The Japanese have an absolute plethora of onomatopoeia and ideophones, many of which have very little to do with actual sounds. Our students here at Genki may come already knowing some from manga or other Japanese media, but I thought I would post about some less commonly known ones we discussed in our class last week.
If you are ever needing medicine or to go to the clinic here in Japan, there 3 could be useful
Hiri Hiri means a stinging sunburn kind of hurt
chiku chiku is a pricking pain, both empty and keen
zuki zuki is a throbbing pain pulsing pain.
For those who have ever heard of the pokemon Pikachu, which I imagine must be most of the world by now, this one may be enlightening, Pika Pika means to shine.
If you are a fan of storms, zaa zaa is a pouring drenching rain, while para para, as it sounds, is a much softer rain, a pitter patter if you will. Potsu potsu is a rain that falls intermittently, at times stopping. As far as thunder goes, goro goro means to roll, and is often used for a rolling thunder. (Or to mean you lazed about all day.) Don Don is, as it sounds when pronounced with a Japanese intonation, is a loud booming thunder. Gata Gata is the kind of loud thunderous noise that is reminiscent of earthquakes, a sound Japanese are familiar with.
Some other onomatopoeia you may hear commonly or already know are…
Jiro Jiro-to stare
Peco Peco- to be hungry
Pera Pera- to be adept or skilled at, most often applied to language and fluency.