鼻 (Hana) vs. 花 (Hana) vs. 華 (Hana): Meaning in Japanese

When I hear はな or Hana (pronunciation), what comes to mind right away is these three Kanji characters, 鼻, 花, and 華, for we Japanese pronounce them the same way.

While the first two words, 鼻 and 花, distinctly differ in meaning and are among what I think Japanese learners should memorize in the early stage of learning,

the latter 華 can confuse them later, as it is associated with 花, but even Japanese many don’t know the difference in usage between the two Hana.

鼻 (Hana) vs. 花 (Hana) vs. 華 (Hana)

Hana Meaning in Japanese

As you may already know, the first Hana, 鼻, is the word for nose in English, and the second 花 is the noun for flower, blossom, or bloom.

It is easy to tell them apart, but how can you differentiate the last 華 from 花?

花 vs.

As seen in Kado/華, which is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, the last Hana/華 has another reading か/Ka, and based on Kotobank, it stands for being gorgeous, showy, or beautiful.

In other words, while 花 refers to actual flowers that plants bear, we often use 華 figuratively to express flowers-like gorgeousness, showiness, or beauty.

So the Japanese proverb Hana Yori Dango (dumplings are preferable to flowers) is 花より団子, and the floral pattern always translates as 花柄, and you can not replace these Hana with 華. 

The same is true of 華, and the Japanese phrases for gorgeous or attractive, Hanayaka/はなやか or Hana Ga Aru/はながある, are represented as 華やか or 華がある, and if you describe はながある as 花がある, that results in meaning there are flowers.


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.

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