I am looking for something that expresses the concept of self-cultivation, especially in the sense of "practicing self-cultivation through traditional japanese arts" (see also this book, which I don't own yet, but looks pretty close to what I mean).

Would "自己修養" be correct? Is there some different nuance that would alter the meaning for a Japanese speaker?

Can someone propose a different word for this?

(If I am not explaining my idea of "self cultivation" clearly enough, please comment and I'll try to make this better).

  • Is this an actual 四字熟語, or are you "inventing" it based on what you need it to mean?
    – istrasci
    Aug 9, 2013 at 16:04
  • 1
    I'm not sure if it's considered a 四字熟語, but it's in EDICT. The EDICT entry gives GG5 as a reference, and I verified that it's in there (with the exact definition given in EDICT: "self-cultivation; self-culture"). And it has google hits that aren't EDICT mirrors, so it seems that p.marino did not make it up.
    – user1478
    Aug 9, 2013 at 23:52
  • I didn't make it up, I used Tangorin.com, which I suppose in turns uses EDICT.
    – p.marino
    Aug 10, 2013 at 4:32
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    This looks suspiciously like a Modern Chinese (i.e. non-四字熟語) phrase. It means literally the verb "to self-improve" and because of the redundant 自己 (in Japanese: 自分(で)) even slightly colloquial (colloquial Mandarin is a big fan of repeating words with the same meaning to fill space or disambiguate homophones).
    – ithisa
    Aug 11, 2013 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


I don't think 自己修養 is wrong, but just 修養 by itself has a meaning of improving yourself, usually with the implication of improving knowledge, building character. There are books with titles like 「武士道と修養」、 「禅と修養」、 「修養としての茶の湯」, etc.

精神修養 would work if the purpose of "self cultivation" is mental/moral/spiritual.


I searched for 自己修養 at rakuten.co.jp. The books it brought up were generally about self-discipline, inner peace, and leadership ability. If that's what you're covering, you should be able to use this word with no confusion. I would reccomend getting the book you linked to in the question and see if there is a word that that author uses.

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