I've been in Japan for the summer and noticed that the announcement for the closing doors (in the Kansai area, at least) on trains is always 扉が閉まります. However, the equivalent announcement on buses appears to be a toss-up between 扉が閉まります and ドアが閉まります.

Is there an accepted distinction between 扉 and ドア? jisho.org gives ドア as a Western-style door and 扉 as a (generic) door. Are there any other distinguishing nuances?

  • 3
    Try a Google Image Search test. It doesn't always give you the right answer, but take a look... Compare the results for 扉 to the results for ドア.
    – user1478
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 1:32
  • See also here for some general remarks on loan words. : Loanwords may acquire a narrower, more specific, meaning in Japanese than they have in their language of origin, or in their Japanese equivalent term. [...] Loanwords are often associated with a sophisticated, Western lifestyle, and may be used in place of Japanese words of equivalent meaning because of their foreign appeal. Their modern image often makes them preferable to domestic equivalents, where these exist.
    – blutorange
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 6:50
  • In the Kantou area I always heard ドアが閉まります on the trains. Others may have had different experiences, though. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 21:24
  • In my feeling, no difference. I have a image like yu-ominae's answer. So ドア is gairaigo, the meaning get closer to 扉. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 17:05

6 Answers 6


I always think of 扉 as sliding doors (as also usual in trains and buses), and of ドア as a door with hinges (or some other more modern/Western construction, like elevator doors).

See 類語例解辞典《小学館1994,2003》

① 「扉」は、[蝶番]{ちょうつがい}などを軸に回転するようにして開閉する機構のものも左右に開閉するものもいう。

(「扉」 is used for both doors with hinges and sliding doors)


(「ドア」: mainly for doors with hinges; except for automatic doors, here it is common for sliding doors as well; only used for entrances/exits)

I suppose, when thinking of a western-style door, one associates it with ドア first, as it has got the more specific term ドア. Thus, 扉 is associated especially with sliding doors, in contrast to ドア. But as a general term, 扉 may refer to other kinds of doors, as evidenced by the [広辞苑]{こうじえん} definition [開]{ひら}き[戸]{ど}の[戸]{と}, and 扉 comes from [戸片]{とひら}.

  • I agree with this, but I have no reasoning. It just seems intuitively correct.
    – istrasci
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 5:27
  • It is wort noting that on trains and buses the announcement often says "開くドーアにご注意下さい" or "X側のドーアが開きます", although these are (often) sliding doors.
    – yu_ominae
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 22:28
  • @yu_ominae I'd say I hear "開く扉にご注意ください" equally often.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 22:32
  • @Earthling That what I was thinking too after I wrote the comment. It could be a regional thing, like the use of 危険ですから vs 危ないですから in JR stations in Kansai vs Kanto. Or it could mean that 扉 and ドア are interchangeable.
    – yu_ominae
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 22:52
  • @yu_ominae I think it is a choice that even differs from train/bus operator to train/bus operator in the same town, but the choice might be guided by the type of door the train/bus line uses. My theory is now in my other answer
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 0:32

ドア is about equivalent to 戸, and (usually) has just one pane.

扉 is (usually) two panes.

But, I think they can be used interchangeably.


Thinking longer about it, I am now more fond of the explanation that a 扉 opens from the middle (with two moving parts) and a ドア opens from one side only.

Expressions like 心の扉, 夢の扉 and a picture search seem to corroborate this hypothesis.

This also would explain why trains (with two doors sliding open from the middle) and buses (with two doors swinging out from the middle) use 扉, but a bus with a single sliding door might still use ドア.

Sliding doors in a 和室 have their own names anyway (襖, 障子).


I'm japanese. Most japanese don't consciously use these words properly in daily coversation. And I don't, either.

  • 1
    Are you saying that native speakers use these interchangeably?
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 11:20
  • @Earthliŋ, Exactly what she is saying and I tend to agree to a certain extent, especially as she says in daily conversation ( and would add , in the younger generation). I don't know why someone would down vote this, but I am up voting it.
    – KyloRen
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 6:57
  • 2
    @yoko "don't consciously use (意識して使ってない)" のではなく、むしろ「無意識に(unconsciously)使い分けてる」んだと思いますが…
    – chocolate
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 6:58

When you are in a tram they will almost always say ドア.
In an elevator --> ドア / 扉
In a bus --> ドア / 扉
For a wardrobe / closet --> 扉
Or maybe 「未来への扉」

The difference may be that people pass through ドア but they don't pass through 扉

  • 1
    What I've observed on trains and buses in Kyoto contradicts this answer. See original question. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 10:09
  • 1
    ... I don't believe there is a strict clarification made for distinguishing the two words. If you are determined to know when a door is ドア and when it's 扉, you'd better make your own definition through experience.
    – hello all
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:15
  • 1
    'you'd better make your own definition through experience.' >> 日本にうん十年住んでるけどわかりませんわw
    – chocolate
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 6:54

This page had some interesting comments, especially this one:

扉は日本式の戸だと思います。 ドアは外来語なので、西洋式の戸だと思います。 戸(出入口や門に使う板などの総称) 今はあまり使い分けがはっきりしてませんね。 日本人は無意識に使い分けていると思うので、違いを発見したらご報告しますね

Which would mean that 扉 was used for Japanese-style sliding doors, whilst ドア was used for western-style hinged doors. But nowadays the distinction has become blurred, with people using the term they feel is appropriate or which they are more used to.

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