5.4 Telling and Asking One’s Place of Origin

Describing your place of origin in Japanese is a simple and friendly way to connect with others. To express your home country or home town, you can use the word 出身 (しゅっしん).

You can use 出身(しゅっしん) either as a stand-alone word or attach it to the place you’re from, as in オーストラリア出身 for ‘Australia-born’.

One of the easiest ways to use this word is within the sentence structure ‘XはYです’ (X is Y). For example, you can say:


Watashi no shusshin wa Oosutoraria desu.

My home country is Australia.



Watashi wa Oosutoraria shusshin desu.

I’m from Australia.


Sharing where you’re from with friends or new acquaintances can be an enjoyable experience. It not only reveals a piece of your personal background but also provides an opportunity to discuss culture and customs.

For example, after using the phrase 私の出身はYです (Watashi no shusshin wa Y desu) as an icebreaker to state your origin, you might expand the conversation further:


Watashi no shusshin wa Burajiru desu.

My home country is Brazil.

ブラジルの人(ひと: people or person)は音楽(おんがく: ongaku)が大好(だいす)きです。

Burajiru no hito wa ongaku ga daisuki desu.

People in Brazil love music.

食べ物(たべもの: food)もおいしいですよ

Tabemono mo oishii desu yo.

The food is also good.

This kind of conversation can arouse the interest of the person you’re talking to, sparking engaging discussions.


In addition, building on what we’ve learned in Module 3.2 about turning ‘XはYです’ into a question, you can ask about someone’s place of origin using the question word どこ (doko: where). The typical question format is:


Shusshin wa doko desu ka.

Where are you from?

So, when describing your place of origin, don’t hesitate to use 出身 and engage in friendly conversations. It’s an excellent opportunity to make new friends and share the unique aspects of your background!


出身 or -人 (じん)?

In Japanese, as in other languages, there are several ways to describe where you’re from in Japanese.

The term 出身 is widely used, but 人 (jin: じん), indicating nationality, is also common. This suffix, 人, is appended to a country’s name, such as オーストラリア人 (Oosutoraria-jin) for ‘Australian’ or 日本人 (Nihon-jin) for ‘Japanese’.

However, given the diverse and complex nature of modern identities, 出身 can provide a more nuanced description of one’s background compared to -人 (-jin), which mainly refers to nationality. This distinction is important for capturing the multifaceted nature of individual identities, acknowledging that people’s cultural and ethnic backgrounds may transcend simple national definitions.

Recognising the difference between 出身 and -人 is essential for appreciating and articulating the rich diversity within our global community, emphasising that personal identities are often more complex than nationality alone.


Exercise 1

Here is a list of the romaji and English translations for the countries mentioned:

  • 中国(ちゅうごく), Chuugoku, China
  • インド(いんど), Indo, India
  • 日本(にほん), Nihon, Japan
  • ニュージーランド(にゅうじいらんど), Nyuujiirando, New Zealand
  • ネパール(ねぱある), Nepaaru, Nepal
  • イギリス(いぎりす), Igirisu, England
  • インドネシア(いんどねしあ), Indoneshia, Indonesia
  • 韓国(かんこく), Kankoku, South Korea
  • ブラジル(ぶらじる), Burajiru, Brazil
  • ウクライナ(うくらいな), Ukuraina, Ukraine
  • セネガル(せねがる), Senegaru, Senegal
  • フィンランド(ふぃんらんど), Finrando, Finland
  • カナダ(かなだ), Kanada, Canada
  • フランス(ふらんす), Furansu, France




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Japanese Introductory 1 Copyright © 2024 by Iori Hamada is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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