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How to Say Happy New Year in Japanese & New Year Wishes

Learn all the Japanese New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join JapanesePod101 for a special Japanese New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in Japanese

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March - December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

So, how do you say Happy New Year in Japanese? Let a native teach you! At JapanesePod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these Japanese New Year wishes!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate New Year in Japan
  2. Must-Know Japanese Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in Japanese
  4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  7. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn Japanese

But let’s start with some vocabulary for Japanese New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. How to Celebrate New Year in Japan

On New Year’s Day, the whole world celebrates the start of the year. While the calendar marks only January 1st as a holiday, in Japan we celebrate the period from the 1st to the 3rd, known as 三が日 (Sanganichi). Some companies and stores close during this time, and a number of unique events and customs take place. When you meet someone for the first time in the new year, be sure to greet them with, “明けましておめでとうございます。(Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu!)” That’s Japanese for “Happy New Year!”

You’ll also hear 良いお年を。(Yoi o-toshi o.) at the end of the year and it’s often translated into “Happy New Year!” in English. The difference between 明けましておめでとうございます。 and 良いお年を。is, 良いお年を。is only used before the New Year and 明けましておめでとうございます。 is used in the New Year. 謹賀新年 (きんがしんねん; kingashinnen) means ‘Happy New Year’ too but it’s a written form so you’ll only see it on your 年賀状 (ねんがじょう; nengajou), which is a Japanese New Year’s card.

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: what do you call the morning of New Year’s Day?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.

New Year’s Day celebrations generally begin with the first sunrise of the year, with people worshiping at homes, the beach, and mountains. 雑煮(zōni) - “rice cakes boiled with vegetables” - and おせち(osechi) dishes - “festive New Year’s food” — are eaten on New Year’s Day. 雑煮 (zōni) is a soup containing rice cakes, the seasoning of which depends on the family and region. There’s a saying that goes, “Just like a rice cake stretches, so shall one’s lifespan.” So, this soup is eaten with the hope for longevity. おせち(osechi) dishes are also eaten with the wish of having a happy and safe year. In order to seek blessings for the year, families and friends wear their finest clothes and visit a shrine.

In Japan, it’s customary to send New Year’s cards to friends or acquaintances who have helped you in the previous year. In the cards, we write greetings and hopes for the year, as well as information on how the person or family is getting along. A picture of an animal representing the zodiac sign for the new year is also included. In the past, people would either visit the homes of their acquaintances, or receive acquaintances as guests in their homes with the New Year’s custom called お年始 (o-nenshi). This custom has been simplified gradually to the point where only greeting cards are exchanged.

Children receive お年玉 (o-toshidama), meaning “New Year’s gifts” from their parents, grandparents, relatives, and parents’ friends. The traditional gift is money. Since this only happens at New Year, children get very excited about it. お年玉 (o-toshidama) are placed into a paper envelope called an お年玉袋 (o-toshidama bukuro). The average amount given to an elementary school-aged child is around 3,000 to 5,000 yen. As they grow older, middle school-aged children receive around 5,000 yen, and those in high school receive around 10,000 yen.

Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that while people go to a shrine to pray during New Year’s Day, some visit the shrine at midnight as time passes from the previous year to the New Year? This practice of making a midnight visit is called 二年参り(ninen-mairi).

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: what do you call the morning of New Year’s Day?

The correct answer is 元旦 (gantan). Two characters form this word. The second character, 旦 (tan), is made up of the character for “sun,” with a single horizontal line drawn under it. With these pictographs combined, the character represents the sun rising over the horizon. And taken together, the two characters 元旦 (gantan) represent the morning of January 1st.

Happy New Year!
Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu!

2. Must-Know Japanese Words & Phrases for the New Year!

Japanese Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Year


This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in Japan could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

2- Midnight


The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

3- New Year’s Day


In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

4- Party


A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

5- Dancing


Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

6- Champagne


Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

7- Fireworks


These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

8- Countdown

kaunto daun

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts - a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

9- New Year’s Holiday


In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday - to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

10- Confetti


In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

11- New Year’s Eve


This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

12- Toast


A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

13- Resolution


Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

14- Parade


New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At JapanesePod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what Japanese New Year celebrations are like!

