Created for expats living in Japan

50+ Ways to Say Meat in Japanese: Beef, Pork, Chicken & More

With many Japanese foods achieving worldwide popularity, it is common to want to delve deeper into the cuisine and flavors that can be found in Japan. To help you on your culinary adventure, we’ve put together a list of the most common Japanese vocabulary for meat.

How to Say Meat in Japanese

Whether dining at a restaurant in Japan, shopping at a Japanese supermarket, or trying out a new Japanese recipe, you are likely to come across a variety of meat-related ingredients. Below is the most common vocabulary for different types of meat along with their pronunciations.

General Meat Vocabulary

Vocabulary Japanese Pronunciation
Meat niku
Beef 牛肉 gyuniku
Chicken 鶏肉 toriniku
Pork 豚肉 butaniku
Veal 子牛 koushi
Duck アヒル ahiru
Lamb 子羊 kohitsuji
Foie gras フォアグラ foagura
Rabbit ウサギ usagi
Turkey 七面鳥 shichimencho
Venison 鹿 shika
Squab ひな鳥 hinadori


Beef Vocabulary

Vocabulary Japanese Pronunciation
Top round, cap off steak うちもも(内もも/内腿) uchimomo
Beef clod / shoulder clod うで(腕) ude 
Flat iron steak 肩肉 kata niku
Brisket 肩バラ kata bara
Chuck roll 肩ロース kata rosu
Chuck flap ザブトン zabuton
Chuck rib 三角バラ sankaku bara
Tongue 牛タン gyutan
Sirloin サーロイン saroin
Short loin ショートローイン shoto roin
Boneless short rib 上カルビ jo karubi
Shank すね肉 sune niku
Bottom round 外もも肉 sotomomo niku
Chuck tail flap タチバラ tachibara
Tail  テール teru
Chuck tender トウガラシ tougarashi
Short plate トモバラ tomobara
Tenderloin ヒレ hire
Flank steak フランク furanku
Cheek ほほ肉 hohoniku
Bonep-in strip loin 骨付きサーロイン honetsuki saroin
Bone-in ribeye 骨付きリブアイ honetsuki ribuai
Round もも肉 momoniku
Top blade ミスジ misuji
Spencer roll リブロース riburosu
Lip-on ribeye roll リブロースカブリなし riburosu kaburi nashi
Lifter meat リブロースカブリ riburosu kaburi
Rib finger meat 肋間筋 rokkankin


Chicken Vocabulary

Vocabulary Japanese Pronunciation
Breast 鶏肉 mune niku
Breast tender / tender ささみ sasami
Drumstick 骨付きすね肉 honetsuki sune niku
Gizzard 砂肝 sunagimo
Thigh もも肉 koushi
Wing 手羽先 tebasaki


Pork Vocabulary

Vocabulary Japanese Pronunciation
Pork belly バラ肉 bara niku
Back rib バックリブ bakku ribu
Bone-in loin 骨付きロース honetsuki rosu
Ham もも肉 momo niku
Loin ロース rosu
Jowls 豚トロ tontoro
Picnic shoulder ピクニック・ウデ pikunikku ude
Spare rib スペアリブ supea ribu
Tenderloin ヒレ hire

Supermarket Meat Labels

While many of the words above are used on meat labels to explain the cut of meat, there are some additional words you may come across.

Free Range Chicken

When shopping for chicken, you may want to look for free range, or jidori (地鶏) chicken as opposed to broiler chicken (which isn’t labeled). These are the two main options at most supermarkets.

Domestically Produced Meat

If you are concerned about the origin of your meat, you might also want to check if it is domestic or imported. Domestically produced meat will be labeled 国産 (kokusan) while imported meat will be labeled 輸入 (yunyu). If the meat is imported, the country of origin will also be listed. The most common countries that Japan imports meat from are:

・Australia (オーストラリア)

・United States (アメリカ)

・Canada (カナダ)

・Brazil (ブラジル)

Ground Meat

Ground meat can be readily found in Japanese supermarkets and is used for a wide range of dishes. This can include anything from Japanese hamburg steak, to gyoza and curry. The various types of ground meat are labeled as follows.

Vocabulary Japanese Pronunciation
Ground beef 牛ひき肉 gyu hiki niku
Ground pork 豚ひき肉 buta hiki niku
Mixed ground beef and pork 合いびき肉 aibiki niku
Ground chicken 鶏ひき肉 tori hiki niku



Another common, yet often overlooked part of food culture in Japan, is horumon, which refers to organ meat and other offal meats. It sometimes goes by the name “motsu” as well.

Historically, horumon was eaten at times when meat was scarce and it was considered wasteful to throw away parts of the animal. However, it has developed into a standalone cuisine and is often celebrated in Japanese culture as being rich in nutrients and good for energy and stamina.

One of the most common types of horumon is liver (レバー or “leba”), which shouldn’t be too foreign to Western palates. However, esophagus, beef heart, diaphragm, and pancreas may be considered a little more adventurous.

Common Ways to Eat Horumon

One of the most common ways to eat horumon is by barbequing it, also known as yakiniku. Cooked over a small grill, horumon develops a unique and delicious flavor. The different types of horumon are often cheaper cuts of meat and so are a great way to experience yakiniku on a budget, or to mix in with more expensive cuts of meat. Yakiniku often comes with dipping sauces and vegetables to grill in accompaniment with the meat to make it a well-rounded and varied meal.

Another common way to eat horumon, along with other meats is through yakitori. Yakitori, or grilled skewers, is a popular style of food which can be enjoyed as a street food, in restaurants, or at festivals. Yakitori usually centers around chicken meat, but often includes chicken offal as options. It can be grilled with a simple salt seasoning or marinated with various sauces, and is a great way to experience horumon in a comfortable setting with a familiar style of food.

For something a bit different, there is also motsunabe. Motsunabe differs from yakiniku and yakitori in that it isn’t grilled meat, rather, it is more similar to a stew or hotpot. This dish comes from Fukuoka prefecture and consists of stewed meat, tofu, and sometimes vegetables in miso- or soy-based soup. It’s considered a very healthy dish as it is generally low in calories and high in protein, with the nutrient-rich horumon included. However, it isn’t just a “diet food,” as it is also hearty and great in winter.

Explore More about Japanese Food and Etiquette

Japan is home to a wide variety of top-quality cuisine and many of the most popular dishes include meat as a key ingredient. When exploring Japanese food, knowing the role of meat, as well as the different cuts and types used, can be very useful in further understanding Japan’s culinary culture. The vocabulary and tips above should help you on your journey to not only order different meat-based dishes, but also buy it at your local Japanese supermarket.

For more information about food in Japan, check out our comprehensive guides that cover everything from traditional ingredients like rice, and natto, to dietary restrictions (gluten free, food additives, and food allergies), nutrition labels, the best BBQ spots in Tokyo, and more!

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