The Art of Basic Japanese Greetings: Your Gateway to Authentic Communication

Basic Japanese Greetings Japanese Lessons

Whether you’re planning a trip to Japan, chatting with Japanese-speaking friends, or simply have an interest in the language and culture, mastering basic Japanese greetings is a fantastic starting point.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through essential Japanese greetings, from the basic “hello” to more advanced expressions like native speakers’, all while providing insights into the cultural views behind each phrase.

Introduction to Basic Japanese Greetings

Greetings serve as the cornerstone of any language, and Japanese is no exception. Whether you’re expressing gratitude, or seeking permission, understanding the nuances of Japanese greetings can go a long way in building meaningful connections.

The Importance of Greetings in Japanese Culture

In Japanese society, greetings are more than just words – they reflect respect, gratitude, and the connection of individuals. A well-executed greeting showcases your appreciation for the cultural values of the country, setting a positive tone for any interaction.

I believe that this is the same as any other culture in the world. We all appreciate each other by showing respect and gratitude when we greet each other.

Having said that, we Japanese people really like showing our appreciation through greetings more than a lot of other countries.

12 Useful Basic Japanese Greetings

Konnichiwa! (こんにちは) – Hello!

“Konnichiwa!” is a handy greeting used from late morning until early evening. It’s the equivalent of saying “hello”. Whether you’re entering a room or meeting someone for the first time, “Konnichiwa” is your go-to choice.

Ohayou Gozaimasu! /Ohayou!(おはようございます/おはよう) – Good Morning!

Start your day off right by saying “Ohayou Gozaimasu!” or “Ohayou!” to your friends, family, or colleagues.

“Ohayou Gozaimasu!” is a polite way to greet, so you would use this phrase at work or when you are talking to your senior person.

“Ohayou!” is more casual, so you can say this to your friends and family members.

Konbanwa! (こんばんは) – Good Evening!

As the sun sets, switch to “Konbanwa!” to greet others and wish them a pleasant evening.

Oyasumi Nasai! & Oyasumi!(おやすみなさい/おやすみ) – Good Night!

Wrap up your night with “Oyasumi Nasai!” to wish someone good night.

“Oyasumi Nasai!” is more formal, so you can use this phrase when you talk to your senior person.

Whereas, “Oyasumi!” is a casual way of saying Good Night, so you would use this to your family members or friends.

Hajimemashite! (はじめまして) – Nice to Meet You!

For introductions, “Hajimemashite!” is your golden ticket. Use it to initiate new relationships and make a positive first impression.

Sayonara (さようなら) – Goodbye

You may know this phrase as it is quite a well-known one.

However, I must admit that I don’t really know how many times I said this in my life as a native Japanese speaker. Please don’t be shocked though!

I probably said “Sayonara” to my teachers at school, but,,,not sure if I had an opportunity to say this again.

This might sound strange if you have already learnt “Sayonara” as in ” Goodbye”, but with my friends, I would probably say “bye bye!” or “Matane!”, which means “See you later”. In formal situations like in business circumstances, I say “Shiturei itashimasu” rather than “Sayonara”.

We Japanese all understand the meaning of “Sayonara”, so there is nothing wrong with using this word. But you might find adults in Japan don’t use “Sayonara” as much as you think.

Sumimasen (すみません) – Excuse Me / I’m Sorry

“Sumimasen” serves as both an apology and a polite way to get someone’s attention.

You can use “Sumimasen” when you would like to get attention in a restaurant, a pub or even in the bar.

Arigatou/Arigatou Gozaimasu (ありがとう/ありがとうございます) – Thank You

“Arigatou” is more casual than “Arigatou Gozaimasu”. So, you would say “Arigatou” to your friends and family members and “Arigatou Gozaimasu” to your senior person.

You might’ve noticed that we separate two phrases depending on who you are talking to. I would say that this is very Japanese. We have got different ways to say things depending on who you are talking to. Isn’t it fascinating? We should talk in more detail about it another time!

Gomen/Gomen Nasai (ごめん/ごめんなさい) – Sorry/I’m sorry

“Gomen” or “Gomen Ne” are more casual than saying “Gomen Nasai”.

Ittekimasu (いってきます) and Tadaima (ただいま) – Leaving and Coming Home

I must say I love these pharases, as I don’t really know any other countries have the similar greetings like in Japan.

I grew up in Japan, so I’m used to saying these when I leave home in the morning to my family members and when I come back home! I still remember that I was wondering if I should say “I’m home!’ when I came back to my English host family’s home when I was 17.

You may say “I’m off.”, when you leave home though.

O-genki Desu ka/Genki? (お元気ですか/げんき?) – How Are You?

You might’ve guessed by now. Yes, “Genki?” is more casual and “O-genki Desu ka?” is more formal. The formal forms in Japanese tend to have prefixes and suffixes.

“Genki?” can be said to your friends and family, whereas “O-genki Desu ka?” is for your senior person.

O-negai Shimasu (お願いします) – Please / Please can I have

For instance, when you are in the restaurants, you could say to the waitress/waiter “Beef, please.” meaning”Can I have beef, please?”

Yes, this is a very useful phrase to remember!


Mastering basic Japanese greetings opens doors to rich cultural experiences and meaningful interactions. By using these phrases into your conversations, you not only convey respect but also show your willingness to interact with native speakers. Perhaps this applies to talking to native speakers in any country in the world.

FAQs -Basic Japanese Greetings

  • Q: Is bowing necessary when using these greetings? A: While a slight bow adds authenticity, using the phrases genuinely is more important, especially if you are new to Japan. So please relax!
  • Q: Are there regional variations in greetings? A: Yes, some phrases might have regional nuances, but the ones mentioned are widely understood. So you can use these phrases anywhere in Japan!



Thank you ever so much for reading till the end of the article. I hope you enjoyed reading and found it helpful!

I have got my YouTube channel where you can learn Japanese characters in a fun way! So if you’re interested in learning Hiragana alphabets, please have a peek at Animated Japanese.

Also, I talked about First-person Pronouns in Japanese in the previous lesson. If you are interested in reading it, please click here. You can learn it in a fun and interactive way, so I highly recommend having a look at it!

See you in the next lesson shortly!