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. Consider this situation
Situation 1: Meeting someone for the first time
Mr. Tanaka is arranged to meet with Ms. Hayasaka at the airport. Neither party has met the other before. She is waiting for him with a sign that has his name on it.
- Tanaka: Hajimemashite. Tanaka desu.
- Hayasaka: Youkoso, Tanaka-san. Hajimemashite. Hayasaka desu.
- Tanaka: Yoroshiku o-negai shimasu.
- Hayasaka: Kochira koso, yoroshiku o-negai shimasu.
- Tanaka: Pleased to meet you. I'm Mr. Tanaka.
- Hayasaka: Welcome, Mr. Tanaka. Pleased to meet you. I'm Ms. Hayasaka.
- Tanaka: I look forward to working with you.
- Hayasaka: Likewise, I look forward to working with you.
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.
- 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!)
Use "Ohayou" from waking to about 12:00, "Konnichiwa" until dusk, "Konbanwa" throughout the evening, and "Oyasumi" only before bed or sleeping.
Goodbye is done in two ways. Say "Sayonara" for goodbyes that are more formal or more permanent. A simple informal "bye bye" is fine for friends. Occasionally you will hear friends use "Ja ne," which is tough to translate. Literally, it would probably be more akin to "well, all right then," but it is employed in the same way as we would say bye bye.
Please and Thank you
Please has multiple ways of manifesting itself, as does Thank you, but keep in mind the two simple forms of these terms until the Honourifics section. Please is said as "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. It tends to be very nice though, and one begins to enjoy hearing exchanges of go-aisatsu (greetings). Everyday Japanese Phrases b:Japanese/Lessons/Introduction/Konnichiwa/Formal salutations b:Japanese: Lesson: Introducing yourself b:Japanese:Elementary Japanese: Lesson 1