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In the sense of “outdoors,” is there any difference in meaning between 野外 and 屋外? Neither Nelson’s character dictionary nor Jisho.org indicate any obvious difference beyond the following second meaning for 野外:

野【や】外【がい】
n., の adj. outdoors; outside; open air
n. fields; outskirts; suburbs

屋外 【おくがい】
n., の adj. outdoors; outside

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Yes. There is the difference what environment to be mentioned. However, I think the difference is already almost listed up in the definition you gave.

野外{やがい} seems corresponding really well between English and Japanese. But, "suburbs" is bit odd to me. If you are in 「野外{やがい}」, there should be few buildings around you. So, the word is not really relevant to residential area.

「野外{やがい}フェスティバル」is held normally nearby mountains or parks. However, a rock festival called "Summer Sonic" is normally held in "Marine Stadium in Chiba" which is not far away from business district. But, the stadium is open-air. So, the festival should be categorized in 野外{やがい}フェスティバル.

屋外{おくがい} is used to describe for "outside the building". So, the word only "outdoors" is bit odd to me. The dictionary probably wants to say things like 屋外広告{おくがいこうこく} : Out of home/ Outdoor advertising.

In English, the word "outdoors" seems just outside the building. But I believe it is often used to describe for hiking area where there are few buildings.

戸外{こがい}, a similar word, is used to describe outside the residential house.

The picture below is an explanation I have found and I believe this is a standard interpretation.

Reference and source of the picture : 野外と屋外と戸外の違いとは

enter image description here

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  • ちなみに画像の出典はどこですか? – broccoli facemask - cloth Jan 19 at 2:55
  • @broccoliforest 失念してしまいました。度々のご指摘どうもありがとうございます。 – kimi Tanaka Jan 19 at 3:04
  • kimi Tanaka, Thank you for your response. Do I understand you to say that whenever using 屋外, one needs to either specify what the "outside" is relative to or that the connection between the "outside" and something else needs to be obvious? – NattoYum Jan 19 at 18:18
  • I think you understand my point. When you are in the building and asked to play soccer saying 屋外でサッカーをしてください, it means you should leave this building and play soccer outside this place such as parks or fields nearby. – kimi Tanaka Jan 19 at 22:58
  • Thanks to you, I've got it! – NattoYum Jan 20 at 0:52

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