3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

So, you learned the Japanese word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at JapanesePod101 - what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your Japanese friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

Hon o takusan yomu.

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more Japanese in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your Japanese language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

Kazoku to ōku no jikan o sugosu.

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight


Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

O-kane o tameru.

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to JapanesePod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year - it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking


This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

Naraigoto o hajimeru.

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess - no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

O-sake no ryō o herasu.

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

Undō no shūkan o minitsukeru.

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

Kenkō-teki na shokuseikatsu o kokorogakeru.

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study Japanese with JapanesePod101

Japanīzu poddo ichi maru ichi dotto komu de Nihongo o benkyō suru tsumori desu.

Of course! You can only benefit from learning Japanese, especially with us! Learning how to speak Japanese can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. JapanesePod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special Japanese new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in Japanese, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read Japanese incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with JapanesePod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in Japanese could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in Japanese - it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with Japanese - learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

7. Why Enrolling with JapanesePod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn Japanese! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that JapanesePod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning Japanese at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with Japanese that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

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There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning Japanese with JapanesePod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese

How to Say Merry Christmas in Japanese

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese? JapanesePod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Japanese Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Japanese speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, JapanesePod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Japan
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Japan

Christmas Words in Japanese

As everyone knows, Christmas is a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. In Japan, this holiday is a major event but does not have any religious association. Instead, it’s celebrated with secular traditions. The day is an especially happy one for children, who receive a present from Santa Claus.

Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: when did Christmas come to be recognized in Japan?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later.

From the start of November, cities are adorned with Christmas trees and Christmas sales begin. It’s a happy time when people choose presents for their family, friends, and partners. The stores play a never-ending selection of Christmas songs, which helps to excite the hearts of the shoppers. Department stores, bakeries, and convenience stores often sell Christmas cakes. A wide variety of Christmas cakes are sold, ranging from the ever-popular strawberry and fresh cream cake, all the way to some quite elaborate versions. Some places accept orders from October. Also, sales of chicken increase at Christmas. Trees on the streets are decorated with LED lights that beautifully illuminate the nights of midwinter.

On Christmas Eve, children place a stocking by their bed and are excited to wake up the following morning to find a present left by Santa Claus. Parents prepare in advance by asking their children what kind of toy they would like.

At Christmas, more and more Japanese are enjoying a Christmas dinner at home with their family rather than eating out. Single people often eat dinner with their friends or partner, and they exchange gifts and hold parties. Among the younger generation, there is tendency for people to spend a romantic Christmas with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Here’s our fun fact for the day! Do you know what the most famous Japanese Christmas song is? It’s no exaggeration to say that the most famous song is “Christmas Eve” by 山下達郎 (Tatsuro Yamashita). It’s a popular song in which the lyrics speak of lovers unable to meet on Christmas Eve.

Now it’s time to answer the quiz question: when was Christmas recognized in Japan?

The correct answer is the Meiji era, beginning in the late 19th century. 明治屋 (Meiji-Ya) is a food import company that established a branch in Ginza and held one of the first Christmas sales there. Because of this, celebrating Christmas became more widespread. With each passing year, Christmas becomes more and more of a major annual event, and perhaps could be considered one of the most fun occasions for the Japanese.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!


Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

Kuwanza omedetō!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

Yoi o-toshi o.

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

Hanūka omedetō!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

Ī fuyu yasumi o!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

Mata rainen!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

Go-takō o oinori shite imasu.

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Japanese Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

Ī kyūka o!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Japanese, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

Kyūka o tanoshinde ne!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

Shin’nen ga yoi toshi de arimasu yō ni.

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Japanese! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At JapanesePod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas


This is the Japanese word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Japanese will include this word!

