Learning Japanese greetings is a very important thing to learn if you plan on going to Japan for business, travel, school, or anything in between. You will need to know at least a few basic Japanese greetings to be able to introduce yourself to your new business contacts, friends, or classmates.
Let’s get started with the basic Japanese greetings that people will frequently use throughout the day.
Good night (used before going to sleep)
See you later
I am leaving (very polite)
These are simple saying that you would say to greet someone or start a simple conversation. To build on the conversation and move from Japanese greetings to introducing yourself and making a new friend, the following phrases will be useful.
Onamae wa nan desuka
What is your name?
Watashi wa ______ desu
I am _______.
始めまして どうぞ よろしく
はじめまして どうぞ よろしく
Hajimemashite douzo yoroshiku
Nice to meet you (literally “for the first time, please be nice to me”)
How are you? (literally “are you healthy?”)
I’m well (literally “I am healthy”)
まあ まあ です
Maa maa desu
I am so-so.
I am good.
So, an example of Japanese greetings used to introduce yourself would be:
Toru: Konnichiwa. Yamada Toru desu. Onamae wa nan desuka.
Leslie: Watashi wa Leslie Smith desu.
Toru: Smith-san, hajimemashite douzo yoroshiku. Ogenki desuka.
Leslie: Genki desu.
You should take note that in Japanese culture, people will tell you their last name (or family name) first and then their first name (or given name). So for example, Toru Yamada would introduce himself by saying “Watashi wa Yamada Toru desu.” Don’t worry about reversing your name though. Japanese people know that western people say their first name then their last name so they will understand.
It should also be noted that in Japan, if someone gives you their business card, it is rude to just shove it in your pocket or to write on it. Instead, take a second or two and look at it before putting it away.
Take the time to practice these simple Japanese greetings and memorize these simple words. You are almost certain to put them to good use when you travel to Japan and start making new friends.