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Archive for the 'Japanese Culture' Category

Japanese Quotes That Will Enrich Your Life

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Do you have a favorite quote or saying? All it takes is a look at social media posts, framed wall decorations, and postcards to see that insightful quotes and proverbs inspire people and touch their hearts.

Proverbs are the fruit of wisdom, accumulated through the ages to reflect a given culture. By studying Japanese sayings, you’ll also learn about Japanese culture and values, as well as historical facts. For example, did you know that many Japanese quotes were influenced by ancient China and 儒教 (Jukyō), or “Confucianism“?

Today, we’ll introduce you to popular Japanese quotes and proverbs on a variety of topics. Whether you want life-changing motivation or are seeking relationship advice, you’ll love reading these words of wisdom. Learn Japanese and get inspired here at JapanesePod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Love
  5. Quotes About Family & Friends
  6. Quotes About Language Learning
  7. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Quotes About Success

A Beautiful Sea

Quotes, or 格言 (Kakugen), and proverbs, or ことわざ (Kotowaza), give people inspiration and motivation.

Do you have big plans for your future, or maybe an upcoming task you’re concerned about? These practical Japanese quotes on success will give you the encouragement you need to go above and beyond!

1 – 継続は力なり 

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Keizoku wa chikara nari

Literally: “Continuance is power.”

Meaning: Continuity is the father of success. / Persistence pays off.

This is one of the most famous Japanese proverbs for success. 

It highlights the importance of continuous effort, even if you only do a little bit. When you progress one unit per day, the result after 100 days will be 100. But if you don’t do anything, the result will be zero after any number of days. You’ll eventually gain the strength and power to achieve your goal, as long as you put in the effort and overcome the difficulties involved.

This Japanese proverb is often used to encourage someone in their studies, sports, music (e.g. playing piano), and so on. 

2 – 七転び八起き 

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Nanakorobi yaoki

Literally: “Stumbling seven times but standing up eight”

Meaning: However many setbacks you face, never give up and always keep trying. 

While the numbers “seven” and “eight” have no intrinsic meaning, they’re used to represent “many times.”

The fact that the number for standing up (eight) is one higher than the number for stumbling (seven) is said to be rooted in Buddhism. When a person is born, he can’t walk by himself; he stands up for the first time with support from other people. This extra one is counted.

This proverb is also used to express that life always has ups and downs, so there’s no reason to give up.

3 – 振り向くな、振り向くな、後ろには夢がない 

[by 寺山修司 (Shuji Terayama), a Japanese playwright and poet]

Romanization: Furimuku na, furimuku na, ushiro ni wa yume ga nai

Meaning: Don’t look back, don’t look back, there is no dream in the back.

This encouraging quote is from the late Japanese multi-creator Shuji Terayama, who challenged the new era and was labeled a maverick. 

One must face forward in order to walk steadily; no one can walk backwards well. In other words, no matter how much you regret the past, you can only change the future to make a brighter life for yourself. 

4 – 人を信じよ、しかし、その百倍も自らを信じよ 

[by 手塚治虫 (Osamu Tezuka), a Japanese manga artist and animator]

Romanization: Hito o shinjiyo, shikashi, sono hyaku-bai mo mizukara o shinjiyo

Meaning: Believe in people, but believe in yourself a hundred times more. 

Believing in yourself is the most important thing when you want to achieve something big. 

This Japanese quote is very convincing and has encouraged people for decades. Osamu Tezuka had to believe in himself to become the pioneering manga and anime creator he was. He is known for his innovative techniques and his ability to redefine genres.


Center of A Street

振り向くな、振り向くな、後ろには夢がない。(Furimuku na, furimuku na, ushiro ni wa yume ga nai.) – “Don’t look back, don’t look back, there’s no dream in the back.”

2. Quotes About Life

Are you feeling stuck or unsatisfied with your day-to-day existence? Maybe you just need some Japanese quotes about life to get yourself back in the right direction. 

5 – 残り物には福がある 

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Nokorimono ni wa fuku ga aru

Literally: “There’s luck in the leftovers.”

Meaning: The greatest fortune and value in life are those things left behind by others.

This Japanese proverb comes from a line of a story in 浄瑠璃 (Jōruri), a form of traditional Japanese narrative music during the Edo period.

It’s often used to cheer someone up when they have to take the last turn doing something. People also use it as a warning toward someone who is greedy and selfish, scrambling to get things for him- or herself.

The proverb implies that good luck comes to those who are generous and give away their valuable possessions. It reflects the Japanese values that put importance on cooperativeness and thoughtful consideration for others.

6 – 井の中の蛙大海を知らず 

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: I no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu

Literally: “A frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean.”

Meaning: Those who live in a small world think that what they see is everything; all the while, they never know about the bigger outside world.

The proverb originally came from Zhuangzi, ancient Chinese Taoist literature. When it was brought to Japan, the Japanese turned the following line into a proverb: “The reason why you can’t talk about the ocean with a frog in the well is that a frog only knows about a hole.”

This proverb warns against putting too much value on one’s own knowledge. It criticizes a narrow perspective and closed mindset, and encourages the broadening of one’s horizons.

7 – 人生に失敗がないと、人生を失敗する 

[by 斎藤茂太 (Shigeta Saito), a Japanese psychiatrist and essayist]

Romanization: Jinsei ni shippai ga nai to, jinsei o shippai suru

Literally: “If you have no failure in life, you will fail in life.”

Meaning: If you want to succeed in life, you must learn from your failures.

This quote tells us that there are always ups and downs in life, and that no one can lead a perfect and successful life without learning from failures. It’s crucial to take failures and setbacks as opportunities for growth and to change yourself with the lessons you learn.

This quote is from Shigeta Saito, who encouraged many distressed people as a “great doctor of mind” as well as a writer and lecturer. His words inspire and encourage people who face failures and difficulties.

8 – 人生には、テキストもノートも助っ人も、何でも持ち込めます  

[by 森博嗣 (Hiroshi Mori), a Japanese writer and engineer]

Romanization: Jinsei ni wa, tekisuto mo, nōto mo suketto mo, nan demo mochikomemasu

Literally: “You can bring textbooks, notes, supporters, anything into life.”

Meaning: Make maximum use of resources and opportunities to make your life better.

Unlike an examination, where you’re not allowed to bring a cheat sheet or helper, you can utilize any kind of supporting tools in life. Some people may feel hopeless and desperate when they face difficulties or when they can’t achieve something all by themselves. However, by benefiting from others’ knowledge and ideas, these kinds of problems could be easily resolved. This quote also suggests that you can do anything with your life, as there is no rule about how to live.

This quote is a persuasive life lesson that award-winning Hiroshi Mori practices. He has created multiple works of literature and has also worked as an assistant professor of architectural engineering.

A Sign of Victory

人生に失敗がないと、人生を失敗する (Jinsei ni shippai ga nai to, jinsei o shippai suru) –
“If you have no failure in life, you will fail in life.”

3. Quotes About Time

Time is what binds us to our own mortality, and it’s the topic of many Japanese quotes of wisdom. Check it out!

9 – 急がば回れ  

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Isogaba maware

Literally: “If you are in a hurry, go the long way around.”

Meaning: Haste makes waste.

This Japanese proverb means that when someone is in a hurry, it’s wise to choose the secure and stable path, even if it takes a little longer. Using a shortcut may involve risks and uncertainty.

This proverb comes from a line of classical Japanese poetry, 短歌 (Tanka), written by the poet 宗長 (Sōchō) in the Muromachi period. He wrote that when warriors go to Kyoto (the capital city back then), using a bridge was more secure and reliable than crossing 琵琶湖 (Lake Biwa) with a board; this is because the strong wind from 比叡山 (Mt.Hiei) could blow and move the board. Of this poem, the phrase 急がば回れ (isogaba maware) is the most popular today.

When in a hurry, don’t rush and head for what looks like an easier way. Rather, think calmly and make a wiser choice.

10 – 歳月人を待たず  

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Saigetsu hito o matazu

Literally: “Time and tide wait for no man.”

Meaning: Time flows without regard for humans’ convenience.

This proverb is said to originate from the following line in a poem by ancient Chinese poet, 陶潜 (Táo Qián): “Youth never comes back again. There is no morning twice a day. Work and study hard, cherishing each moment and without wasting time.”

In other words, make each day count and use time wisely, as it’s limited and never comes back. 

11 – 石の上にも三年という。しかし、三年を一年で習得する努力を怠ってはならない。

[by 松下幸之助 (Kōnosuke Matsushita), a Japanese businessman, inventor, and founder of Panasonic]

Romanization:Ishi no ue ni mo san-nen” to iu. Shikashi, san-nen o ichi-nen de shūtoku suru doryoku o okotatte wa naranai.

Meaning: Proverb says: “Three years on a stone (Perseverance prevails).” However, we must not neglect our efforts to try to acquire things in one year, not three.

Japanese culture puts importance on the value of perseverance, which is expressed by the proverb: Ishi no ue ni mo san-nen (“Three years on a stone”). It means that even a stone will become warm when you sit on it patiently for three years. In other words, you can achieve things when you remain patient and put in the effort, even if it’s difficult and painful.

On the other hand, Kōnosuke Matsushita says that patience is essential, but it’s more important to put in extra effort to thrive and to accelerate your results. 

The words of the great inventor and businessman Kōnosuke are very encouraging and convincing. His endeavors, in only a limited amount of time, resulted in a number of innovations. 

12 – 人生において 最も大切な時 それはいつでも いまです 

[by 相田みつを (Mitsuo Aida), a Japanese poet and calligrapher]

Romanization: Jinsei ni oite mottomo taisetsu na toki sore wa itsu demo ima desu

Meaning: The most important time in life is always the present.

No one can retrieve the past and you can only change the future. However, the future is merely a continuation of the present. 

Mitsuo Aida, known as The Poet of Zen, emphasizes the utmost importance of “now” in life because the present is what shapes the future. Even if you have regrets about the past or worries about the future, focus on what you can do right now to make your life better.

A Compass

急がば回れ  (Isogaba maware) – “Haste makes waste.”

4. Quotes About Love

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll enjoy these heartwarming Japanese quotes about love!

13 – 思えば思わるる  

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Omoeba omowaruru

Literally: “When you care about (someone), you will be cared about.”

Meaning: Love and be loved. / Love is the reward of love.

When you’re kind and well-disposed toward others, they will also be nice to you. Likewise, when you have a hateful and hostile attitude, it will come back to you.

This proverb encourages people to have a generous heart and to be kind to others. This quote is also said to be the floral language of Gypsophila.

14 – かわいい子には旅をさせよ  

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Kawaii ko ni wa tabi o saseyo

Literally: “Make a beloved child travel.”

Meaning: Spare the rod and spoil the child.

Children learn better through experiencing different things than by being kept close to their parents and getting spoiled. If you truly love your child, let them see the world and experience bitterness themselves; it will make them grow stronger and wiser.

This proverb teaches us that watching over someone quietly from afar is indirect, but also a sign of firm and trusting love.

15 – 恋とは自分本位なもの、愛とは相手本位なもの

[by 美輪明宏  (Akihiro Miwa), a Japanese singer, actor, director, composer, author, and drag queen]

Romanization: Koi to wa jibun hon’i na mono, ai to wa aite hon’i na mono

Meaning: Romance is self-oriented; love is companion-/partner-oriented.

When people are romantically in love with someone, they tend to think and see things from an egoistic perspective: “I want to go out with her.” / “I want to be his girlfriend.” / “I don’t want her to disappoint me.” 

On the other hand, real love is more generous and giving. It makes a person look at things from the other person’s point of view: “She would be happy if she got flowers.” / “My family would enjoy it if I went on holiday and took them to Disneyland.”

These words founded in Akihiro Miwa’s experience get to the heart of the matter, as he went through difficult times while living an extraordinary life.

16 – 愛の前で自分の損得を考えること自体ナンセンスだ  

[by 岡本太郎 (Tarō Okamoto), a Japanese artist]

Romanization: Ai no mae de jibun no sontoku o kangaeru koto jitai nansensu da

Meaning: It’s nonsense to think about your profits and losses in front of love.

Love is sincere and profoundly tender; it comes from one’s genuine heart and feelings, without any lies. If you act from self-interest, it is not true love.

Unconventional artist Tarō Okamoto’s quote strikes a chord and makes people realize what it’s really like to love someone.


Men and Women Forming Heart with Their Hands

思えば思わるる (Omoeba omowaruru) – “When you care about (someone), you will be cared about.”

5. Quotes About Family & Friends

Family and friends are the most important people in our lives. Read through the following Japanese quotes on friendship and family to gain some cultural insight!

17 – 親しき仲にも礼儀あり  

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Shitashiki naka ni mo reigi ari

Literally: “Courtesy should be exercised even among intimate relationships.”

Meaning: A hedge between keeps friendships.

The origins of this proverb can be traced back to the Cheng–Zhu school, which was a major philosophical school of Neo-Confucianism. In the Analects of Confucius, an ancient Chinese book, it’s written that even if there is harmony, order can’t be maintained without courtesy.

Close relationships include friends, neighbors, relatives, and family. To keep sound relationships, one must always observe the boundaries. 

18 – 類は友を呼ぶ  

[Japanese proverb]

Romanization: Rui wa tomo o yobu

Literally: “Same kind calls friends.”

Meaning: Birds of a feather flock together.

People who have things in common naturally tend to get closer and become friends. These similarities can be anything: a sense of values, personality, background, environment, hobbies, experiences, and so on. The proverb can also be used to warn people to be wise in choosing friends, because if you hang out with bad people, you would become steeped in vice as well. 

This proverb derives from the I Ching or Yi Jing (“Book of Changes”), the oldest Chinese classic and a major divination text. It was brought to Japan and has become very widespread since.

19 – 家族とは、「ある」ものではなく、手をかけて「育む」ものです

[by 日野原重明 (Shigeaki Hinohara), a Japanese physician]

Romanization: Kazoku to wa, “aru” mono de wa naku, te o kakete “hagukumu” mono desu

Meaning: Family is not something that is “there,” but something that is “fostered” with care and time.

Family is the most important thing. It is your family that you call first in an emergency, such as an earthquake or hurricane, to confirm their safety. However, a loving family is never made by itself; it has to be created by each member with love and care, over time.

With this quote, Shigeaki Hinohara, who devoted his whole life to being a doctor even after he turned 100 years old, reminds people not to take their family for granted. Rather, one should cherish and take good care of them. 

20 – 人生最大の幸福は一家の和楽である  

[by 野口英世 (Hideyo Noguchi), a Japanese bacteriologist who discovered the agent of syphilis]

Romanization: Jinsei saidai no kōfuku wa ikka no waraku de aru

Meaning: The greatest happiness of life is happy and quality time with family.

The base of any kind of happiness lies in family. No matter how difficult a goal you achieve, nothing is happier than sharing positive feelings and celebrating with loved ones.


Three Men Looking at the Sunset

類は友を呼ぶ  (Rui wa tomo o yobu) – “Birds of a feather flock together.”

6. Quotes About Language Learning

Finally, let’s look at a couple of Japanese language quotes that you can apply to your language learning journey!

21 – 為せば成る 為さねば成らぬ何事も 成らぬは人の為さぬなりけり

[by 上杉鷹山 (Yōzan Uesugi), a powerful Japanese feudal lord]

Romanization: Naseba naru, nasaneba naranu nanigoto mo, naranu wa hito no nasanu nari keri

Meaning: You can accomplish anything by simply doing it. Nothing will get done unless you do it. If something was not accomplished, that’s because no one did it.

Most things in this world can be done with a strong will and ceaseless effort. As a similar English proverb also says: “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

This is from a poem of Yōzan Uesugi, who was known as the greatest lord in the Edo period. He gave this poem to his vassals as a cautionary lesson. It’s said that he also followed the words of the powerful warrior 武田信玄 (Shingen Takeda) and the warlords of the Sengoku period (fifteenth to sixteenth century): “It is human frailty that people give up by thinking they can’t, although anything can be achieved if they have a strong will.”

The first part—Naseba naru (“You can accomplish if you do it”)—is one of the most famous Japanese quotes for encouraging people who are up against a challenge. Don’t find reasons that you can’t do something and complain about them; instead, try to think about how you can do that thing and put your ideas into action.

22 – 努力は必ず報われる。もし報われない努力があるのならば、それはまだ努力と呼べない。  

[by 王貞治 (Sadaharu Ō), a former baseball player and manager in Japan]

Romanization: Doryoku wa kanarazu mukuwareru. Moshi mukuwarenai doryoku ga aru no naraba, sore wa mada doryoku to yobenai.

Meaning: Effort is always rewarded. If there is an unrewarding effort, it can not yet be called an effort.

Like the quote above, this quote tells the importance of making an effort and emphasizes that anything can be achieved with enough effort. 

These words from Sadaharu Ō strike the hearts of many people. He is a man of effort, and has numerous career highlights and awards, as well as records in Japan and worldwide. His ceaseless effort and passion is seen not only in his playing days, but also in his career as a coach, leading his team to victory a number of times.

His quote is very inspiring, especially for language learners!


A Woman Reading Book while Standing in a Train

努力は必ず報われる。もし報われない努力があるのならば、それはまだ努力と呼べない。
(Doryoku wa kanarazu mukuwareru. Moshi mukuwarenai doryoku ga aru no naraba, sore wa mada doryoku to yobenai.) – “Effort is always rewarded. If there is an unrewarding effort, it can not yet be called an effort.”

7. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced the most inspirational Japanese quotes and proverbs in several categories. I hope you enjoyed today’s topic and were encouraged by these Japanese words of wisdom! 

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, you’ll find much more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. Here are some more inspiring Japanese quotes and motivational phrases for language learning: 

And we have so much more to offer you!

For instance, you’ll gain access to our personal one-on-one coaching service, MyTeacher, when you subscribe for a Premium PLUS membership. Your private teacher will help you practice your pronunciation and offer you personalized feedback and advice to ensure effective learning. 

Learn Japanese in the fastest and easiest way possible with JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments which of these Japanese quotes is your favorite, and why! We look forward to hearing from you.

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Essential Business Japanese: Learn the Most Useful Phrases

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Now that you’ve been learning Japanese for a while, do you plan on working in Japan or with Japanese speaking clients? Knowing the basic Japanese business phrases will help you communicate smoothly and build better relationships with your colleagues and clients.

Business Japanese is quite different from the casual Japanese used in daily life. It’s important to know particular expressions for work and how to express yourself formally in context of the Japanese business etiquette and culture. Even if you’re not yet fluent, being able to give a courteous greeting in Japanese can make a huge difference, even if it’s just for a business trip to Japan.

In this article, we’ll introduce the most useful Japanese business phrases you need to know for job interviews, meetings, communication with coworkers, handling phone calls and emails, and helpful tips about Japanese business culture. 

Bring yourself up a level here at JapanesePod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Japanese Business Culture
  2. Nail Your Job Interview
  3. Interact with Coworkers
  4. Sound Smart in a Meeting
  5. Handle Business Phone Calls
  6. Handle Business Emails
  7. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Japanese Business Culture

Jobs

Before diving into the Japanese business phrases, let’s cover the basics of Japanese business culture and how it works.

1 – Japanese Business Etiquette

Politeness and respect are the most important values in Japanese culture, and these values are emphasized even more in the business world. 

This is clearly pronounced in the Japanese ritual of greeting and bowing. There are various ways to bow according to the level of politeness and whom you’re greeting:

  • 会釈 (Eshaku) – light greeting for colleagues / bow with upper body to fifteen degrees 
  • 敬礼 (Keirei) – respectful greeting for clients, gratitude, and apologies / bow with upper body to thirty degrees
  • 最敬礼 (Saikeirei) – the most respectful greeting for VIP and deep apologies / bow with upper body to forty-five degrees

Exchanging business cards, called 名刺 (Meishi), is another basic formality in business situations. This is typically done when you’re meeting someone for the first time, especially if the person works for another company. Business cards are considered to be one’s “face” in Japan, and therefore must be treated politely.

Here are some tips on Japanese business card usage:

When exchanging cards, stand face-to-face and offer your card with both hands, usually with a slight bow. The card must be facing toward the other person so that the receiver can read it. Accept the other person’s card with both hands, and after taking a look at it, you must put it on the table near the receiver’s seat in a neat manner. It’s considered very rude to give/receive a card with just one hand, treat it brusquely, or put the card in a card holder right after receiving it.

A Man and Woman Exchanging Business Cards

Exchanging business cards is one of the most important business etiquette rules in Japan.

2 – Keigo (Honorific Language) is a Must

Being able to use the appropriate Japanese business honorifics is considered good manners in Japan. 

In business settings, people may be regarded as incompetent if they can’t command 敬語 (Keigo), or honorific language, properly.

The Japanese honorific language has three different forms of respectful speech: 

  • 丁寧語 (Teineigo) – polite language
  • 尊敬語 (Sonkeigo) – respectful language
  • 謙譲語 (Kenjōgo) – humble language

There are different ways of saying a given verb depending on whom you’re talking to and whose action you’re referring to. For example:

EnglishBasic Verb丁寧語 (Teineigo polite language 
express things politely – general politeness
尊敬語 (Sonkeigorespectful language 
talk about superior people, clients, and customers 
謙譲語 (Kenjōgohumble language 
talk about yourself in a humble way
doする
suru
します
shimasu
なさいます
nasaimasu
いたします
itashimasu

3 – Finding a Job in Japan

Working in Japan can be difficult for foreigners because of visas, language barriers, limited options, and an unfamiliar working culture. However, there are opportunities for foreigners to find a job in Japan.

Although English is not an official language here, Japan is still one of the strongest countries economically, with a number of international companies in big cities and numerous local companies aiming to go abroad. There is also a big demand for English speakers in Japan’s educational sector.

Depending on what skills and competencies you have, your mother tongue, and how fluent you are in Japanese, finding a job in Japan is within your reach!

Our article about How to Find a Job in Japan provides detailed information for you. Check it out!

4 – Business Japanese Vocabulary

Here’s a list of frequently used vocabulary words for work.

 EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
1company会社かいしゃkaisha
2corporation / enterprise企業きぎょうkigyō
3office事務所じむしょjimusho
4department部署ぶしょbusho
5meeting 会議かいぎkaigi
6interview面接めんせつmensetsu
7job vacancy求人きゅうじんkyūjin
8salary給料きゅうりょうkyūryō
9overtime残業ざんぎょうzangyō
10work (noun)仕事しごとshigoto
11work (verb)働くはたらくhataraku
12report (verb)報告するほうこく するhōkoku suru
13commute (verb)通勤するつうきん するtsūkin suru
14president社長しゃちょうshachō
15boss / superior上司じょうしjōshi
16colleague同僚どうりょうdōryō
17subordinate部下ぶかbuka
18document書類しょるいshorui
19client顧客こきゃくkokyaku
20customerお客様おきゃくさまo-kyaku-sama

You can find even more words, and their pronunciation, on our Workplace vocabulary list.

2. Nail Your Job Interview

Job Interview

When you get the opportunity to have an interview, make sure you give them the best impression you can!

In conjunction with a relaxed smile, a willing attitude, and confidence, the following business phrases in Japanese can help you stand out and get your dream job.

1 – ___と申します。(___ to mōshimasu.)

Translation: “My name is ___.”

The first thing you do when entering the interview room is introduce yourself.

申します (mōshimasu) is 謙譲語 (Kenjōgo), or humble language, for 言う (iu), which means “to say.” The phrase is literally translated as: “I say myself as ___,” in a humble way.

In any business setting, using Kenjōgo when referring to yourself gives the interviewer the impression that you’re very polite and decent.

2 – どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。(Dōzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.

Translation: “I beg your kindness.” / “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Dōzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu is a more polite version of yoroshiku onegai shimasu, one of the most commonly used phrases in Japanese. In fact, it’s unique to the Japanese language, and not easily translatable into other languages.

This phrase is very useful in any formal situation. It can be used to say something like:

  • “Nice to meet you.” 
  • “Favorably please.” 
  • “Best regards.” 
  • “Please take care of me.”

By saying this, it shows your gratitude and humbleness in hoping to have a good relationship from that point forward.

Say this phrase after giving your name and introducing yourself, and before starting the actual interview. 

3 – 私の 強み / 弱み は___です。(Watashi no tsuyomi / yowami wa ___ desu.) 

Translation: “My strength / weakness is ___.”

強み (tsuyomi) is “strength” and 弱み (yowami)  is “weakness.”

In order to let the interviewer know that you are an ideal candidate for the position, explain your strengths. In addition, it leaves a good impression when you’re able to explain your weaknesses and how you can improve. This shows that you have good analysis skills, problem-solving skills, and a positive attitude.

Example:

私の強みはチームをまとめるリーダーシップと決断力です。
Watashi no tsuyomi wa chīmu o matomeru rīdāshippu to ketsudanryoku desu.
“My strengths are the leadership to pull a team together and decision-making ability.”

私の弱みは時々楽観的になり過ぎることです。
Watashi no yowami wa tokidoki rakkanteki ni narisugiru koto desu.
“My weakness is that I sometimes become too optimistic.”

4 – 私は___の経験があります。(Watashi wa ___ no keiken ga arimasu.

Translation: “I have experience as ___.”

経験 (keiken) is “experience.”

Use this phrase when explaining your experience to show that you are a competent candidate.

Example:

私は20人のチームマネージャーの経験があります。
Watashi wa 20-nin no chīmu manējā no keiken ga arimasu.
“I have experience as a team manager of twenty members.”

5 – もう一度おっしゃっていただけますか。(Mō ichido osshatte itadakemasu ka.) 

Translation: “Could you please say it again?”

おっしゃる (ossharu) is 尊敬語 (Sonkeigo), or respectful language, for 言う (iu), which means “to say.” It respectfully refers to an action the other speaker performed.

This phrase is a very polite way to ask someone to repeat what they said when you couldn’t hear or understand the first time.

You can also use this phrase if you want a little bit more time to think about how to respond. You can earn some extra time by saying this to your interviewer, without an awkward silence!

6 – いくつか質問してもいいですか。(Ikutsu ka shitsumon shite mo ii desu ka.) 

Translation: “Can I ask you some questions?”

If something is unclear during the interview, you can use this phrase to let the interviewer know that you have some questions. This phrase is also very versatile; you can use it anytime and with anyone.

7 – 面接のお時間をいただき、どうもありがとうございました。(Mensetsu no o-jikan o itadaki, dōmo arigatō gozaimashita.) 

Translation: “Thank you very much for making time for the interview.”

At the end of the interview, say this phrase with a smile. Make sure you don’t forget a polite bow, or 敬礼 (Keirei), before leaving the interview room.

A Businessman and Businesswoman Performing an Interview

面接を受けます (Mensetsu o ukemasu) – “take an interview”

3. Interact with Coworkers

When you talk with colleagues, it’s usually sufficient to use 丁寧語 (Teineigo), or polite language, as long as they’re your subordinate, of a similar age, or hold a similar level of job position. 

However, when you’re talking to superiors, bosses, or someone respectable—such as a company president—you should use 尊敬語 (Sonkeigo), or respectful language, and 謙譲語 (Kenjōgo), or humble language, properly.

Some people use casual language when talking to their subordinates, but it’s recommended that you never use casual language in the workplace, even if you’re close to your colleagues.

1- おはようございます (Ohayō gozaimasu.)

Translation: “Good morning.”

This is the first word you should say when you show up at your workplace. Most people arrive at work in the morning, but in some industries where work starts later in the day, they still use this phrase as the first greeting upon arrival, even if it’s in the afternoon or evening. 

2 – お疲れ様です/でした (Otsukare-sama desu/deshita.)

Translation: “Good work today.” / “Goodbye.”

This is another untranslatable Japanese word that is frequently used among colleagues. 

It’s literally translated as “(You must be) tired” (with respect), but it can also mean “hello,” “well done,” “see you,” “goodbye,” etc. Yes, it’s a very useful phrase. Just remember that です (desu) is present tense and でした (deshita) is past tense. 

When you pass by one of your colleagues in a hallway, for example, you can say this phrase to them as “hi,” which has a nuance of caring and respect. You can also use this to mean “well done” after someone finishes their presentation, and as “goodbye” or “see you” when you leave the office. 

Examples:

お疲れ様でした。プレゼンとても良かったです。
Otsukare-sama deshita. Purezen totemo yokatta desu.
“Well done. The presentation was very good.”

お疲れ様でした。ではまた明日。
Otsukare-sama deshita. Dewa mata ashita.
“See you tomorrow, then.”

3 – お先に失礼します (Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu)

Translation: “Please excuse me leaving before you.”

The literal translation, broken down, is:

  • お先に (osaki ni) – “before you”
  • 失礼します (shitsurei shimasu) – “I do rude/impolite”

This phrase reflects the Japanese working culture, in which people feel guilty for leaving the office while their colleagues are still working. Traditionally, there is an implicit rule that you should not leave before your boss or team, even if you’ve finished your own work. This is because it’s considered impolite to do so, and it may indicate that you’re not as hard of a worker as those who are still working. 

Such tradition is disappearing nowadays, but by using this phrase, you can leave the office without guilt while still being courteous to your colleagues.

4 – いってきます / いってらっしゃい (Ittekimasu. / Itterasshai.)

Translation: “I’m leaving now.” / “Take care.”

This is a standard greeting pair for when someone leaves the office to visit clients or even just to have lunch (and intend to come back later). 

It’s polite to announce that you’re leaving by saying: いってきます (ittekimasu), meaning “I’m going.” Those who remain in the office should respond with the phrase いってらっしゃい (itterasshai), which means: “(You) go” with a respectful nuance. 

If you want to be even more polite, you can also say いってまいります (Ittemairimasu), which is  謙譲語 (Kenjōgo), or humble language, for “I go.” 

Example:

___へいってきます
___ e ittekimasu.
“I’m going to ___.”

いってらっしゃい
Itterasshai.
“Take care.”

5 – ただいま戻りました / おかえりなさい (Tadaima modorimashita. / Okaerinasai.)

Translation: “I’ve returned now.” / “Welcome back.”

This is another set of polite Japanese business phrases, used when someone has come back to the office. 

It may sound a bit strange that you should announce when you’re leaving and coming back, but there’s a reason for it. The Japanese work culture places great value on teamwork and the concept of 報告・連絡・相談(Hō-Ren-Sō), or “Report-Inform-Consult,” for better work efficiency.

By announcing where you are to your colleagues, whether you’re going or coming back, it will make things easier on everyone. For example, if you get a phone call while you’re away or there’s an emergency, your colleagues will know where you are. 

Example:

お昼休憩から戻りました。
O-hiru kyūkei kara modorimashita.
“I’m back from a lunch break.”

おかえりなさい
Okaerinasai.
“Welcome back.”

Business Phrases

4. Sound Smart in a Meeting

In most workplaces, meetings are inevitable. 

Use our list of useful Japanese phrases for business meetings to really be present during the conversation and show your colleagues how well you’re performing. 

1 – 会議を始めましょうか。(Kaigi o hajimemashō ka.) 

Translation: “Shall we start the meeting?”

2 – 今日の議題は___です。(Kyō no gidai wa ___ desu.)

Translation: “Today’s agenda is ___.”

3 – ___さん、プレゼンをお願いします。(___-san, purezen o onegai shimasu.) 

Translation: “Mr./Ms. ___, please start the presentation.”

さん (-san) is the most common Japanese honorific title to refer to someone politely, including colleagues. It can be used for both males and females, and it’s equivalent to the English titles “Mr.” and “Ms.” On the other hand, when you’re talking to clients or customers, you should use the more respectful 様 (-sama). 

4 – この事案について、何か意見はありますか。(Kono jian ni tsuite, nani ka iken wa arimasu ka.)

Translation: “Do you have any opinions / questions on this matter?”

You can replace 意見 (iken), or “opinion,” with 質問 (shitsumon), meaning “question,” to ask: “Do you have any questions on this matter?”

To say it more politely, when talking to a client or customer for example, put the polite particle ご (go) in front of 意見 (iken) or 質問 (shitsumon). Also change ありますか (arimasu ka) to ございますか (gozaimasu ka). The end result will be:

何かご質問/ご意見はございますか。
Nani ka go-iken / go-shitsumon wa gozaimasu ka.

5 – 私は___さんの意見に賛成です。(Watashi wa ___-san no iken ni sansei desu.)

Translation: “I agree with Mr./Ms. ___’s opinion.”

You can also replace 賛成 (sansei), meaning “agree,” with 反対 (hantai), meaning “disagree.” 

6 – 次の会議までに報告書を提出してください。(Tsugi no kaigi made ni hōkokusho o teishutsu shite kudasai.) 

Translation: “Please submit a report by the next meeting.”

A Group of Businessman Having a Meeting

会議を始めましょうか。(Kaigi o hajimemashō ka.) – “Shall we start the meeting?”

5. Handle Business Phone Calls

Unlike business customs in other countries, Japanese business etiquette is quite strict and requires delicate attention, especially when it comes to dealing with clients and customers.

There are a lot of detailed rules for handling business phone calls, and these are considered the basics of business. They include: 

    ➢ Prepare a memo pad and pen 
    ➢ Talk with a friendly voice and speak clearly
    ➢ Be conscious of your role as a company representative 
    ➢ Answer the phone in three rings
    ➢ When receiving a phone call, ask for the name of the speaker and company, and repeat it back to them
    ➢ When concluding the conversation, wait until the client/customer hangs up
    ➢ Never put the phone down roughly

Here’s a list of commonly used phrases for business Japanese phone conversations.

1 – はい、もしもし、___でございます。(Hai, moshimoshi, ___ de gozaimasu.)

Translation: “Hello, this is ___.” 

This one is simple. When receiving a phone call, give the person your name or your company’s name.

2 – いつもお世話になっております。(Itsumo o-sewa ni natte orimasu.

Translation: “Thank you for always being a good business partner with us.”

This is another untranslatable Japanese phrase, used as a typical greeting toward clients/customers when answering phone calls, writing emails, and even talking with them in person.

It’s literally translated as “I’m always taken care of,” and it means something along the lines of “Thank you for your always kind cooperation.” This phrase shows gratitude toward clients/customers for their favor, support, or cooperation. 

3 – ___ さんはいらっしゃいますか。(___-san wa irasshaimasu ka.)

Translation: “Is Mr./Ms. ___ there?”

いらっしゃる (irassharu) is 尊敬語 (Sonkeigo), or respectful language, for いる (iru), which means “be (there).”

