Made in America: The difference between 産, 製, 作, and 品

I was recently studying for the JLPT N3.  For those of you who don’t know, this stands for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The lowest level is N5, and the top level (equivalent to a native speaker) is N1. The level I took is N3, around intermediate level. While it’s not quite where I hoped to be after four years of university and two years of living in Japan, if I pass it I’ll be grateful.

I stressed and crammed a lot. After I finished a test and checked my answers, I always analyzed why I got a question wrong so that I could try to avoid the same mistakes on the actual test. I have many practice test books. The good ones have the answers as well as an explanation of each answer. However, the official JLPT N3 practice test, does not have explanations (not so helpful for students studying alone).

(Me trying to understand Japanese by myself)

I turned to my Japanese co-workers for help.

Made in America

In the book, the following sentence appears:

このオレンジはアメリカ (  ) です。

This means

This orange is (     ) America.


The answer options are:

産(san)         製 (sei)          作(saku)          品(hin)

From what I could tell, they all mean a product. I looked each one up in the dictionary to find out the difference.


Native of; product of

-made; make

Work, production, harvest, yield

Item, article

Even after looking up the meanings in the dictionary, I was still pretty lost. My Japanese co-worker was able to clear it up for me.

This mean “product”, but it refers to a natural product, like a crop or resource.

This mean “made”, as in “man-made”. So, this is used to signify a product that was made by humans, like bags or TVs.

This is another product made by people. It usually refers to a work of art, like a statue or painting.

This means a “product”, but it’s not used after a country’s name. The best way my co-worker could explain it to me is that “It’s simply wrong”.

The Answer!

While they all mean roughly the same thing, their usage is difference. In the above example, because the product is “oranges”, we have to use  because it’s a natural resource of the U.S.


I hope this helps clear up this question for you guys!



(This post has nothing to do with Trump–sorry if I mislead you).