I am trying to find Japanese word for element (as in five elements) and so far I got two answers from google translate. It would be good to confirm from a native speaker. One is Yoso and other is Soshi. Can someone please confirm do they mean the same thing? Reverse translate of Yoso ( from Japanese to English) says it means “some other place”. Any insights would be great.

  • 2
    Have you tried dictionaries listed here? Feb 21, 2018 at 12:36
  • 3
    Don't rely on Google Translate for individual word translations, it's not always smart enough to understand the context of the words used.
    – Ambo100
    Feb 21, 2018 at 15:16
  • @broccoliforest I did now but I didn’t find anything which I could use or anyone which I could find the translation I am looking for. Since there are so many dictionaries listed, I might have missed some but I did check everything I could.
    – PagMax
    Feb 21, 2018 at 15:21
  • 1
    @PagMax For example, you can jump to Wiktionary from the link I put, then search "element", and you can find a number of translations per each definition. Additionally, if you Google "five elements", you'd see a Wikipedia disambiguation page which leads to several articles about different concepts. Feb 21, 2018 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


"Youso" and "soshi" are both words that could be translated as "element", but they probably don't fit the context you're looking for.

"Youso" (要素, which may sometimes be transcribed as "yoso" in romanisation systems that ignore long vowels) means a single element or factor of a larger whole. "Yoso" meaning "elsewhere" (他所, with no long vowel) is a completely different word. "Soshi" (素子), meanwhile, is a very technical term referring to an element of a mechanism.

Probably the best word for what you're looking for is "genso" (元素), which refers to the classical elements like fire and water, as well as the modern concept of chemical elements. There's also the word "zokusei" (属性), which literally means "attribute", but is very commonly used to refer to elemental alignments of the sort used in role-playing games and similar fantasy magic systems.

As other commenters have said, relying on Google Translate for translations of Japanese, particularly for individual words with no context, is generally a bad idea and will lead you down the wrong path more often than not. Japanese is a very different language from English, and most words don't have an easy one-to-one equivalent. You're much better off using actual English-Japanese dictionaries for that purpose, preferably ones that feature well-explained definitions and/or example sentences, so that you can check that the word is actually used in the sorts of contexts you're thinking of.

  • 2
    There's also the word 五行 (gogyou), which refers to the "five elements" as a whole, but not an individual one (i.e., the word itself contains the concept of "five"). Just in case this is useful for your work!
    – mamster
    Feb 21, 2018 at 17:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .