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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!

Conquering the Unknown with JapanesePod101

Check it out!

When I decided that I was going to spend the summer before my final year of college abroad in Japan, I knew that I had to prepare for a trip unlike anything else that I had ever experienced in my lifetime. I knew absolutely nothing about the culture or the language and I was going with two of my buddies from school (both of whom spoke Japanese) so I needed to get ahead before we arrived. JapanesePod101 helped me do just that.

JapanesePod101 made it easy to review and learn from experiences that I had on my daily travels. By allowing me to learn from repetition, giving me the choice between verbal, written and visual lessons and giving me situational vocabulary, it definitely made it easier to pick up an unknown language.

I'm in the middle

However fun it may be to throw yourself into the unknown, it is always nice (and sometimes necessary) to have a little guidance. So here are my tips for optimizing the learning experience on a trip like this:

Go with or meet someone that knows the language

This person will be like your adviser. It is also very helpful to travel around with a person who knows the language because you can ask them questions about words and phrases that you hear during daily life and jot them down to study later. Which brings me to my next tip…

Carry a notepad

This is essential for learning a language because of all the things you will hear from just walking around and talking to people. The notepad will help you by giving you a point of reference to go back to and study, or look up with JapanesePod101, when you learn something new on your daily adventures. Which brings me to my final and most important tip…

Use JapanesePod101!

I am a huge believer in learning from repetition which is why I love JapanesePod101. Whether you sign up for a free lifetime account or upgrade to premium, you have unlimited access to the content that is included in either package. Which means, if you are like me, you can go over it again and again as much as you want until it sticks. Whether you prefer to learn from verbal, written or visual instruction, JapanesePod101 has you covered. I love the videos with Alisha and Risa!

Why Learn Japanese?

You can also learn about phrases for certain situations and events with the key phrases and vocabulary lists. Both included in the free lifetime account, the key phrases list covers all the basic phrases you will need to know as a beginner and the vocabulary list has all sorts of different phrases grouped together for different events and occasions. Including my favorite:

Top 10 Must-Know Survival Words & Phrases For Your Next Trip To Japan

If you are planning a trip to Japan and need help learning the language, I would 100% recommend that you use JapanesePod101. It has tools for all different levels of learning Japanese, so no matter where you are in the learning process, you can use it to help further your knowledge.

But don’t just take my word for it. Sign up and see what I am talking about, you won’t regret it.


Your unknown is waiting…

How I chose to continue my Japanese education

Get great resources from JapanesePod101!

One of my main goals has always been to become fluent in Japanese, but despite all the Japanese courses I’ve taken in college, I still seem to be stuck at the intermediate level. Now I am nearly graduated from college and have finished taking all my Japanese courses. Seeing how expensive it is to go to a language school, I decided I needed a cheaper alternative to continuing my Japanese education. Luckily for me, I recently discovered JapanesePod101.

When I discovered JapanesePod101, I KNEW that I had found what I needed. After browsing through it’s website and signing up for a membership, I noticed that there are some perks compared to taking lessons in a classroom setting.

Here are some of the main perks:

The ability to start a level of your choosing
When registering for classes, whether it be in university or in language schools, typically you’re required to take a placement test, which may misplace you to be in the wrong class. When first taking a placement test for my college, I got held back to a lower class level because I didn’t remember enough kanji, despite being proficient at the grammar and vocabulary. With JapanesePod101 however, the great thing is that you can choose at which level to start, ranging from absolute beginner to advanced. Also, if you feel that your kanji is not good enough at the level you chose to start at, you can always look at the kanji study resources offered on their site, which is what I am doing.

Work at your own pace
Because you’re required to work at the pace your class may set for you and expected to meet deadlines, you may not always be able to retain the information that you’ve learned. JapanesePod101 allows me set my own goals and deadlines and take the time I need to go over the lessons. Whenever I’m too busy to really immerse myself in the lessons, I try to at least have a look at the word of the day feature or at any of the short vocabulary lists they offer. I also take a look at their facebook page where they post fun and interesting content.

Cost effective
You can sign up for the free lifetime account and have a taste of what they have to offer, but by paying to upgrade to the premium account, you can access so much more of their resources. Compared to the hundreds or thousands of dollars one may spend taking Japanese courses, JapanesePod101 is definitely an absolute bargain.

Native instructors
When taking classes outside of Japan, you may not always get to have a native instructor, however with JapanesePod101, I have access to learning from one. To make this even better, one of the features of this site is the option to work one-on-one with an instructor, who can provide feedback. By doing so, I believe it helps with learning to speak Japanese more naturally, rather than using outdated words and phrases that may be used in college textbooks.

