Learn Japanese Onomatopoeia with Taro Gomi

August 4, 2011 Juju Kurihara Books, books, Culture, Vocabulary Tags: 0 Comments

This time we learn Japanese onomatopoeia with another Japanese poet, Taro Gomi (五味太郎).

The book is called Guu Guu Guu (ぐうぐうぐう), a story about a sleepy head whale.



ぐうぐうぐう     ぐうぐうぐう


よるがあけても    ぐうぐうぐう


ともだちきても    ぐうぐうぐう


ぼーっとなっても   ぐうぐうぐう


こわいのがきても   ぐうぐうぐう


やさしいのがきても  ぐうぐうぐう


こちょこちょされても ぐうぐうぐう





どぼんとおちても   ぐうぐうぐう


ぷるぷるぶくぶくでも ぐうぐうぐう


これでもやっぱり   ぐうぐうぐう


ぽつぽつきても    ぐうぐうぐう







やっと めが さめた


なんだか いろんな ゆめみたよ

GuuGuuGuu                GuuGuuGuu


Yoruga aketemo,       GuuGuuGuu


Tomodachi kitemo,  GuuGuuGuu


Boo tto nattemo,       GuuGuuGuu


Kowaino ga kitemo, GuuGuuGuu


Yasashiino ga kitemo,  


KochoKocho saretemo,


Bururururu tto tonde kitemo,



Dobon to ochitemo, GuuGuuGuu


PuruPuru BukuBuku demo,


Koredemo yappari,  GuuGuuGuu


PotsuPotsu kitemo,  GuuGuuGuu


Zazazazazazazaza tto kitemo,





Yatto me ga sameta


Nandaka ironna yome mitayo

GuuGuuGuu                  GuuGuuGuu


The night ended,         GuuGuuGuu


A friend came,              GuuGuuGuu


A whistle blew, booo, GuuGuuGuu


A scary thing came,    GuuGuuGuu


A gentle one came,      GuuGuuGuu


Being tickled ,               GuuGuuGuu


A plane flew over, Brrrrrrr,



A thing fell, Splash,  GuuGuuGuu


PuruPuru BukuBuku, GuuGuuGuu


After this and still,      GuuGuuGuu


Rain dropped,              GuuGuuGuu


Rain poured down,     GuuGuuGuu





Finally woke up


Phew I had many dreams


suuGuu Guu Guu is the same as ZZZ, a sleeping sound. There are many of those and this is one of them, rather deep sound from big animals, in this case a whale or big people. For example if it was a little kitten, the sound would be Suu Suu, a soft breathing sound. Guu Guu is also used for describing that person (or animal) is in a deep sleep, or sleeping well.


This whale is a real sleepy head, nothing wakes him up. Also this poem has a lot of onomatopoeias, very good.



The whale doesn´t wake up even being tickled. The sound of tickling someone is kocho kocho (こちょこちょ). We have a verb "tickle" in Japanese which is "kusuguru (くすぐる)" and usually we use them mixed like "kocho kocho kusuguru" (tickle kocho kocho). I may have explained in the last article about onomatopoeia but again, in Japanese you can use onomatopoeia as an adverb.

In extreme way is that some onomatopoeia you can use it as a verb putting "suru (する/ do)". Kocho Kocho suru, for instance.



Any big sound affects the whale. BruBruBruBruBru is the engine of the plane. By the way, if it was a bike, it´d be BrunBrunBrunBrun. Dbon!! Something dropped and made a big noise and yet, he didn´t wake up. Dobon is splash in Japanese but when something heavier drops in the water.

When a little thing splashes, it´s pochanpochan (ぽちゃん) or pichan (ぴちゃん).

For example,

A big bear fell into the water, dobon. – Ookii kuma ga mizu ni dobon to ochita.

A drop of water fell into the puddle, pochan. – Shizuku ga mizumatari ni pochan to ochita.



Potsu potsu and Zazazazaza are both the sound of the rain. Potsu Potsu is when the rain starts dropping and Zazazazaza is as you can imagine, when it rains heavily, just like one scene in Totoro.

The verb for rain is "furu (降る)" and you can use,

Ame ga zazazazaza furimasu. (The rain falls zazazazaza), or

Ame ga porsu potsu furimasu. (The rain falls potsu potsu.)


Still, the whale is sleeping. Oh, boy.

Then something hit him, Gottsun which wake him up finally.


Gottsun is the sound of hitting something hard, hard vs hard.

The baby hit his head gottsun. He seem to hit the head often as I can see.

If it hits lightly, the sound changes to kottsun or kotsun, like these baby chicks.



So now, the trick is the sound. Even it´s the same action, depends on the weight the sound changes heavier. Gu is stronger than su, po is weaker than za. Make sense?





Aaaah, reading this poem makes me sleepy, too. I´ll have a little nap then.

"Guu Guu Guu", Bunka Publishing,  ISBN : 4-579-40158-1





More about Japanese language


Onomatopoeia with Mado Michio

Sound of rain

Kazoe uta

Shiju Kata/Goju Kata



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