Basic Japanese greetings

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Greetings are very important to know in Japan. It is something even Japanese people don't truly master, and yet it is a huge and important subject. This short lesson will go over the easier and more useful forms of address and greetings. Literal meanings are given in parentheses ().

Hello[edit]

Saying hello takes many different forms, depending on the time of day. The Japanese have no one word for hello, they instead have three major greetings based on morning, afternoon, and evening, and a form used when speaking on the telephone.

Use "Ohayou" from waking to about 12:00, "Konnichiwa" until dusk, "Konbanwa" throughout the evening, and "Oyasumi" only before bed or sleeping.

Good Morning!
「おはようございます」 "Ohayou-gozaimasu!" or simply "Ohayou!" (it is early)
Good Afternoon!
「こんにちは」 "Konnichiwa!" (this day)
Good Evening!
「こんばんは」 "Konbanwa!" (this night)

Now that wasn't too painful, was it? There's one more thing you should know how to say along these lines, and that's good night, used before someone goes to bed.

Good Night
「おやすみなさい」 "Oyasuminasai" or just "おやすみ" "Oyasumi!" (Take a rest!)
Hello? (Answering a telephone)
「もしもし」 "Moshi moshi"

Avoid the common mistake of saying 「むしむし」 "Mushi mushi" which actually means "bugs bugs" or "ignore and ignore". Yes is Hai and No is Iie...

Saying Goodbye![edit]

Goodbye is done in two ways. Say "Sayounara" for goodbyes that are more formal or more permanent. A simple informal "bai bai" ("bye bye") is fine for friends. Occasionally you will hear friends use "Ja ne," which is tough to translate. Literally, it is probably more akin to "Well, all right then," but it is employed in the same way as English speakers would say "bye bye", or "see you."

Please and Thank you[edit]

Please has multiple ways of manifesting itself, as does Thank you, but we will learn only the two simple forms of these terms until the Honourifics section.

  • Please is "Kudasai" or "Onegaishimasu."
  • Thank you is "Arigatou."

Further expansion on this subject of thanks and requests will be dealt with in the Honourifics section as the giving and receiving of gifts is an important part of Japanese culture, and the language thereof is both more slightly complex and very flowery.

See Also[edit]


Go to the Department of Japanese