Ittekimasu, Itterasshai, Tadaima and Okaerinasai: Japanese expressions in daily life

Ittekimasu and Itterasshai
Tadaima and Okaerinasai

These Phrases: いってきます (Ittekimasu), いってらっしゃい (Itterasshai), ただいま (Tadaima), おかえりなさい (Okaerinasai) embody the Japanese spirit so well that once you grasp the nuance of their meaning, you will definitely have a deeper understanding of the Japanese culture.

Although the words can be translated into English, the Japanese spirit and nuance behind them are lost, for the most part, during the translation process.

Ittekimasu and Itterasshai

Japanese Expressions: Ittekimasu, Itterasshai
“Ittekimasu” and “Itterasshai”

The phrase “Ittekimasu”, is typically used by a Japanese when they are about to leave somewhere, such as from the or office. 

The closest literal translation would be “I’ll go and I’ll come back”. But a more natural translation is something like “see you later”.

The remaining people at home or in the office then reply to the person leaving with: “Itterasshai”. Literally meaning “please go and come back”. The phrase is also close to “see you later”, “have a good day”, or “take care” but none of those expressions truly express the spirit behind the word.

“Ittekimasu” expresses that “I will be going now but do not worry, I will safely return” while “Itterasshai” indicates that “You will be leaving soon but please do come back safely”.

Example 1:

Toshio-kun: I am going to buy ice cream.
Mika-san: Nice! Thank you!
Toshio-kun: I am going! (“I am going and I will come back”)
Mika-san: See you later! (“Please go and come back”)

Example 2:

Mika-san: Mum, I am going out now!
Mum: Mika, where are you going?
Mika-san: Watching a movie with my friend. I am a bit late, so bye bye! I am going!
Mum: See you later, be careful!

“Ittekimasu” is not a simple goodbye and should not be employed as such. It implies that you will return to the place you are leaving. Hence, the “Itterasshai” as a reply, implies that the other party is waiting for your return.

Although there is no absolute rule, most of the time “Ittekimasu” comes first. Exchanging these two terms emit a strong and warm feeling of returning back safely to the place where one belongs.

Tadaima and Okaerinasai

Similar to the “Ittekimasu” and “Itterasshai”, the two phrases that go hand-in-hand, “Tadaima” and “Okaerinasai” or “Okaeri express one’s safe return.

Example 1:

Toshio has returned with two cones of ice cream…
Toshio: I am back! I have bought Vanilla ice cream.
Mika-san: Welcome back! Thank you Toshio~

Example 2:

Mika-san: I am home!
Mum: Welcome home! Was it fun?
Mika-san: Yes!

Literally, “Tadaima” means “right now”. However, in this specific context, it is a condensed version of “Tadaima Kaerimashita” which translates to “I came home right now”. “Okaeri”. As for the polite version; “Okaerinasai” means “welcome home” or “welcome back”.

These two lovely phrases express the feelings of “I am back, safely” and “You have finally returned, welcome back”. It gives one a warm feeling that someone has been waiting for one’s safe return.

Altogether, “Ittekimasu”, “Itterasshai”, “Tadaima” and “Okaeri” are four beautiful Japanese expressions that are exchanged between the Japanese people on a day-to-day basis.

Having now understood the rich meaning behind these four phrases, are you ready to use them? If you want to learn more about daily Japanese, please check out the Japanese Courses offered by Coto Japanese Academy

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Other similar phrases that you could use is “Osaki ni shitsureshimasu” and “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu“. Find out more by clicking on the individual phrases!

Looking to learn more Fun & Easy Japanese? – please read Nihongo Fun & Easy – written by Teachers from Coto Japanese Academy


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