Hello in Japanese | 21 Greetings match with each occasion

The basic translation for Hello in Japanese is こんにちは(Konnichiwa)

But actually こんにちは ”is used as “Good afternoon” in Japan.

For example, if you say こんにちは at morning or night to a Japanese person, it might sounds a little funny. It’s not really correct but they will understand what you are trying to say.

Depending on each occasion, we have different ways to greet.

Here are some useful greetings beyond “こんにちは”.  

Hope you enjoy this list of Japanese greetings and find the one that matches your occasion!

21 Japanese Greetings match with each occasion

Would you like to know the Basic, communication with Friends, business settings or visiting family?

Here are list of greetings and introductions.

Basic Greeting by Time of day

1. おはようございます(Ohayō gozaimasu) ― Good morning

Originally meaning “Thank you for your early work”, it literally means “It’s early”. “おはようございます” is usually used until noon.

2. こんにちは(Konnichiwa) ― Good afternoon

If it’s 12 O’clock or later in the day, you can say こんにちは as “Good afternoon”. Originally meaning “How are you feeling today?”, this is the words that concern the physical condition and feelings of the person you first met during the daytime.

3. こんばんは(Konbanwa)― Good evening 

It depends on the area and customs, but basically you can use こんばんは when the sun goes down. Originally meaning “Tonight is a good night.

4. おやすみなさい(Oyasumi nasai) ― Good Night

This is a phrase to say when going to bed. We sometimes use this instead of goodbye when we part with people at night.

Ways of asking the person’s condition

5. お元気ですか?(Ogenki desuka?) ― How are you?

This is a formal way of asking someone’s physical condition and feeling. In Japan, there is a culture that respects the elders, and basically when we talk to the elders, we always use honorifics (polite words).

Some Japanese people find it rude to use casual language, so I recommend that you always use polite words for those who meet for the first time or for elders.

6. 元気?(Genki?) ― What’s up?

This is a casual way of asking how someone is feeling. You can use this one to your friends, someone your same age group or younger.

7. 調子はどうですか?(Chōshi wa doudesuka?) ― How’s it going?

It is used when asking a person who has been sick about his current condition and the subsequent progress. This phrase can also be used when you ask your business partner about their business progress. For elder people, please use 調子はいかがですか? (Chõsi wa ikaga desuka?).

Has it been a long time since you’ve seen someone?

8. 久しぶり!(Hisashiburi!) ― Long time no see!

For your friends, family of same age or younger.

9. お久しぶりです。(Ohisashiburi desu) ―It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.

This is more polite than 久しぶり.
Please use it for those who are elder or acquaintances.

10. ご無沙汰しております。(Gobusata shite orimasu) ― I haven’t seen you for a long time.

This is the most polite phrase meaning “Long time no see”. Used in official situations such as business scenes.

Greetings you may use at work

11. お疲れ様です。(Otsukare sama desu)

If you’ve ever lived in Japan, you’ve heard this phrase several times already. There is no English translation for this phrase, but this is a word of appreciation for your hard work. For colleagues and business partners, it is used like a greeting every day at work in Japan. 

In Japan, there is a culture to say “おはようございます(Ohayō gozaimasu) /Good morning” regardless of whether it is day or night when you just arrived at the workplace that day, but “お疲れ様です(Otsukare sama desu)” is used during other working hours and when you go home.

12. お世話になっております。(Osewa ni natte orimasu)

There is also no English translation for this word. It’s a kind of word to show your appreciation for someone’s continued cooperation for you. We normally use this as a greeting when visiting, making a call or sending an e-mail to our business partners and customers.

13. 失礼致します。(Shitsurei itashimasu) ― Excuse me.

Use this phrase when entering and leaving someone’s room at work or in public, or when talking to someone who is working.

If you go to a shop or restaurant in Japan

14. いらっしゃいませIrasshai mase)

“Welcome! Thank you for coming.” It’s a word that expresses gratitude to customers who visited restaurants and shops. It is a common phrase in the customer service scene when a customer comes to the store, but the customer does not have to respond to it.

15. まいど!(Maido)

Literally meaning “every time”. It means “Thanks for coming every time”. If you visit the same store several times, you may hear someone say this greeting to you.

When you visit somebody home in Japan

16. いらっしゃい(Irasshai)

Meaning “Welcome to my home”. You will hear this phrase when you visit a Japanese friend’s home.

17. お邪魔します(Ojyama shimasu)

If you visit a Japanese house, this is the phrase you use as manners when you actually enter the house.

When you are at your home 

The following words are also part of Japanese culture, and there is no direct translation into English. In Japan, it has always been a custom to talk to each other with the following words when going out or coming home. This is part of an important family communication.

18. 行ってきます (Ittekimasu) ― I’m going out.

When Japanese people are going out, we tell this word to our family before going. It’s an important cultural custom for us.

19. 行ってらっしゃい (Itterassyai)  ― I’ll see you later.

This is the word we say every time someone goes out. Meaning “I’ll see you later”.  

20. ただいま(Tadaima) ― I’m back.

When we come home, we say this phrase to let family know “I’m back”.

21. お帰りなさい(Okaeri nasai) ― Welcome back to home.

You won’t say “Welcome back to home” to your family each time they coming back to home in English. But in Japan, this is a daily greeting to our family each time.

Today’s Summary

I introduced 21 very important Japanese greetings today.

As you can see, depending on each occasion, there are different ways of greeting for people at work, at home, and elders. In Japan where manners are important, it is important to use each greeting properly.

Hope you find the one matches with your needs!

Language is a part of culture, so there are many Japanese phrases that cannot be translated directly into English.

But it’s interesting because there are differences!

Have fun to learn Japanese!!

If you have any question about the phrases you found on this page, or if there is any phrase you would like to say in Japanese, please give me a comment.



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