The words 海{うみ} and 海原{うなばら} both seem to mean sea, ocean. Is there any difference between them?

3 Answers 3


海原 is a literary word used almost exclusively in poems, lyrics, book titles, etc. As its kanji 原 ("field") suggests, it expresses the vastness of the surface of the sea, not its depth. No matter how romantic you feel, don't say 海原に行こう in conversations. It sounds really funny. FWIW, maybe I have not used this word in my entire life.

海 is the ordinary word that means "sea."


According to 大辞林 published by Sanseido, “海 - sea , ocean) means “地球の表面のうち地球表面積の約4分の1を占める、海水をたたえた部分 - a part of the earth full of water, which represents one fourth of the surface of the earth.” ”海原” is “広々とした海、広い水面 - vast sea, the wide surface of the sea.”

Hence, “海” is the sea itself that covers 360 million km2. and reaches 11,000 km depth at the deepest point. ”海原” is the surface of the sea, as it implies “the field of sea” by verbatim in Japanese.


"海" is sea in general. "海原" is basically the surface of the sea.

"海面" is the exact Japanese word for the surface of the sea.

"原" of "海原" comes from "平原(plain)."

We can see the smooth water of the sea as the plain. With such impression, we call the surface of the sea as "海原."

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