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Is there any difference between the words 旅行者 and 旅人? Which one is more frequently used?

24

The difference is rather huge.

「旅行者{りょこうしゃ}」 sounds neutral/bland, businesslike and matter-of-fact with virtually no nuance. It is like "tourist" in English, or somewhere between "tourist" and "traveler".

「旅人{たびびと}」 sounds poetic and a bit profound. It is more like a "pensive type of traveler" or "wayfarer" than a "tourist" or "average traveler".

For that reason, 「旅行者」 is used more often as it is just easier to use than 「旅人」, which is full of nuances. The latter, of course, is the original Japanese word.

Furthermore, 人生{じんせい} ("life") is often likened to 旅{たび} and virtually never to 旅行{りょこう} for what I have discussed above. You would sound like a comedian (or a funny travel agent) if you likened 人生 to 旅行.

  • 1
    Great explanation, thank you! – marcosprins Dec 8 '19 at 0:51
  • 3
    Great use of ruby. – Robert Soupe Dec 8 '19 at 18:19
2

「旅行者」 would probably be translated as "traveller". The takeaway here is that it has a concrete meaning, as in a person that is physically on a trip. This word might appear in the news.

「旅人」on the other hand is much more poetic. I would translate it as "wanderer". Actually, an even better translation might be "vagabond". This word would typically appear in a book, probably a novel.

I always find it useful to look at examples...


21年度の訪日外国人旅行者数は200万人を上回ると見込まれます。

The number of inbound foreign travelers for 2019 is expected to exceed 2 million.—Ministry of Travel, 2019

vs

月日は百代の過客にして、行かふ年も又旅人也。

Time is like an eternal traveller, and the years that go by are like a vagabond.—松尾 芭蕉 from 奥の細道, 1702

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