How To Become A Japanese Greeting Master! 

 July 8, 2020

By  Sohail Oz Ali

First impressions are important and the first things out of your mouth will most likely be the way people remember and interact with you. And if you are hoping to have a good relationship with Japanese people than making sure you have greetings and introductions down packed would be a good idea.

The Japanese have many different ways of greeting people from polite to casual and knowing when to use which greeting is important if you want to sound more fluent and knowledgeable. So let’s get to know some important Japanese greetings and when to use them.

We’ll break down the various types of greetings that exist in Japanese and the politeness level so you can know which greeting to use and with whom. Let’s get started!

How To Become A Japanese Greeting Master!

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening in Japanese

The first thing when meeting someone is most likely to be the introduction greeting.

"Good morning" in Japanese

Ohayou gozaimasu おはようございます (polite)
Ohayou おはよう (casual)
Osu! おっす! (super casual, usually used by men)

"Good afternoon" in Japanese

Konnichiwa こんにちは (polite)
Ya-ho やほー (super casual, usually used by women)

"Good evening" in Japanese

Konbanwa こんばんは (used in all situations)

"Good night" in Japanese

Oyasuminasai おやすみなさい (polite)
Oyasumi おやすみ (casual)

"Goodbye" in Japanese

Sayonara さよなら (polite)
Ja, mata ne! じゃ、またね (casual)
Bye bye バイバイ (super casual)

"Hello" in Japanese ( on the phone only)

Yes, this is Smith from Portex Co. Hai, Portex Company no Smith desu はい、ポーテクス会社のスミスです
Hello Moshi Moshi もしもし

First Encounters

If you are meeting someone for the first time, it would be appropriate to greet someone and introduce yourself. Here is a good way to start a conversation with someone you have first contact with:


Good morning. Ohayo Gozaimasu おはようございます
Nice to meet you. Hajimemashite はじめまして
I am John Wright. John Wright to moushimasu. ジョンライトともします
I come from New York, America. America no New York kara kimashita. アメリカのニューヨークからきました。
I look forward to working with you. Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu. よろしくお願いします。


Moring! Ohayo おはよう
Nice to meet you. Hajimemashite はじめまして
I’m John Wright. John Wright desu. ジョンライトです
An American from New York. New York no Americajin desu ニューヨークのアメリカ人です
Great to meet you. Yoroshiku! よろしく!

Useful Greetings in Japanese

Once you have the first greetings out of the way, you most likely want to be able to have basic greetings and small talk that is popular among people when they first start a conversation. Here are some of the most popular things people say to each other when they first meet.

"How are you?" in Japanese

O genki desu ka? お元気ですか (polite)
Genki desu ka? 元気ですか (casual)
Genki? 元気? (super casual)

"Long time, no see!" in Japanese

Gobusatashiteorimasu ごぶさたしております (super polite)
Hisashiburi desu ひさしぶりです (polite)
Hisashiburi ひさしぶり (casual)

"How’s it going?" in Japanese

Choushi wa dou desu ka? ちょうしはどうですか?(polite)
Choushi dou? ちょうしどう? (casual)

"Nice weather, eh?" 

Ii tenki desu ne? いいてんきですね? (polite)
Ii tenki da ne? いいてんきだね? (casual)

Coming and Going

In Japan there are special phrases used when leaving or arriving at work or home as well. Sometimes you need to leave early before others in your workplace which requires a special parting greeting while other times you need to thank others for the work they have done.

Here are some important phrases you should get used to hearing and using if you are going to be working or living in Japan.

Good morning! I am starting work.Ohayou Gozaimasu! Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu. おはようございます!よろしくおねがいします
Let’s do our bestOtsukaresama desu おつかれさまです
I am stepping out for a bitIttekimasu いってきます
Take care while you are goneItterashai いってらっしゃい
I am backTadaima ただいま
Welcome backOkaerinasai おかえりなさい
Thanks for all your hard workOtsukaresama deshita おつかれさまでした
I am leaving work before youOsakini shitsurei shimasu. おさきにしつれいします

All of these phrases can be used for work or school situations. When you are at home and stepping out for a bit you can use the phrases for stepping out and returning as well.  

Knowing these phrases will go a long way both in the workplace or in any situation where you are placed with a group of Japanese people. Especially the phrases Otsukaresama desu (おつかれさまです) and Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu (よろしくおねがいします)which are used constantly throughout the day as greetings when you pass each other.

Saying Sorry and Thank You in Japanese

Another important greeting or phrase that you need to know is saying excuse me, sorry and thank you! There are many situations where you can use these important phrases and they should definitely be in your front pocket of words to remember in Japanese.

"Thank you" in Japanese

どうもありがとうございます (polite)
ありがとう (casual)
どうも (super casual)

"Sorry" in Japanese

Moushiwake arimasen もうしわけありません (super polite)
Gomenasai ごめんなさい (polite)
Gomen ne ごめんね (casual)
Gomen ごめん (super casual)

"Excuse me" in Japanese

Mendo wo kakete sumimasen めんどうかけてすみません (super polite)
Sumimasen すみません (polite)
Shitsurei shimasu しつれいします(polite)

Bowing in Japanese

You might think bowing in Japan is a stereotype and is not done as much as people imagine but it is actually quite popular and second nature to Japanese. Along with verbal greetings, an important greeting to know about in Japanese culture is when to bow.

You will see Japanese people bowing in all situations. The rule is when bowing to people of similar status or lower to just bow the same level as they do.

However for someone of importance like a boss or high ranking individual, most Japanese will bow much lower to show respect. There are so many times and reasons to bow my rule is when in doubt, bow.

Here are some common situations where you will bow. Depending on the situation the bow can be just a slight nod of the head all the way to a deep bow of respect.

  • When meeting a friend, family or coworker
  • When entering a meeting or office
  • When thanking someone for something
  • When apologizing for something
  • When saying goodbye
  • When a boss, teacher or manager start or finish a meeting
  • Before and after introducing yourself at a meeting or gathering
  • Before and after giving a speech or presentation


Communication and both visual and physical cues are very important when greeting in any language. So along with these phrases in Japanese a great smile, eye contact and positive body language is the best way to ensure you make a great first impression when meeting people. 

As a foreigner, Japanese people will forgive you if you accidentally use a casual phrase instead of a polite phrase if your appearance and expression is genuine and open. Bowing and showing respect is always a good way to ensure your intentions are clear and it’s always better to start a little more formal in your greetings to show respect. 

Once you have created a good bond with the person you will be able to better read your relationship and going forward can use casual Japanese.

Sohail Oz Ali

Sohail Oz Ali is a Canadian Youtuber, author and blogger who has lived in Hokkaido, Nagoya and now resides in Chiba. Between visits to Karaoke and revolving sushi restaurants, he enjoys walking his dog, watching Japanese love dramas and teaching English. You can also find him roaming the streets of Japan looking for the next big Japanese trends.

Your Signature

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter now!