I am currently studying this Kanji. In addition to the original meaning of rice, it also has other meanings of meter (SI unit of length) and America. In English and my mother tongue Indonesian, "America/Amerika" can refer to two things: the continent, and the country (United States of America). I have seen 米's usage in books and TV news to refer to the USA, and I wonder if the Kanji 米 is also used to refer to the continent of America. Thank you!

  • Not exactly a duplicate, but the following should answer your question. japanese.stackexchange.com/q/82745/45489
    – sundowner
    Jun 16 at 13:25
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    Note that in much of the Anglosphere North America and South America are considered two continents collectively called 'The Americas'
    – Angelos
    Jun 16 at 16:13

1 Answer 1


There are a few words where the 米 kanji is used to mean "America" in the continental or regional sense, as opposed to the specific country of the United States of America:

  • 北米【ほくべい】: North America
  • 南米【なんべい】: South America
  • 中米【ちゅうべい】: Central America
  • 中南米【ちゅうなんべい】: Central and South America (sometimes erroneously used to refer to Latin America -- erroneous, because Mexico is in North America, and is generally not included in Central America)
  • 米州【べいしゅう】: the Americas -- North and South America collectively
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    Not sometimes but almost always in non-technical contexts.
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 17 at 4:51

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