I first came across this term here. I have to say, that is some fascinating information they got there.

Wikipedia has an article on the term here. Frankly, I'm not sure the article does a good job explaining it.

Fortunately, I found this article, which does a great job at explaining it, and it goes like this:

“The ancestral race that an individual belongs to, as opposed to their current nationality. People derived from of a variety of ethnic origin types currently inhabit the United States, and which include white, black, American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander and Eskimo.”

I have looked at Weblio, and it presents some options for translating:

  • For “ethnic”, I could choose 民族, 民族の, 民族的な, 人種, 人種の, 人種的な, エスニック, and maybe some other terms I missed. I guess the tricky part here is deciding if “ethnic” is a noun or adjective in this context.
  • For “origin”, I could choose 生まれ, 系の, 素姓, オリジン, and maybe some other terms I missed. I'm not entirely sure which term would be a good choice in this context.

I would really appreciate your help.

  • 3
    [民族的起源]{みんぞくてききげん}? Quite a few articles online uses that term, if you Google it verbatim.
    – dROOOze
    Apr 28, 2018 at 13:28
  • Well, it was a little tricky to Google that. Mostly because I was getting Chinese articles. I had to put some hiragana in it to find those pages. Still, I have to ask this: is that term used by native Japanese speakers? Apr 28, 2018 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


The most technical term used in the legal world that I know would be:


Less formal/tecnical would include:




Most informal would include:


  • Okay. I think this helps me considerably. I just have a couple questions. 1. Is katakana ever formal? I get the impression that it's not. 2. If you don't mind me asking, does the census in Japan ask for the ethnic origins of respondents? I imagine the data in Japan would be different as opposed to the data in Canada. Apr 28, 2018 at 17:45

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