Unlock the world of Japanese communication with our comprehensive guide, Master Basic Japanese Greetings: Easy Guide for Beginners. Delve into essential phrases and cultural insights that will set you on the path to confidently greet and interact with locals in Japan, while building a strong foundation for your language learning journey.
The Importance of Greetings
In Japan, it is said that greetings determine the first impression. Especially when talking to someone for the first time, the impression of the other person is determined by whether or not they can greet properly. Greeting each other can make both parties smile and make the next conversation go smoothly.
By giving appropriate greetings that fit the atmosphere, you can make a good impression on the other person and build a relationship of trust. Also, greetings play a role in adjusting the distance between people. Casual greetings are appropriate for close friends or younger people, but for bosses or older people, formal greetings using honorific language are necessary.
In addition, appropriate greetings are also very important in cross-cultural communication. Even if the greeting is natural for oneself, it may be inappropriate depending on the other person’s culture or customs. Conversely, appropriate greetings that fit the other person’s culture can help to facilitate communication.
Here are the pronunciation and usage of simple greetings that are used in everyday life.
Usage: A greeting used when meeting people during the day. It can be used in formal settings and to people who are older or younger, or close friends.
Ohayou gozaimasu (Good morning)
Pronunciation: Ohayou gozaimasu
Usage: A greeting used in the morning. It is used to greet someone for the first time or to one’s superior. It can be abbreviated to “OHAYOU” when used with close friends.
Konbanwa (Good evening)
Usage: A greeting used in the evening. It can be used in formal settings, to people who are older or younger, or close friends.
Arigatou (Thank you)
Usage: Used to express gratitude. It is the most commonly used greeting in Japanese, used for people who are older or younger or close friends. When using it politely, you can say “ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU”.
Gomen nasai (I’m sorry)
- Pronunciation: Gomen nasai
- Usage: A word of apology. Used when making a mistake or being rude.
Sumimasen (Excuse me or I’m sorry)
- Pronunciation: Sumimasen
- Usage: Used as an apology when one has caused inconvenience or unpleasant feelings to the other person. It can also be used when asking for something.
How to use when asking
Sumimasen korewo motteitte moraemasuka?
(Excuse me, could you take this with you?)
(Sure, of course.)
How to apologize
Gomennasai ima isogasidesu
（Sorry, I’m busy right now.）
（I see. I’m sorry）
- Pronunciation: Otsukaresama desu
- Usage: In Japan, “otsukaresama desu” is used to show appreciation or acknowledgement for someone’s hard work or effort. It is used not only in work or business situations, but also with friends and family to express support and encouragement. It is used after finishing work, after long hours of labor, or after completing a project. It is also used when someone has helped you with something.
In Japanese culture, greetings have a very important meaning. Greetings represent respecting others and valuing the connection between people. Also, communication with others starts with greeting each other for the first time, and it helps to shorten the distance between people. In Japan, greeting each other is considered a matter of course, and it is one of the important manners that cannot be neglected in social life. Not greeting someone can be considered rude or indifferent to the other
When visiting Japan and talking to Japanese people, start by greeting them with a smile. That’s where new communication begins.