2- Snow


In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

yuki no kesshō

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman


As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey


Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath


Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer


Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

Santa Kurōsu

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf


An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

akahana no tonakai

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole


The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled


A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present


Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell


On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney


The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace


In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day


This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

装飾 装飾

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking


According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly


Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

jinjābureddo hausu

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

kyandī kein

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe


Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Japanese, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Japanese! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. JapanesePod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Visit JapanesePod101!

We don’t just say this - we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From Japanese for Absolute Beginners to Advanced Japanese, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, JapanesePod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Japanese. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in JapanesePod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!

How to Learn Japanese Through Fairy Tale Stories

Top 6 Japanese Fairy Tale Stories and Characters

Hi Listeners,

Do you know what the top 6 Japanese fairy tales are?

Reading short stories in Japanese is a fun way to learn the Japanese language and culture. Check out the 6 Japanese fairy tale stories below and learn must-know folk story words and phrases in Japanese!

1. Top 6 Japanese Fairy Tales

Top 6 Japanese Fairy Tales

1. Momotarō, the Peach Boy

The Japanese title is 桃太郎 (ももたろう; Momotarō). Born from a peach and raised by an old couple, Momotaro grows into a strong boy and starts fighting evil creatures. He is a symbol of bravery and humility.

2. The Crane of Gratitude

The Japanese title is 鶴の恩返し (つるのおんがえし; Tsuru no on-gaeshi). An old man frees a crane and later takes in a young woman. Behind closed doors, she turns into a crane and makes beautiful cloth out of her feathers.

3. The Rollong Rice-balls

The Japanese title is おむすびころりん (Omusubi kororin). A kind man drops his rice-ball and follows it down a hole into the mouse world. He’s rewarded, but when a mean-spirited man tries the same, he is punished.

4. The Inch-High Samurai

The Japanese title is 一寸法師 (いっすんぼうし; Issun bōshi). A boy who is only an inch tall protects a noblewoman from a demon. He’s swallowed by the demon and fights his way out from the inside.

5. The Story of Urashimatarō

The Japanese title is 浦島太郎 (うらしまたろう; Urashimatarō). A fisherman is taken to the Dragon Palace under the sea. He stays for 3 days, but when he returns to the surface, 300 years have passed.

6. Bamboo Hat for the Jizō Statuettes

The Japanese title is かさじぞう (Kasa jizō). A man goes to market to get mochi to celebrate New Year’s but gives his hats to the jizou. Later they reward his kindness.

2. Fairy Tale Characters and Words in Japanese

Here are some common fairy tale characters and words in Japanese you may come across while reading Japanese folktale stories.

Japanese Romaji Meaning
妖精 yōsei fairy
ユニコーン yunikōn unicorn
shiro castle
マジック majikku magic
魔女 majo witch
スペル superu spell
ドラゴン doragon dragon
オーガ Ōga Ogre
王様 ō-sama king
王子 ōji prince
王女 ōjo princess
昔々 mukashi mukashi once upon a time
魔法使い mahō tsukai wizard
人魚 ningyo mermaid
巨人 kyojin giant
こびと kobito dwarf
ままはは mamahaha stepmother

Check out even more fairy tale words in the video below!


You might not understand every single word in Japanese stories at first but try to guess what they mean in context. Illustrations will also help you understand the story. After reading it, make sure to look up the words in the dictionary and read the story a few more times. If you do that, you’ll surely get better at reading Japanese.

So what Japanese tale would you like to read first? Do you know any other fairy tale stories in Japan? Did we miss any Japanese fairy tale words? Let us know in the comments!

Writing a Japanese Address on a Postcard

  1. - Postal symbol, preceding postal code
  2. 107-0052 - Postal code, composed of 7 numbers
  3. 東京都 - Prefecture (県, ken), with the exception of Tokyo (都, to), Hokkaido (道, do) and Osaka/Kyoto (府, fu)
  4. 港区 - Municipality, city (市, shi), village (村, mura) or ward (区, ku). Here it is Minato ward.
  5. 赤坂 - Area. Here it is Akasaka.
  6. 3丁目4-4 - City district (丁目, chome), city block (番地, banchi), bldg/house number (号, go)
  7. ジョン シナ - Recipient’s name. In Japan the last name precedes the first name and is often followed by a honorific suffix like San (さん) or Sama (様), corresponding to Mr. or Ms.

