It says that higashi is translated as "East" , and touyou is translated as "the East". But since I can only find books with Japanese - English and I'm not native English speaker, I still don't understand.

  • I guess, this is might be a case when you can use Google Translate for good: translate.google.com/… Set the translation to your native language.
    – macraf
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


[東]{ひがし} (Higashi) is a general term for the direction east. It is also used to refer to the eastern part of countries/areas, for example in:

  • [東日本]{ひがしにほん} (Higashi-Nihon) eastern Japan, a term often heard in weather forecasts
  • the country of East Timor: [東]{ひがし}ティモール.

[東洋]{とうよう} (Tōyō) refers to 'the East' as a part of the world / the eastern part of Eurasia. According to Daijirin this usually means countries like Japan, Korea, China, India, Thailand etc. This is opposed to 'the West' ([西洋]{せいよう}), which means Europe and America.

  • FWIW, 洋 is the Kanji for "ocean". If you think of the Pacific ocean as the boundary, 東洋 (Japan, Korea, China, India, Thailand, etc.) is the area located at the east 東 of the ocean 洋, whereas 西洋 (America, Europe) is the area located at the west 西 of the same ocean 洋.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 11:46
  • @jarmanso7: While 洋 may have the meaning of "ocean", 1) the primary kanji for ocean is 海, and 2) I've never seen it used that way (other than ocean names). It's main usage is "west"/"western" (see 洋服、洋楽、洋裁、洋風、洋式、etc.) So your comment may be misleading to beginners.
    – istrasci
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 15:58
  • @istrasci, I get your point, maybe I should have said something along the lines "one of the meanings of 洋 is ocean". Anyway, can you elaborate on your claim that 海 is the primary kanji for ocean rather than 洋? It seems to me that 海 is a general word that includes both the sea, ocean or waters, not particularly referring to the ocean (and only the ocean). But I'm no expert at all, so I might be completely wrong.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 19:58
  • Also note that as a beginner myself I found this idea of 洋 ≈ ocean very useful to remember the meaning "west/western" as well, rather than confusing. In fact, this supposedly main meaning of "west" comes later from the original "ocean" meaning, by extension of the idea of "what is across the ocean", a.k.a "the west".
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 19:58
  • I agree, 洋 = ocean. I usually treat 洋 this way: if 洋 comes first in a 熟語 then it means "west"/"western"; otherwise, it's ocean.
    – rebuuilt
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 23:50

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