I am reading a book with pictures and I am referring to it as an 絵本. Is the term used for all types of picture books or is it limited to children's books? I am reading an autobiography with pictures.

  • I will wait for a posted answer.
    – Jack Bosma
    Jul 10, 2018 at 17:04
  • 1
    @BretonLoïc Please try to avoid posting answers in the comments section.
    – user1478
    Jul 10, 2018 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


[絵本]{えほん} in most cases refers to picture books for kids.

That definition comes first under [絵本]{えほん} in dictionaries too (either in online dictionaries or physical dictionary). Excepting some particular kind of Japanese texts, especially historical ones, it only refers to picture books for children.

So what you are reading could be one of the following:

  • [雑誌]{ざっし} a magazine
  • イラスト入りの[本]{ほん} an illustrated book
  • [画集]{がしゅう} a book of paintings
  • [写真集]{しゃしんしゅう} a book of photos
  • [図解]{ずかい}[入]{い}りの本 a book with graphical explanation
  • 図版が豊富な本 'a book rich with illustrations/photos' (sounds slightly formal)
  • 絵がいっぱい (or たくさん) ある本 'a book with many pictures' (colloquial)
  • etc.

The current edition of [広辞苑]{こうじえん} defines [絵本]{えほん} as


first. "Picture books for kids" comes next in the listed definitions.

This is because [広辞苑]{こうじえん} prioritizes meanings that are closer to the etymology of the word when the entry has multiple definitions, as a general rule. [岩波国語辞典]{いわなみこくごじてん} ,a dictionary from the same publisher, prioritizes modern Japanese and puts "kids' picture books" first, and a genre of books with illustrations in the Edo period next.

  • some say its for all and some say it's for kids. Interesting.
    – Jack Bosma
    Jul 10, 2018 at 17:24
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    there are a kind of sub genre of picture books that claims to be '大人の絵本', like '大人の塗り絵(adult's coloring books)'. It attests to the fact that we perceive 絵本 to be kids' books. Beware though, it you search '大人の絵本' it would get the results for unseemly book because it can also be a tongue-in-cheek way of referring to books with naked person.
    – user30484
    Jul 10, 2018 at 17:38
  • I could not make it clear but i was trying to say that there are books that claims to be'大人の絵本' like there are '大人の塗り絵'. they are separate things. It seems to me they are trying to sell '大人の絵本' as books with some therapeutic value , though I've never read them and this is an uneducated guess.
    – user30484
    Jul 10, 2018 at 18:02
  • I am reading an autobiography with pictures.
    – Jack Bosma
    Jul 10, 2018 at 18:56
  • 1
    @JACK Is that an autobiography of a photographer or an illustrator that includes their own works? If so, that's definitely not an 絵本 in modern Japanese. A phrase 自選作品集 exists.
    – naruto
    Jul 11, 2018 at 2:11

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