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Useful Japanese Phrases – Say it The Right Way

When traveling Japan, it is always a good idea to learn some useful Japanese phrases beforehand. The good thing about Japanese is that, unlike other asian languages, its pronunciation is relatively easy to master for English native speakers. Japanese people appreciate when foreigners take the trouble to learn their language. A simple self-introduction in Japanese can trigger enthusiastic applause and many “sugoooiii” screams from Japanese crowds. Try it yourself!

How to introduce yourself in Japanese

The correct way to introduce oneself to a Japanese person follows this sequence:

  1. A slight bow to show respect.
  2. “Hajimemashite” — literally meaning “it is the first time”
  3. Introducing the name, for example “watashi no namae wa Peterson desu”; or more formal “Peterson to mooshimasu”
  4. “dozo yoroshiku onegai shimasu” — literally meaning “I humbly ask you to welcome me”

These greeting formulas are used in informal as well as in formal situations. When meeting friends, family members or other known people, the following phrases are used for greeting:

  • “ohayo” — good morning
  • “ohayo gozaimasu” good morning (formal)
  • “konnichi wa” — hello
  • “konban wa” — good evening
  • “oyasumi (nasai)” — good night
  • “ashita mo yoroshiku onegai shimasu” –formal: see you tomorrow; literally: “I humbly ask you to welcome me again tomorrow”

These are the most useful Japanese phrases for introducing oneself and greeting friends. The Japanese language can reflect different levels of respect and a good rule of thumb is this: The longer phrase is the more formal one, i.e. showing higher respect. For example, when meeting a family member in the morning, “ohayo” is the appropriate greeting. When meeting a business partner in the office, “ohayo gozaimasu” should be used, instead.

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