4 – 少々お待ちくださいませ。(Shōshō o-machi kudasai mase.) 

Translation: “Please wait for a moment.”

5 – ___ はただいま外出しております。(___ wa tadaima gaishutsu shite orimasu.) 

Translation: “___ is currently out of the office.”

Remember that you should not use an honorific title when talking about your colleague to a client/customer.

6 – ___ へ折り返しお電話をさしあげるよう申し伝えます。(___ e orikaeshi o-denwa o sashiageru yō mōshitsutaemasu.)

Translation: “I will tell ___ to call you back,” in a respectful way.

This is a very polite and respectful expression. さしあげる (sashiageru) and 申し伝える(mōshitsutaeru) are 謙譲語 (Kenjōgo), or humble language, for “give” and “tell,” respectively.

7 – お電話いただき、どうもありがとうございました。(O-denwa itadaki, dōmo arigatō gozaimashita.)

Translation: “Thank you very much for calling.”

Man Using the Telephone

少々お待ちくださいませ。(Shōshō o-machi kudasai mase.) – “Please wait for a moment.”

6. Handle Business Emails

Like phone call etiquette, Japanese business email etiquette adheres to a number of detailed rules.

Following are the basics of writing professional emails:

    ➢ Write a simple and precise subject
    ➢ Use TO, CC, BCC correctly and appropriately
    ➢ It is rude to use a read receipt function
    ➢ Use line breaks and shorter sentences to increase readability
    ➢ Write the name of the company/department/recipient at the top of the body
    ➢ Write a polite greeting at the beginning and the end
    ➢ Reply back as soon as possible, within twenty-four hours at the latest

Here’s a list of the most useful phrases for writing business emails.

1 – ___ 様 / ___ さん (___-sama / ___-san)

Translation: (“Dear Mr. ___ / Ms. ___”)

Use 様 (-sama) for clients/customers and さん (-san) for colleagues.

2 – 平素よりお世話になっております。(Heiso yori o-sewa ni natte orimasu.) 

Translation: “Thank you for always being a good business partner with us.”

Here, 平素より (heiso yori) is a more polite expression than いつも (itsumo) for “always/usually.”

3 – ___の件でメールいたしました。(___ no ken de mēru itashimashita.) 

Translation: “I’m writing regarding ___.”

To break it down, いたす (itasu) is 謙譲語 (Kenjōgo), or humble language, for する (suru), meaning “do.” 

When you combine メール (“[e]mail”) and する (“do”), it becomes: メールする (“write/send email”).

4 – 添付資料をご確認くださいませ。(Tenpu shiryō o go-kakunin kudasai mase.) 

Translation: “Please check the document attached.”

5 – 何かご不明点、ご質問がございましたら、ご遠慮なくお知らせください。(Nani ka go-fumeiten, go-shitsumon ga gozaimashitara, go-enryo naku o-shirase kudasai.

Translation: “Should anything be unclear or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

7. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced the most useful Japanese business phrases and talked about Japanese business etiquette and culture. I hope you enjoyed today’s topic and that you were able to learn more about the Japanese culture and workplace.

If you would like more information about the Japanese language, you’ll find much more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. Here are some more pages on our website related to work: 

And there’s so much more! 

For example, when you subscribe to our Premium PLUS plan, you’ll get a personal one-on-one coaching service called MyTeacher. Your private teacher will help you practice your pronunciation and give you personalized feedback and advice to help you improve efficiently. 

Learn Japanese in the fastest and most fun way with JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any business Japanese phrases you still want to know! We’d be glad to help, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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Top 10 Japanese YouTube Channels to Improve Your Japanese

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Thanks to information technology nowadays, learning Japanese isn’t as difficult as you think. You can acquire the language quickly, even if you live outside of Japan and don’t have access to native speakers. There are various sources on the internet (like YouTube) that can help you learn Japanese!

While there are plenty of Japanese YouTube channels, not all of them are useful or efficient for learning. Using the right tools and resources is the key to faster and more effective learning, so in this article, we’ll introduce the ten best YouTube channels to supplement your Japanese studies.

These channels provide informative and entertaining content, and we’ll include channels in a variety of categories. And at the end, we’ll show you why the JapanesePod101 YouTube channel is the best place to learn Japanese on YouTube!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. NHK World Japan
  2. Easy Japanese
  3. Baka Proof
  4. TOFUGU
  5. Japanese Ammo with Misa
  6. Ask Japanese
  7. Rachel & Jun
  8. Paolo from TOKYO
  9. Nihongo no mori
  10. JapanesePod101
  11. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

A Woman Editing a Video for YouTube
ユーチューブで日本語を学ぼう (YouTube de Nihon-go o manabō) – “Let’s learn Japanese on YouTube.”

1. NHK World Japan

Category: News, Documentary, Culture, Language
Level: All

NHK, or 日本放送協会 (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai), stands for the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, which is Japan’s national broadcaster. It has terrestrial and satellite television channels, as well as domestic and international radio networks. 

Their YouTube channel, NHK World Japan, offers a variety of interesting videos, including:

  • An “Easy Japanese Lessons” series for learning Japanese
  • News
  • Sports (Sumo wrestling)
  • Documentaries on various topics about Japan
  • Much more

Most of the videos are narrated in English, and some are in Japanese with English subtitles. 

Their “Easy Japanese Lesson” playlist is especially useful for beginners looking to learn basic Japanese. Each episode follows a short skit in Japanese on a particular topic, such as answering phone calls or how to politely ask someone to repeat something. The videos have subtitles in both Japanese and English. Then, the host explains the dialogue and phrases in English (or in Japanese with English or Rōma-ji subtitles). 

All of their videos are well-produced. This channel is useful not only for learning Japanese, but also for deepening your knowledge about Japan and its culture.

2. Easy Japanese

Category: Culture, Japanese Street Interviews
Level: All

Easy Language has many language channels on YouTube, including Easy Japanese.

This is one of the best Japanese YouTube channels for immersion, and it introduces learners to how Japanese natives speak in everyday conversations. The videos feature interviews with Japanese people on the street, where the interviewer asks their opinions on certain topics. These topics may include things like Japanese public transportation, love, sushi, onomatopoeia, and Valentine’s Day in Japan. 

It’s very easy to follow along with, and its captions are in English, Japanese script, and Rōma-ji for effective learning. It’s not a conventional language lesson, but it’s helpful for learning spoken Japanese.

3. Baka Proof

Category: Learn with Anime
Level: Beginner – Intermediate

If you’re a fan of anime, then the Baka Proof channel is just right for you! This Japanese anime YouTube channel uses famous anime to introduce Japanese phrases, vocabulary, and grammar points. 

The videos on this channel first show a snippet of an anime scene with Japanese audio and English subtitles. Then, there’s an explanation (in English) of the Japanese phrases used in that scene. Even if you don’t have any basic knowledge, you can easily follow along with the videos and start learning basic Japanese. 

It’s an ideal channel for anime-lovers who want to learn spoken Japanese and eventually watch anime in the original language.

4. TOFUGU

Category: Culture, Subculture
Level: Beginner

When you get bored of formal lessons and textbook-style content, you’ll find the TOFUGU channel fun and entertaining.

This channel deals with many aspects of Japanese culture, covering various topics that will keep you focused and entertained. You’ll find videos on topics such as Japanese gestures, weird and interesting restaurants in Japan, Hiragana lessons, news, travel, and old Japanese myths. 

All of the videos are narrated in English so that absolute beginners can enjoy the videos. On the other hand, we only recommend this channel as a supplement to your normal Japanese studies. This is because the hosts don’t speak Japanese in the videos nor do they offer traditional-style lessons.

5. Japanese Ammo with Misa

Category: Language
Level: All

YouTuber Misa is a cute bilingual Japanese girl who will teach you practical Japanese phrases with grammatical explanations. She gives fun and easy-going Japanese lessons in English, with both Japanese and English subtitles.

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced learner, you’ll find her videos very useful. Her lessons include very basic content (such as how to write Hiragana and Katakana), as well as more advanced explanations (such as the difference between similar expressions and phrases). She also has interesting videos in which she reads manga comics in Japanese or introduces viewers to Japanese snacks.

Her content features wonderful grammatical explanations and covers a good deal of useful information. However, most of the phrases she deals with are informal and casual, so it’s better to use this channel mainly for learning daily conversations and casual language.

6. Ask Japanese

Category: Culture, Japanese Street Interviews
Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Ask Japanese is hosted by a multilingual German girl who lives in Japan. This is another channel that features interviews with people on the street. She talks with both native Japanese people and foreigners living in Japan. 

These interviews cover many different topics, including subculture and personal matters. For example: 

  • Japan’s strictest school rules
  • Whether Japanese people use dating apps
  • Sweets that Japanese people can’t live without
  • How the Japanese take great photogenic photos

Videos are narrated in Japanese or English, and you can turn on the subtitles. It may be a bit difficult to keep up with the Japanese, as they speak fast at times; in addition, there’s no Japanese script or Rōma-ji to follow along with. That said, this channel can be a good tool for listening practice and for learning natural spoken Japanese.

7. Rachel & Jun

Category: Life, Subculture, Travel, Vlog
Level: All

YouTubers Rachel & Jun, an American and Japanese couple living in Japan, offer interesting videos covering a range of topics.  

The couple creates vlogs to show what it’s like to live in Japan, culture shock, travel and food reports, interviews with traditional Japanese craftsmen, interesting facts about Japan, etc. If you’re interested in Japanese culture and life in Japan, this informative channel will become your new favorite!

Rachel & Jun speak mainly English in their videos, and there are Japanese captions. If you’re more interested in the language aspect, some of their videos focus on the Japanese language. For example, they sometimes talk about Japanese mistakes that Japanese people make, Japanese words that English should have, Japanese slang on the internet, and so on.

8. Paolo from TOKYO

Category: Food, Life, Travel, Vlog
Level: All

Paolo from TOKYO is one of the most popular YouTubers in Japan, creating videos that serve as an exciting guide to the country. Paolo is a fun and friendly American guy who has been living in Tokyo for a long time, and is married to a Japanese woman.

His videos cover topics such as:

  • Good food and tasty restaurants
  • Sightseeing spots and travel information
  • What it’s like to live in Japan
  • Cultural events and traditions

Some of his videos are documentary-style, following individual people. For example, he has videos about a day in the life of a Japanese university student and what life is like for a mother of a young child. Paolo is also a tech fan, and he creates videos about his drone and other cool gadgets he discovers.

Although it may be a bit difficult to choose which video to watch, as most of the titles are written in Japanese, you’ll be able to follow along with any video you choose. He speaks in English and his videos have Japanese subtitles; when other people speak Japanese, there are English captions. 

This channel can be a very useful addition to your main language learning sources. Paolo will stir up your interest in Japan, its life, and its culture. In turn, this will motivate you to keep learning Japanese.

9. Nihongo no mori

Category: Language / Language Exam (Japanese Language Proficiency Test)
Level: Intermediate – Advanced

If you’re a serious Japanese learner aiming to take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), this channel is perfect for you. 

Nihongo no mori provides Japanese lesson videos that are made especially for JLPT preparation. There’s a lot of content for N1 and N2 levels, but you can also find some lessons for N3, N4, and N5. In addition to Japanese grammar lessons, you’ll find plenty of vocabulary and practice tests by level.

The presenters teach in Japanese, so this channel is recommended for those who already have some Japanese knowledge. (You can turn on the subtitles for better understanding, but these are also in Japanese.)

10. JapanesePod101

Category: Language
Level: All

Learning Japanese with anime, vlogs, news stories, and street interviews can be interesting and helpful, but when you want to learn a language effectively, you need a solid source of information. The JapanesePod101 YouTube channel serves as this solid source, providing fun and effective lessons for learners at every level. 

The JapanesePod101 YouTube channel has a well-organized structure, and its lesson content includes:

  • Comprehensive grammar lessons
  • Vocabulary lists
  • Writing and reading exercises
  • Phrases for any situation
  • Conversations between native speakers
  • Exam preparation tips
  • Cultural insights
  • Learning tips
  • Much more

You’re sure to enjoy these lessons, delivered by our friendly and humorous hosts!

Whether you’re just starting out or already know some Japanese, you’ll find tons of useful content suitable for your current level. You’ll feel comfortable learning with us, as we provide you with Japanese script, Rōma-ji, and English subtitles.

Not sure where to start? Here are some recommendations:

For Beginners

For Intermediate Learners

For Travelers

11. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced the ten best YouTube channels for learning Japanese. When you take your language studies seriously, watching Japanese YouTube channels can really help you brush up on your skills. Continuation and repetition are the keys for effective learning. Find your favorite channels and make the most of your YouTube time!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, from basic grammar to practical phrases for any occasion, you’ll find a lot more useful content on JapanesePod101.com. Together with the JapanesePod101 YouTube channel, we provide a variety of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills. 

Our personal one-on-one coaching service, MyTeacher, is also available when you subscribe to a Premium PLUS membership with us. Your private teacher will help you practice pronunciation, and you’ll get personalized feedback and advice to improve efficiently.

And we have so much more to offer you! Learn Japanese faster and enjoy studying at JapanesePod101.com.

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any good Japanese YouTube channels you know about that we didn’t include. Have you watched any of the ones from this article? We look forward to hearing from you!

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How to Say Goodbye in Japanese

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As you know, greeting is the most basic and essential aspect of any conversation. While knowing how to say hello is certainly crucial for getting to know people, learning how to say goodbye is just as important. Giving the proper farewell can improve the quality and longevity of your relationships and make you sound more like a native speaker. 

There are various ways to say goodbye in Japanese, and some phrases are unique and untranslatable ones which reflect the politeness of Japanese culture. As you learn how to say goodbye in Japanese, you’ll also deepen your understanding of Japanese culture and get tips for having smooth conversations with Japanese people.

In this article, we’ll introduce the most common phrases for saying bye in Japanese, from easy casual words to more formal ones. We’ll also show you some expressions that are unique to the Japanese language. After reading this guide from JapanesePod101.com, you’ll be able to leave any conversation with confidence! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE!(Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. The Most Common Japanese Goodbye Phrases
  2. Various Ways to Say Goodbye in Japanese
  3. Untranslatable Goodbye Phrases in Japanese
  4. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. The Most Common Japanese Goodbye Phrases

Most Common Goodbyes

Let’s start by looking at the most popular ways to say goodbye in the Japanese language. These are phrases you may know already, but keep reading to learn how to use them properly! 

1 – さようなら (Sayōnara)

You’ve probably heard the famous Japanese word さような(Sayōnara) in movies and other media. This word is the direct translation of “goodbye.”

To say it properly, pronounce a bit longer and with no intonation. (English-speakers saying “sayoNAra” in Hollywood movies is a big Japanese pronunciation mistake! Don’t shorten the long vowel and stress the wrong syllable of a word!)

Despite its overall popularity, however, Sayōnara is not commonly used by Japanese people from day to day, especially between close friends or family. 

Sayōnara is actually a formal word, having the connotation of “farewell,” “goodbye for a long time,” or even “goodbye forever.” This word is most often used when someone isn’t sure when they’ll be seeing another person again (or if they’ll meet again at all). Therefore, don’t scare your loved one by telling them Sayōnara, as they may get confused and think that you’re going far away or that you don’t want to see them again!

Example

A:
ごめんなさい、他に好きな人がいるの。さようなら。
Gomen nasai, hoka ni suki na hito ga iru no. Sayōnara.
“I’m sorry, I have feelings for someone else. Goodbye.”

B:
待って、行かないで!別れたくない!
Matte, ikanaide! Wakaretaku nai!
“Wait, don’t go! I don’t want to break up!”

2 – ばいばい (Baibai)

This simple and easy phrase, borrowed from the English phrase “bye-bye,” is very common among close friends and family, though women and younger generations tend to use it more.

Baibai is used very casually. For example, someone may say this to their close friend after chatting with them for a while.

Example

A:
今日は楽しかったね、また遊ぼう。ばいばい!
Kyō wa tanoshikatta ne, mata asobō. Baibai!
“Today was fun, let’s hang out again. Bye-bye!”

B:
うん、またね! ばいばい!
Un, mata ne! Baibai!
“Yeah, see you! Bye-bye!”

A Woman Looking Out at a Body of Water

天国でも元気でね。さようなら。
Tengoku demo genki de ne. Sayōnara.
“Be well also in heaven. Goodbye.”

3 – Japanese Goodbye Gestures

Bowing is the most basic and essential gesture when it comes to Japanese greetings, especially in formal situations. Whether you’re greeting your boss or a client, you should bow when you say goodbye in Japanese to be polite. The form and length of your bow will depend on the level of respect you have for the other person and/or how official the situation is. To learn all about how to bow properly, please check out our Japanese Body Language article.

On the other hand, Japanese people don’t bow when they say goodbye to friends or family. The most common gesture in casual situations is to wave one’s hand. Simply wave your palm left and right in front of your chest. 

Unlike in Western culture, Japanese culture does not have greeting customs that involve hugging or kissing. So, even if it’s a casual occasion, do not astonish Japanese people with hugs or kisses when greeting them. They’ll be very bashful and not know how to react to it!

Two Japanese Businessmen Bowing To Each Other in a Hallway

In formal situations, Japanese people bow when saying goodbye.

