Someone who can't eat piping hot food can be referred to as a 猫舌{ねこじた}. Is there an analogous word/idiomatic expression for someone who can't eat very spicy food?

The closest related word I could think of is 甘口{あまくち}, but I think I've only heard it used to refer to the spice-level of a food, rather than the tolerance of a person. (From this dictionary entry my understanding is when 甘口 is used to refer to a person, it means someone who likes sweet food.) Is this correct?

  • 2
    I didn't know 甘口 can also refer to a person... We usually use [甘党]{あまとう} for "a person who has a sweet tooth"...
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 1:55
  • @Schokolade From a couple of the answers, indeed it sounds like 甘口 is not generally used to refer to a person - maybe it's only used that way in certain regions/olden times?
    – Kimball
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 16:49

3 Answers 3


I honestly doubt that we have a perfect counterpart of 「猫舌」 for spicy food.

Indirectly as it may sound, however, you could use 「お子様舌{こさまじた}」 or 「甘党{あまとう}」 for a decent replacement, given the appropriate contexts.

「甘党」means a "sweet-toothed person" and it does not directly say anything about how well s/he can handle spicy food. In the context of liking or disliking spicy food, however, it would be a fairly valid and common word choice.

If you said 「ボクは甘党なんで、激辛{げきから}ラーメンはちょっと・・・」, every single native speaker would understand that you could not handle very spicy food -- no exceptions.

Note this word is 「甘党」 and not 「甘口」. The latter is mostly used to describe how sweet a food or drink item tastes rather than what the person himself likes to eat/drink.

「お子様舌」 (literally, "kids' taste buds") can be fairly vague as well because it often simply means you like to eat what kids like to eat without directly referring to the spiciness of the food. Used in the right context/situation, however, it can easily mean that you cannot eat spicy food. If an adult said 「アタシ、お子様舌なんで、ワサビはちょっと・・」, it would be understood without fail.

(When I said 「~~はちょっと・・」 above, I actually meant to end the sentences with the word 「ちょっと」. That is how we informally speak with the main part of the predicate left unuttered.)


I'm sorry to say but there is no word like 猫舌{ねこじた} for spice in Japanese language.
I think words are born and exist to distinguish special ones from ordinary. In conclusion, the person with 猫舌 is special, but the person who is sensitive to spicy food is not special in Japan.

We call a person to be 猫舌 who cannot eat or drink somewhat high temperature things that many/ordinary Japanese can eat or drink. On the other hand, observing the sensitivity to spicyness, many Japanese people cannot eat very spicy food. Therefore, for majority Japanese, we don't have interest in those who are sensitive to spicy food, so I think that the word itself does not exist.
When we want to express that I cannot eat spicy food we say "私は辛{から}いのは苦手{にがて}です or 辛いのは嫌{きら}いです", but "甘口です", "甘党です" or "お子様舌です" can not be substituted.

As for 甘口 and 甘党, 甘口 refers to the taste of food or drink including 酒{さけ} and 甘党 refers to a person.


There is a topic on food temperature and spicy food, so I'll write what I understand about them. Examining the English dictionary, "hot" has at least the following two meanings: they are "having a certain degree of heat esp. a high degree" and "causing a burning taste in the mouth". These two adjectives correspond to "熱{あつ}い/暑{あつ}い" and "辛{から}い" in Japanese. The pronunciation is the same as "あつい", but "熱い" means that things containing food are hot, on the other hand, "暑い" means hot weather.
It would be a matter of course for people who understand sensibly the two meanings of "hot", so I think they don't have much doubt about what is written in one of the comments as "辛{から}い物{もの}が苦手{にがて}な人は、熱{あつ}い物も苦手ですか? Cannot the people who cannot eat spicy food eat hot food?"

Actually this comment is talking about very interesting things that Japanese people don't know so much.
The reason is that many Japanese who are not familiar with English understand these two adjectives or feelings as completely different things. Also, many Japanese don't know that these two adjectives are the same word with "hot" in English. Even Japanese who know that the two Japanese adjectives are the same word in English as knowledge should not understand sensuously as the same thing. They know they would sweat as soon as they eat very spicy "カレーライス curry and rice" or "ラーメン ramen", but they would not think that the cause of these two adjectives is the result of stimulating the same sense organ is. Actually it may be scientifically true, but I think many Japanese people, including me, will find it interesting to know the above comment.

  • Thanks, that's a good point about 猫舌 being uncommon. Also, since not so many Japanese foods are spicy, there was possibly less need for a word about this, particularly before foreign foods became so common.
    – Kimball
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 16:59
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    Are people who cannot eat and drink hot food cannot eat spicy food? おっしゃりたいことは分かりますけど、ちょっと直されたほうがいいかも・・ Are ~ cannot のとこ。。。
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 4:02
  • @Schokolade: どうでしょうか?駄目ならご支援お願いします。
    – user20624
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 6:13

甘口 as used to refer to a person would be someone with a sweet tooth. It does not mean that the person cannot eat spicy food.

After some internet perusal for confirmation, it seems that there is a consensus (among the common folk) that 猫舌 can be used for both connotations; for someone who can't eat spicy food as well as for someone who can't eat high-temp food.

I believe that, without context, 猫舌 normally would be understood to refer to temperature rather than spice level, as high-temperature intolerance is its standard definition. In ambiguous circumstances it might be better just to say 辛いもの苦手/熱いもの苦手.

  • 2
    After some internet perusal for confirmation, it seems that there is a consensus (among the common folk) that 猫舌 can be used for both connotations-- 何でググったらいいですか?色々ググったけど、それらしいページは見つかりません・・・。
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 2:06
  • I was just reinforcing my personal experience with people I know who have used 猫舌 in this case by referencing pages such as this. I believe that @l'électeur's suggestion of お子様舌 might be more useful.
    – BJCUAI
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 2:46
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    ^ あらま! えとね、そのページでは。。。「辛い物ダメ=猫舌?」っていうのは、「『猫舌』という言葉は『辛い物ダメ』と同じ意味?」って意味じゃなくて、「辛い物が苦手な人は、猫舌でもあることが多いですか? 」=「辛い物が苦手な人は、熱い物も苦手ですか?」って意味で使われてますね~ ^^;
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 2:56
  • あらま...しくってしもったん(*ノωノ)
    – BJCUAI
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 3:03
  • ということで、自分の回答はそうとう不要になりますよね。削除をした方がよさそうかな?
    – BJCUAI
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 3:06

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