How to say hello in Japanese

Hello and goodbye are obviously part of polite expressions needed to talk with the Japanese, for example, during a trip to Japan.

Since there are several ways of expressing them according to the interlocutor, the intention or just hours of the day, let's sum these up in this article.

To say 'hello' in Japanese:

  • おはよう (ございます) ohayô (gozaimasu): 'hello' in the morning (more polite)
  • こんにちは konnichiwa: the classic, formal 'hello'
  • こんばんは konbanwa: 'good evening'
  • おっす / よ ossu / yo: 'hi' between friends, rather masculine
  • ただいま tadaima: when you get home - answered by お帰り (なさい) okaeri (nasai)
  • 初めまして hajimemashite: 'nice to meet you' - answered by こちらこそ kochirakoso
  • (お) 久しぶり (ですね) (ohisashiburi (desu ne): 'it's been a while' (more polite)

To say 'goodbye' in Japanese:

  • さようなら sayônara: the classic 'goodbye', but sometimes close to a 'farewell'
  • では, また (ね) dewa, mata (ne) or あとでね atodene: 'see you later', sometimes shortened in じゃね ja ne
  • バイバイ bye-bye: for younger ones
  • また明日 / 来週 / 来月 / 来年 mata ashita / raishû / raigetsu/ rainen: 'see you tomorrow / next week / month / year', or また今度 mata kondo: 'see you next time'
  • いってきます ittekimasu: when you leave the house - answered by いってらっしゃい itterasshai
  • お先に失礼します osakini shitsurei shimasu: at work, literally means 'sorry to leave before you'
  • お休み (なさい) oyasumi (nasai): 'good night' (more polite)
  • ありがとうございました arigatô gozaimashita: sometimes a 'thank you' can simply mean 'good bye' in Japan

A small head nod is often welcome, but it's not necessary to make a full bow unless your interlocutor is someone important.

Japanese rarely shake hands and above all, they do not kiss to say 'hello' or 'good bye'!

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Posted by Gael
Editor in chief
Gael is founder and responsible for Kanpai's publication. In love with Japanese culture, he travels to Japan regularly since 2003 and shares his information and tips.
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