Click here to learn how to send out a Japanese postcard with our fun FREE video!

P.S. Win a personal postcard all the way from Japan! Just click the link above and submit your name and email address :) Hurry! Contest ends this Friday, 10/14/2016!

How to Cook Delicious Chicken Teriyaki While Learning Japanese

Do you like chicken teriyaki? If so, this blog post is perfect for you. In this lesson, you’re going to learn an easy way to cook delicious chicken teriyaki while learning Japanese. Check out 鶏のテリヤキのレシピ (Tori no teriyaki no reshipi; chicken teriyaki recipe) below! Make sure to listen to the audio lesson and review the words and phrases too!

Cook Chicken Teryaki While Learning Japanese

Listen to our Japanese audio lesson - How to Make Japanese Teriyaki Chicken!

1. What’s teriyaki?

Teriyaki (テリヤキ) is one of the most well-known and popular cooking methods in Japanese cuisine. Fish or meat (or other types of ingredients) are marinated in sweet soy sauce and then grilled or broiled. We can write teriyaki in kanji (照り焼き), hiragana, or katakana.

2. Ingredients (材料; Zairyō)

  • One piece of chicken (鶏肉1枚; Toriniku ichi-mai)
  • Fifty milliliters of soy saucee (しょうゆ50cc; Shōyu gojū-cc)
  • Fifty millliters of vinegar (酢50cc; Su gojū-cc)
  • Thirty grams of sugar (砂糖30グラム; Satō sanjū-guramu)

Teriyaki Rice

Learn more Japanese vocabulary about cooking!

Let’s make Japanese chicken teriyaki! Do you have your ingredients? So let’s begin making it.
(Tori no teriyaki o tsukurimashō! Aairyō wa arimasu ka. Dewa, tsukuri hajimemashō.)

3. How to Make Simple Teriyaki Sauce & Chicken Teriyaki

Learn more Japanese vocabulary about kitchen items!

1) Mix together the soy sauce, the vinegar, and the sugar.

  • しょうゆと、酢と、砂糖を混ぜてください。
  • Shōyu to, su to, satō o mazete kudasai.

2) Keep mixing until the sugar dissolves.

  • 砂糖が溶けるまで、混ぜ続けてくださいね。
  • Satō ga tokeru made, mazetsudukete kudasai ne.

3) Next, put the mixture and the chicken in the pan. Then turn on the heat.

  • 次に、鍋にたれと鶏肉をいれます。それから、火をつけてください。
  • Tsugi ni, nabe ni tare to toriniku o iremasu. Sore kara, hi o tsukete kudasai.

4) When it’s boiling, turn down the flame. Let it cook for ten minutes.

  • お湯が沸騰したら、火を弱くしてください。10分間煮てください。
  • O-yu ga futtō shitara, hi o yowaku shite kudasai.

5) Turn it over and let it cook for another ten minutes.

  • ひっくり返して、また10分煮てください。
  • Hikkuri kaeshite, mata juppun nite kudasai.

4. Japanese Vocabulary and Phrases

Biling Water

Click here to learn even more Japanese words and phrases!

  • テリヤキ (teriyaki): teriyaki
  • 経つ (tatsu): to pass (time); V1
  • 煮る (niru): to cook, to boil, to simmer;V2
  • 沸騰 (futtō): boiling
  • (nabe): pot, saucepan
  • 溶ける (とける): to melt, to thaw;V2
  • たれ (tare): sauce, dipping sauce
  • (su): vinegar
  • しょうゆ (shōyu): soy sauce
  • ひっくり返す (hikkuri kaesu): to turn over, to upset;V1

5. Japanese Audio Lesson

Want to keep this lesson? Right click here and save the MP3 file.

