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This comes out of a discussion in chat; apologies if I'm getting reputation off of someone else's idea. I'd like to see an official answer, though.

In English, we often talk about things as being 'worth it', i.e. worth whatever effort or risk was involved in obtaining or completing them. Japanese seems to have no convenient mechanism for expressing the same thought, though. A more literal translation, something like やる価値があった, seems 1) like it possibly isn't a natural phrasing and 2) like it describes the value in doing the thing in general rather than the value in putting in the effort or taking the risk. A less literal translation, something as simple as やってよかった for instance, sounds more natural, but misses the effort/risk connotation even more completely.

Is there a good way to phrase this in Japanese? Or is it simply not something that Japanese people would really talk about all that often? Maybe it's just a cultural thing rather than even a linguistic one - the concept of 'worth it' just might not be a major part of the Japanese worldview. 本物の日本人は答えられるでしょうか?

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    Related: How to say “Is it worth a visit?” – istrasci Aug 1 '17 at 18:03
  • I'm actually curious about this one. In Spanish we have an expression -- "Mas vale pedir perdon que pedir permiso" (It is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission), and is sometimes used in a "worth it"-like setting. I think the general idea of doing something you shouldn't do because the reward of it is high is highly frowned upon in Japanese society but I wonder if expressions for that situation exist? – psosuna Aug 1 '17 at 21:02
  • For the situation like psosuna's, we say 反対を押し切ってまでしてやってよかったです/やった甲斐がありました。I think we use 価値 more for things we are consindering doing it; やってみる価値はある。 – karlalou Aug 2 '17 at 0:29
  • @karlalou Could you put that comment about やってみる価値 in your answer below? It seems super relevant! – Sjiveru Aug 2 '17 at 0:56
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How would you express 'worth it' in Japanese?

A more literal translation, something like やる価値があった, seems 1) like it possibly isn't a natural phrasing and 2) like it describes the value in doing the thing in general rather than the value in putting in the effort or taking the risk. A less literal translation, something as simple as やってよかった for instance, sounds more natural, but misses the effort/risk connotation even more completely.

やる価値があった is not bad while やってよかった is the plainer expression to us. When we say these, it might be also natural to say やった甲斐{かい}があった. If this doesn't answer your question, then please bring up some contexts.


[addition]
I think the things are that やった甲斐があった is very much an idiom to us. We know the phrase since our childhood without knowing what 甲斐 really is. 甲斐 is something good that comes after an effort.

And in fact, デジタル大辞泉 says:

かい【甲斐】
行動の結果として現れるしるし。努力した効果。「我慢した―があった」

So, it seems we are just so used to saying 甲斐があった, and when we are talking about a plan, we say これはやってみる価値があります.

やり甲斐がある is also an idiom every one of us, Japanese, knows, and means (something) is meaningful, or worthy to do, which we usually associate more with an interesting or enjoyable thing to do because it's meaningful and not boring, and we don't really think of the result of it, I think, unless we are business freaks. So, 甲斐 is a rather ambiguous thing for us.

  • So it really is that simple. What's the difference between 価値 and 甲斐? – Sjiveru Aug 2 '17 at 0:57
  • OK. I've added that. :) – karlalou Aug 2 '17 at 2:05
  • Thanks for adding that! That actually makes it a lot clearer. – Sjiveru Aug 2 '17 at 17:52
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From jisho.org I found a few examples, including:

正直【しょうじき】は結局【けっきょく】割【わり】に合【あ】うものだ。Honesty will pay in the long run.

Worth!

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