My family has a very good relationship with a Japanese family since many decades ago. When I was a kid, I used to play when their sons, and I visited them once and stayed at their home for a month. Now that we are adults, we use to talk on social media and they have visited us sometimes.

In my language, we can use the word "family" as a hyperbole to mean really close friends (as in "you're such a good friend that I consider you my family"). Also, I feel like they are an extension of my family, since the two have been connected many years.

Would it be polite if I refer them casually as "家族" or "日本の家族"? (As in "I have a family from my country, but you are my family from Japan"). For example, when captioning a picture in which we appear together.

Since the Japanese meaning of family might be different, I am worried that they may find it a weird choice of words, but it is what I would say in my language. I tried to search this before asking, but it is too specific.

2 Answers 2


We may not use 家族 to refer to friends as much as in other cultures, but calling someone with whom you have a family-to-family relationship as you describe in your post 日本の家族 is totally acceptable, and it sounds quite natural as a caption to a photo in which you appear with them.

日本のお母さん, 日本のお父さん, 日本の兄弟, etc. would also be understood the way you would expect them to be.

  • 2
    Note that お母さん, お父さん is (also) a normal way of referring to someone who is indeed a mother/father (i.e. has a child). Even without any relationship to you.
    – Pablo H
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 18:04

Using just the word 家族 would most likely be interpreted in the literal sense in Japanese, i.e. that there is some kind of blood relationship or connection through marriage. If you are a foreigner and said 日本の家族 I suspect that would be interpreted as meaning you are married to a Japanese person and the 'family' you mean is the extended family of your spouse. The word isn't usually used figuratively in the same way it can be in English (although it may be possible). That said, you can put it in a simple phrase to make your intended meaning clear. Something like:

家族みたいな関係 a family-like relationship

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