In this lesson, you will learn how to use hajimeru, tuzukeru, and owaru in Japanese. The conversation takes place in a home economics class at school between a Japanese teacher and some students. The teacher is speaking formal Japanese to her students. The students are speaking formal Japanese with their teacher and informal Japanese to each other. We will also discuss Japanese cooking teriyaki style.
JapanesePod101 Audio Lesson

Click here to get the PDF Lesson Notes!

Visit us at JapanesePod101.com where you will find many more fantastic Japanese lessons and learning resources! Leave us a message while you are there!

Japanese Honorifics Guide: San, Kun, Chan, Sama and More

Have you ever felt confused about all those -kun, -chan and -senpai you hear when watching anime? I am sure you have wondered about the meaning of these Japanese suffixes. After reading this post your Japanese will sound more natural as you will learn how to use Japanese honorifics!

japanese family honorifics suffixes

Remember to take the quiz at the end to test your understanding and to sign up at JapanesePod101.com if you really want to learn Japanese with effective resources.

japanese honorifics suffixes san kun chan sama sensei senpai kouhai

Most languages use them: “Mr.”, “Mrs”, “Sir”, “Dr”… But in Japanese, there are more of them, and they are a lot more nuanced. They are often attached to a name as a suffix, but some can stand alone, such as sensei.

In Japanese there are both formal and informal honorifics, plus some familial honorifics. The use of honorifics is considered very important in Japan, and calling somebody by just his name without adding a title is a lack of good manners.

Here is the list of 10 Japanese honorific titles and how to use them!

-San (さん), the most common honorific, equivalent to “Mr.” or “Mrs.” It’s a title of respect between equals, so it’s okay to use for anyone, especially if you are not sure which honorific to use. It can also be attached to occupation names. For example, ‘bookstore (本屋) + san (さん) = “bookseller” (本屋さん).’

-Kun (くん), the most commonly used honorific in anime. It is used to address young males. It is also used by superiors to inferiors and male of the same age and status.

-Chan (ちゃん), most frequently used for girls and between them, children, close friends, or lovers. This can be used when somebody finds a person, a pet, or something adorable and cute. You don’t want to use it with a superior, unless you want to be fired! -Sama (さま), the more formal version of san. Usually used to refer to customers who are deserving of the utmost respect status in Japan, people of higher rank, or somebody you admire.

japanese family honorifics suffixes

-Niisan/Neesan (兄さん / 姉さん), is used when referring to one’s older brother or sister, or any relative or close friend. -Jiisan/Baasan (じいさん / ばあさん), s used when referring to one’s grandfather and grandmother, and is also used to refer to older adults the speaker is acquainted with. Neither of these are seen as insulting, but watch out not to use them with a person sensitive about his/her age!

-Dono (どの), roughly means “lord” or “master”, and lies below sama in its respect level. It’s a title that has almost gone out of use in daily conversation. When it is used, it is usually as a joke expressing an exaggeration of age.

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Here are some honorific titles that can stand on their own:

Senpai (せんぱい), the equivalent of “senior.” This is used for classmates in higher grades and all people with more experience than yourself either at work, club, or in any kind of group.

Kōhai (こうはい), the equivalent of “junior” and the opposite of senpai. As it can appear condescending, it is not used as a suffix.

Sensei (せんせい), is used to refer to teachers as well as people who are experts in their respective fields, whether doctors, artists or lawyers. It shows respect to someone who has mastered some skill.

To go further and master this lesson:


Now that you mastered Japanese honorific suffixes you can move on prefixes! This video lesson is already available on our website and you will learn why and how to use Japanese prefix!

japanese family honorifics suffixes

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Everything you need to know about Cat Cafes!

Are you traveling in Japan and missing your cat? Maybe you are just looking to cuddle some kawaii felines? Of course you are! The cat cafe, or neko cafe, will be your paradise.

everything you need to know about cat cafe in japan tokyo

Adventure with Risa!
You always dreamt of seeing Risa cuddling some cute cats? Today Risa takes you to a cat cafe and introduces you this trendy concept in Tokyo!