2. Various Ways to Say Goodbye in Japanese

Now that the basics are covered, we’ll show you how to say goodbye in Japanese in a variety of situations! 

1 -じゃあね (Jā ne)

This is a very casual word used among close friends and family, and it means “See you” or “Bye, then.” 

じゃあ () means something like “well then,” and ね (ne) is a Japanese particle that’s put at the end of a sentence to make it sound softer. This particle also has a nuance of seeking the listener’s agreement and confirming a fact.

This is such a natural phrase that using it with your friends will make you sound like a native speaker! 

Example

  • あ、もう5時だ。行かなくちゃ! じゃあね!
    A, mō go-ji da. Ikanakucha! Jā ne!
    “Ah, it’s already five o’clock. I gotta go! See you!”

2 – またね (Mata ne)

またね (mata ne) is another very casual phrase you can use with your close friends and family. This one means “See you later.”

また (mata) is a colloquial way of saying “again,” and ね (ne) is the sentence ending particle. The masculine version, またな (mata na), is also commonly used among males.

This is a very natural and common expression that you’ll hear often in Japan.

Example

クラスが始まるからもう行くよ。ばいばい、またね!
Kurasu ga hajimaru kara mō iku yo. Baibai, mata ne!
“I’m going now because the class is starting. Bye, see you later!”

Two Children Waving Bye to Friends After School

ばいばい、またね!
Bai bai, mata ne!
“Bye, see you later!”

3 – また___ (Mata ___)

This is a useful expression that you can use both casually and in slightly more formal circumstances. 

また (mata) means “again,” and you can put any word in the blank that expresses time. Common examples include “later,” “tomorrow,” and “next week.” 

Adding では (dewa), which means “then,” in front of the phrase makes it sound a bit more formal, and thus more appropriate for use with colleagues in the workplace.  

Vocabulary for Time Words You Can Use

EnglishKanji HiraganaReading
“later”後であとでato de
“tomorrow”明日あしたashita
“next week”来週らいしゅうraishū
“next month”来月らいげつraigetsu
“next year”来年らいねんrainen

Example

A:
明日はプロジェクトの大事な日なので、今日はもう帰りましょう。
Ashita wa purojekuto no daiji na hi nanode, kyō wa mō kaerimashō.
“Let’s go home now because tomorrow is an important day for the project.”

B:
はい、ではまた明日。
Hai, dewa mata ashita.
“Yes, see you tomorrow then.”

4 – 元気でね (Genki de ne)

元気でね (genki de ne) can be translated as “Take care of yourself,” “Stay well,” or “All the best.”

This casual phrase is used when someone is going on a long trip or moving to another place.

You can also say お元気で (o-genki de) to make it sound more polite for use in formal situations. The お (o) here is the Japanese honorific prefix that adds a feeling of politeness or respect to a word. For example: 

  • すし (sushi) >> おすし (o-sushi)
  • 水 (mizu) – “water” >> お水 (o-mizu)
  • 皿 (sara) – “plate” >> お皿 (o-sara)

Example

新しい町でも友達たくさんできるよ。元気でね!
Atarashii machi de mo tomodachi takusan dekiru yo. Genki de ne!
“You will make a lot of friends in the new town, too. All the best!”

5 – 気をつけてね (Ki o tsukete ne) 

This casual phrase means “Take care.”

Similar to the phrase above, 気をつけてね (ki o tsukete ne) is used when someone is going on a trip. However, it can also be used when a family member is leaving home.

To make it more polite, you can say: お気をつけて (o-ki o tsukete).

Example

A:
明日富士山に登りに行くよ。
Ashita Fujisan ni nobori ni iku yo.
“I’m going to climb Mt. Fuji tomorrow.”

B:
気をつけてね。
Ki o tsukete ne.
“Take care.”

Mt. Fuji

山登り気をつけてね。
Yamanobori ki o tsukete ne.
“Take care when climbing the mountains.”

6 – 行ってきます(Ittekimasu) / 行ってらっしゃい (Itterasshai)

行ってきます (ittekimasu) means “I’m leaving (the house),” and it’s a common way to say goodbye to family members when you’re opening the front door to leave.

This phrase is also used between colleagues when a staff member is leaving the office to meet clients outside (if he’s coming back to the office later).

The paired response to 行ってきます (ittekimasu) is 行ってらっしゃい (itterasshai), which literally means “Go and come back.” Those who are staying behind say this phrase to those who are leaving.

Example

A (Kid):
遅刻するー!行ってきます!
Chikoku surū! Ittekimasu!
“I’m getting late! I’m leaving now!”

B (Mom):
行ってらっしゃい。気をつけてね。
Itterasshai. Ki o tsukete ne.
“Bye. Take care.”

A Mother Saying Bye to Her Husband and Children

-行ってきます! (Ittekimasu!) – “I’m leaving now!”
-行ってらっしゃい。(Itterasshai.) – “Bye, take care.”

7 – 良い1日を (Ii ichi-nichi o)

良い1日を (ii ichi-nichi o) means “(Have) a good day.”

This is the short version of the polite phrase: 良い1日をお過ごしください (Ii ichi-nichi o o-sugoshi kudasai) or “Please have a good day.”

Keep in mind that while the equivalent phrase in English is used often in English-speaking countries, this is not the case for this phrase in Japan. It might be used in a situation where the speaker is a host and the listener is a guest (such as at a hotel). 

Example

[From a hotel staff member to hotel guests who are leaving and will come back later]

  • お客様、いってらっしゃいませ。良い1日をお過ごしください。
    O-kyaku-sama, itterasshai-mase. Ii ichi-nichi o o-sugoshi kudasai.
    “Dear guests, please go safely and have a good day.”

8 – 楽しんでね (Tanoshinde ne)

The casual Japanese goodbye phrases 楽しんでね (tanoshinde ne) and 楽しんできてね (tanoshinde kite ne), which mean “have fun” and “have a good time,” are more commonly used than 良い1日を (ii ichi-nichi o).

To make it more polite, you can also say 楽しんでください (tanoshinde kudasai) or 楽しんできてください (tanoshinde kite kudasai).

Example

A:
今から友達と映画にいくの。またね。
Ima kara tomodachi to eiga ni iku no. Mata ne.
“I’m going to watch a movie with my friend. See you.”

B:
いいね。楽しんできてね。
Ii ne. Tanoshinde kite ne.
“That’s nice. Have fun.”

9 – お大事に (Odaiji ni)

お大事に (odaiji ni) means “get well soon,” and it’s frequently used when you’re leaving a person who is sick or injured. 

You can use this phrase when you leave your friend’s or family member’s room at a hospital, or when a colleague is leaving work early because they don’t feel well. In addition, doctors often say this to their patients after a consultation.

Example

A:
気分が悪いので早退して病院にいきます。
Kibun ga warui node sōtai shite byōin ni ikimasu.
“I’m leaving the office early and going to see the doctor because I feel sick.”

B:
お大事に。ゆっくり休んでください
Odaiji ni. Yukkuri yasunde kudasai.
“Get well soon. Please rest well.”

A Sick Woman

-風邪を引いています。Kaze o hiite imasu. – “I have a cold.”
-お大事にどうぞ。Odaiji ni dōzo.- “Please get well soon.”

3. Untranslatable Goodbye Phrases in Japanese

There are numerous untranslatable Japanese phrases which do not have a direct translation in English. Such untranslatable phrases are unique to the Japanese language as they reflect the Japanese culture, which places importance on politeness and respect for social harmony.

Here’s a list of untranslatable goodbye phrases in Japanese:

1 – お疲れ様 (Otsukare-sama)

お疲れ様 (otsukare-sama) is literally translated as “(You must be) tired,” in a respectful manner. 

This phrase is often used between colleagues as a greeting, sort of like “see you” or “see you tomorrow.” It can also be used in sport-related situations such as at a gym or sports club. 

Japanese people use this phrase to express a feeling of gratitude for hard work, as well as sympathy concerning the tiredness one might feel after working. 

Example

A:
今日のトレーニングはキツかったですね。
Kyō no torēningu wa kitsukatta desu ne.
“Today’s training was really tough, wasn’t it?”

B:
お疲れ様でした。また来週。
Otsukare-sama deshita. Mata raishū.
“(We trained so hard and tired.) See you next week.”

2 – お先に失礼します (Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu)

お先に失礼します (osaki ni shitsurei shimasu) is literally translated as “I do impoliteness before you,” meaning “Excuse me for leaving before you.”

This phrase is commonly used as a departure greeting, especially between colleagues.

In the traditional working culture of Japan, people are considered more hardworking when they work long hours. Additionally, due to the seniority tradition, less-experienced employees have invisible yet strong pressure to leave the office later than their bosses or more-experienced colleagues. Therefore, people feel guilty leaving the office earlier than other colleagues. The formal phrase “I do impoliteness before you” is used to excuse the action of leaving early.

There’s also a shorter version of this phrase: お先に (osaki ni), meaning “Before you.” This is used casually among close colleagues or to subordinates. 

Example

  • 今日は子供の誕生日なので、お先に失礼します。
    Kyō wa kodomo no tanjōbi na node, osaki ni shitsurei shimasu.
    “Excuse me for leaving before you, (I’m leaving the office now because) today is my kid’s birthday.”

*Japanese people tend to subconsciously feel that they need a good reason for leaving the office earlier. 

3 – お世話になりました (O-sewa ni narimashita)

This beautiful untranslatable Japanese phrase is literally translated as “I was taken care of by you,” which means “Thank you for taking care of me/supporting me” in a humble way. 

This phrase is often used when you resign from your job and greet colleagues on your last day in the office, or when you finish a course or training that helped grow your career. It shows gratitude toward the people and environment that supported you. 

Variations of this phrase are: 

  • お世話になります (o-sewa ni narimasu) – present tense
  • いつもお世話になっております (itsumo o-sewa ni natte orimasu)

These mean “Thank you for your support” and “Thank you for your continued support,” respectively. They’re commonly used in business settings when talking to clients when they visit or send emails.

Example

10年間お世話になりました。素晴らしい同僚と一緒に働けて幸せでした。
Jū-nenkan o-sewa ni narimashita. Subarashii dōryō to issho ni hatarakete shiawase deshita.
“Thank you for taking care of and supporting me for ten years. I was happy to work with such wonderful colleagues.”

A Group of Colleagues in the Office Smiling for a Group Photo

お世話になりました (o-sewa ni narimashita) is a typical goodbye phrase on one’s last day of work to say “Thank you for supporting me.”

4 – お邪魔しました (Ojama shimashita)

お邪魔しました (ojama shimashita) is literally translated as “I disturbed/bothered you,” in a humble and polite way. It means “Excuse me for intruding” or “Thank you for having me over.”

In Japan, it’s polite to say this phrase together with “thank you” when you’re invited to someone’s home, and when you’re leaving there. Similarly, when you enter someone’s home, you should say: お邪魔します (ojama shimasu) in the present tense.

You can use this phrase casually or formally whenever you enter someone’s house or property.

Example

ご招待ありがとうございました。お邪魔しました。
Go-shōtai arigatō gozaimashita. Ojama shimashita.
“Thank you for inviting me and having me over.”

For more great information, check out our vocabulary list on the Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye (with audio)!

4. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced how to say goodbye in Japanese in any situation, and also showed you a few untranslatable goodbye phrases in Japanese. I hope you enjoyed today’s topic, and that you were able to take away some valuable information on how Japanese culture relates to its many goodbye phrases. 

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, you’ll find much more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. To get you started, here’s some information about the basics of Japanese to enrich your knowledge: 

Please don’t forget to check out the audio and listen to the pronunciation carefully!

And there’s so much more! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you have any questions about today’s article. We’d be glad to help you out!

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Your Ultimate Guide to Japanese Pronouns

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Pronouns are used to substitute nouns, such as people or things, in a sentence. Using pronouns allows you to avoid repetitive usage of a particular word in a sentence, which would sound awkward. Japanese pronouns are very different from those in English because Japanese pronouns can be omitted from a sentence when they’re implied through the context.

Unlike in English, there are many different variations of Japanese personal pronouns that translate as “I/me” and “you,” although only a few are commonly used. This expression of Japanese pronouns comes from Japanese culture, which puts importance on respect, seniority, and social order. 

Each Japanese pronoun variation denotes the different characteristics of the speaker. These include gender, age, social status, level of respect, and their relationship with the person they’re speaking to.
Ready to learn Japanese pronouns? In this Japanese pronoun guide, we introduce Japanese pronouns that will boost your language skills, and teach you how to use them. JapanesePod101 makes it simple and easy to understand!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Japanese Personal Pronouns
  2. Japanese Demonstrative Pronouns
  3. Japanese Interrogative Pronouns
  4. Japanese Indefinite Pronouns
  5. Examples
  6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Japanese Personal Pronouns

Introduce Yourself

Personal pronouns in Japanese are rich in expression, and there are dozens of first- and second-person pronouns. However, most of them aren’t commonly used so we’ll introduce frequently used Japanese personal pronouns here.

1. 1st, 2nd, 3rd Person Singular

1. How to Say “I”

ReadingKanjiHiraganaLevel of FormalityGenderCharacteristics
watakushiわたくしvery formalbothVery formal and polite personal pronoun often used in very official occasions.
watashiわたしformal / informalbothUsed by both genders in formal occasions, such as at the workplace. This is the most commonly used word for “I,” but it’s often omitted in a sentence. In informal situations, this is typically used by women.
atashiあたしinformalfemaleThis is the casual version of watashi and it’s used by younger females in conversations. However, it can sound a bit childish and unsophisticated.
bokuぼくinformalmaleUsed by males of all ages, but very often by kids and younger men. It gives an impression of  humbleness. This can also be used as a second-person pronoun toward little boys (English equivalent: “kid”).
oreおれvery informalmaleFrequently used by men in informal settings, such as among family and friends. It sounds very masculine. This can be very rude when it’s used in formal occasions or in front of respectable/senior people.

2. How to Say “You”

ReadingKanjiHiraganaLevel of FormalityGenderCharacteristics
anata貴方あなたformal / informalbothThis is almost equivalent to the English word “you.” However, it’s not often used as the subject in a sentence, and it’s often omitted. It’s more common to use a person’s name with a Japanese honorific, such as 様 (sama) or さん (san), to express “you” in formal contexts. In addition, wives often call their husbands by this Japanese pronoun. When used this way, it’s comparable to the English words “dear” or “darling.” Kanji is rarely used.
kimiきみinformalbothOften used to call subordinates and peers in informal settings. It can also be affectionate and polite when used by a boyfriend/husband to call his girlfriend/wife. It’s impolite and inappropriate when used with respectable/senior people or strangers. The Kanji 君 can also be read as kun when it’s added next to a male’s name as a casual and affectionate honorific word.
omaeお前おまえvery informalboth / maleOften used by men. It expresses that the speaker has a superior status or age, and it’s very rude to use this toward senior people and in formal settings. It’s also used among close friends to call peers. In addition, husbands frequently call their wives by this pronoun, which is comparable to the female use of anata.
antaあんたvery informalbothIt’s a short version of anata, but it sounds very impolite and implies a sense of contempt. It can also be used between people in a very close relationship. It’s very rude and inappropriate to use toward  senior people and in formal settings.
kisama貴様きさまvery rude and hostilebothThe historical origin of this word was very formal, but it’s used today as a very rude way to call another person. It has a sense of extreme hostility from the speaker. You’ll often hear this in  時代劇 (jidaigeki) (samurai warrior) drama shows.
Two Women Having a Casual Chat.

3. How to Say “He” and “She”

Does Japanese have gendered pronouns? Sort of. Here’s what we mean:

ReadingKanjiHiraganaLevel of Formality
kareかれformal / informal
kanojo彼女かのじょformal / informal

The Japanese pronouns for the third person are above. However, they’re not used like they are in English.

Native Japanese people prefer to use the person’s name, or to describe them as あの人 (ano hito), meaning “that person,” which makes it unnecessary to indicate gender.

In informal settings, 彼 (kare) means “boyfriend” and 彼女 (kanojo) means “girlfriend.”

2. 1st, 2nd, 3rd Person Plural

In order to make Japanese personal pronouns plural, a suffix is added to them.
The suffix can be ~達 (-tachi ), ~方 (-gata), or ~ら (-ra), depending on which word comes in front.

MeaningSuffixReadingLevel of Formality
We-tachiwatashi-tachineutral / formal
You [plural]-tachianata-tachineutral / formal
You [plural]-gataanata-gataformal
They [he, plural]-rakare-raneutral / formal
They [she, plural]-rakanojo-raneutral / formal

The suffix 達 (-tachi) can be added to most of the nouns that refer to people and animals. For example, 動物達(dōbutsu-tachi) means “animals.”

Old Japanese Couple Drinking Tea Together.

3. Possessive Forms

To make Japanese possessive pronouns, add the suffix の (〜no) to the pronouns.

MeaningReading
minewatashi no
yoursanata no
hiskare no
herskanojo no
ourswatashi-tachi no
theirskare-ra no

4. Reflective or Intensive Forms

To make Japanese reflexive pronouns or intensive forms, add the suffix 自身 (〜jishin) to the pronouns.

MeaningReading
myselfwatashi jishin
yourselfanata jishin
himselfkare jishin
herselfkanojo jishin
ourselveswatashi-tachi jishin
themselveskare-ra jishin

To hear how to pronounce Japanese pronouns, visit Most Useful Pronouns.

