I've been learning Japanese for a few days and there is one thing that I want to know:

How is "forbids" expressed on signs in Japan? And how in formal texts?

I suggest that the form "[x]は きんし です。" is more colloquial and that in signs and in formal text there is the form "いけません" (= it is forbidden to...).

You can, if you want, make examples (e.g. for signs: Smoking forbidden ...; or formal texts...)

  • 4
    Welcome to JLSE. Can you make your question clearer? Also, you may need to be more focussed. If your question was "Please teach me all the different ways to express prohibitions in Japanese?" then you might do better to look at a text book first, then come back with questions.
    – Tim
    Aug 10, 2014 at 14:09
  • Thanks very much for this notice, istrasci - so I have more information through your link. @Tim Ok, the next time I will try to ask more precisely.
    – Turtle3
    Aug 11, 2014 at 15:40

2 Answers 2


Even though I am not entirely sure what exactly you are trying to ask, I will somehow manage to talk about the things that I feel might be of interest to Japanesse-learners.

With Japanese signs --- any signs really, including those asking you not to do something --- things happen that do not happen with signs in other languages. That is regarding how the message should be written. Specifically, which ones of the three writing systems we should use.

For instance, kids under 10 or so could not read the following sign at the beach prohibiting swimming. It says 「[遊泳禁止]{ゆうえいきんし} [石巻市]{いしのまきし}」 meaning "Swimming Prohibited. The City of Ishinomaki"

enter image description here

You will often find another sign nearby saying something like 「ここでおよいではいけません」 = "You cannot swim here." in kana so that smaller kids could read it. What you will NOT find, however, is a sign that says 「ゆうえいきんし」 because that still requires a ceratin level of vocabulary to understand despite the use of no kanji.

By far the most often-used phrase on signs to keep kids away is:

「よいこはここであそばない」 = "Good kids do not play here."



禁止{きんし} can actually frequently be found on Japanese signs. 喫煙禁止{きつえんきんし} - "No smoking" and 立入禁止{たちいりきんし} - "Do not enter" are common examples. Due to the concise nature of this word (only two characters), it actually lends itself quite nicely to prohibition signs. A Google image search of 禁止 will actually yield nothing but prohibition signs.

As for expressing prohibition in a sentence, you are right in assuming that いけません could be used. I'm still learning myself, but I'm fairly sure that it's the most common way (of course including the variants いけない、ならない、etc.) - I cannot comment on the usage of 禁止{きんし} to prohibit something in full sentences, but my hunch is that it would sound very stiff and formal and - if it is used at all - is not an option you should consider in general.

  • 4
    "No smoking" is more commonly seen as just [禁煙]{きん・えん}.
    – istrasci
    Aug 11, 2014 at 2:30
  • Also this is a very useful answer for me. Thank you !
    – Turtle3
    Aug 11, 2014 at 15:41
  • After dealing with your answer three new question appeared referring to "Do not enter": 1. Ive found a version, where the word たちいり has instead of the り a る. Is this another verb form? wadoku.de/entry/view/1276667 2. The ち is in brackets. Why? And my third question is: Is this word and はいる are exactly synonyms? Thx ;)
    – Turtle3
    Aug 12, 2014 at 12:22
  • @istraci Ah, you are correct. Forgot about that. I unfortunately have not yet had the chance to encapsulate myself in a Japanese environment so things like that slip past me.
    – looki
    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:46
  • @Turtle3 1. いり is the so-called 連用形 of a verb, also used to build the ます-form, e.g. 入ります. In some cases, like 入り, it represents a noun, in this case "entering". 2. 立ち入り would make more sense, but suffix-hiragana are often omitted like here. Can't give you any details why/using what rules. 3. They're both spelled 入る; I think いる mostly appears in compounds like 立ち入る, 気に入る. It seems like they mean mostly the same - "to enter", but both probably have special meanings/nuances. I don't know the difference too well either.
    – looki
    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:51

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