Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have found that there are a number of words in Japanese that correspond to "heaven" in English. By heaven I mean the concept of a paradisiacal afterlife. The two most frequent in my limited and flawed personal experience are

天国 (as well as just 天) and 極楽 which I often find is useful to translate as "paradise"

Offhand, and in my own (again flawed) way of thinking, I see 天国 see as a bit more austere, while 極楽 maybe has a more sensual feel. I associate 天国 more with native Japanese myths and religion (shintoism) while 極楽 has more of a buddhist feel (and thus not purely Japanese) as it is from the Pure Land school of Buddhism.

I am wondering if there are any other terms for heaven in wide use, and also about the different feel and nuance each word possesses. I am also interested in which word Japanese Christians use for Christian heaven, and indeed if practitioners of specific faiths discriminate in their vocabulary for heaven.

share|improve this question
    
Surprinsingly, wikipedia does not seem to have a Japanese "paradise" page linked from other languages! –  Axioplase Oct 25 '11 at 5:16
    
There is also 桃源郷【とうげんきょう】 which means kind of a "Shangri-La", but I don't know if this implies afterlife or just an earthly utopia. –  istrasci Oct 25 '11 at 5:16
    
do you have any more info on this? my friend replied to the same query with this cryptic message: 桃が咲く天国 "I'm not sure but I remember that Tougenkyou is a paradise where peach trees and blossoms are blooming and you see beautiful falls in tougen village." –  yadokari Oct 26 '11 at 14:12
    
桃源郷 is a Chinese legend but the phrase is well known in Japan too (I don't know how well-known the actual legend is...). See here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peach_Blossom_Spring –  Matt Nov 1 '11 at 8:54

1 Answer 1

I cannot post comments so I link it here:

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/天国

This tells you what religion uses what term.

Also note the figurative term 楽園{らくえん} and パラダイス

share|improve this answer
    
From the article it looks like 天国 is primarily considered a Christian term. –  Muhd Nov 3 '11 at 2:51

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.