I've been listening to Japanese music a bit lately and, while I do not understand any of it and even have trouble even making out what syllables are being used, I sometimes get the impression, that it doesn't really rhyme all that much.

Is that true, or does the very different nature of the language fool my ears?

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    rhyme isn't really a thing in japanese. that's not to say it's impossible but as an element of style it's not really used
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 13:31
  • I have an impression that many J-Pop singers don't pronounce clearly whatsoever, so it's indeed difficult.
    – xuq01
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 18:36
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    @A.Ellett I think rhyme is much more fundamental to English music than Japanese, but it's going too far to say it's not really a thing in Japanese. I think it's less common to be sure, but not uncommon.
    – user1478
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 20:29
  • When you Google Japanese phonology, the words "syllable" might come up often. According to Laurence Labrune, the concept of "syllable" has little to no relevance in Japanese prosody. Rhymes are constituents of syllables, and if Japanese doesn't genuinely have syllables to begin with, it follows that it doesn't have rhymes either. In traditional poetry and songs, there is no such thing as rhyming, even though Japanese has been heavily influenced by languages where rhymes do exist such as Chinese and Korean. Modern artists merely emulate rhymes when they write their songs or rap. Commented May 6, 2022 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


Lyrics in most Japanese songs do not rhyme at the end of each line. Only some J-pop songs influenced by the western culture actively use rhymes. Japanese hip hop songs tend to use rhymes often. For example, lyrics written by Rhymester usually contain a lot of rhymes, as the name suggests :) Listen to this song, and I believe you can easily feel the rhymes even if you don't understand Japanese.

Some Japanese songs use other methods to make the lyrics sound nice. One example is 七五調 ("7-5 rhythm"), which is the rhythm heard in haiku poems. See: Is the layout of this text supposed to resemble a style of poem?

EDIT: Classical Chinese poems typically used line-end rhymes, and Japanese people have understood them. But according to Wikipedia, Western-style rhymes have never been popular among Japanese poets/lyricists.


No. There are only five, six, seven or so vowels in Japanese and most syllables are open. There's little point in rhyming. Imagine a person every sentence with あ. That sounds a bit funny, actually. Therefore, most popular music in Japanese (be it enka, kayokyoku or J-Pop) don't rhyme.

I should mention that many languages do have very few vowels, but Japanese has much more open syllables, i.e. syllables end in vowels. Also, Japanese syllables are rather scarce. A combination of these factors - not just having few vowels - contribute to the lack of rhyming.

The 5-7 rhyme, reminiscent of haiku and tanka, is prevalent, thought. Perfume's song "575" does its lyrics in haiku. I have not paid much attention to alliteration, but I remember of seeing some.

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    downvote because open vowels are not a reason for not rhyming. some romance languages have also only 5 vowels and use rhyming conventions in song.
    – psosuna
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 18:55
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    @psosuna Could you give an example? This would make your comment much more interesting to passers-by such as myself.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 20:28
  • Immediately off the top of my head there are Spanish and Italian, there are 5 vowel sounds, a e i o u. They are open vowels with similar pronunciation to those in Japanese except for a bit of difference in inflection but these sounds don't change in these languages. There, rhyming schemes for song and poetry focus on similar consonant-vowel ending combinations and general syllable flow. "Corazón" (heart) might rhyme with "La razón" (the reason), or "Piedra" (rock) and "Hiedra" (ivy) in Spanish, for example. Examples in Italian don't come as easy as I'm a very beginner at it.
    – psosuna
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 20:50
  • I don't speak Italian, but it has a reputation for being even easier to rhyme in than English is. In English triple syllable rhymes usually sound at least a little silly or overdone. However, Italian poetry can support triple rhymes much more easily and without sounding comical or forced. (I've seen this mentioned multiple times in discussions of poetry forms and discussions about translating Italian poetry into English.)
    – cloveapple
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 22:15
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    Well, being Italian let me add my comment as well. Technically, two words rhyme if their last letters are all the same starting from the "tonic vowel" (literal translation), that is the vowel from which the accent starts. So for example, to use @psosuna words in Italian "Cuore (heart) rhymes with "amore" (love) becose of the "ore" and how the accent is placed. It doesn't rhyme with "mentore" (mentor) though because although it also ends in "ore" the accent in this word is on the "e" not the "o". So yeah, also in our case we have 5 vowels and they don't really make or not a rhyme.
    – Tommy
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 3:16

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