While hitchhiking from Tokyo to Sapporo in the past couple of days I devloped a few blisters on the soles of my feet. I like to learn my vocabulary based on my experience so looked up "blister" but found several words and no way to choose between them:

  • すいほう (水疱)
  • みずぶくれ (水脹れ, 水膨れ, 水ぶくれ)
  • ひぶくれ (火脹れ, 火膨れ, 火ぶくれ)
  • まめ (肉刺)

I'm assuming the first, 水疱, is a borrowing from Chinese.

The next two appear to be native Japanese terms and each have several variant spellings but share one orthogonal difference, one based on water 水 and the other on fire 火.

The final one I learned only a day or so after originally asking this question.

Could the first term be a general one for all kinds of blisters? What of the next two, I can imagine that some kinds of blisters are caused by burns, but what of the 水 words?

Are they for different kinds of blisters? Which is correct for the kinds of blisters I have?

Since I'm asking, which of the spelling variants should I use when writing these terms?

  • 2
    People usually use 靴擦れ{くつずれ} for all sorts of shoe sores, including blisters. If you want to be explicit, I think you would use みずぶくれ. 水疱 is a more technical term for みずぶくれ. And ひぶくれ, I think, are only from burns. I think the most common renderings would be 水ぶくれ and 火ぶくれ, but I would need to consult corpora to be sure.
    – dainichi
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 3:40
  • I've learned of yet another word for blister: 肉刺{まめ} Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:24
  • The most natural word choice would be まめ/マメ in kana. Why you always write things in kanji, I never understand.
    – user4032
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 0:36
  • 2
    @TokyoNagoya: Because the dictionaries have all forms, because people want to be able to identify all forms. But for knowing which one to use there are only sites like this where we can ask experts. But they seem not to like questions like this and just keep saying "why do you use too much kanji" instead of helping us know when to use it and when not to use it \-: Catch 22 Commented May 3, 2014 at 2:07
  • 2
    @TokyoNagoya: Hey I posted a followup question on how us learners should be able to decide when to use kana spellings when kanji spellings exist: Intuitive way to know when to use a kanji spelling vs hiragana spelling? Commented May 3, 2014 at 2:18

1 Answer 1


Using まめ is correct in the context of getting a blister on your sole.

水疱 and 水ぶくれ have same meaning, but the former one is academic term.
火ぶくれ is only used for it caused by burns.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .