Aisatsu: 19 Japanese Greetings for Beginners

In Japanese, it’s not quite that simple to say ‘hello’, even though it is pretty much a basic thing to learn. You would probably think otherwise. However, greetings in Japanese depending on which situation you find yourself in, what time of day it is, who you’re speaking to, how well you know them and more. But don’t worry — you’ll get the hang of it in no time. We’ve compiled a list of all the Japanese greetings you need to know to ace any and every social situation you might find yourself in.

And the best thing about this guide? You don’t need any hiragana or katakana knowledge to master these Japanese aisatsu (greetings). Want a more complete guide on all the useful and basic Japanese phrases? Head to this article.

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A Brief Guide to Japanese Greetings 

Before we jump into all our favorite Japanese greetings, let’s take a deeper dive into the different factors that might affect which phrases you should use and when: 

  • Time of day. If it’s early morning versus late afternoon, you’ll probably need a different phrase. 
  • The formality of the situation. Depending on who you’re talking to and what context you’re in, you may need to adapt your tone. 
  • How familiar you are with the person. Similarly, if you’re best buddies with the person you’re greeting, you probably want to reflect that with your language. 
  • If you’re arriving or leaving. There are some Japanese greetings that are tied to whether you’re the person arriving/leaving somewhere or the person staying in that place. 
japanese greetings in the morning

Japanese Greetings in The Morning 

Let’s start with how to say ‘Good Morning’. Even if you’re not really a morning person, we’d say it’s worth knowing. 

1. おはようございます (Ohayo Gozaimasu): Good Morning 

This literally means ‘good morning’. This is a formal way of greeting someone in the early hours of the day. If you’re greeting friends or family, you can shorten it to おはよう (ohayou) which might be less of a mouthful. 

How to Greet Someone in The Afternoon 

When the clock strikes noon, leave your ‘ohayou’ behind and start with your こんにちは (konnichiwa).

2. こんにちは (Konnichiwa): Hello 

You’d probably heard of the word ‘konnichiwa’ before you even started studying Japanese. It’s a word you’ll hear a lot and is the Japanese version of a very basic ‘hello’. 

3. おげんきですか (Ogenki Desu ka): How Are You? 

Ogenki desu ka is more of a follow-up phrase to ‘konnichiwa’, but is definitely worth knowing to embellish your greetings a little bit. This means “How are you” or “Are you well”.

4. ヤッホー (Yahou): Hey or What’s Up? 

This phrase is reserved for close friends and is mostly used by women because it holds a cute and friendly nuance. It’s also commonly used among kids too. It’s a really casual way of saying ‘hey’ or ‘what’s up’. You can think of it as a playful, elongated “He~y!” If you’re not sure about whether to use yahou or the four basic Japanese greetings mentioned above, it’s better to stick with the more traditional ohayou, konnichiwa and konbanwa.

Night Time Greetings in Japanese 

Night Time Greetings in Japanese 

When it starts getting dark, retire your ‘konnichiwa’ and switch to ‘good evening’. 

5. こんばんは (konbanwa): Good Evening 

Konbanwa is a fail-safe greeting as soon as the sun goes down, meaning ‘good evening’. 

How To Say Goodbye In Japanese

A complete guide to Japanese greetings would be incomplete without a brief look at how to say goodbye. Contrary to what you might think, sayounara is not the only way to bid someone farewell in Japanese. 

6. さようなら (Sayounara): Goodbye/Farewell 

When you think of ‘goodbye’ in Japanese, you probably jump to sayounara. And whilst you’re not wrong, you probably won’t find yourself using it as much as you might think. Sayounara is a formal goodbye, closer to ‘farewell’ in English. In most contexts, you’ll probably use one of the other options below. 

7. またね (mata ne): See You Soon 

This phrase is the equivalent to “See you later” or “See you soon” in English. It’s a great casual option for when you don’t want to declare a formal or final goodbye to a friend or family member. Alternatively, you can also say じゃあね (jaa ne) which is just as casual.

You can also give more context by saying またあとで (mata ato de), which has closer meaning to ‘see you later’. The word また (mata) means “again”, and あと (ato) means later.

8. またあした (mata ashita): See You Tomorrow

If you know when you’ll next be seeing the person you’re saying goodbye to, you can add ‘mata’ and the next time you’ll be seeing them. For example ‘mata ashita’ means ‘until tomorrow’, ‘mata atode’ means ‘see you later’, and ‘mata raishuu’ means ‘see you next week’.  

また来週!
Mata raishuu!
See you next week!

Want to be more specific? Check out our article about days and months in Japanese.

9. バイバイ (bai-bai): Bye

‘Bai-bai’ might sound strangely familiar. That’s because it’s literally the Japanese rendition of the English’ ‘bye bye’. Don’t worry, this won’t make you sound like you don’t know Japanese – it’s genuinely a common way to say goodbye!

