How to say father in Japanese: Chichi vs Otousan

say father in japanese

You may know how to say mother in Japanese

But, how do you say father in Japanese?

Or know the difference between chichi vs otousan? You will.

This teaches you 13+ ways to say father in Japanese… plus phrases you can tell your dad.

Keep reading.

How to Say Father in Japanese

So, first let’s look at the most common ways – chichi vs otousan.

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1. 父 (Chichi)

The most basic way to say “father” in Japanese is chichi.

However, this only applies when you are talking about your own father to someone else. The reason for this is because the word chichi contains no honorifics. In Japanese, you should not use polite language when discussing your family with others. However, if you’re talking directly to your “father,” you shouldn’t use this word!

2. お父さん (Otousan)

If you want to convey a polite tone to your father, you could use this word! It contains a polite honorific at the end, which makes it sound like you respect your father. You shouldn’t use this word when talking about your father to others. If you’re discussing someone else’s father with whom you are close, you could also use this word.

3. おやじ (Oyaji)

Some men call their fathers oyaji, which has an informal and masculine connotation. It’s also part of the phrase oyaji gyagu, which means “dad joke” in Japanese.

4. パパ (Papa)

This is a modern word that you can use to call your father. As you can see, it is like the English word “Papa.” Many families nowadays use this word for the word “father” as it is also easier for kids to say when they are younger. You shouldn’t use this when talking about your father to others, especially in polite contexts.

5. 父上 (Chichiue)

You may have heard this word in historical dramas, as it is a very old way to say “father.” The kanji characters represent the words “father” and “up”. It is showing your utmost respect towards your own father. In today’s society, you will rarely hear someone calling their father chichiue. 

6. 父親 (Chichioya)

Rather than a specific person, this word represents the term “father” as a concept. For example, if you wanted to say, “I will become a father,” you would say chichioya ni narimasu

7. 父上様 (Chiuesama)

This is even more formal than chichiue, which you’ll hear often in historical dramas. An additional honorific sama shows even more profound respect toward your father. In these situations, the father is likely an important figure in society, so all of the children must call him with the most respectful words.

8. おとう様 (Otoosama)

This is a polite way to say “father,” which you’ll often hear when other people mention your father. You should be as polite as possible when talking about other people’s fathers since you likely don’t know them very well. This is the best way to talk about someone else’s father.

9. パパさん (Papasan)

A fun way to talk about your friend’s father would be to call them papa san. It adds an honorific form to the term papa, giving it a respectful but playful connotation. You likely wouldn’t use this word for your father.

10. おとん (Oton) 

People in the Kansai region might use the word oton instead of otoosan. In the Kansai dialect, many words are dropped to be shortened, and this is a great example.

11. おとう (Otoo)

This word for “father” is a shortened version of otoosan so that it is more casual and laid back. You would call your own father this, and it would be odd to talk about other people’s fathers using this word. Hearing this word in regional dialects outside of the Kanto or Tokyo area might be more likely.

12. 父さん (Tousan) 

This is another way to call your own father. It drops the “O” inside of otoosan to make it a bit more casual. You should use this only to talk directly to your own father.

13. 義理の父 (Giri no chichi)

If you have a father-in-law, you can describe them using this phrase: giri no chichi. If you’re actually calling them, you would likely use a polite word for “father” as they are not directly your own father.

Phrases for Your Father

Now, if you want to say nice things to your dad in Japanese…

Or, wish him a Happy Father’s Day in Japanese

Use these.

1. お父さん、いつもありがとう。

  • Otousan, itsumo arigatou.
  • Dad, thank you always.

In Japanese, the best way to show appreciation and love for your father would be to tell them, “Thank you.” It is not customary to say that you love them in Japanese, as words for love are not commonly used. This phrase would be the perfect way to simply show appreciation for your father and how much they have done for you.

father phrases in japanese

2. お父さん、たまにはゆっくり休んでね。

  • Otousan, tama ni wa yukkuri yasunde ne.
  • Dad, please take a break sometimes.

In Japanese society, it is common for the father to work outside at an office for long hours and provide for the whole family. Japanese work culture means that you have to stay in the office until your boss leaves, and you may even have to accompany them to go out for dinner. In this way, in a Japanese household, using this phrase could be a great way to show appreciation to your father.

3. お父さん、いつも心配ばかりかけてごめんなさい。

  • Otousan, itsumo shinpai bakari kakete gomen nasai.
  • Dad, sorry to make you worry all the time.

Another great expression of appreciation is admitting to causing your father to worry. Often, when we are growing up, it is hard to realize that we might be doing risky things and worrying our parents. Saying this to your father could show a sense of understanding and appreciation toward them.

Back to You

I hope you learned a few words…

Including how to say father in Japanese.

The Main Lingua Junkie

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