While making a list of Christmas vocabulary, I've noticed there are several words for "decoration". 飾り, デコレーション, 飾り付け, and 装飾 are the ones I've seen.

Judging by google images (with "クリスマス" added), they're something like this -

飾り - any kind of decoration
飾り付け - arrangements or stuff on walls/hanging from ceilings, like banners and garlands
デコレーション - Not sure about this one...it seems like it's mostly for a bunch of decorations together, rather than individual ones. Also, the decorations on cakes
装飾 - Decorations in public places

So, what's the difference between these? And are there any other common words that mean "decoration"?

2 Answers 2




飾り付け=decoration or decorating, the act of decorating


They means the same thing, except 飾り付け may emphasize the act of decorating in some contexts.


飾{かざ}り, デコレーション, 飾{かざ}り付{つ}け, and 装飾{そうしょく}

Before distinguishing these words, I looked up "decoration" in several English-English dictionaries, and I found that there are roughly three meanings as follows:

(1) The act, process, technique, or art of decorating
(2) Something used to decorate, especially when put up temporarily to celebrate or call attention to a special occasion
(3) An emblem of honor, such as a medal or badge

At first I can say that only "飾り付け" is different from the others; it has the meaning corresponing to (1) in the definition of a dictionary; that is also said in Seesawscene's answer.

As for "デコレーション", "飾り" and "装飾", they have nothing to do with the meaning of (3).

I also judged them by google images (without "クリスマス" added), and found they're something like this.

Classification A:

  • bright, colorful, showy ---- デコレーション
  • imposing, monolithic, massive, dignified, stately ---- 装飾
  • N/A ---- 飾り

Classification B:

  • temporary ---- デコレーション、飾り
  • permanent ---- 装飾

Judging from this classification, "装飾" may not correspond to (2) according to the definition of the dictionary. As an expression to support this, we say "装飾を施{ほどこ}す lit. to operate/apply 装飾", while we say "飾りを付ける lit. to attach 飾り"

Classification C:

  • Western style or modern ---- デコレーション
  • Japanese style or traditional ---- 飾り
  • N/A ---- 装飾

Although the application to each classification is my personal judgment, I think it is not so deviated from the general judgment.
As a fact that supports these decisions, I'll show below where these words came from.

  • A loan word from English ---- デコレーション
  • A loan word from Chinese ---- 装飾
  • A Japan's own word ---- 飾り

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