2. Japanese Demonstrative Pronouns

Basic Questions

Demonstrative pronouns in Japanese are typically written in Hiragana. Further, Japanese demonstrative pronouns are easy to remember as they’re categorized in groups depending on their degree of distance from the speaker or listener.

Words that:

  • begin with こ (ko-) indicate something close to the speaker. 
  • begin with そ (so-) indicate some distance from the speaker or something close to the listener.
  • begin with あ (a-) indicate far distance.
MeaningReadingHiraganaNotes
thiskoreこれnear speaker
itsoreそれnear listener
thatareあれdistant from both speaker and listener
thesekore-raこれらnear speaker
thosesore-ra /
are-ra
それら/
あれら
near listener /
distant from both speaker and listener
herekokoここnear speaker
theresokoそこnear listener
over thereasokoあそこdistant from both speaker and listener

3. Japanese Interrogative Pronouns

Similar to demonstrative pronouns, most of the Japanese interrogative pronouns begin with ど (do-) or だ (da-).

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
whatnaniなに
whichdono / doreどの/どれ
whodareだれ
whomdare ni誰に誰に
whosedare no誰のだれの
whenitsuいつ
whynazeなぜ

Keep in mind that “whose” is a possessive form of “who,” and the rules of the Japanese possessive forms also apply:

誰 (dare) meaning “who” + の (〜no) = 誰の (dare no) meaning “whose.”

Woman with Question Marks above Head

4. Japanese Indefinite Pronouns

In the Japanese language, “everyone/everybody” and “anyone/anybody” are both translated as 誰でも (dare demo) in some contexts.

In a negative sentence using indefinite pronouns such as “no one/nobody,” “nowhere,” and “nothing,” a negative form is typically: も…ない (...mo…nai …).

MeaningReadingKanjiHiragana
everyone /
everybody
minna / dare demo皆/誰でもみんな/だれでも
everywheredoko demo /
doko ni mo
どこでも/どこにも
everythingsubete / zenbu全て/全部すべて/ぜんぶ
someone /
somebody
dare ka誰かだれか
somewheredoko kaどこか
somethingnani ka何かなにか
no one /
nobody
dare mo…nai誰も…ないだれも…ない
nowheredoko ni mo…naiどこにも…ない
nothingnani mo…nai何も…ないなにも…ない
anyone /
anybody
dare demo誰でもだれでも
anywheredoko demo /
doko ni mo
どこでも/どこにも
anythingnan demo何でもなんでも
Looking for Something on TV

5. Examples

Now that we’ve come to the end of this Japanese pronouns list, here are some example sentences using Japanese pronouns.

1. Personal Pronouns

  • あなたと私は東京出身で、彼と彼女は大阪出身です。

Anata to watashi wa Tōkyō shusshin de, kare to kanojo wa Ōsaka shusshin desu. 

You and I are from Tokyo, and he and she are from Osaka.

  • 年上の人に向かって「お前」や「貴様」と呼ぶことはとても失礼です。

Toshiue no hito ni mukatte “omae” ya “kisama” to yobu koto wa totemo shitsurei desu.

It is very rude to call an elder person omae and kisama.

  • 私達は明日、君の誕生日会へ行きます。

Watashi-tachi wa ashita, kimi no tanjōbi kai e ikimasu.

We will go to your birthday party tomorrow.

2. Demonstrative Pronouns

  • それをここに持ってきてください。

Sore o koko ni motte kite kudasai. 

Please bring it here.

  • これらの本はあそこの棚へ戻してください。

Kore-ra no hon wa asoko no tana e modoshite kudasai. 

Please put these books back on the shelf over there.

  • 彼らはここからあなたの家へ出発しました。

Kare-ra wa koko kara anata no ie e shuppatsu shimashita.

They departed to your home from here.

3. Interrogative Pronouns

  • 私はなぜあそこに行かなければならないか分かりません。

Watashi wa naze aoko ni ikanakereba naranai ka wakarimasen. 

I don’t understand why I have to go there.

  • 誰に向かって話しているのですか。

Dare ni mukatte hanashite iru no desu ka.

To whom are you talking?

  • あそこのあの靴は誰のですか。

Asoko no ano kutsu wa dare no desu ka.

Whose shoes are those there?

4. Indefinite Pronouns

  • 彼女はどこかに全てを置いてきました。

Kanojo wa doko ka ni subete o oite kimashita. 

She left everything somewhere.

  • 誰もあのような変な服を持っていないでしょう。

Dare mo ano yō na hen na fuku o motte inai deshō.

No one would have strange clothes like that.

  • 誰かが彼にここで何でも食べていいと伝えました。

Dare ka ga kare ni koko de nan demo tabete ii to tsutaemashita.

Somebody told him that he could eat anything here.

 To learn more useful Japanese vocabulary, check out our 100 Adjectives and 100 Nouns articles.

6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

Improve Listening

In this article, we introduced you to a variety of common pronouns in Japanese. By now, you should have an enhanced vocabulary and have a better idea of how to use Japanese pronouns. This is something that will definitely improve your overall Japanese language skills! 

Did you learn something new from this article? Do you want to know more about Japanese grammar? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases for any situation, you’ll find more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. 

To get you started, here’s some more information about the basics of Japanese, with audio:

To learn how to converse in Japanese, check out Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations and Top 10 Conversational Phrases. Basic Kanji for Verbs and Basic Kanji for Adjectives are also useful if you want to learn Japanese kanji.

And there’s so much more! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

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Japanese Sentence Structure & Word Order

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When learning a new language, the grammatical part is inevitable. Even if you have a large vocabulary and can communicate well enough with native speakers of that language (which is a great way to practice at first!), you need to know the correct word order and sentence structure to continue improving. 

Japanese grammar is totally different from English grammar. However, once you get used to the Japanese sentence structure, it will be much easier for you to make sentences. This is because the Japanese language word order is more flexible than that of English.
In this article, we’ll introduce the basics of Japanese word order, which will help you better understand Japanese sentence structure as a whole. Brush up on your Japanese here at JapanesePod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Japanese Table of Contents
  1. Overview of Word Order in Japanese
  2. The Basic Word Order of Japanese
  3. Word Order with Postpositional Phrases
  4. Word Order with Modifiers
  5. Asking Questions
  6. Let’s Practice Making a Sentence in Japanese!
  7. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Overview of Word Order in Japanese

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1. Japanese is SOV

Japanese is an SOV language, which means that the basic word order in a sentence is S (subject)O (object)V (verb). English, on the other hand, is an SVO language with the order of  S (subject)V (verb)O (object).

     (S)    (O)      (V)

Japanese: 私は本を読みます。(Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.)

               (S) (V)     (O)

English: “I read the book.”

2. Variable/Flexible Sentence Structure

The Japanese sentence structure is flexible:

[1] The subject can be omitted when it’s clear from the context/situation. 

[2] The subject and object(s) can be placed in a variable order.

[1]

 (S)    (O)        (V)

(私は)本を読みます[(Watashi wa) hon o yomimasu.] = “I read the book.”

The subject 私は (watashi wa) can be omitted.

[2] 

                   (S) (V)     (O)

English:I read the book.”

In English, the subject can’t be omitted and the verb comes before the object.

SVO in Japanese

          (S)      (O)       (V)

Japanese: (私は) 本を読みます。 [(Watashi wa) hon o  yomimasu.]

In Japanese, the subject can be omitted and the verb is always at the end of a sentence. The basic word order in Japanese is variable in that the subject can also appear after the object, and the order of the objects (if there are multiple) is flexible.

Grammar Table
Japanese Postpositional Particles in Colored Circles

The postpositional particles are used in a Japanese sentence to modify words.

3. The Distinguishable Features of Word Order in Japanese Sentences

Compared to English, one of the distinguishable features of word order in Japanese is that Japanese has a 述語 (Jyutsugo), grammatically translated as “predicate.”

The predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence stating something about the subject. While an English predicate can appear in the middle of a sentence, a Japanese 述語 (Jyutsugo) is always placed at the end of a sentence. This applies to both the casual form and the polite form.

Japanese: 私は本を読みます。(Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.) >> 読みます(yomimasu) is the predicate.

English: “I read the book.” >> “read the book” is the predicate.

2. The Basic Word Order of Japanese

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1. SOV in Japanese

As we saw in the previous section, the basic sentence structure of Japanese is S (subject) – O (object) – V (verb).

Japanese parts of speech are usually followed by 助詞 (Joshi), or “particles,” that modify the word in front.

The subject is the person or thing that’s being discussed or described in a sentence, and the Japanese subject is usually followed by は (wa) or が (ga), which are 格助詞 (Kaku-Joshi) meaning “case markers” or 係助詞 (Kakari-Joshi) meaning “binding particles.”

The object is usually a noun or pronoun that is acted upon by the subject. A Japanese object is followed by a particle, such as を (o) or に (ni), which are 格助詞 (Kaku-Joshi).
The verb conveys an action (eat, write, move, etc.), an occurrence (happen, change), or a state of being (be, seem, exist). Japanese verbs either end the sentence, or are followed by 丁寧体 (Teinei-tai) such as です (desu) or ます (masu) in the polite form.

Word OrderSVO :  English
(subject)-(verb)-(object)
Example“I read the book.”
“I am a musician.”
“The book is about music.”
SOV : Japanese
(subject)-(object)-(verb)
Literal translation following the word order
私は本を読みます。
Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.
I / the book / read.
私は音楽家です。
Watashi wa ongakuka desu.
I / a musician / am.
その本は音楽についてです。
Sono hon wa ongaku ni tsuite desu.
The book  / the music / about / is.

2. Flexible Word Order

As we mentioned earlier, in Japanese grammar, word order is pretty flexible. Look at the diagram of the Japanese sentence structure in 1. 2. [2] above; the word order of the subject and object(s) is flexible. Even though the subject usually appears at the beginning of a sentence, the subject can also be placed in the middle or even be omitted.

Let’s take a look at the example. 

S (subject) O (object) V (verb)

  • (私は)明日図書館で友達と本を読みます。

(Watashi wa) ashita   toshokan de   tomodachi to   hon o   yomimasu.      

(I)       (tomorrow) (at the library) (with a friend) (the book) (read).

“I will read the book with a friend at the library tomorrow.”

The subject and object(s) can be placed in a variable order.

For example, the sentence above can also be in the following orders:

(私は)図書館で明日友達と本を読みます。

(Watashi wa) toshokan de  ashita   tomodachi to   hon o  yomimasu

(私は)友達と図書館で明日本を読みます。

(Watashi wa) tomodachi to  toshokan de  ashita   hon o yomimasu. 

明日図書館で(私は)友達と本を読みます。

Ashita  toshokan de (watashi wa)  tomodachi to  hon o  yomimasu. 

3. Word Order with Postpositional Phrases

While English uses prepositions (such as “at,” “on,” and “for”) to express a relationship to another word, Japanese uses postpositional particles, or 助詞 (Joshi). These particles come after the modified noun, verb, adjective, or at the end of a sentence. 

There are several types of particles, categorized by function. However, we’ll only introduce the most essential particle: 格助詞 (Kaku-Joshi) or “case maker.”  

When there are multiple objects, their order is flexible and variable as mentioned in the previous section.

Meaning/FunctionReadingHiraganaExample
Nominative case-gaーが彼女一番です。
Kanojo ga ichi-ban desu. 
“She is number one.”
Location-deーでここ食べます。
Koko de tabemasu.  
“(I) eat here.”
Destination -eーへ彼は図書館いきます。
Kare wa toshokan e ikimasu. 
“He goes to the library.”
Dative case /
Time
 -niーにDative:
彼は子供本をあげました。
Kare wa kodomo ni hon o agemashita. 
“He gave the kid a book.”

Time:
私は5時出発します。
Watashi wa go-ji ni shuppatsu shimasu. 
“I depart at five o’clock.”
Origin-karaーから 駅は家から徒歩5分です。
Eki wa ie kara toho go-fun desu.
“The station is a five-minute walk from home.”
Co-participant -toーと彼女は彼歌います。
Kanojo wa kare to utaimasu. 
“She sings with him.”
Objective case -oーを私は本読みます。
Watashi wa hon o yomimasu. 
“I read the book.”
Possessive case -noーのこれは私カバンです。
Kore wa watashi no kaban desu. 
“This is my bag.”
End point -madeーまで彼は駅まで歩きました。
Kare wa eki made arukimashita. 
“He walked to the station.”
Starting point / Comparative -yoriーよりStarting point:
会議は9時より行われます。
Kaigi wa ku-ji yori okonawaremasu. 
“The meeting will be held at nine o’clock.”

Comparative:
これはあれより安いです。
Kore wa are yori yasui desu. 
“This is cheaper than that.”
Traffic in a Big City at Night

彼は駅まで歩きました。(Kare wa eki made arukimashita.), “He walked to the station.”

4. Word Order with Modifiers

With the basic Japanese word order rules in mind, let’s see how it works with modifiers to make more complex sentences.

A modifier is a word—such as an adjective, pronoun, or adverb—that expresses something about the word that follows it. Adjectives and pronouns modify nouns; adverbs modify verbs. 

Here’s the Japanese word order with modifiers by function.

1. With Adjectives

In Japanese word order, adjectives come in front of nouns to describe them.

  • 赤いりんご (akai ringo), “red apple”
  • 分厚い本 (buatsui  hon), “thick book”

In a sentence with a subject and verb, the format is: S (subject) O (object) V (verb).

  • 彼は赤いりんごを食べました。(Kare wa akai ringo o tabemashita.), “He ate a red apple.”
  • 私は分厚い本を読みます。(Watashi wa buatsui  hon o yomimasu.), “I read the thick book.”

To learn more about Japanese adjectives, please visit our page on the Most Common Adjectives.

2. With Possessive Pronouns

Japanese possessive pronouns—such as 私の (watashi no) meaning “my” and 彼の (kare no) meaning “his”—come in front of nouns. The Japanese possessive case is の (-no) which is the postpositional particle marked after a person or thing.

  • 私の車 (Watashi no kuruma), “my car”
  • 彼女の家 (Kanojo no ie), “her house”

In a sentence with a subject and verb:

  • 彼は私の車を使いました。(Kare wa watashi no kuruma o tsukaimashita.), “He used my car.”
  • 私は彼女の家へ行きました。(Watashi wa kanojo no ie e ikimashita.), “I went to her house.”

3. With Adverbs

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Japanese adverbs come in front of the words they modify.

  • 静かに話します (shizuka ni hanashimasu), “speak quietly”
  • ひどく疲れました (hidoku tsukaremashita), “terribly tired”

In a sentence with a subject and verb: 

  • 彼女は静かに話します。(Kanojo wa shizuka ni  hanashimasu.), “She speaks quietly.”
  • 彼女はとても静かに話します。(Kanojo wa totemo shizuka ni  hanashimasu.), “She speaks very quietly.”
  • 私はひどく疲れました。(Watashi wa hidoku  tsukaremashita.), “I got terribly tired.”

For more about Japanese adverbs, please check out our page on Must-Know Adverbs and Phrases for Connecting Thoughts.

4. With Numerals

When numerals modify a noun, they come before that noun. When numerals are used as an object, they come before verbs. 

  •  一冊の本 (Issatsu no hon), “one book”
  • 二つのりんご (Futatsu no ringo), “two apples”
  • 5匹います (Go-hiki  imasu), “there are five (kinds of animals)”

In a sentence with a subject and verb: 

  • 私は1冊の本を読みます。(Watashi wa issatsu no hon o yomimasu.), “I read one book.”
  • 木から落ちたのは二つのりんごです。(Ki kara ochita no wa futatsu no ringo desu.), “What fell from a tree are two apples.”
  • 動物園にパンダが5頭います。(Dōbutsuen ni panda ga go-tō imasu.), “There are five pandas in the zoo.”

There’s a great variety of Japanese counter words which are used when talking about things, actions, or events. 

For more about the basics of Japanese numbers, please visit Numbers and Kanji for Numbers and Counters.

Two Panda Bears Playing with Each Other

Dōbutsuen ni panda ga go- imasu. (“There are five pandas in the zoo.”)

5. Asking Questions

Making an interrogative sentence in Japanese is surprisingly easy! It doesn’t involve changing the word order or adding an auxiliary verb to form a question, like in English (e.g. You swim. >> Do you swim?).

In Japanese, you only have to add か (ka), a question marker, to the end of a sentence and pronounce it with a rising intonation. 

Polite / Basic Sentence

  • 私は本を読みます。(Watashi wa hon o yomimasu.), “I read the book.”

   Question: 私は本を読みますか。 (Watashi wa hon o yomimasu ka.), “Do I read the book?”

  • これは100円です。(Kore wa hyaku-en desu.), “This is 100 yen.”

          Question: これは100円ですか。 (Kore wa hyaku-en desu ka.), “Is this 100 yen?”

  • 彼女は肉を食べません。(Kanojo wa niku o tabemasen.), “She doesn’t eat meat.”

          Question: 彼女は肉を食べませんか。(Kanojo wa niku o tabemasen ka.), “Doesn’t she eat meat?”

Casual Sentence

In casual and colloquial speech, just change the pronunciation to have a rising intonation at the end of a sentence, without adding か (ka). 

  • 今日は寒い。(Kyō wa samui.), “Today is cold.”

