Waku waku (わくわく) | Japanese Onomatopoeia

In Japanese, “waku waku” describes the feeling of having a bouncing heart. It expresses a state of restlessness, where the heart is filled with happiness and enjoyment.

So, what is Onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia imitates the sounds of nature, such as「どきどき doki doki(heartbeat)」「ざーざー zaa zaa(sound of water)」. Onomatopoeia also describes something that have no sound, such as ‘kira kira’ and ‘fuwa fuwa’. Onomatopoeia is characterized by repetitions of the same form of a word in a different form.

Wakuwaku is an example of an onomatopoeic word. “Waku waku” describes the feeling of excitement.
For example,
Kyou, kanojo to deeto ni ikimasu. Waku waku shimasu.
I’m going on a date with my girlfriend today. I’m excited.

Types of Onomatope (Onomatopoeia)

We will introduce you to some commonly used and memorable onomatopoeias here.
Take note and use them in your conversations!

Human and Animal Voice (Gion-go 擬音語)

えーん(E-n)Child’s cry
オギャー(Ogya-)Baby’s cry.
ウッウッ(U-u)Crying voice
ワンワン(Wan wan)Dog sounds
ニャーニャー(Nyaa nyaa)Cat sounds
チュンチュン(Chun chun)Bird sounds

Nature Sounds (Gion-go 擬音語)

ザーザー(Zaa zaa)Sounds of rain
ヒュー(Hyuu)Sounds of wind
パチパチ(Pachi pachi)Sounds of fire

Condition of things(Gitai-go 擬態語)

ニコニコ(Niko niko)Quietly laughing (Smile)
ニヤニヤ(Niya niya)Cunning grin
げたげた(Geta geta)Laugh
しくしく(Shiku shiku)Sobbing (crying)
キラキラ(Kira kira)Shining, glittering
ピカピカ(Pika pika)Bright, sparkling, shiny
バタバタ(Bata bata)Feet kicking (rushing)
どきどき(Doki doki)Fast heart beating
ワクワク(Waku waku)Feeling of excitement

Onomatopoeia: Use hiragana or katakana?

Many people wonder whether to use hiragana or katakana when using onomatopoeia. However, there is no rule that says “Onomatopoeia should be written in katakana!” There is no rule that says “Onomatopoeia should be written in katakana”, so it doesn’t matter.

In general, hiragana gives a softer impression, while katakana gives a stronger one.

For example,
If you see a full moon, saying 月がキラキラ輝いている(Tsuki ga kira kira kagayaiteiru)is more appropriate to use katakana since it describes how bright the full moon is. If you use hiragana, it will appear that the moon is shining normally, not like something out of the ordinary.

So, how do you want to express yourself? What impression do you want to convey? Depending on what kind of impression you want to create and how you want to express yourself, you should use hiragana and katakana differently.

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