Would you like to know how to say “hello” in Japanese? In this post we’ll learn basic greetings in Japanese, like konnichiwa, ohayō, konbanwa, and a fun fact: how to say “hello” over the phone.
Japanese is a very contextual language. That is, depending on who you are talking to, you will have to choose one way or another to greet them. If the person is your superior in age, position, rank, etc., you will have to use greetings and more formal expressions than with your peers—and vice versa, pay attention to how you are greeted.
Formality and courtesy are very important in Japanese culture. For example, if you are an employee, you should use honorific and humble ways with your managers and clients.
How to say “Hello” in Japanese
First, you should know that, while “hello” is a very common greeting in English, there is no exact translation in Japanese. So, depending on the time of day, Japanese people usually greet each other with “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or “good night.”
Now, let’s take a closer look at some Japanese greetings, situations to use them and their writing. References to the hiragana and kanji refer to the Japanese writing system.
1. Konnichi wa
- (hiragana: こんにちは; kanji: 今日は)
Konnichiwa means “hello” or “good morning” and is the standard, most common way of greeting, and applies in most settings. You can use this greeting always and in any context. Good news, huh?
2. Konban wa
- (hiragana: こんばんは; kanji: 今晩は)
Konban wa is the equivalent to “good evening” in English. When you arrive at a place and it’s dark already, you say: «Konban wa!».
It’s quite similar to konnichi wa, but instead the kanji 日 (nichi), used for “day” or “morning”, you say 晩 (ban), which means “night” or “evening”.
3. Ohayou gozaimasu
- (hiragana: おはようございます; kanji: お早うございます)
This greeting is used to early in the morning. From 10:30 a.m. on, you’d say konnichi wa.
In its full form, Ohayou gozaimasu is used in formal situations, as mentioned above. If you are talking to friends, you can reduce it to “ohayou”, a sort of “Hi”.
4. Oyasumi nasai
- (hiragana: おやすみなさい)
You use this before going to bed, to mean “good night” to those who live in the house with you. You wouldn’t say Oyasumi nasai to your friends when leaving a restaurant. You can shorten it to oyasumi.
- (hiragana: はじめまして; kanji: 始めまして)
This greeting means “Nice to meet you.” It is the greeting you say to someone when you meet for the first time.
- (hiragana: ただい ま; kanji: 只今)
This is nice. You’d say it upon arriving home. It means “I’m back!” or “I’m home!”
7. Moshi moshi
- (hiragana: もしもし; kanji: 申し申し)
This expression is used to answer the phone. You say Moshi moshi no matter who is on the other side of the line.
- (hiragana: いらっしゃいませ)
This is not a greeting that you are going to say, unless you work in a restaurant or at a store. But you surely are going to hear it. It is a way to greet and welcome a client.
Learning Japanese may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll find that this beautiful language is fun and easy to learn. If you travel to Japan, people will be pleased to hear you say “good morning,” “good night,” or “hello” in Japanese, even if you can’t say much more than that.
In another post we discuss ways to say “goodbye” in Japanese. Did you know that sayonara is not the Japanese people’s favorite. How come, if it’s the only one that most Westerners learned? Let’s find out!
Don’t miss the opportunity to learn Japanese, at least the basics; you’ll discover how fun it is.
At Hanyu Chinese School of Asian languages we want to help you. Our Japanese courses are tailored to your needs, from the comfort of your home and at the time that best suits you.
Contact us, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Also, ask for your free lesson and don’t forget to follow us on social media!
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