10. おやすみなさい (Oyasuminasai) – Good Night 

When you part ways at night, you should use ‘oyasuminasai’. It means ‘good night’, but has a literal meaning of ‘please have a good rest’ or ‘sleep well’. If you’re talking to a family member or friend, you can cut the ‘nasai’ and simply say ‘oyasumi’

You can read more about four time-based Japanese greetings here.

Saying ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ On The Phone In Japanese 

We know what you’re thinking. There’s another set of greetings for speaking on the phone!? That’s right. But don’t worry, it’s a piece of cake. 

11. もしもし (Moshi moshi) – Hello (on the phone) 

Moshi-moshi is one of those Japanese phrases that everybody’s heard at least once. Even if completely out of context. It’s a set phrase that you can only use when you phone someone or pick up the phone. 

12. はい (Hai): Yes/Hello (on the phone) 

If you’ve picked up a bit of Japanese, you’ll know that ‘hai’ means ‘yes’ in Japanese. This is in fact a perfectly acceptable way of saying ‘hello’ on the phone. Typically you would say ‘hai’ and state your name (and your company or organization, if relevant). 

はい、田中さんです。
Hai, Tanaka-san desu.
Yes, this is Tanaka.

13. しつれいします (Shitsurei shimasu): Goodbye (on the phone)

To hang up the phone in Japanese, say ‘shitsureishimasu’. This roughly translates to ‘sorry to have disturbed you’ or ‘I’m excusing myself now’. If you want to boost the formality say ‘しつれいいたします’ (shi-tsu-rei-i-ta-shi-ma-su). Use this phrase when speaking to someone you don’t know such as a customer service assistant or someone you know in a professional capacity. 

14. またれんらくしますねー (Mata renraku shimasu ne): Speak Soon 

If you’ve been speaking with a friend or family member, use one of these three phrases to say goodbye at the end of your call. Mata renraku shimasu ne, literally means ‘I’ll contact again soon.’

How To Say ‘It’s Been A While’ In Japanese 

15. おひさしぶりです(Ohisashiburi desu): It’s Been A While / Long Time No See

If you haven’t seen someone in a while, ohisashiburi is the perfect phrase. It’s the Japanese version of ‘long time no see’. It’s a nice way to acknowledge that you haven’t seen each other for a while when you first meet again. Shorten to hisashiburi if you want to make it more casual. 

Japanese Phrase For When You Leave & Arrive Home 

Japanese Phrase For When You Leave & Arrive Home 

We’re not done just yet. There are a few key Japanese phrases for when you’re leaving or arriving home that are definitely worth learning. These set phrases come in pairs, so make sure to learn both sides so you know what to say whether you’re the person coming or going or staying home. 

16. 行ってきます (Ittekimasu) – I’m off/I’m leaving 

If you’re leaving home, say ittekimasu to let everyone (whether that’s your roommate, family, or dog) that you’re heading out for the day. 

17. 行ってらしゃい (Itterasahi): See you later! 

If you’re staying home and somebody else heads out with their ittekimasu, you should respond with itterashai which means something like ‘see you later’ or ‘take care’. 

18. ただいま (Tadaima): I’m home! 

When you get home after a long day or even a trip abroad, announce your arrival by saying tadaima. This lets everyone at home know that you’re home. 

19. お帰りなさい (Okaerinasai): Welcome Home 

If you’re at home and someone arrives with a triumphant tadaima, welcome them home by saying okaerinasai. 

How To Greet Someone You’ve Never Met Before 

If you’ve just started studying Japanese, chances are you’ll be meeting a lot of new friends. Here’s what to say when you first meet someone. 

はじめまして、(name) です。よろしくおねがいします。
Hajimemashite, (name) desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

We know, that’s a long greeting. Let’s break it down. As a whole phrase, this translates to ‘nice to meet you, my name is…….’ 

Hajimemashite is the closest to ‘nice to meet you’ in English. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu is a little harder to translate. It means something like ‘please look after me’, but in this context acts as an extension of ‘nice to meet you.’ 

Of course, it’s better to prepare yourself with a Japanese self-introduction – a jikoshoukai. What should you say? How do condense everything about yourself into just one or two minutes? Learn how to introduce yourself in Japanese here.

FAQs about Japanese Greetings (Aisatsu)

How do you respond to konnichiwa?  

If someone says ‘konnichiwa’ to you, say it back at them! Simple. 

How do you say hello in Japanese politely? 

As we’ve seen in this Japanese Greetings 101, there are multiple ways to greet someone politely in Japanese depending on the context. That being said, having ohayougozaimasu, konnichiwa and konbanwa banked is a pretty good place to start. 

At what time do I start using konbanwa? 

As a general rule, we’d say use konbanwa when it gets dark. If you feel like that’s a little premature, aim for the 6pm or 7pm mark and you’ll be safe. 

Conclusion

Like what you read? We have tons of fun, easy-to-read learning content that makes your Japanese studies less like a study. But if you want more support from a native teacher, connect with friends who share the same love for the Japanese language and learn in a classroom, Coto Academy is your choice.

We offer a relaxed, cozy learning environment for students of all levels. In Tokyo, Yokohama, or online, you can find a course that’s perfect for you.

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