   Question: 今日は寒い? (Kyō wa samui?), “Is today cold?”

  • 私に小包が届いた。(Watashi ni kozutsumi ga todoita.), “The parcel was delivered to me.”

          Question: 私に小包が届いた (Watashi ni kozutsumi ga todoita?), “Was the parcel delivered to me?”

  • (あなたは)犬が好き。[(Anata wa) inu ga suki.], “You like dogs.”

          Question:(あなたは)犬が好き [(Anata wa) inu ga suki?], “Do you like dogs?”

6. Let’s Practice Making a Sentence in Japanese! 

Learning by doing is the best way to master! Now, let’s practice making a Japanese sentence, step by step, with the Japanese word order rules you’ve learned today. If you don’t remember anything, feel free to review the sections above! 

Try to translate the following sentences in Japanese.

1. “You went to the library.”  : _________________

2. “You went to the library in the morning.”  : _________________

3. “You went to the library in the morning at eight o’clock.” : _________________

4. “Did you go to the library in the morning?” : _________________

5. “She ate sushi today.”  : _________________

6. “She ate sushi with Mariko today.”  : _________________

7. “She ate sushi with Mariko for lunch today.”  : _________________

8. “Did she eat sushi with Mariko for lunch today?” :_________________

If you don’t know certain vocabulary words, please check out our lists for the 50 Most Common Verbs and our School Vocabulary.

Little Girl Picking a Book at the Library

“Library” in Japanese is 図書館 (toshokan).

[Answers]

1. “You went to the library.” 

  あなたは図書館へ行きました。(Anata wa toshokan e ikimashita.)

2. “You went to the library in the morning.” 

 あなたは朝図書館へ行きました。(Anata wa asa toshokan e ikimashita.)

3. “You went to the library in the morning at eight o’clock.” 

   あなたは朝8時に図書館へ行きました。(Anata wa asa hachi-ji ni toshokan e ikimashita.)

4. “Did you go to the library in the morning?” 

 あなたは朝図書館へ行きましたか。(Anata wa asa toshokan e ikimashita ka.) 

5. “She ate sushi today.”  

     彼女は今日寿司を食べました。(Kanojo wa kyō sushi o tabemashita.)

6. “She ate sushi with Mariko today.” 

     彼女は今日まりこと寿司を食べました。(Kanojo wa kyō Mariko to sushi o tabemashita.)

7. “She ate sushi with Mariko for lunch today.” 

     彼女は今日お昼ご飯にまりこと寿司を食べました。(Kanojo wa kyō o-hirugohan ni Mariko to sushi o tabemashita.)

8. “Did she eat sushi with Mariko for lunch today?” :

    彼女は今日まりこと寿司を食べましたか。(Kanojo wa kyō Mariko to sushi o tabemashita ka.)

*The word order of objects can vary when there are many in a sentence.

7. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced you to Japanese word order. Now you understand how the Japanese sentence structure works. At first, you might feel confused about the flexibility of Japanese word order, but you’ll find it’s actually a lot easier to make complex sentences once you get used to it!   

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and practice other useful Japanese phrases for any situation, you’ll find a lot more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons to help you improve your Japanese language skills. Here’s some more information about the basics of Japanese with audio: Top 10 Sentence Patterns for Beginners and Most Useful Pronouns.

And there’s so much more we can offer you! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you still have questions about Japanese word order. We’d be glad to help.

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Learn the Most Useful Compliments in Japanese

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Giving compliments makes people feel important and happy, and compliments are a great way to express your positive feelings. However, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!” There’s a particular way that people give and respond to compliments in Japanese.

Before giving compliments in Japanese, keep this in mind: Humbleness and modesty are the most important values in Japanese culture. Therefore, it’s considered bad manners to show off and explicitly exhibit your abilities and achievements. For this reason, people aren’t used to receiving a lot of praise.

However, it’s still a good thing to give a compliment when someone has great traits or has done wonderful things. Giving compliments is a useful way to improve communication and your relationships with others.

Let’s learn the most useful Japanese compliments and how to give them at JapanesePod101.com!

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Table of Contents

  1. Complimenting Someone’s Appearance
  2. Complimenting Someone’s Work
  3. Complimenting Someone’s Skills
  4. How to Make Your Compliments Sound More Sincere
  5. What to Expect After Giving Compliments
  6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Complimenting Someone’s Appearance

Compliments

In Japanese culture, compliments aren’t given directly, contrary to compliments in other cultures (such as American). Compliments in Japanese tend to be mild, indirect, and euphemistic.

1 – Hair

Casual:
髪の毛切った?ショートヘア似合うね。かわいい (かっこいい) ね!
Kaminoke kitta? Shōto hea niau ne. Kawaii (kakkoii) ne !
“Did you cut your hair? The short hairstyle suits you well. You are cute (handsome)!”

The Japanese compliment above is in the casual style. In order to say it politely, change the predicate 述語 (Jyutsugo) to the polite honorific 丁寧語 (Teineigo).

Polite:
髪の毛切りましたか。ショートヘア似合いますね。かわいい (かっこいい) ですね!
Kaminoke kirimashita ka. Shōto hea niaimasu ne. Kawaii (kakkoii) desu ne !

2 – Outfit

Casual:
そのシャツいいね。
Sono shatsu ii ne.

Polite:
そのシャツいいですね。
Sono shatsu ii desu ne.
 
Meaning: “That shirt is good.” (“Your shirt looks good.” )

Casual:
そのスカート素敵だね。どこで買ったの?
Sono sukāto suteki da ne. Doko de katta no?

Polite:
そのスカート素敵ですね。どこで買いましたか。
Sono sukāto suteki desu ne. Doko de kaimashita ka.

Meaning: “That skirt is nice. (Your skirt looks nice.) Where did you buy it?”

3 – Smile

Casual:
笑顔が素敵だね /かわいいね。
Egao ga suteki da ne / kawaii ne.

Polite:
笑顔が素敵ですね /かわいいですね。
Egao ga suteki desu ne / kawaii desu ne.

Meaning: “(Your) smile is nice / pretty.”

4 – General

Casual:
彼女はとても美人だね。
Kanojo wa totemo bijin da ne.

Polite:
彼女はとても美人ですね。
Kanojo wa totemo bijin desu ne.

Meaning: “She is very beautiful.”

Casual:
彼は背が高くてハンサムだね。
Kare wa se ga takakute hansamu da ne.

Polite:
彼は背が高くてハンサムですね。
Kare wa se ga takakute hansamu desu ne.

Meaning: “He is tall and handsome.”

Two Japanese Women Talking and Laughing Over Coffee

How to compliment a Japanese girl: Egao ga totemo kawaii ne. = “Your smile is very cute.”

2. Complimenting Someone’s Work

In Japanese business settings, people typically use the formal and honorific language. Some people use casual language toward younger subordinates, but you should never use casual language when talking to your boss, seniors, or clients, because it’s very rude and inappropriate. Following is a list of the best compliments in Japanese for the workplace.

5 – Good job! / Well done!

Casual: 良くやったな!(Yoku yatta na!)
Polite: 良くやりましたね!(Yoku yarimashita ne!)

6 – Great work! / Excellent! / Bravo!

Casual: お見事!(O-migoto!)
Polite: お見事です!(O-migoto desu!)

7 – (Your) presentation today was very good.

Casual: 今日のプレゼンとても良かったよ。(Kyō no purezen totemo yokatta yo.)
Polite: 今日のプレゼンとても良かったです。(Kyō no purezen totemo yokatta desu.)

8 – That’s a nice idea with pretty good sense.

Casual: なかなかセンスの良いアイディアだね。(Nakanaka sensu no ii aidia da ne.)
Polite: なかなかセンスの良いアイディアですね。(Nakanaka sensu no ii aidia desu ne.)

9 – You are amazing to have solved that difficult matter easily.

Casual: あの難しい案件を簡単に解決させてすごいね。(Ano muzukashii anken o kantan ni kaiketsu sasete sugoi ne.)
Polite: あの難しい案件を簡単に解決させてすごいですね。(Ano muzukashii anken o kantan ni kaiketsu sasete sugoi desu ne.)

* すごい (sugoi) is a Japanese adjective which can be translated as “great,” “amazing,” “wonderful,” “cool,” etc. This is often used when something or someone has strong abilities.

The casual phrase すごいね (Sugoi ne) and polite phrase すごいですね (Sugoi desu ne) are very useful phrases you can use in many situations. They can be used just like “Wow!” in English.

Two Businessmen Shaking Hands

Here’s a compliment for a Japanese businessman: Kyō no purezen totemo yokatta desu. = “Presentation today was very good.”

3. Complimenting Someone’s Skills

10 – The meal is very delicious! You are good at cooking. (You are a good cook!)

Casual: ご飯がとてもおいしいよ!料理上手いね!(Gohan ga totemo oishii yo! Ryōri umai ne!)
Polite: ご飯がとてもおいしいです!料理上手いですね!(Gohan ga totemo oishii desu! Ryōri umai desu ne!)

11 – You have skills and a good sense of photography.

Casual: 写真のスキルがあって、センスもいいね。(Shashin no sukiru ga atte, sensu mo ii ne.)
Polite: 写真のスキルがあって、センスもいいですね。(Shashin no sukiru ga atte, sensu mo ii desu ne.)

12 – Your English is very fluent!

Casual: 英語がすごくペラペラだね!(Eigo ga sugoku perapera da ne!)
Polite: 英語がすごくペラペラですね!(Eigo ga sugoku perapera desu ne!)

*ペラペラ (Perapera) is a Japanese onomatopoeia which expresses a state of fluent speech.

13 – You run really fast! You could participate in the Olympic Games!

Casual: 足がすごく速いね!オリンピックに出られそうだね!(Ashi ga sugoku hayai ne! Orinpikku ni deraresō da ne!)
Polite: 足がすごく速いですね!オリンピックに出られそうですね!(Ashi ga sugoku hayai desu ne! Orinpikku ni deraresō desu ne!)

14 – You are (so) amazing that you can do anything!

Casual: 何でもできてすごいね!(Nan demo dekite sugoi ne!)
Polite: 何でもできてすごいですね!(Nan demo dekite sugoi desu ne!)

Someone Doing Japanese Calligraphy with a Brush

Good handwriting skills are praised in Japan as it’s considered a skill of the well-educated and sophisticated.

4. How to Make Your Compliments Sound More Sincere

Sometimes, compliments sound fake when you praise too much or only use words. Here are some tips for giving sincere Japanese compliments to avoid sounding empty.

1 – Avoid Direct and Exaggerated Expressions

As mentioned in the introduction, many Japanese people aren’t used to receiving compliments, especially when they’re very direct.

It becomes more natural and sounds real when you make a comment with euphemistic and indecisive expressions, and avoid using straightforward words.

For example:

Not Good
豪華なスカートを履いていますね。
Gōka na sukāto o haite imasu ne.
“You are wearing a gorgeous skirt.”

Good
ファッションのセンスが素敵ですね。
Fasshon no sensu ga suteki desu ne.
“Your fashion sense is nice.”

Not Good
君の瞳はとても美しいよ。
Kimi no hitomi wa totemo utsukushii yo.
“Your eyes are very beautiful.”

Good
笑顔がとても素敵だね。
Egao ga totemo suteki da ne.
“Your smile is very nice.”

2 – Don’t Praise; Tell Instead

When you compliment someone in Japanese, it sounds more natural and real when you tell them casually instead of actually praising them. The key point is to say positive things to him/her casually and naturally in the flow of conversation.

For example:

When a boy likes a girl, he shouldn’t just give her compliments one after another whenever he wants: “You are cute today, too,” “You’re so nice,” “You have a pretty hairstyle.”

However, he can give positive comments during a conversation if the situation allows for it:

At a cafe, if the girl he likes pours water to refill his glass, he can say ありがとう、優しいね (arigatō, yasashii ne.), which means “Thank you, you are kind.”

Or, when she shows him pictures of her trip, he can tell her 楽しそうだね、笑ってる顔がとてもかわいいよ(tanoshisō da ne, waratte ru kao ga totemo kawaii yo.), which means “It looks fun, your smiling face is very cute.”

3 – Refer to Someone to Add Credit

When you give compliments, refer to someone else’s comment in order to avoid direct compliments, and to add credit to make it more realistic.

For example:

田中さんは仕事ができる人だと上司が言っていました。私も本当にそう思います。
Tanaka-san wa shigoto ga dekiru hito da to jōshi ga itte imashita. Watashi mo hontō ni sō omoimasu.
“My boss said that Tanaka-san is someone who is good at his job. I really think so, too.”

みんなも言っているように、君はとても優しいね。
Minna mo itte iru yō ni, kimi wa totemo yasashii ne.
“As everyone is saying, you are very thoughtful.”

5. What to Expect After Giving Compliments

Positive Feelings

As mentioned, modesty and humbleness are important values in Japanese culture, and Japanese people aren’t used to receiving a lot of compliments or direct expressions of praise from others.

While American people usually receive compliments with confidence and pride, Japanese people often receive them with hesitance and a shy feeling. Some Japanese people may reply with negative or denial phrases to express their humbleness, rather than admitting their good ability/quality. Doing so would be considered boasting and showing pride.

Response Examples :

1.

Casual: 全然そんなことないよ (zenzen sonna koto nai yo)
Polite: 全然そんなことないです (zenzen sonna koto nai desu.)
Meaning: “(I’m) not (that) at all.”

This phrase is one of the most typical responses to compliments in Japanese. Often, compliments are met with denial, and 全然〜ない (zenzen — nai) is a common expression which means “not — at all.”

A:
ドイツ語をペラペラ話せてすごいね!
Doitsugo o perapera hanasete sugoi ne!   
“You are great that you can speak German fluently!”

B:
全然すごくないよ。
Zenzen sugoku nai yo.  
“I’m not great at all.”

2.

Casual: もっと上手くできたのだけど… (Motto umaku dekita no da kedo…)
Polite: もっと上手くできたのですが… (Motto umaku dekita no desu ga…)
Meaning: “I could have done better…”

This is another typical response to Japanese compliments. Saying that he or she could have done better is a way of showing modesty and that he/she needs to keep making an effort rather than satisfying the status quo.

A:
今日のプレゼンとても良かったですよ!
Kyō no purezen totemo yokatta desu yo!   
“Your presentation was very good today!”

B:
そうですか?もっと上手くできたのですが…
Sō desu ka? Motto umaku dekita no desu ga…
“Was it? I could have done better…”

3.

Casual: (OOOの)足元にも及ばないよ ([OOO no] ashimoto ni mo oyobanai yo)
Polite: (OOOの)足元にも及びません ([OOO no] ashimoto ni mo oyobimasen)
Meaning: “can’t hold a candle to (OOO)” / “nowhere near as good as (OOO)”

This phrase is usually used in formal settings to respond to compliments. It literally means “I don’t even reach (someone’s) feet.” It expresses modesty by referring to someone better than you, and often, it’s the person who gave the compliment. This phrase is also used as お世辞 (O-seji), or “flattery,” to flatter a boss or client for smoother communication and relationships in traditional Japanese business customs.

Boss:
今日の商談良くやったな!君は強い交渉力を持っている。
Kyō no shōdan yoku yatta na! Kimi wa tsuyoi kōshōryoku o motte iru.
“Well done with the business today! You have a strong negotiation skill.”

Subordinate:
部長の足元にも及びません!
Buchō no ashimoto ni mo oyobimasen!
“I’m nowhere near as good as you, Director!”

For more useful phrases for business, please check out Phrases for Doing Business Successfully and Must-Know Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing.

A Tranquil Garden and Temple in Japan
The important Japanese value of modesty is reflected in phrases toward compliments.

6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced the most useful Japanese compliments and how to give/respond to compliments in Japanese. Did you find it interesting that Japanese compliments are quite a reflection of Japanese culture? Always remember not to start bragging about your skills or traits after receiving a compliment in Japan!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases for different situations, you’ll find much more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills.

Here’s some more information about compliments in Japanese with audio:

Together with compliments, learn the Top 20 Words for Positive Emotions!

And that’s not all! Learn faster and enjoy studying Japanese at JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there are any Japanese compliments you still want to know! We’d be glad to help, and look forward to hearing from you!

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Getting Angry in Japanese: 20+ Useful Japanese Angry Phrases

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It’s essential to be able to express your feelings when communicating with others in everyday life. Knowing how to express your emotions in Japanese, including anger, will help you have smoother communication with Japanese people. Although showing anger with swear words isn’t common in Japanese culture, there are various angry phrases in Japanese you can use.

Knowing angry phrases, and how to show that you’re angry in Japanese, will not only help you understand Japanese anime and Japanese TV shows better, but it will also improve your conversation and communication skills.

In this article, we’ll introduce useful angry Japanese expressions and phrases to help you discuss your emotions. Let’s learn various expressions here at JapanesePod101!

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Table of Contents

  1. Angry Imperatives
  2. Angry Warnings
  3. Angry Blames
  4. Describing How You Feel
  5. Phrases to Calm Someone Down
  6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Angry Imperatives

Complaints

The following phrases are commonly used phrases in the imperative form for expressing anger in Japanese.

1 – Shut up.

