Imagine, you are going to work or study in Japan. The first thing you will need is Jikoshoukai (self introduction), during which it’s essential to mention your hobbies or interests (shumi, kyoumi). Hobbies are also a good conversation starter when you meet new people or talk about last weekend. So, don’t waste any time and get right into it.
Hobbies. Everyone has at least one. And you sure can talk about yours for hours. But, can you do that in Japanese? This post will teach you how to talk about your interests the easy way.
Asking about someone’s hobbies
The conversation usually starts with a question. So, how would you ask someone about how they usually spend their free time? Here are some handy phrases:
Shumi wa nan desu ka? What is your hobby?
Nani ni kyōmi ga arimasu ka? What are you interested in?
Hima na toki wa nani o shimasu ka. What are you doing in your free time?
Shuumatsu ni wa nani o suru no ga suki desu ka. What do you like to do on a weekend?
Some simple or common answers to these questions could be something like this.
Sakkaa o shimasu. I play football. (neutral form)
Hon o yomu. I read books. (casual form)
Oyogu no ga suki. I like to swim.
Suiei ga suki. I like swimming.
Hobby expressed with a noun
This is the most simple expression that you study during the second or third Japanese lesson. The sentence pattern is as follows:
Shumi wa (noun) desu.
If you are a beginner, you should get familiar with it right now. Let’s have a look at some examples. And try to form a sentence by yourself too.
Shumi wa terebigēmu desu. My hobby are videogames.
Watashi no shumi wa terebi to hon desu. My hobby is TV and books.
Watashi no tomodachi no shumi wa ongaku desu. My friend’s hobby is music.
Now, let’s learn how to incorporate activities in your sentence and make it more complex. Shall we?
Nominalize verbs using の
Nominalization is a process in which a verb is used as a noun. Creating nouns from verbs in Japanese is very easy. Just add the particle の (no) after the plain form of a verb. For example: to eat –> eating; taberu –>taberu no. Think of the verb and particle の as one entity.
There are various situations, in which you use this form. For example, expressing what action you like or don’t like; or in what activity you’re good or bad, and so on.
The grammar pattern is as follows:
Dictionary form of a verb + の
Now, when you know how to create nouns out of verbs, let’s continue with talking about your interests and use the learned grammar in sentences.
Talk about what you like or don’t like doing
A very simple way of talking about your hobbies is to say what you like. Or maybe don’t like. If you say that you like some objects or other things expressed with nouns, the sentence structure is very simple.
Sushi ga suki desu. I like sushi.
Umi ga suki. I like the ocean.
Sore ga suki de wa nai. I don’t like that.
On the other hand, to say that you like doing some activity, use the nominalization you have just learned. Here are some examples again.
Hon o yomu no ga suki. I like reading books.
Neru no ga suki. I like sleeping.
Neru no ga suki de wa arimasen. I don’t like sleeping.
A little tip for beginners. The key is to keep your sentences short and simple. Use the grammar you already know. If you plan to meet your Japanese friends or write them an email, learn or prepare the vocabulary beforehand. A very good practice is to conduct imaginary dialogues. That means, to pretend a conversation in your head and try to form sentences. Check the end of this post for a sample “hobby-talk”.
Say that you’re a fan of something
There are many ways how to express your hobbies. One of them is to say, that you are a fan of something. The sentence structure is quite simple, too. Just look at the following examples.
(Watashi wa) Sakkā no fan desu. I am a football fan.
Watashi no dōryō wa Nihon no ongaku no fan desu. My colleague is a fan of Japanese music.
Watashi no kareshi wa basukettobōru to origami no fan desu. My boyfriend is a fan of basketball and origami.
Taberu koto no fan desu. I am a fan of eating.
As you probably noticed in the last example sentence, the nominalization can be done also by using koto. I will explain it now.
Nominalize verbs using こと
The sentence Taberu koto no fan desu shows another interesting way of how to nominalize verbs. The words taberu and fan cannot be combined directly with the particle の(no), because in this case, the -no fan desu is a constant expression. の in this phrase indicates a relation. That means you cannot change the particle and taberu cannot stand before it, because it’s a verb. That is why you add koto after the verb. Koto means “a thing”. Literally, the sentence Taberu koto no fan desu could be literally translated as I am a fan of the eating thing.
Now you maybe wonder what is the difference between no and koto. Well, in many cases, の and こと are interchangeable, but as always there are some exceptions. However, that is a far more advanced grammar and I will not talk about it in this post.
Expressing your interests
The next sentence patterns are a little more complex, but quite simple. The sentences both mean the same thing, just expressed with another words.
X ni kyōmi ga arimasu
X ni kanshin ga arimasu
Literally, it means I have an interest in X. Here are some examples:
Nihon no rekishi ni kyōmi ga arimasu. I have an interest in the history of Japan.
Kankyō mondai ni totemo kanshin ga arimasu. I have a big interest in environmental problems.
Kore wa zenzen kyōmi ga arimasen. I am not interested in this at all.
Supōtsu ni kyōmi ga aru. I am interested in sports. (informal speech)
Another way of expressing your interests is to use the verb motsu (to hold, to possess). Although the verb is usually used for physical objects, it can be also used to say what you are interested in. In this case, the sentence pattern is slightly different:
X ni kyōmi wo motte iru
Compare the following example with the above structures. Do you see the difference?
Nihon no rekishi ni kyōmi wo motte imasu. I am interested in the history of Japan.
Combine more hobbies in one sentence
When combining more items in one sentence, it’s allowed to list 2-3 items. Also, the sentence looks different for combined verbs and for combined activities i.e. verbs.
First way is to simply connect two or three nouns with the particle と (to).
Shumi wa sushi to hon desu. My hobby is sushi and books.
Another way is to connect 2-3 activities by using たり する(-tari suru). Tari is attached to the -ta form of a verb i.e. to the plain past form. Based on the plain past form of a verb, the ending is either –tari or –dari.
Manga o yondari eiga o mitari shimasu. I read manga and watch movies.
As you see in the above example, the plain past form of yomu is yonda. Yonda+ri=yondari. The plain past form of a verb miru is mita. Again, mita+ri=mitari; and add suru at the end of the sentence to express that you are doing those activities.
This is a model Japanese conversation about hobbies. Use it to talk about your interests.
B: 私は趣味がたくさんあります。 しかし、私は日本語を勉強するのが好きです。数年前に日本語を学び始めました。
B: いいえ、いいえ。週末には友達とスポーツをします。 私たちはバスケットボールに興味があります。休みの日は何をしますか？
A: Shumi wa nan desu ka?
B: Watashi wa shumi ga takusan arimasu. Shikashi, watashi wa nihongo o benkyō suru no ga suki desu. Sūnen mae ni nihongo o manabi hajimemashita.
A: Shūmatsu mo benkyō shimasu ka?
B: Iie, iie. Shūmatsu ni wa tomodachi to supōtsu o shimasu. Watashitachi wa basukettobōru ni kyōmi ga arimasu. Yasumi no hi wa nani o shimasu ka?
A: Hon o yondari eiga o mitari shimasu.
A: What is your hobby?
B: I have a lot of hobbies. But, I like learning Japanese language. I started learning Japanese several years ago.
A: Do you study also during weekends?
B: No, no. I do sports with friends on weekends. We are interested in basketball. What do you do on your days off?
A: I read books and watch movies.
So, can you say now what are your hobbies?