I'd like to know if there is a phrase similar to the English phrase of "running around". To explain more clearly, it should mean to be able to go out freely and do whatever one like's without being restricted.

For example:

If you're going to own a dog, they need some space to run around and exercise.

Have you been running around with those hooligans again?

My wife makes me run around downtown doing all her errands.

It doesn't necessarily mean "to run" all the time though it may. Just wondering if there is any phrase that resembles this. The only thing I can think of is 遊び回る and that may only apply to children, games, and such.

3 Answers 3


There is 走り回る, a straightforward counterpart. I don't quite get why you came up with 遊ぶ 'play' rather than the more straightforward 走る 'run'.

  • Because it doesn't necessarily mean "running".
    – Chris
    Jun 19, 2012 at 14:38

I noticed that your original definition of doing things freely does not apply to all of your examples. For that definition, though, using 勝手 ("one's own convenience/way") may work well.

For example: 勝手にそんなふうに想像するなよ。 Don't let your imagination run wild. ("run wild" literally being "in the kind of way that you like/suits you" here.) (Example from tatoeba)

遊び回る does mean" run around," sort of, but more in the sense of doing many positive things. Usually 遊び回る, from what I've seen, has a more positive connotation, as in running around town and having fun, so for your examples it wouldn't make much sense.

As user458 said, 走り回る is a direct translation, but I don't think it would work for any but the first example; I've only seen it mean run around as in run around wildly, like a dog would do; I've never seen it mean something like going to many different places.

For the second example, you may be able to use 走り回る, but I'm not sure. I would think you could use 遊ぶ, as it can mean "hang out" and "hanging out with the hooligans" seems about the same as running around to me. 勝手に遊ぶ may be closer to the meaning you wish.

For the last example, 至る所 (everywhere, all over) might be used to the same effect, if you just replace "run around" with "everywhere," it means the same thing.

I'm not fluent in Japanese, so I'm a bit unsure about the connotations (I'm only judging from what I've seen), so I hope that a native or someone fluent comes to help you, but if they don't, I hope my answer helped!


I think the limit here is in the fact that the phrase "running around" in English can have multiple connotations, all stemming from the metaphoric notion of a person running, but actually being fundamentally different:

  1. A dog running around for the sake of exercising and having fun is doing so because it's fun and enjoyable. This is a bit literal.

This case might use 走り回る or 遊び回る. Since we are talking about an animal and its nature, you could possibly even use 自由ままに to describe an animal "needing to do its thing"

  1. To run around with some hooligans usually connotes simply being with and participating with said group of people, not necessarily physically running. This is definitely not literal, but could imply you're doing this for fun.

This case might use 遊び回る or possibly 遊びつける, meaning to "join in for fun", in a way.

  1. To run around doing errands brings the notion that the activity of running errands and such is frenetic and possibly not enjoyable. This is more about the feeling of physical activity and exertion.

This case might better be described by the phrase あっちこっちに行ったり来たりする.

For those semantic reasons, I'm not sure that there is a phrase that fits these scenarios. It's one of those things where the English language takes some liberties to describe something non-literally, and attempting to translate that non-literal phrase to a language where there is no correlation to the sort.

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