Do you use Japanese SPIRIT - ’ki ‘ ?「気(き) SPIRIT」in Calligraphy Japanese Brush Pen

Dec 19, 2021


ki ’ is frequently used in Japanese. This might be because we think about it naturally in our daily life. I would like to introduce 3 main usages of ‘ki ’ in Japanese.


One is something physically exists such as ‘air’ and ‘steam’.


Another meaning is energy, the typical example is ‘electric energy’.

3つ目は目に見えないけれど、感じることができるものについて使います。「気」を使ったフレーズがとてもたくさんあるので、少しだけ紹介します。The most common use is to mention something you cannot see but you can sense. This is called ‘6th sense’ in English according to Cambridge Dictionary. There are many phrases using with ‘ki ’ but I will introduce a few examples below.

①気が付く ki ga tsuku ( to notice/ to realise/ to be aware of something)

②気が利くki ga kiku (to sense the needs in a certain situation)

③気を遣うki wo tsukau (to be considerate)

④気にするki ni suru (to worry/ to concern)

⑤気楽 kiraru (easy mind ➡ relaxed mind)

⑥元気 genki (original mind/spirit ➡ healthy & energetic)

⑦病気 byoki (ill-minded/spirited ➡ unhealthy/illness)


In Japan often people who can ① ki ga tsuku, ②ki ga kiku and ③ki wo tsukau are likely to be popular.  The reason could be because it is valued to understand and care others in this group-oriented society.


But, I think there is a tendency to ④ki ni suru too much on many things as a result. So, it may be a good idea to live with ⑤kiraku a little bit more. It is always important to keep the balance.


What I found interesting is that we all need the air to live. And people who live with fresh air without stress tend to be healthy. But people who live with polluted air with stress are more likely to get ill. So, it seems that our ‘ki ‘ and body are strongly related.


Finally, there must be ‘the culture which people understand things that they can’t see’ in other countries too. For example, the idea of oneness in India is interesting. In your country, what kind of ‘ki ’ do you have and use?

Mineko Arai   

Arai Academy of Japanese Studies


Calligraphy by Moji Brush

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