Learning to say Good Morning in Japanese: Ohayougozaimasu, Ohayou

Greeting in the Morning
Be the first to say it!
Other Morning Greetings
In a Working Environment…

Greeting in the Morning

Ohayou gozaimasu!
Good morning!

Having a good command of Japanese greetings is the first step towards building smooth relationships in Japan. Whether you are coming for a short trip or for a few years, learning how to greet people with confidence in Japanese is the key to leave good impressions. Of course, knowing how to say good morning is of great importance if you are working with Japanese. The impression you give is largely determined by the morning greetings.

Be the first to say it!

あいてよりさきに (Aite yori saki ni)
Be earlier than others (to say it)!

Of course, you might not always be the first to notice a colleague or someone you know in the hallways or the elevators. But if you were to be the first, you should greet the person as soon as you notice her presence. You should care to say ohayou gozaimasu regardless of the person’s rank: whether you encounter your chief or the new intern. Actually, even if you were to meet someone who never cares to answer back, you should care to say hello anyway.

Greeting a colleague:
○○ san, ohayou.

Greeting your chief:
○○kachou, ohayou gozaimasu.

Other Morning Greetings

Ohayou gozaimasu is not only a way to say good morning, but also to create a certain intimacy and the art of starting a conversation. The easiest common topic is the weather of the day and the season in general. Japanese also like to speak about sports, news and cultural events. Those small talks are very useful to create a nice atmosphere between people and more than the topic, the conversation itself is the key to getting along with others.

1- おはようございます。今日も朝から暑いですね。
Ohayou gozaimasu. Kyou mo asa kara atsui desu ne.
Good morning. Today too, it is hot from the morning.

2- おはようございます。昨日のサッカー見ました?すごかったですね。
Ohayou gozaimasu. Kinou no sakkaa mimashita? Sugokatta desy ne.
Good morning. Did you watch the football last night? It was really great.

3- おはようございます。昨日はどうもご馳走様でした。
Ohayou gozaimasu. Kinou ha doumo go chisousamadeshita. 
Good morning. Thank you for yesterday’s feast.

In a Working Environment…

In Japan, especially in the working environment, the importance of greetings is serious. Outside your workplace, if you miss the chance to say ohayou gozaimasu to clients or people who know your company, here’s the Japanese thinking: “the employee of this company did not greet us decently”. Their opinion of the entire company will take a hit! Another point you might have noticed or heard is that Japanese people bow even when they are on the phone and their interlocutors cannot see them. Bowing is not only a habit but also a way to be respectful at all time and to give a good impression to people around.

A: おはようございます。
B: おはようございます。
A: 今日はいい天気ですね.
B: そうですね。いい天気ですね。

A: Ohayou gozaimasu.
B: Ohayou gozaimasu.
A: Kyou wa ii tenki desu ne.
B: Sou desu ne. Ii tenki desu ne.

A: Good morning.
B: Good morning.
A: The weather is fine today.
B: Yes. The weather is nice.

Credits: Takayuki Miki (三木貴幸)
Title: 東京都豊島区駒込
source: Flickr

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