Start learning Japanese with videos starring Risa!

Cat cafe, an original concept
You might be surprised to hear that this concept is not originally from Japan but from Taiwan, where the world’s first cat cafe opened in 1998. After seeing that it attracted many tourists from Japan, a Japanese person decided to bring the concept, which mixes the relaxing and cozy atmosphere of a coffee shop with adorable cats, back to his country. The popularity of cat cafes boomed all over Japan, with more than a hundred shops opening, half being concentrated in Tokyo. Visiting a cat cafe should definitely be on your Top 10 Spots You Must See in Japan list.

Prepare for your visit to a cat cafe with all the vocabulary you need to order!

A solution to busy Japanese urban life
Because of the size of its population, high density, and the price of housing in Tokyo, many Japanese people live in small apartments, which are not convenient for having a pet, or that just don’t allow them. A lot of people would love to have a pet, but they are too busy and would not have time to take care of it. It’s common to see lots of Japanese salarymen relaxing in these cafés. Visiting a neko cafe will allow you to enjoy your guilty pleasure while avoiding any trouble with your rental agreement!


Here are the 5 reasons why you should start learning Japanese!

Cats, a cup of tea and a lot of love
In most cat cafes, for approximately 1000 yen per hour, you have access to unlimited drinks, and after replacing your shoes with slippers, you will have the opportunity to play with various kinds of cats: fat cats, black cats, clothed cats… There are cats to suit all tastes. If you try to communicate with them, just forget about “meow,” it’s all about “nyan”! Sounds that animals make in Japanese are very different from what you know. Have a look at the animals onomatopoeia list, and discover what the fox says!

risa discovers cate cafe in tokyo

The rise of pet cafes all around the world
The concept of the cat cafe has spread all over the world: New York City, London, Paris, Toronto, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Bangkok… The world can’t resist petting kittens while enjoying a cup of tea!
In Tokyo, the concept has been applied to other animals so you can now choose whether you’d like to visit a dog cafe, rabbit cafe, owl cafe, snake cafe, hedgehog cafe…or even a goat cafe!


Learn how to introduce yourself and interact with other customers at the café!

This crazy experience is worth trying for all cat lovers or just those who are wanting to take a break in an original place. Are you excited about visiting one of these kitty corners? Don’t forget to sign up for your Free Lifetime Account and learn enough Japanese to enjoy your trip to a cat cafe!

Top 10 Superstitions in Japan


In Japan many things are considered to bring good or bad luck. Superstitions are strongly entrenched in Japanese society, and some of them are meant to teach lessons or serve as practical advice. Here is a list of the top 10 superstitions in Japan you must know!

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1) Numbers 4 and 9 are considered to be unlucky numbers because 4 in Japanese is sometimes pronounced し which means “death,” while 9 is also sometimes pronounced く and means “suffering.” In the US, some old buildings don’t have a 13th floor, while in Japan hospitals and some hotels don’t have a 4th floor. Often the room number 4 and rooms 40 through 49 are not there. When you give a gift of a set of plates or cups to somebody, it is usually 3 or 5 rather than 4. So if you are giving presents in Japan, be careful not to give 4.

2) Hearses are probably one of the most important bad luck symbols in Japan. If you see a funeral car passing, you should hide your thumb, making a fist with the thumb inside. The reason is that the thumb is like a parent finger, so by doing this you are protecting them from the spirit of the deceased that lingers around the car. Some people even hide their thumbs when passing a graveyard or a funeral.


3) When you attend a funeral and come back before you enter your house, you have to throw salt on yourself. Salt kind of cleanses things. When a friend is with you, you throw salt on each other, or on yourself if you are alone.


