Learning the basic greetings in Japanese language can help you become friends with the locals in the country. While 日本語 or Nihongo is only spoken in Japan, you might be surprised to know that millions from across the world are interested in mastering this Asian language. In fact, recent studies show that the number of institutions for this language is rising, making it part of the 25 most spoken languages in the world! So start learning the casual and formal greetings today in this post.
There is no denying that Japanese is a language that is pretty difficult to learn, especially for Westerners. One of the main reasons behind that is because it has three writing systems that are sometimes used simultaneously in written documents. This includes Hiragana (平仮名) for phonetic spelling, Katakana (カタカナ) for foreign words, and Kanji (漢字) which represents whole words adapted from Chinese characters. If this is your first time getting lessons in Japanese, we recommend that you start by familiarizing the basic Japanese greetings to help you grasp the pronunciation and the letters used.
If the French people like giving cheek kisses to greet someone, the Japanese do this by bowing at a certain angle and duration. And when we say bowing, we do not mean a simple nod! The Japanese culture reflects that the locals do the ojigi (お辞儀) because it shows respect and willingness to lower yourself in a vulnerable position in front of the other person. Please note that you are also expected to do this even if you are a foreigner just traveling to the country.
There are three types of bows that you can do while saying your Japanese greetings, and this includes:
Whenever we think about the best Japanese word to say hello, most of us always think of the konnichi wa. However, this is actually not used when you are greeting a friend or someone close to you. This is considered a formal greeting used in the office and is more appropriate during the afternoon.
In English, people can call you "bro..." but in Japanese, Osu is the word that is somewhat the same as that. If you are a guy who is looking for a trendier way of greeting your close brothers, then osu is the right word to use. This does not have a direct translation related to any greeting, but the locals know this to be informal and used only by the teens or in anime.
Sometimes, saying hello does not really mean that you translate the word directly in Japanese. For example, if you want to strike a conversation, you can simply ask o genki desu ka, which means "how are you?" in English. The common response for this is げんき です or genki desuwhich means "I am fine."
There are simple greetings that are usually used informally between friends and some close coworkers. This somehow is the same with the basic Oi in Portuguese or the Alo in Vietnamese. These can also be used when speaking with strangers who are younger than you.
If you want to say good morning to another person, you can simply say the ohayō gozaimasu or ohayō to sound more native. This is a simple way to greet someone and can be used in both formal and informal situations, making it a safe word to learn. Please note that some locals may sometimes have variations in how they pronounce this word, but you do not have to worry since the meaning stays the same.
If you want to say hello or greet someone good evening, you can use this polite word to almost anyone as this is considered the most common form. If you are going to break down its literal meaning, the characters can be directly translated to "this evening."
If you want to greet someone with a parting phrase, then the most common Japanese expression to use is Oyasuminasai which means "go take a rest."
This is greeting is usually used between kids, and you probably have heard of this on animes where the characters try to get attention. This is like the basic Yahoo! in English and is seen by the locals as a bit feminine.
This is also a question that can be used as a greeting and a conversation starter. This can be directly translated to "how is it going?" and is safe to be used for both formal and informal situations.
Among all the common Japanese greetings in this list, the best one you can use for greeting when answer the phone is moshi moshi. However, please note that this expression is better to use when you know that the one calling you is a family member, relative, or close friend.
If you plan to join a homestay program where you will share a home with a Japanese family, it would be wise to learn all the typical phrases and greetings that you might hear from the locals. Whether they are at work or home, the Japanese culture puts a premium on respect and etiquette, and this is the reason why you need to at least familiarize yourself with the ones listed below.
If ever you get invited to a Japanese home, please do remember that you should start greeting the family with the basic greetings like こんにちは(Konnichiwa) accompanied by a 30-degree angle bow, especially if you are speaking with the older people. After saying that, you must also say お邪魔します (Ojamashimasu), which is a formal greeting that means "excuse me for disturbing." Also, greet the host directly and give him or her the 手土産 (Temiyage) or a small gift which is important in their culture as it shows your thankfulness for being invited. Any gift will do, but the most common form is food, tea, or anything that can be consumed.
|Japanese||Pronunciation guide||Meaning||When to use|
|いってきます||Ittekimasu||I'll go now and will be back||When leaving the house|
|いってらっしゃい||Itterasshai||Please go and come back||Response when someone leaves the house|
|ただいま||Tadaima||I am home||When you are home from work|
|ただいま もどりました||Tadaima modorimashita||I am home (formal)||When you are home from work|
|おかえりなさい||Okaerinasai||Welcome back||Response when someone is back home|
|いただきます||Itadakimasu||I will eat now||To say that you are thankful for the food|
|ごちそうさまでした||Gochisōsama deshita||I enjoyed the meal||After finishing a meal|
As you probably noticed from the section above, Japanese people are keen on exchanging gifts. Therefore, if you are moving to Japan to start a new role in a company or public office, it would be wise to bring お土産 (Omiyage) from your home country. An Omiyage is basically a souvenir. Even if you are traveling to another part of Japan, the locals have a burning desire to bring gifts to their family, friends, classmates (if you are a student), and colleagues at work. The Omiyage are usually edible gifts too that are wrapped individually and are given face to face.
As for the working culture, the Japanese are known in the world to be some of the most hardworking people in the office. Therefore, there are times wherein they sometimes have to work overtime, and if you are planning to go home ahead of them, do note the greetings and polite Japanese phrases you can use.
|Japanese||Pronunciation guide||Meaning||When to use|
|よろしくおねがいします||Yoroshiku onegai shimasu||Nice to meet you||Meeting someone for the first time.|
|おさきにしつれいします||Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu||I'm going home||When you are leaving ahead of your coworkers|
|おつかれさまでした -||Otsukaresama deshita||You are tired||This is a compliment that means someone appreciates hard work.|
|お世話になります||Osewa ni narimasu||Thank you very much||Thanking colleagues for their help and kindness|
If you have watched a good number of animes and Japanese films, then you know that the most common poetic form of goodbye is さようなら or Sayonara. While the media rampantly use this, it actually is not the best way to say goodbye like a native speaker. In fact, an incorrect tone can even lead to awkwardness since most Japanese believe that this is like saying goodbye forever. If you want to learn the more acceptable versions for saying this greeting, read our translations below.
|またね||Dewa mata ne||See you later|
|また明日||Mata ashita||See you tomorrow|
|また来週||Mata raishū||See you next week|
|さらばだ||Saraba da||Goodbye (poetic)|
As we reach this part of the post, we hope that you were able to learn Japanese greetings that are more natural sounding than those you can come across in the movies. If you enjoyed this post and would love to master other ways to greet someone, then be sure to check out our previous posts like how to greet in Latvian, Tagalog, and Spanish languages.
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