  • 黙れ (damare) — impolite, order form
  • うるさい (urusai) — literally means “noisy”

Damare is a very hostile and impolite expression. You probably won’t hear this in daily conversations, but maybe in Japanese anime, especially those that are adventurous or involve lots of battles. Urusai is very casual and it’s a soft way to express “Shut up.”

Example

A: またアイス食べてるの?太るよ。
A: Mata aisu tabete ru no? Futoru yo.
A: “Are you eating ice cream again? You’ll get fat.”

B: うるさいな、ほっといて!
B: Urusai na, hottoite !
B: “Shut up, leave me alone!”

2 – Stop it.

  • やめて (yamete) — casual
  • やめなさい (yamenasai) — polite, order form
  • やめろ (yamero) — impolite, order form

Yamete is a very casual and commonly used expression. Yamenasai is polite and usually said by a person in a superior position toward a person(s) in a lower position. Yamero is a very casual and impolite way to express “Stop it.”

Example

Mari:
やめて!ママ、お兄ちゃんがぶった!
Yamete! Mama, o-nii-chan ga butta!
“Stop it! Mom, my (big) brother hit me!”

Takashi:
マリが先に僕を押してきたんだ!
Mari ga saki ni boku o oshite kita n da!
“Mari pushed me first!”

Mom:
2人ともやめなさい!
Futari tomo yamenasai!
“Both of you, stop it!”

“Stop it, I don’t wanna hear it. ” = Yamete, kikitakunai.

3 – Cut it out.

  • やめて (yamete) — casual
  • いい加減にして (iikagen ni shite) — casual

Iikagen ni shite is a very useful expression which literally means “Be in good moderation.” It can be translated as “That’s enough,” “Cut it out,” and “Stop it.”

Example

いい加減にして!今すぐやめないと警察を呼ぶよ!
Iikagen ni shite ! Ima sugu yamenai to keisatsu o yobu yo!
“Cut it out! I will call the police if you don’t stop now!”

4 – Leave me alone.

  • ほっといてよ (Hottoite yo)

Hottoite yo is a casual expression that’s typically used between people who are in a close relationship, such as family members and close friends.

Example

もう子供じゃないんだから、ほっといてよ!
Mō kodomo ja nai n da kara, hottoite yo!
“I’m not a child anymore, leave me alone!”

Little Girl Pouting

“I’m not a kid anymore, leave me alone!” = Mō kodomo ja nai n da kara, hottoite yo!

5 – Get lost.

  • 失せろ (usero) — impolite, order form

You’re likely to hear this expression in Japanese anime and movies. Usero is a very impolite and hostile expression which you’ll probably hear used by a very angry Japanese man or yakuza in a movie.

Example

失せろ!2度と姿を現わすな!
Usero! Ni-do to sugata o arawasu na!
“Get lost! Never show up again!”

2. Angry Warnings

Use these angry Japanese phrases to let someone know they’re going too far and it’s time to back off!

1 – Don’t mess with me.

  • 私に関わらないで (watashi ni kakawaranaide) — casual
  • 俺に関わるな (ore ni kakawaru na) — masculine

Watashi ni kakawaranaide is milder and a bit more feminine, while ore ni kakawaru na is a stronger, masculine expression. They both have the connotation of “Don’t get involved with me.”

There are various Japanese personal pronouns. Watashi is for the unisex “I” in the formal style, but it sounds more feminine in the informal style. Ore is commonly used by men in very casual situations.

Example

私に関わらないで。さもないと、大変な目にあうよ。
Watashi ni kakawaranaide. Samonaito, taihen na me ni au yo.
“Don’t mess with me, or you’ll have a hard time.”

2 – You’re asking for trouble.

  • 面倒 / 厄介なことになるよ (mendō / yakkai na koto ni naru yo)

This is a very useful phrase that you can use in many different situations. If you want to say it in a polite way, change the last word to narimasu yo.

Example

そんなことしたら、面倒なことになるよ。
Sonna koto shitara, mendō na koto ni naru yo.
“You’re asking for trouble if you do so.”

3 – Don’t make me say it again.

  • 同じことを何度も言わせないで (onaji koto o nan-do mo iwasenaide)

This is another very common phrase you can use in many situations. If you want to say it in a polite way, add the word ください (kudasai) to the end.

Example

片付けをして!同じことを何度も言わせないで。
Katazuke o shite! Onaji koto o nan-do mo iwasenaide.
“Clean up! Don’t make me say it again.”

Negative Verbs

4 – This is my last warning.

  • これが最後の警告だ (kore ga saigo no keikoku da)

You’re likely to hear this Japanese angry phrase in TV shows or movies. If you want to say it in a polite way, change the word だ (da) at the end to です (desu).

Example

これが最後の警告です。次は訴えます。
Kore ga saigo no keikoku desu. Tsugi wa uttaemasu.
“This is my last warning, I will sue you next time.”

5 – I can’t tolerate anymore.

  • もう我慢できない (mō gaman dekinai)
  • もう耐えられない (mō taerarenai)

These are commonly used angry Japanese sayings when someone can’t stand something anymore. If you want to say it in a polite way, conjugate the negative form ない (nai) to the polite ません (masen).

Example

もう我慢できない!今すぐそのうるさい音楽を止めろ!
Mō gaman dekinai! Ima sugu sono urusai ongaku o tomero!
“I can’t stand anymore! Stop that loud music right away!”

Angry Bald Man Screaming at Someone

“I can’t tolerate this person anymore !” = Kono hito ni wa mō taerare nai!

6 – Watch your mouth.

  • 言葉に気をつけろ (kotoba ni ki o tsukero) — order form

This rough phrase is commonly used by angry Japanese people in TV shows and movies. If you want to say it in a milder way, change the word つけろ (tsukero) to つけなさい (tsukenasai), or even more politely, つけてください (tsukete kudasai).

Example

親に向かってその口の聞き方はなんだ!言葉に気をつけなさい!
Oya ni mukatte sono kuchi no kikikata wa nan da! Kotoba ni ki o tsukenasai!
“Don’t you dare talk to your parent like that! Watch your mouth!”

3. Angry Blames

1 – Who do you think you are?

  • 何様のつもり?(nani-sama no tsumori?) — casual

This is a casual phrase that you can use with people you’re close to, such as family or friends. When you want to imply a stronger meaning, add お前 (omae), a rude form of “you,” in front of the phrase.

Example

私に全部家事をやらせて、あなた何様のつもり?私は家政婦じゃないのよ!
Watashi ni zenbu kaji o yarasete, anata nani-sama no tsumori? Watashi wa kaseifu ja nai no yo!
“Who do you think you are to make me do all the house chores? I’m not a housemaid!”

2 – Are you out of your mind?

  • 頭おかしいんじゃないの?(atama okashii n ja nai no?) — casual
  • 正気ですか (shōki desu ka) — polite

Atama okashii n ja nai no? is a casual phrase that’s used among close friends or family members, while shōki desu ka is a more polite expression that can be used in workplaces.

Example

何でこうしたの?頭おかしんじゃないの?
Nande kō shita no? Atama okashii n ja nai no?
“Why did you do this? Are you out of your mind?”

Female Colleague Scolding Male Colleague

“How could you say that? Who do you think you are?” = Yokumo sonna koto ieta wa ne, nani-sama no tsumori?

3 – What’s wrong with you?

  • あなた一体どうしたの?(anata ittai dō shita no?)

This casual phrase is used to express frustration at someone’s unreasonable behavior.

Example

今すぐやめて!あなた一体どうしたのよ!
Ima sugu yamete! Anata ittai dō shita no yo!
“Stop it right now! What’s wrong with you?”

4 – Listen to me.

  • ちゃんと聞いて (chanto kiite) — casual
  • ちゃんと聞きなさい (chanto kikinasai) — polite

Chanto kiite is a casual phrase that’s used among family and friends, while chanto kikinasai is the polite and imperative form which is usually used by a superior/senior person to a junior person.

Example

言い訳をやめてちゃんと聞きなさい!
Iiwake o yamete chanto kikinasai !
“Stop making excuses and listen to me!”

5 – It’s your fault.

  • あなたのせいだ (anata no sei da)

This phrase is casual and commonly used. When お前 (Omae) is used instead of あなた (anata), it becomes an even stronger expression. This is because お前 (Omae) is a rude way of saying “you.”

Example

全部あなたのせいです。責任とってください。
Zenbu anata no sei desu. Sekinin totte kudasai.
“It’s all your fault. Take responsibility for it.”

6 – It’s none of your business.

  • あなたに関係ない (anata ni kankei nai)

This phrase is casual and commonly used. In order to say it more politely, use ありません (arimasen) instead of ない (nai).

Example

これは私的なことで、あなたに関係ありません。
Kore wa shiteki na koto de, anata ni kankei arimasen.
“This is a private matter and none of your business.”

4. Describing How You Feel

Now that you’ve learned how to get angry in Japanese, let’s take a look at how to describe your emotions or why you’re angry.

1 – It’s getting on my nerves.

  • イライラする (iraira suru) — casual

This is a casual phrase that’s commonly used. Especially among younger people, 超ムカつく (chō mukatsuku) is also frequently used, and is considered 若者言葉 (youngster language).

Example

彼のそのような態度にイライラする。
Kare no sono yō na taido ni iraira suru.
“His attitude gets on my nerves.”

2 – I’m fed up with it.

  • うんざりだ (unzari da)

This phrase is casual and very common to use. By adding する (suru), meaning “do,” or its conjugated form next to うんざり (unzari), you can also use it as a verb.

Example

彼女の言い訳にうんざりします。
Kanojo no iiwake ni unzari shimasu.
“I’m fed up with her excuses.”

3 – I hate it.

  • 嫌だ (iya da)

This is a casual phrase that’s frequently used to express one’s discomfort. To say it more politely, use です(desu) instead of だ (da).

Example

嫌だ!歯医者に行きたくない!
Iya da! Haisha ni ikitakunai!
“I hate it! I don’t want to go to the dentist!”

Man Fed Up with Life

“I hate it! I wanna quit! ” = Iya da! Mō yametai!

4 – I’m disappointed.

  • がっかりだ (gagari da) — casual
  • 失望しました (shitsubō shimashita) — polite

がっかりだ (gagari da) is the casual phrase, while 失望しました (shitsubō shimashita) is a more polite form that can be used in formal situations.

Example

彼のプレゼンのひどい内容に失望しました。
Kare no purezen no hidoi naiyō ni shitsubō shimashita.
“I’m disappointed with the terrible content of his presentation.”

5. Phrases to Calm Someone Down

1 – Take a deep breath.

  • 深呼吸して (shinkokyū shite) — casual

深呼吸 (shinkokyū) is “a deep breath” and して (shite) is the conjugated form of する (suru), meaning “do.” If you want to say it more politely, add the word ください (kudasai) at the end.

Example

頭にきたら、深呼吸して10秒数えてください。
Atama ni kitara, shinkokyū shite jū-byō kazoete kudasai.
“When you get angry, take a deep breath and count ten seconds.”

2 – Calm down.

  • 落ち着いて (ochitsuite)

This is a conjugated form of 落ち着く (ochitsuku), which means “relax.” If you want to say it more politely, add the word ください (kudasai) at the end.

Example

騒がず落ち着いてください。
Sawagazu ochitsuite kudasai.
“Please don’t make a fuss and calm down.”

Woman Meditating on the Beach

“Let’s take a deep breath and calm down.” = Shinkokyū shite ochitsukimashō.

3 – Write it down.

  • 書き出して (kakidashite)

The word 書き出して (kakidashite) consists of 書く (kaku), meaning “write,” and 出す (dasu), meaning “out.” If you want to say it more politely, add the word ください (kudasai) at the end.

In Japanese culture, 写経 (Shakyō) (Sutra copying and writing) of Buddhism is considered the action of calming one’s mind by concentrating only on writing, without thinking about anything else. This is done to empty one’s mind.

Example

ケンカの時は大声を出す前に、紙に嫌なことを書き出して。
Kenka no toki wa ōgoe o dasu mae ni, kami ni iya na koto o kakidashite.
“When quarreling, write down the things you don’t like on paper before yelling.”

4 – Think from a different point of view.

  • 違う観点から考えて (chigau kanten kara kangaete)

It’s always good to try to see things from different angles; this also changes the way you think about things.

Example

こんな時は、違う観点から考えてみよう。
Kona toki wa, chigau kanten kara kangaete miyō.
“Let’s think from a different point of view at times like this.”

For more angry phrases in Japanese, and to hear Japanese pronunciation, see
Phrases to Use When You’re Angry.

6. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

In this article, we introduced 20+ useful angry phrases in Japanese. Although Japanese people don’t often show angry emotions expressly, it’s helpful to know some angry phrases in Japanese for better understanding and communication.

Do you feel ready to express your anger in Japanese now? Let us know in the comments!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and other useful Japanese phrases for different situations, you’ll find much more helpful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons for you to help you improve your Japanese language skills. For example, here’s some more information about expressing emotions in Japanese, with audio:

To learn how to hold conversations in Japanese, check out Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations and Top 10 Conversational Phrases.

And there’s much more! Learn Japanese faster and enjoy studying the language and culture at JapanesePod101.com!

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Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Japanese & More

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Giving proper greetings and celebration messages is essential in making relationships better. Whether you have Japanese friends online, live in Japan, or just want to understand Japanese culture, it’s good to know how Japanese people celebrate events and what they say. Once you learn how to say Happy Birthday in Japanese, Happy New Year in Japanese, and Merry Christmas in Japanese, use them practically with your friends!

Japan has various life and annual events to celebrate. Some of them come from the Western culture, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. But there are unique Japanese traditions as well, such as the twentieth and sixtieth birthdays, also called 成人 (Seijin) and 還暦 (Kanreki) respectively.

So, how do you wish someone well in Japanese? In this article, we introduce practical life event messages. Let’s master holiday greetings in Japanese, and more, here at JapanesePod101!

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Table of Contents

  1. Birthday + Turning 20 Years Old
  2. Japanese Congratulations: Graduation
  3. Japanese Congratulations: New Job / Promotion
  4. Retirement + Turning 60 Years Old
  5. Japanese Congratulations: Wedding & Marriage
  6. Japanese Congratulations: Pregnancy and Birth
  7. Bad News
  8. Injured/Sick
  9. Death/Funerals: Offering Condolences in Japanese Culture
  10. Holidays
  11. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

1. Birthday + Turning 20 Years Old

Happy Birthday

As is the case in other cultures, birthdays are a happy celebration in Japan. Japanese people celebrate one’s birthday with a cake with candles, and by singing the Happy Birthday to You song in English (Japanese people also sing this song in English because it’s very easy and simple). In most cases, people have a birthday party, and friends and family give gifts to the birthday person.

A person’s twentieth birthday is very important in Japanese culture, because this is the official age of maturity, called 成人 (Seijin) in Japan, and one is officially recognized as an adult. Apart from individual twentieth birthday celebrations, Japan has the national holiday 成人の日 (Seijin no Hi), or “Coming of Age Day,” on the second Monday of January every year.

Check out our Coming of Age Day page for related Japanese vocabulary.

Here are phrases to say Happy Birthday in Japanese.

1- Happy birthday!

Japanese: (お) 誕生日おめでとう!
Pronunciation: (O)tanjōbi omedetō!

It literally translates to “birthday (tanjōbi) congratulations (omedetō).” It sounds more polite when you put お (O) in front of tanjōbi.

When you want to say it during a formal occasion, or to an older person, add ございます (gozaimasu) to the end, which makes it even more polite.

2- Belated happy birthday!

 
                  
Japanese: 遅くなったけど、(お)誕生日おめでとう!
Pronunciation: Osoku natta kedo, (o)tanjōbi omedetō!

You can still wish your friends a happy birthday, even if you weren’t able to do so on the actual day!

Osoku natta kedo means “It’s late, but…” To make it more polite and formal, say Osoku narimashita kedo.

3- Wish you enjoy a special day!

                   
Japanese: 特別な日を楽しんでね!
Pronunciation: Tokubetsu na hi o tanoshinde ne!

A birthday is a special day, and when you want the birthday girl/boy to enjoy it, you can tell her/him this phrase.

To say it politely in a formal way, change ね (ne) to ください (kudasai).

Birthday Party

It’s common to sing Happy Birthday to You in Japan.

2. Japanese Congratulations: Graduation

Basic Questions

Whether it’s a kindergarten or university, completing school is worth a happy celebration. Japanese schools have both entrance and graduation ceremonies at the schools, which family members also attend.

Graduation from a university is often a big celebration, especially for the graduate’s parents who get to experience the fulfilling feeling of having finished raising their child. Graduates also celebrate with friends for their achievements and the good memories they made together.

Here are phrases for celebrating graduation.

1- Congratulations for your graduation!

                  

Japanese: 卒業おめでとう!
Pronunciation: Sotsugyō omedetō!

It literally translates to “graduation (sotsugyō) congratulations (omedetō).” For formal occasions, such as when a school principal is addressing students, add ございます (gozaimasu) to the end. This makes it polite and respectful.

2- Well done for striving for four years!

            
Japanese: 大変な4年間よく頑張ったね!
Pronunciation: Taihen na yo-nenkan yoku ganbatta ne!

You can say this phrase to family members or friends. When you just want to say “well done,” it’s yoku ganbatta ne.

3- Lead your way step by step to make your dream come true.

      

Japanese: 夢に向かって一歩一歩進んでください。
Pronunciation: Yume ni mukatte ippo ippo susunde kudasai.

