I was going through some Japanese phrases when this came up: 「写真は良い思い出になります。」

According to my limited Japanese knowledge, that means "Pictures become great memories." However, the translation present in the source material is "Pictures make for great souvenirs."

I looked up 思い出, but couldn't find "souvenir" as a definition. I was just wondering which of the translations are correct, since the disparity of meaning between them is too big for both to be correct.

2 Answers 2


As far as I can tell, 'Pictures become great memories' is a literal translation whereas 'Pictures make for great souvenirs' is a translation that is more contextualised (You keep pictures for the sentimental value, thus they are keepsakes/souvenirs/momentos).

  • I'd second this. When I read 写真は良い思い出になります that literally says, "Pictures become good memories." But with context it could, perhaps, mean "Pictures make for great souvenirs." Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 14:40
  • I see, in a context it could certainly mean souvenirs. I guess both are correct then. The mistake from the source material was to provide the phrase without context, but translate it in a contextualized manner. Thank you guys.
    – test
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 10:22

You might look at the French entry (noun) in Wiktionary -- 'souvenir' is originally the French for 思い出 and is still used in that sense sometimes, as in the piano duet suite Souvenirs by Samuel Barber, nostalgic look back to the 1920s. The origin of the "tourist" meaning is that you bring back things to remind you where you went, whereas お土産 originally means things you give to other people so they know where you've been.

  • Very good answer. I didn't know that was original french meaning for 'souvenir'.
    – test
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 10:27

You must log in to answer this question.

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