Interested in learning Japanese? Start by learning how to greet native speakers with these ways of saying “hello” in Japanese.
Get the conversation rolling with the following phrases and words for “hi” in Japanese as well as many other Japanese greetings.
“Hello” in Japanese is likely an expression you’ve heard in the past, even if you haven’t ever studied the language before. But this isn’t the expression you’d use with close friends or family. While it can be used in both formal and informal situations, you’re more likely to hear it used between strangers or in more formal situations.
こんにちは also literally means “good afternoon”, so you’ll typically here this said at that time.
To say “hi” in Japanese, you simply say やあ. This expression, however, is very informal and it’s often just used to grab attention.
Want to say “hey” in Japanese? A simple way to do this is by simply calling the other person’s name. So 雅ちゃん! (Miyabi-chan!) is very similar to saying “hey, Miyabi!” in Japanese.
To say “good morning” in Japanese, you use おはようございます. You’ll commonly hear this said at work in the mornings. In less formal situations, you can shorten it to おはよう (ohayou).
To wish someone a good evening in Japanese, you use こんばんは. It’s a polite and formal way to say “good evening” in Japanese.
Has it been a while since you’d last seen the person you’re chatting with? Use this expression to say “it’s been a while” or “long time no see”.
To make this expression less formal, simply drop the お at the beginning of the sentence.
This expression is more feminine and childlike in use. It’s very casual and is simply used to capture someone’s attention--particularly that of a close friend or child. The next phrase is a more masculine expression.
This way of saying “hey” in Japanese is informal and typically used by male speakers to other male speakers, but of course, there are always exceptions to the rule!
When you return home, it’s common to announce your arrival. In Japanese, you use ただいまー (tadaima-) to say “I’m back!” or “I’m home!”
This is an expression you can use when first meeting someone to say “nice to meet you”. It’s often followed by よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu) which literally translates as “please look after me” but is really just another way to say “nice to meet you”. So it’s common to hear: はじめまして. よろしくお願いします.
If you enter a Japanese restaurant or store, you’ll likely be greeted with this phrase. It isn’t something you’d say to a friend or family member visiting your home. Instead, you’d say お邪魔します (ojama shimasu) which means “sorry for bothering you” and you’d be welcomed in with どうぞ (douzo) which means “go ahead”, “come in”, or even “after you”.
When you answer the phone in Japanese, you might use the expression もしもし (moshi moshi). In more formal situations, you’d answer the phone using “yes” or はい.
Weather is a common topic in small talk, and that’s no different in Japanese. You can greet someone with this expression to say something along the lines of “nice weather we’re having” or “the weather is nice today” in Japanese.
How do you know which of these fourteen expressions you should use? Depending on the context and formality of the situation, certain Japanese greetings will be more appropriate than others.
With friends and family, simply greeting someone with their name or ya- would work. But in more formal situations, like work, school, or when talking to strangers, you may prefer to us konnichiwa.
Greetings aren’t just words you memorize. When you say hello, depending on where you are, you may hug or kiss the cheeks of the person you’re greeting. In Japan, you’ll often bow. And if you know the other person has a higher social or work ranking than you, make sure you bow lower, otherwise it may be considered rude.
When you are on familiar terms with someone, you can use their first name. But as a sign of respect, you can address someone by their title and last name or -san.
Want to learn more words and greetings in Japanese? Try Drops, our beautifully illustrated, visual language learning app. In just 5 minutes a day, you can learn several thousand words in Japanese and 35+ other languages.