4) Another one that is related to night, is that you shouldn’t cut your nails at night. Because if you do that, you won’t be able to be with your parents when they die. One of the main reasons would be that cutting your nails at night may result in your death, so you won’t be able to see your parents die. In the past, they had to use knives or other sharp cutting tools to cut their nails. Which can be quite dangerous at night…


5) Speaking of night, another superstition that’s related to night is whistling in the night. If you whistle at night, a snake could come out. There are some poisonous snakes in Japan, so you really don’t want them to come out. Whistling is also known to have been used as a sign by burglars and criminals to communicate to each other. It’s better to avoid them too.


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6) There are other animal-related superstitions as well. A black cat is considered to be bad luck nowadays, but this superstition has been imported from the west. So if people see a black cat, they will stop and wait to see which way it goes so they don’t cross its path. Having a spider inside your house at night is bad luck, but if you see it in the morning, it’s good luck.


7) Japanese people don’t sleep facing north. Someone sleeping face north might receive bad luck, or it could be even worse, as death is known to welcome whoever sleeps facing north.


8 ) Don’t write a person’s name in red ink, because it is considered as inauspicious. This is due to names on grave markers being red.


9) There is a lucky cat symbol called maneki neko. It’s a cat with one paw held up. They often have these in shops or places where business is done because it’s supposed to bring good fortune.


Click here for Japanese Phrases and words that will help you in almost every situation!

10) There is one more lucky thing that Japanese people might carry called omamori, in their bag or purse. It is a kind of amulet that protects. They have different types of omamori – some are for success in business or study, some are for curing illness, preventing traffic accidents and so on. You can buy them at shrines.


On the subject of shrines, did you know that in Japan if you are making a big wish, you might consider doing it at a shrine? Traditionally when people need a prayer to be answered, they would just visit a shrine and give money in return.

Now you will be able to understand Japanese people’s behavior in certain situations! Don’t forget to sign up for a Free Lifetime Account to get more cultural insights, lessons and much more

The Top 10 Japanese Slang Words You’ll Hear In Japan

Start learning Japanese now!

Hey Listeners!

Are you ready to learn the top 10 Japanese slang words?

Slang words can be a fun way to hear how locals use the Japanese language and can also be a way to make your conversational skills sound more natural in casual settings! Oh, and don’t forget to sign-up for a FREE lifetime account with us to get more interesting word lists from JapanesePod101!

And without further ado, let’s get into the top 10!

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1. ぶっちゃけ
bucchake - to be honest

2. おひさ。
Ohisa. - It’s been a while since I see you.

3. ちげーよ。
Chigē yo. - It’s not correct.

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4. ダッシュで
dasshu de - in a hurry

5. ソッコー
sokkō - immediately

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6. めちゃめちゃ
mechamecha - quite

7. へこむ
hekomu - feel discouraged

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8. パねぇ
pa nė - unbelievable

9. ガッツリ
gattsuri - plentifully

10. やばい
yabai - something is bad or dangerous

Wanna learn more? Check out these fun word lists and don’t forget to sign-up for a FREE lifetime account!

1. 15 Most Common Break-Up Lines
2. What’s Your Favorite Japanese Food?
3. Top 10 Hardest Words to Pronounce
4. Top 10 Travel Spots in Japan
5. Top 10 Phrases You Always Want to Hear

Must Know Golden Week Vocabulary


Click here to listen to the audio pronunciation!

Golden week is almost here! In few days it will be the beginning of the Golden week, the longest public holiday in Japan.

It’s an exciting moment for a lot of people as it’s the period for some time off and to fully enjoy Spring. Here is the list of Top Words you need to know for your holidays!

1. Traffic jam

渋滞 (じゅうたい)


2. Warm

暖かい (あたたかい)

3. Golden Week holidays


4. Chimaki



5. Constitution Day

憲法記念日 (Constitution Day)

6. Kashiwamochi

柏餅 (かしわもち)


7. Greenery Day

みどりの日 (みどりのひ)

8. Children’s Day

子供の日 (こどものひ)


9. Trip abroad

海外旅行 (かいがいりょこう)

10. Doll for the Boys’ Festival in May

五月人形 (ごがつ にんぎょう)


11. Traveling

旅行 (りょこう)

12. Koinobori



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