This phrase is often used by parents or seniors to a new graduate to encourage his/her new path in life.

It literally means “toward a dream (yume ni mukatte),” “step by step (ippo ippo),” and “go forward (susunde kudasai),” in a polite way.

Crowd of Graduates

Graduation of Japanese schools is in March.

3. Japanese Congratulations: New Job / Promotion

When a new university graduate gets a new job, family and friends celebrate him/her, usually by going out for a nice dinner. Some parents give a gift that will be useful for their work, such as a watch or a set of suits. In return, the child takes his or her parents out for a nice dinner once he/she gets their first salary.

When someone has a job promotion, family, friends, and sometimes his/her boss and team, celebrate him/her. It doesn’t necessarily involve giving a gift, but people go out for a drink or dinner, in most cases.

Here are phrases to celebrate getting a new job/promotion in Japanese.

1- Congratulations for your new job / promotion!

                
Japanese: 就職 / 昇進おめでとう!
Pronunciation: Shūshoku / Shōshin omedetō!

It literally translates to “employment (shūshoku) / promotion (shōshin),” and “congratulations (omedetō).” You can use this phrase to congratulate your friends, family, and younger colleagues.

Coworkers Celebrating

In Japan, the start of work for newly employed graduates is usually in April.

2- Good luck in your new workplace.

Japanese: 新しい職場で頑張ってね。
Pronunciation: Atarashī shokuba de ganbatte ne.

This is a very useful phrase to use when your friend or family member gets a new job.

It breaks down to “at new workplace (atarashii shokuba de),” and “strive well (ganbatte ne).” If you want to say it more politely for a formal setting, change ね (ne) to ください (kudasai).

3- I’m looking forward to your success.

   
Japanese: あなたの活躍を楽しみにしています。
Pronunciation: Anata no katsuyaku o tanoshimi ni shite imasu.

This is a polite phrase that a family member or boss/elder colleague can tell someone who gets a new job or a promotion. It breaks down to “your success (anata no katsuyaku),” and “I’m looking forward to (tanoshimi ni shite imasu).”

4. Retirement + Turning 60 Years Old

Talking About Age

Traditionally, the age of retirement in Japan is sixty. In the traditional Japanese employment system, called 終身雇用 (Shūshin koyō), or “life-time employment,” retirement means that someone has finished working by serving a company for some decades. It’s considered honorable and respectable.

Not only family, but also his/her company and colleagues, often have a celebration party with flowers and gifts. Nowadays, due to an increase in the aging population, active and healthy seniors continue to work after they turn sixty years old, sometimes until their sixty-fifth of seventieth birthday.

On the other hand, turning sixty years old is considered good fortune and a cause to celebrate; this celebration is called 還暦 (Kanreki). Following the traditional sixty-year calendar cycle of the lunar calendar, turning sixty means accomplishing its cycle. Thus, it’s the beginning of another cycle in his/her life. The person’s family celebrates him/her by giving gifts in red, which is the color of fortune.

Below are phrases to celebrate retirement/sixtieth birthdays in Japanese.

1- Congratulations for your retirement!

Japanese: 定年退職おめでとう!
Pronunciation: Teinen taishoku omedetō!

This is a very common phrase of congratulations. It literally translates to “retirement age resignation (teinen taishoku) congratulations (omedetō).”

When you want to say it for a formal occasion, add ございます (gozaimasu) to the end; this makes it even more polite.

2- Well done for 30 years of contribution.

Japanese: 30年間の献身お疲れ様でした。
Pronunciation: San-jū-nenkan no kenshin otsukare-sama deshita.

お疲れ様 (Otsukare-sama) is one of the most common Japanese untranslatable words. It has various meanings, depending on the situation. But in this case, it means “Well done.”

3- Please enjoy your new stage of life.

Japanese: 次の新しい人生を楽しんでください。
Pronunciation: Tsugi no atarashii jinsei o tanoshinde kudasai.

Retired people often spend plenty of their new free time for hobbies and enjoyment. This polite phrase is useful when you wish for someone to have a nice life after retirement.

5. Japanese Congratulations: Wedding & Marriage

Marriage Proposal

The average age of a person’s first marriage nowadays is older (around thirty) than it was some decades ago; people’s views on marriage are becoming more diverse and flexible, as well. However, getting married and having a wedding is still a big life event in Japan.

Japanese marriage traditions typically include the following:

  • 結納 (yuinō), or “engagement ceremony”
  • 入籍 (nyūseki), or “official marriage register”
  • 挙式 (kyoshiki), or “wedding ceremony”
  • 披露宴 (hirōen), or “wedding party”

The western style of wedding ceremonies is becoming very popular in Japan, although there are some people who prefer the traditional Japanese style with the 着物 (kimono).

So, how do you congratulate a wedding in Japanese? Below are phrases for celebrating marriage in Japanese.

1- Congratulations for your marriage!

Japanese: 結婚おめでとう!
Pronunciation: Kekkon omedetō!

This is a very common phrase for congratulations in Japanese when someone is getting married. It literally translates to “marriage (kekkon) congratulations (omedetō).”

When you want to say it in a formal occasion, add ございます (gozaimasu) to the end; this makes it even more polite.

2- I wish you happiness for many years to come.

   
Japanese: 末長くお幸せに。
Pronunciation: Suenagaku o-shiawase ni.

It literally translates to “for a long time (suenagaku), be happy (o-shiawase ni).” This phrase is also commonly used together with Kekkon omedetō.

3- Have a wonderful married life.

                  
Japanese: 素敵な結婚生活を送ってね。
Pronunciation: Suteki na kekkon seikatsu o okutte ne.

This is another common message for a newly married couple. When you want to say it in a formal occasion, change ね (ne) to ください (kudasai).

Man Putting Wedding Ring on Woman's Finger

Japanese weddings are conducted in either the western style or the Japanese traditional style.

6. Japanese Congratulations: Pregnancy and Birth

Pregnancy and birth are auspicious events in someone’s life. Traditionally, people give congratulation messages when a pregnant woman announces her pregnancy, and send her gifts after the baby is born. Japanese culture doesn’t have a “baby shower” celebration traditionally; however, the baby shower is becoming popular among young people due to the influence of western culture.

Below are phrases to celebrate pregnancy/birth in Japanese.

1- Congratulations for your pregnancy!

Japanese: 妊娠おめでとう!
Pronunciation: Ninshin omedetō!

For a formal occasion, change 妊娠 (ninshin), meaning “pregnancy,” to ご懐妊 (go-kainin), which is a more respectful form of the word “pregnancy,” and add ございます (gozaimasu) to the end to make it more polite and respectful. However, this form is very formal and not commonly used.

2- I wish a healthy baby will be born.

                  
Japanese: 元気な赤ちゃんが生まれますように。
Pronunciation: Genki na aka-chan ga umaremasu yō ni.

It literally means “lively baby (genki na aka-chan), be born (umaremasu)” + expression of wish (yō ni).
This phrase is also commonly used together with Ninshin omedetō.

3- Congratulations for a baby’s birth!

             
Japanese: 赤ちゃんの誕生おめでとう!
Pronunciation: Aka-chan no tanjō omedetō!

Tell this message when your friend has their baby. For a formal occasion, add ございます (gozaimasu) to the end; this makes it more polite and respectful.

7. Bad News

Life isn’t always full of happy events and celebrations, and sometimes bad things can happen in our lives. In Japanese culture, it’s very important to have empathy and give consideration to other people’s feelings. This is because the culture puts values on 和 (Wa), or harmony in our society.

When someone tells you bad news, it’s good to listen carefully first, show that you understand him/her, and then say something to cheer him/her up.

Here are some Japanese condolences messages that you can say to those who have bad news.

1- I’m sorry to hear that.

                       
Japanese: それは残念です。
Pronunciation: Sore wa zannen desu.

It literally translates to “it is regrettable (sore wa zannen)” + polite way to finish a sentence (desu).

Say this to your colleague, for example, if he confides in you that he couldn’t pass a promotion exam, or his pet has passed away.

2- I understand your feelings.

Japanese: あなたのお気持ち分かります。
Pronunciation: Anata no o-kimochi wakarimasu.

It literally translates to “your feeling [polite] (anata no o-kimochi), I understand (wakarimasu).” This is a typical message to show that you understand him/her and that you’re with him/her.

3- Cheer up!

Japanese: 元気出して!
Pronunciation: Genki dashite!

This is a very straightforward phrase to cheer someone up. Say this phrase to your friends or someone who has a close relationship with you.

8. Injured/Sick

An unexpected injury or sickness can happen anytime and to anyone. Whether it happened to your grandparent, friend, or colleague, it’s always nice to offer him or her some warm messages.

Here are some useful phrases you can say to those who get injured/sick.

1- How are you feeling?

 

Japanese: 気分はどうですか。
Pronunciation: Kibun wa dō desu ka.

This is a typical question you can ask when someone falls ill. If it’s a family member or someone very close to you, you can also say kibun wa dō? in a casual manner. Japanese people often make おかゆ (O-kayu), or “rice porridge,” for a sick person as an easy-to-digest and stomach-friendly meal.

2- I hope you get well soon.

Japanese: 早く良くなりますように。
Pronunciation: Hayaku yoku narimasu yō ni.

This is a very common and important phrase that you can tell any injured or sick person.

3- Please take care.

                       
Japanese: お大事に。
Pronunciation: O-daiji ni.

This is another very important phrase you should tell an injured/sick person. This is usually said at the end of a conversation before you leave.

For a more polite form, add なさってください (nasatte kudasai) when speaking to someone elderly or respectable.

Children Giving Their Sick Mother a Gift

Healthcare in Japan provides universal-care based on the national health insurance program.

9. Death/Funerals: Offering Condolences in Japanese Culture

While a newborn life is blessed and celebrated, any life is destined to experience death sooner or later. Death is considered a serious matter, and a funeral is usually held solemnly. Even if it happened to a person who is very close, Japanese people use formal and respectful language for messages to the deceased’s family and relatives.

Below are condolence phrases in Japanese that you can use.

1- Please accept my sincere condolences.

Japanese: お悔やみ申し上げます。
Pronunciation: O-kuyami mōshiagemasu.

This phrase is formal and commonly used to show your condolences, usually at a funeral. It literally translates to “condolence (o-kuyami), [I] say (mōshiagemasu).” Note that the last word here is the most respectful and humble expression for the word “say.”

2- I pray that his/her soul may rest in peace.

 
Japanese: ご冥福をお祈りいたします。
Pronunciation: Go-meifuku o oinori itashimasu.

This phrase is formal and very commonly used. It literally translates to “happiness in the next world (go-meifuku), [I] pray (oinori), do (itashimasu).” Note that the last word here is a humble expression.

3- I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say.

Japanese: 御愁傷様です。なんと言っていいかわかりません。
Pronunciation: Go-shūshō-sama desu. Nan to itte ii no ka wakarimasen.

You can use this polite phrase when someone tells you that someone you know has passed away. Go-shūshō-sama refers to a thing or status that people lament and grieve.

10. Holidays

Do you know whether Japanese people celebrate Christmas in Japan? Yes, they do! However, most Japanese people don’t have any religious feeling for Christmas celebrations; it’s rather regarded as a special and romantic event for couples, or as a happy event for friends and family to eat cakes and give gifts. Christmas Day isn’t a national holiday in Japan.

On the other hand, お正月 (o-shōgatsu), or New Year’s Day, is a traditional annual festive holiday. It’s one of the most important events of the year, and family and relatives get together and celebrate the coming new year. January 1 is the actual holiday, and many companies are off from the end of the year until the first few days of January.

Here are phrases for holiday greetings in Japanese, including how to say Merry Christmas in Japanese and Japanese New Year congratulations!

1- Merry Christmas!

 
Japanese: メリークリスマス!
Pronunciation: Merī kurisumasu!

How to say Merry Christmas in Japanese is almost the same as in English. It’s directly imported in Japanese, but Japanese people pronounce it in the Japanese way. Also, it’s written merī kurisumasu.

Check out Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary for more Christmas-related terms in Japanese.

2- Happy New Year!

Japanese: 明けましておめでとう!
Pronunciation: Akemashite omedetō

“Happy New Year” in Japanese is akemashite omedetō, which literally means “(a new year day has) dawned (明けまして), congratulations (omedetō).” This is the most-used phrase for “happy holidays” in Japanese for the new year.

When you want to say it in a formal occasion or to an older person, add ございます (gozaimasu) to the end; this makes it even more polite.

3- To another good year!

Japanese: 今年もよろしく!
Pronunciation: Kotoshi mo yorosiku!

This phrase is very popular among friends, colleagues, and clients.

Kotoshi mo means “this year, too” and yoroshiku is another one of the most common Japanese untranslatable words. It has various meanings depending on the situation, but in this case, it means “best regards” or “favorably please.”

For more useful holiday greetings in Japanese, check out Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season and Happy New Year! Words & Phrases for the New Year! You’ll learn Japanese winter seasonal greetings and customs.

Traditional Japanese New Year's Food

おせち (osechi) is a special meal for the New Year in Japan, and we eat it with best wishes phrases in Japanese.

11. Conclusion: How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn More Japanese

We introduced Japanese life event messages, such as how to say Happy Birthday in Japanese and Merry Christmas in Japanese. I hope this article was useful in improving your Japanese for better communication with your friends!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language and holiday greetings in Japanese, you’ll find much more useful content on JapanesePod101.com. We provide a variety of free lessons for you to improve your Japanese language skills.

For more about Japanese holidays and Japanese holiday vocabulary, check out Holidays in Japan. To learn about how to express your feelings, you’ll find Words and Phrases to Help You Describe Your Feelings useful; you can even learn and practice your pronunciation with audio. And for conversation practice, Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations and Top 10 Conversational Phrases are very helpful!

Know that your hard work will pay off; with enough practice, you’ll be speaking like a native in no time with JapanesePod101.com!

Before you go, let us know which of these phrases you’ll be able to use first! Are there any life event messages you still want us to cover? Let us know in the comments!

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Nyūgakushiki: The School Entrance Ceremony in Japan

The school entrance ceremony in Japan, or Nyūgakushiki in Japanese, is one of the most momentous occasions in a student’s life, and it takes place each year as the cherry blossoms bloom.

In this article, you’ll learn all about this celebratory season and gain some new vocabulary along the way.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is the School Entrance Ceremony?

The Japanese school entrance ceremony name is Nyūgakushiki.

Nyūgakushiki is a time of both encouragement and excitement about the coming year for students in every grade, though the Japanese high school entrance ceremony may be the most exciting for new students.

During a school entrance ceremony, Japanese students celebrate their enrollment in a school, and that enrollment is also authorized. A school entrance ceremony, or 入学式 (にゅうがくしき), can take place for enrollment in schools of any education level. Thus, there is a Japanese elementary school entrance ceremony, one for middle school, another for high school, and even enrollment ceremonies for universities and vocational schools.

2. When are the Entrance Ceremonies?

Mt. Fuji During the Springtime

The school entrance ceremonies typically take place in early April, not long after the graduation ceremonies in late March.

3. A Japanese School Entrance Ceremony

Japanese Parents Standing with Their Children for a School Entrance Ceremony

As mentioned, in Japan, school entrance ceremony season takes place after the graduation ceremonies near the end of March. During a graduation ceremony, graduating students are awarded a school certificate; in universities and graduate schools, students receive a diploma. The graduation ceremonies in Japan are very formal; men wear nice suits, while females who are graduating must wear traditional kimono and hakama.

For the school entrance ceremony, Japanese students going into high school wear their brand-new uniforms and participate in the welcoming ceremony. From elementary school to high school, the homeroom teacher calls each new student, who the principal then offers words of encouragement and support. Afterward, a student chosen as a representative makes a pledge concerning their new school life. For sentimental reasons, someone may also take a photograph of the new class together.

Sometimes, there may be a 来賓挨拶 (らいひんあいさつ), or “speech by a guest of honor,” for the ceremony.

4. Two Important Songs

Do you know what Japanese students sing at each school entrance ceremony?

There are actually two things they can sing. During a ceremony, there is a time for 校歌斉唱 (こうかせいしょう), or “singing of school song.” Students also sing the 国歌 (こっか), or “national anthem.”

5. Essential Japanese Vocabulary for School Entrance Ceremonies

Someone Playing the Piano for the Japanese National Anthem

Are you ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important Japanese words and phrases for the school entrance ceremony season!

  • 春 (はる) — “spring”
  • 式 (しき) — “ceremony”
  • 入学式 (にゅうがくしき) — “school entrance ceremony”
  • 学校行事 (がっこう ぎょうじ) — “school event”
  • 新入生 (しんにゅうせい) — “new student”
  • 国旗 (こっき) — “national flag”
  • 国歌 (こっか) — “national anthem”
  • 在校生 (ざいこうせい) — “current student”
  • 歓迎の言葉 (かんげいのことば) — “words of welcome”
  • 来賓挨拶 (らいひんあいさつ) — “speech by a guest of honor”
  • 校歌斉唱 (こうかせいしょう) — “singing of school song”

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Japanese School Entrance Ceremony vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Nyūgakushiki with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you have a special school entrance ceremony in your country? If so, how do you celebrate or participate in it? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you’re fascinated with Japanese culture and can’t get enough, we recommend that you check out the following pages on JapanesePod101.com:

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