Learn Japanese slang words at JapanesePod101

There are other features I found that I also thought were worth noting such as…

Lessons catered towards studying for the JLPT
Passing the exam for at least the JLPT N2 is what I strive for. If you’re hoping to someday be able to work in Japan like me, then you’ll most likely have to pass the JLPT first. JapanesePod101 offers lessons that will help you do just that. There are various audio lessons which include lesson notes for grammar, vocabulary, and kanji. This resource is definitely something I find helpful when I’m studying for the JLPT. For those studying for the N4 or N5, JapanesePod101 also offers practice tests which are free. :)

Kanji flashcards
Kanji has always been my greatest weakness at Japanese. However with JapanesePod101’s kanji flashcards, the number of kanji I know is steadily increasing! By continuing to study these flash cards, I know that I will kill that kanji section of the JLPT. ;)

Video Lessons
Not only are there audio lessons but video lessons as well. Personally, I think it’s more fun by watching the video lessons and also, these videos include subtitles in both Japanese and English to help follow along. The video hosts are very entertaining, making my learning process much more enjoyable.

Improve your kanji skill with JapanesePod101

So if you ever want to try your hand at learning another language cheap, then JapanesePod101 is definitely the way to go. Ganbatte and don’t give up on your Japanese! After seeing everything that they have to offer, I know that I will continue using their services to help improve my Japanese skills.

Japanese Word of the Day - octopus (noun)

Learn a little Japanese everyday with the free Japanese Word of the Day Widget. Check back daily for more vocabulary!

タコ (タコ) octopus (noun)

eight-armed octopus

boiled octopus

octopus ink

Own a blog or website? Share free language content with your readers with the Japanese Word of the Day with Audio Widget. Click here for instructions on how to embed and customize this free widget!

Japanese Word of the Day - draw (verb)

Learn a little Japanese everyday with the free Japanese Word of the Day Widget. Check back daily for more vocabulary!

描く (かく) draw (verb)

The artist draws a picture.

The artist drew a picture.

The artist is drawing a picture.

The children are drawing and painting at kindergarten class.

The artist is drawing Chinese characters with a writing brush.

I asked the illustrator to draw me a picture.

draw a picture

Own a blog or website? Share free language content with your readers with the Japanese Word of the Day with Audio Widget. Click here for instructions on how to embed and customize this free widget!

Japanese Word of the Day - basketball (noun)

Learn a little Japanese everyday with the free Japanese Word of the Day Widget. Check back daily for more vocabulary!

バスケットボール (バスケットボール) basketball (noun)

The boys and girls are playing basketball.

The man is playing basketball.

Basketball can be played anywhere from backyard hoops to international arenas.

college basketball

play basketball

Own a blog or website? Share free language content with your readers with the Japanese Word of the Day with Audio Widget. Click here for instructions on how to embed and customize this free widget!

Japanese Word of the Day - light bulb (noun)

Learn a little Japanese everyday with the free Japanese Word of the Day Widget. Check back daily for more vocabulary!

電球 (でんきゅう) light bulb (noun)

Change the lightbulb when it burns out and goes dark.

incandescent light bulb

Own a blog or website? Share free language content with your readers with the Japanese Word of the Day with Audio Widget. Click here for instructions on how to embed and customize this free widget!

Japanese Word of the Day - blonde hair (noun)

Learn a little Japanese everyday with the free Japanese Word of the Day Widget. Check back daily for more vocabulary!

ブロンド (ブロンド) blonde hair (noun)

The woman has blonde hair.

blonde-haired woman

Own a blog or website? Share free language content with your readers with the Japanese Word of the Day with Audio Widget. Click here for instructions on how to embed and customize this free widget!

Japanese Word of the Day - Saturday (noun)

Learn a little Japanese everyday with the free Japanese Word of the Day Widget. Check back daily for more vocabulary!

土曜日 (どようび) Saturday (noun)

I do housework every Saturday for five hours.

no plans for Saturday

Saturday night

Own a blog or website? Share free language content with your readers with the Japanese Word of the Day with Audio Widget. Click here for instructions on how to embed and customize this free widget!

Japanese Word of the Day - rooster (noun)

Learn a little Japanese everyday with the free Japanese Word of the Day Widget. Check back daily for more vocabulary!

雄鶏 (おんどり) rooster (noun)

The rooster crows while it glances around.

When the rooster crows, I will wake up.

crowing rooster

Own a blog or website? Share free language content with your readers with the Japanese Word of the Day with Audio Widget. Click here for instructions on how to embed and customize this free widget!