How Bijin Differs in Meaning from Kirei and Utsukushii

As I explained how Kirei differs from Utsukushii before, today, I will explain how Bijin (美人) differs from those two words.

Bijin vs. Kirei/Utsukushii

Bijin or Kirei or Utsukushii

For beginners, first of all, Bijin and Kirei/Utsukushii are different in parts of speech. 

Bijin (美人)

Bijin (美人) is a noun composed of the Kanji character 美 (Bi) for beauty in English and the one 人 (Jin) meaning a person.

So the Japanese word 美人 literally stands for a beautiful person but usually refers to a beautiful woman.

Kirei (綺麗) and Utsukushii (美しい)

In contrast, Kirei (綺麗) and Utsukushii (美しい) are adjectives for pretty/beautiful in English.

While Utsukushii can be both attributive and predicative, Kirei can only be the latter.

When used as an attributive adjective, Kirei changes its form to Kireina (綺麗な).

Kireina Hito (綺麗な人) and Utsukushii Hito (美しい人)

The Kanji character for a person in English, 人, can also be read/pronounced as Hito. 

Since the core meaning of Kirei is pretty, Kireina Hito (綺麗な人) stands for a pretty woman.

Meanwhile, as Utsukushii is the word for beautiful, Utsukushii Hito (美しい人) refers to a beautiful woman, being synonymous with Bijin (美人).


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.