’t happy with the food!

You are free, of course, to say whatever you like. But dwelling on the negatives simply isn’t common unless you’re with close friends or family. Just something to bear in mind!