I have a question which is regarding to the word 肉 in Japanese Language.
Below are my opinions and questions about it.

  1. First, pork in Japan is 豚肉 (google-translated from pork), which should be correct but strangely カツ丼 also refers to pork even though name is totally different.
  2. Second, chicken in Japan called チキン.
  3. Third, after Google にく(it is in hiragana because 肉 will redirect me to Chinese websites), what I saw are all about beef which makes me believe that にく in Japan usually means beef.

Now, here is my question does 豚肉, チキン also called 肉 in Japan?
Last but not least, I love Japan!


1 Answer 1


So 肉{にく} refers to meat in general. It is typically used with an animal to form a particular kind of meat:

  • 牛肉{ぎゅうにく}: Beef
  • 豚肉{ぶたにく}: Pork
  • 鶏肉{とりにく}: Chicken

It can also be used to describe the appearance/cut, for example in 挽{ひ}き肉{にく}, minced meat.

You talk about

  • カツ: This word does not describe pork meat in general but rather a particular cut of pork meat, a cutlet (カツレツ). 丼{どんぶり} itself means "rice bowl", meaning that カツ丼{どん} is a bowl of rice topped with a cutlet. 豚丼{ぶたどん} also exists, but it is another dish.
  • チキン: Obviously comes from the english chicken, but it never used to refer to "chicken meat" in general nor to refer to the animal. You will find it in many compounds though. These are mostly dishes names, imported or not, such as チキンナゲット、チキン南蛮、チキンカツ、ローストチキン... Many dishes also use 鳥、such as 焼き鳥. Finally, most "kinds" of chicken meat use 鳥/鶏: 鶏もも肉、若鶏、鶏胸肉

To answer your question, 肉 means meat in general. The other words you quoted have a more restricted meaning.

You can find 肉 by itself in 肉まん, which is a kind of steamed bun containing pork meat. The meat of 肉 is also found in 肉食{にくしょく}, meaning carnivorous, that is not related at all to beef in particular. 肉 can even have more abstract meanings in other compounds, look on goo.ne.jp or jisho.org for examples.

Good luck in your studies !

  • 2
    All examples in this answer show detailed specification of 肉 and don't really address the concern of common perception of the word 肉 used alone and if it would generally mean beef when referred to food. Here the best example would probably be 肉まん (on wiki classified as 中華まん) which contains pork, but is designated just by 肉 (yet in Kansai 豚まん, but that's a different story).
    – macraf
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 2:40
  • You are right but I could not come up with a word containing only 肉 at the time of writing... I will maybe add it to the answer.
    – Urukann
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 1:06

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