Here is the sentence:

約{やく}300年{ねん}前{まえ}の絵{かい}画{が}の __ が終{お}わり、~。

This sentence fragment is taken from JLPT1 test book. And there you have to pick one correct answer from 4 words to fill in the blank:

  1. 回復
  2. 修復
  3. 復旧
  4. 復興

The correct answer is 修復, which means "repair", "restoration".

But the meanings of the other three are almost the same. What I want to know is the differences between these words and when each should be used?

2 Answers 2


回復 is a general word for recovery, though it's often used for economics, healing from injuries / diseases, and the weather getting better:


修復 is used mostly for artifact restorations (like in the question) and relationships:


復旧 and 復興 has been used frequently after the earthquake / tsunami / Fukushima Accident in 2011. In this context, 復旧 is used for recovery of lifelines and roads. 復興 is used in far more long-term sense, which is, resettlement of evacuated people and rebuilding local communities that are lost in the disaster (try search Google Images with 復興).

To add one more word to them, [修理]{しゅうり} is for repairing cars, electrical products, etc.

One more point. when used as する-verbs, 回復 and 復旧 are intransitive (used in the form of ~が◯◯する), whereas 修復 and 修理 are transitive (used as ~を◯◯する). 復興 may be used in both ways. 回復/復旧/復興 can be used transitively in the form of ~を◯◯させる.


While I cannot guarantee this answer, using the help of Rikaichan, it appears there are slight differences between each word. The correct answer makes sense, if I read each of them as I assume they are to be read.

回復 is often used for general purpose healing. Think of a person recovering from a sickness. 回復 is often used for healing in video games, if that helps you.

修復 means "restoration, repair, or mending." If I am to understand the given sentence, it is discussing the repair, mending, fixing, etc. of a picture from over 300 years ago.

復旧 means "restoration, restitution, or rehabilitation." This would likely be my second choice, but "restitution" and "rehabilitation" make me believe this is more likely to be used in other contexts.

復興 means "revival, renaissance, reconstruction, or restoration." I imagine this is more of an abstract concept. Think of time periods where lots of destruction occurs, and life slowly regains its natural state. That is more so the "revival" or "restoration" I would think.

Of course, this is my pure conjecture, and I do not believe I could even pass JLPT2, but this question seemed to make sense to me. Take it as you will!

  • First off, welcome to Japanese.se. As an amendment your answer, the most common use for 復旧 is when trains or utilities get restarted after going down due to weather or things like that.
    – virmaior
    Nov 21, 2014 at 0:10
  • 2
    Rikai-chan uses EDICT, which is an extremely unreliable source for nuance. I understand you're trying to help but this is a very dangerous way of learning the difference between words in Japanese. Nov 21, 2014 at 0:17

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