Colours are an important part of Japanese culture. Red ink for personal seals, many shades of black – from sumi (ink black) to makkuro (pitch black),  purple (murasaki) – for centuries reserved for Imperial Family and high-level officials – it was forbidden for ordinary people to wear purple! Importance of colours is reflected in the language itself – names for many shades, names of colours often having another meaning, different parts of speech (i-adjectives and na-adjectives) for different groups of colours. Not to mention a vast array of colours offered by Sailor in their Sailor Ink Studio line 😉

Below a short list of colours names used on this website, Instagram profile and YouTube channel.

BLACK

  • kuro / kuroi or burakku
    Other shades:
    • sumi-iro – ink black
    • mureba-iro – jet black
    • kuroguro – deep black
    • makkuro – pitch black
    • karasuba-iro – glossy black
    • yamishonin – darkness black
    • and moste extreme yakenohara no karasu – blacker than black, literally: a crow on burned field

WHITE

  • shiro / shiroi
    Other shades:
    • sayu – plain hot water
    • hakushi – blank/white paper
    • mashiro – pure white
    • zō-ge iro – ivory-white

RED

  • aka / akai or ni-iro
    Other shades:
  • anko!shoku) – dark red
    • senkō) / usuniku – light red
    • kōbai-iro – red plum coloured
    • sakura-iro – cherry blossom coloured
    • momo-iro – peach- coloured (in pink spectrum too)

YELLOW

  • ki-iro / shoku / kōshoku – yellow
    Other shades:
    • asagi / kuwa-iro – light yellow
    • ōen / kōen – chrome yellow
    • kigarachya – bluish yellow
    • kuchiba-iro – yellow-brown

BLUE-GREEN

  • ao / ao-iro – blue/green – this area of the spectrum is most confusing for English speakers. Blue, teal, green are in the spectrum of ao.
  • buryu – blue
    Other shades:
    • mizudori – light blue (shade of ao, literally – water color)
    • nōkon – dark blue
    • kon-iro – deep blue
    • konshō – navy blue
    • sora-iro – sky-blue

GREEN

  • midori – green
    Other shades:
  • hekishoku – green; emerald
  • kimidori / asamidori – light green
  • kuchi-iro / hisui-iro – dark green

BROWN

  • chairo / kasshoku – brown (literally : tea colour)
    Other shades:
  • kurocha-iro – deep brown
  • ankashoku dark brown
  • kitsune-iro – light brown (lit: fox brown)

PINK

  • momoiro  – pink (also “borrowed” – pinku)
    Other shades:
  • notō – deep pink
  • taikō – light pink

OTHER

  • orange – orenji-iro
  • grey  – haiiro 
  • purple – murasaki (also violet – in Japanese there is no distinction, as in many other languages)
  • dark purple – komurasaki
  • light purple – achimurasaki
  • gold – kin-iro
  • silver – gin-iro