How to say “dark” and “bright” in Japanese and the surrounding knowledge

You can translate “dark” into “kurai”/「暗い」and “bright” into “akarui”/「明るい」. There are other expressions and on the contrary “kurai”/「暗い」and “akarui”/「明るい」has other meanings in English. I will introduce them.

1. Dark

(1) kurai/暗い

As I already wrote you can translate “dark” into “kurai”/「暗い」in many situations to express the brightness is low and someone is introverted, so there wouldn’t be a big problem if you know “dark” is “kurai”/「暗い」in Japanese. On the contrary “kurai”/「暗い」in Japanese has other meanings in English as follows. It’s better that you know them.

(A) introverted, shy or not very social

“kurai”/「暗い」means not only “introverted” but also “shy” or “not very social” in some situations. I will introduce the examples.

Ex) At a party

A:She looked very bored at the party./彼女はパーティーでとても退屈そうだったね。

B:Definitely, she is not very social./確かに、彼女は暗いからね。


A:My sister doesn’t like to talk with people very much./私の妹はあまり人と話すのが好きではありません。

B:I see. She must be shy./なるほど。彼女はきっと暗いんですね。

(B) gloomy or depressed

“kurai”/「暗い」also means “gloomy” or “depressed” in some situations as follows. I will introduce the example.


A:It will be rainy tomorrow, too…/明日も雨だね。

B:Yeah, I feel gloomy./うん、気持ちが暗くなるね。

(C) bad

Japanese people say “kurai”/「暗い」as the meaning of “bad” sometimes in some situations. I will introduce the example.


A:We have heard bad news lately./最近、暗いニュースばかりだね。

B:You are right./そうだね。

(2) kuroppoi/黒っぽい

You can translate “dark” into “kuroppoi”/「黒っぽい」mainly when you express color. I will introduce the example.


A:I have dyed my hair dark brown./髪を黒っぽい茶色に染めてみたよ。

B:It looks good on you./似合ってるね。

(3) yami/闇

You can translate “dark” into “yami”/「闇」to express the brightness is low. I will introduce the example as follows.


A:I’m afraid of the dark./私は闇が恐いです。

B:Me, too./私もです。

On the contrary “yami”/「闇」also means “illegal” in some situations. It’s better if you also know the meaning.

(A) illegal

Normally you translate “illegal” into “ihono”/「違法の」in Japanese. For example, you can say that as follows.


He admitted to gambling at an illegal casino./彼は闇カジノで賭博(とばく)したことを認めた。

2. Bright

(1) akarui/明るい

Commonly you can translate “bright” into “akarui”/「明るい」or “mabusii”/「眩しい」and so on to mean the brightness is high or the future is expecting. On the contrary “akarui”/「明るい」has other meanings in English. It’s better that you know them, so I will introduce them.

(A) cheerful

“akarui”/「明るい」has the meaning of “cheerful” although you can use “bright” also as to the personality. I will introduce the example.


She is a very cheerful person./彼女はとても明るい人です。

(B) familiar with or be well informed about

“akarui”/「明るい」means you know something very well. This is a little formal expression. I will introduce the example.


A:I don’t know about the environmental problem very well./私は環境問題にあまり明るくありません。

B:I see./なるほど。

(2) kashikoi/賢い or atamagaii/頭がいい

You can use “bright” as the similar meaning to “smart” or “clever”. So you can translate it into “kashikoi”/「賢い」or “atamagaii”/「頭がいい」in Japanese.


A:Your child is so bright./あなたのお子さんはとても頭がいいですね。

B:Thank you !/ありがとうございます。

3. Summary

You can translate “dark” into “kurai”/「暗い」, “kuroppoi”/「黒っぽい」or “yami”/「闇」. On the contrary “kurai”/「暗い」also has the meaning of “introverted”, “shy”, “not very social”, “gloomy”, “depressed” or “bad” in some situations. “yami”/「闇」also has the meaning of “illegal”.

You can translate “bright” into “akarui”/「明るい」, “kashikoi”/「賢い」or “atamagaii”/「頭がいい」. “bright”/「明るい」also has the meaning of “cheerful”, “familiar with” or “be well informed about”.


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