Where in your body is [心]{こころ} located?

When people refer to [心]{こころ} do they refer to their heart or brain? I assume heart as the literal translation, but I've heard both so was wondering what the answer is.

For example, there is the expression [心]{こころ}に[浮]{う}かぶ which seems to me like it would be referring to your brain rather than your heart, is there a distinction between this usage and other usages?


I realize the [心]{しん} can refer to your heart, as in [心臓]{しんぞう}. However, my question is about the word こころ not しん.

  • Is your question "where 心 is" or "what is 心"?
    – Chris
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:46
  • @Chris: where 心 is is my question.
    – Jesse Good
    Jul 31 '12 at 1:01
  • @JesseGood: Please clarify. Is your question about the word kokoro or the word sin?
    – Dono
    Jul 31 '12 at 1:32
  • 1
    @Dono: Sorry for the confusion (edited), sawa's answer is about the meaning, however, my question is not about the meaning, it's about the location of こころ in your body.
    – Jesse Good
    Jul 31 '12 at 1:36
  • 3
    "Where's your soul"? I think once we've established that こころ doesn't refer to an internal organ or a part thereof, the question is meaningless (or at least philosophical and therefore off-topic).
    – dainichi
    Jul 31 '12 at 6:05

There are two meanings. As a body part, it means the heart. In the other meaning, it means the mind.

Edit to match the edited question

こころ "mind" is an abstract notion. By now, people believe that the location of the mind is the brain. However, that is not included in the meaning of こころ. Within the (not necessarily correct) world where this definition belongs to, there is no real object that corresponds to こころ. It has no location.

  • As a body part, it means the heart: Could you provide a reference for that claim?
    – Jesse Good
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:48
  • I do not know of an external reference other than my native knowledge.
    – user458
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:48
  • For example, this reference has no definition for the body part.
    – Jesse Good
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:51
  • That is because the entry you are looking at is こころ instead of 心.
    – user458
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:52
  • The answer from Chris was good also, but I decided to select this answer because of the sentence: However, that is not included in the meaning of こころ. Also, I would like to point out the one difference between the English word "mind" and こころ is that "mind" includes the meaning that it originates in the brain (although there are other differences also).
    – Jesse Good
    Jul 31 '12 at 19:36

It seems like the actual location of 心 is not really clear. But there are a few places where most people thought.

Based on Wikipedia, the Chinese thought it was located in 心臓、腹部、or 胸部.

Possibly it might be similar to asking "where is your spirit in your body?". That's a hard to answer question and has brought forth a multitude of study, so I'd guess 心 would as well.

I wonder if 「心に浮かぶ」 would be referring to your "mind" more so than "brain".

  • Thanks that wikipedia article was very helpful. From what I grasp, originally 心 was thought to be located in the heart (hence the etymology) and in modern times it is considered to be connected with the brain.
    – Jesse Good
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:34

According to the gogen-allguide page for , In present times it's thought one's is located in one's (chest), while historically it was thought that one's was situated in the (abdomen), which is also the reason why is often used to mean feelings/emotions (腹が立つ might be one example of this.)

The page for 心{こころ} also states that the reason 心 can mean "mind" etc is because it was thought in Chinese that the operation of one's mind and one's heartbeat were linked. It also states that unlike the 漢語 (word of Chinese origin) 心{しん}, after the middle ages 心{こころ} lost it's meaning of the internal organ.

As with 私の胸の中 and 私の心の中, I think can sometimes be used in place of (and vice-versa), but I don't necessarily think they always have the same nuance. In your example, I think can be replaced with , as there's both 心に浮かぶ and 胸に浮かぶ.

  • Amusing data points: in Okinawan, チム can mean "heart/spirit/mind", but refers to the liver (肝【きも】)! The same is true in Malay, viz. hati.
    – Zhen Lin
    Jul 31 '12 at 4:44

Heart is 心臓, brain is 脳. 心 refers to your mind. This is not any part of the body.

ps: In restaurant, you often say こころ for animal's heart. I don't know why though.

  • I think I read ハツ more than こころ in restaurants. Not even sure I read it once…
    – Axioplase
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:27
  • Actually, sawa corrected me on this. こころ is not a body part, but 心 is.
    – Jesse Good
    Jul 31 '12 at 0:59

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