They both mean "real/actual thing" (as opposed to some imitation), right? Breaking apart these kanji compounds, it is apparent that 本 and 実 give the meaning of "real." How are these two "reals" different?

Does this difference in nuance also apply to other 本-実 pairs like 本質 and 実質?

1 Answer 1


The word "real" is translated as both 本物 and 実物, so the difference can't be explained by using "real".

If you understand the difference between these sentences. you understand the difference between 本物 and 実物.

このルイ・ヴィトンのカバンは、本物です。本物 means "not fake", so this sentence means "This bag is a genuine Louis Vuitton bag."

カタログではなく、実物のルイ・ヴィトンのカバンが見たいです。実物 means "actual thing", so this sentence means " I want to see an actual Louis Vuitton bag、not reading a catalog." 本物 is also used as this meaning.

  • Thank you! Now it's clear. So it appears that this difference between 実物 and 本物 cannot be extended to 〜質 right?
    – rebuuilt
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 9:18
  • I think it can be. Dictionaries say that 実質とは、 実際に事物に備わっている内容や性質。本質とは、 物事の根本的な性質・要素。そのものの本来の姿。 Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 9:34

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