Japanese suffix ー作り (-zukuri)

By | November 3, 2014

One thing that makes learning a foreign language satisfying is when you learn something that can be applied to many different areas – effectively multiplying the productivity of your study efforts. One such area is prefixes and suffixes, where knowledge of a certain word helps you guess the meaning of new words.

When studying Japanese one runs into many such cases, especially when studying Kanji since oftentimes the meaning of a certain Kanji combination can be inferred by knowing the meaning of each of that word’s Kanji components. Sometimes, just from hearing a certain prefix or suffix you can guess the meaning which helps learning new words quickly.

“-作り” (“-zukuri”) is a suffix which comes from the verb 作る (tsukuru) which means “to make, to manufacture, to grow”. This suffix is used in several expressions to mean something which is created or made. I’ll introduce a few of these words, and once you grasp the general pattern you’ll have no problem understanding other words which use this suffix.

手作り (tezukuri) – hand made

庭作り (niwazukuri) – gardening

荷造り (nizukuri) – packing (luggage)

役作り (yazukuri) – practicing a part for a play or show

雰囲気作り (funikizukuri) – creating a certain atmosphere

町作り (machizukuri) – the process of building up a city or cultural within a city

The last two of these weren’t in the dictionary, but I had heard them in a Japanese podcast and was able to infer their meaning from context.

作り can also be used as a suffix, as in the following words:

作り話 (tsukuribanashi) – made up story

作り上げる (tsukuriageru) – complete, build up

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2 thoughts on “Japanese suffix ー作り (-zukuri)

  1. evyon25

    I think that 荷造り only refers to packing on a more industrial level. When つくる uses the 作 kanji, it’s a regular kind of making, but 造 refers to large-scale creation or manufacturing.

    1. locksleyu Post author

      Thanks for the comment! However I am pretty sure my usage is correct. (:

      Not only have I used this Kanji with my Japanese wife but there are a bunch of websites that use it in the same way (to mean light ‘packing’) :

      (http://allabout.co.jp/gm/gc/187031/ http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1423803129

      However I do agree with you that the kind of nuance is sometimes true when using those two kanji (作 vs 造)


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