Hello in japanese – How to Say Hello in Japanese (With Audio & Slang)


Hello in Japanese | Japanese Language Blog

Basically hello is translated こんにちは (kon-nichi-wa) but the japanese greetings also depend on the time of the day. In the morning you often use おはようございます (ohayou gozaimasu) as hello. When you speak to friends and family the  おはようございます is often abbreviated to おはよう (ohayou). Around noon or afternoon it is こんにちは(kon-nichi-wa) and like you say “good evening” you say こんばんは(kon-ban-wa). There is one exception: If you are answering the phone you use もしもし(moshi-moshi). Other useful phrases are  ただいま (tadai-ma) ( it means “I’m home”) and おかえり (oka-eri)(it means “Welcome home”).

Close male friends and relatives use おっす (oss). Female Friends or friends with opposite gender don’t usually use this informal greeting. This greeting is similar to “hey, man!” or “hey, dude!”

Another informal greeting that is nowadays quite common is よ!(yo) , よー!(you) or おう (ou), they all mean “hey”.

The phrase 最近どう (saikin dou) is often used as a greeting, which would be similar to “what’s up?” or “what’s new”. As this phrase is also quite informal you should only use it to someone you are on familiar terms with, like a friend, relative, classmate or co-worker.

Another useful phrase is 久しぶり (hisashiburi) which is used to greet someone you have not seen recently. In English this greeting would be “long time, no see” or “it’s been a while”. A more formal way to express the greeting would be お久しぶりですね(o-hisashiburi desu ne).

This video is very useful to learn the pronunciation of おはよう、こんにちは and こんばんは. The video could be quite a challenge since she is only talking in japanese but I think it is a very good way to learn a language by speaking just the language. So give it a try!

About the Author:yuki

Although I was born and raised in Austria my parents luckily taught me japanese starting at a very early age. Since most of my relatives live in Japan I try to fly to Japan once in a year. I love reading and cooking and I also enjoy traveling.


How to Say Hello in Japanese

Konnichiwa!  Hello!

While the word “konnichiwa” is often translated as a basic “hello” in English, it doesn’t work in all situations.  If you want to learn how to say hello in Japanese the right way, this guide will teach you everything you need to know.

In Japanese, there is no one word that can be used to say hello in every situation .  The way you say hello in Japanese depends on how formal the situation is, the status of the person you’re speaking too, and the time of the day.

This may sound confusing, but it’s actually pretty easy.  So let’s get right to it and learn some Japanese!


Formal Ways to Say Hello in Japanese

1.  Good Morning: おはようございます (Ohayou Gozaimasu)

Ohayou gozaimasu” is the standard, formal way to say hello in the morning. This phrase can be used anytime in the early morning till about 12:00 in the afternoon.

Ohayou gozaimasu is used when you want to be polite, or if the person you are speaking to has a “higher status” than you.  This means you’ll use this phrase with your boss, your teacher, senpai (someone of higher seniority than you) or your customers (since customers in Japan are treated like royalty).

You’ll also use this phrase with people you are meeting for the first time, or people that you don’t have a close relationship with.  So if you have co-workers, neighbors, or even friends that you’re not close with, you’ll usually greet them with an ohayou gozaimasu.

If you’re greeting a friend, you can drop the “gozaimasu” and just simply say “ohayou”.

Gozaimasu” is added to certain Japanese phrases to make the sentence more polite and formal.  In general, the longer the greeting, the more formal it usually is.

Be sure that you don’t say the casual, “ohayou” to your boss, teacher, customer, or even to strangers, as this would be considered rude and disrespectful. However, it’s acceptable for your teacher, boss, or someone of higher status to say “ohayou” to you.

If you’re ever in doubt, use “ohayou gozaimasu” to be polite.

Here is a short dialogue of how a student would greet his teacher in the morning:




Akira (seito):  Ohayou gozaimasu, Tanaka sensei.


Tanaka sensei:  Ohayou, Akira-kun.  Shukudai wa yarimashita ka?


Akira:  Hai, yarimashita.


English Translation:

Akira (student): Good morning, Tanaka sensei.

Tanaka (teacher): Morning, Akira-kun. Did you do your homework?

Akira: Yes, I did.

Vocabulary Used

せいと (seito)student
しゅくだい (shukudai)homework
やりました (yarimashita)

Past tense of やります (yarimasu)

to do


*Interesting Side Note:  In Japan, you might hear people greeting each other with an “ohayou gozaimasu” even when it’s in the late afternoon or evening.

This is usually used when people get together to do some kind of work together.  Saying “ohayou gozaimasu” as a greeting in this situation emphasizes that it’s the “start of the day” or “we are about to start our work for the day.”

That’s why you’ll hear this used by people in sports, dance, or exercise clubs when they greet each other before they start practice together.  It’s also commonly used by people who work on a project or job together. Saying “ohayou gozaimasu” to greet your co-worker/partner in this situation is totally okay, even if it’s not in the morning.

The rules about formal and casual usage apply here too;  If someone has a higher status than you, or you want to be polite, you’ll use for formal “ohayou gozaimasu.”  If someone has a “lower” status than you (less seniority, lower rank, etc.)  then saying the casual “ohayou” is enough.


2.  Hello / Good Afternoon:  こんにちは (Konnichiwa)

Konnichiwa means “good day” or “good afternoon,” and is also your generic Japanese hello. It works in any setting, both formal and informal. You can use this greeting during the afternoon, from around 12pm to 5pm or so.

However, it’s common to hear people saying “konnichiwa” in the later part of the morning as well.  Just like in English, there’s not an exact time in the day where you have to switch from saying good morning to good afternoon.  As long as you’re not using konnichiwa in the early morning or at night, you’ll be fine.

Some of you might be wondering why konnichiwa is written in hiragana as 「こんにち」 instead of「こんにち」. Konnichiwa was actually once part of a complete sentence that has been gradually shortened over the years.   Many years ago, people would greet each other in this manner:

こんにち  いい てんき ですね 。

Konnichi wa ii tenki desu ne.

Literally, “This day is good weather, isn’t it?”

Looking at the complete sentence above, the 「は」in「こんにち 」was used a particle.

As general rule for Japanese pronunciation, はis pronounced as “wa” when used in a sentence as a particle.

Over the years, this greeting was shortened to just こんにちは.

This is the reason why こんにち is pronounced as konnichi wa instead of konnichi ha, but is spelled using the hiragana “は.

Here’s an example of two elderly neighbors greeting each other in a convenience store:




Tanaka:  Konnichiwa!  Ryokou ha dou deshita ka?

すずき: こんにちは!たのしかったです!

Suzuki:  Konnichiwa!  Tanoshikatta desu!


English Translation:

Tanaka: Hello! How was your trip?

Suzuki: Oh, hello! It was fun!

Vocabulary Used

りょこう (ryokou)a trip
たのしかった (tanoshikatta)

past form of たのしい (tanoshii)

fun, enjoyable


3.  Good Evening: こんばんは (Konbanwa)

The expression “konbanwa” means “good evening” in Japanese.  So you’ll use this when greeting people at night.

Just like konnichiwa, konbanwa is a generic greeting that can be used in formal or informal situations. The “wa” is also spelled using the “character, just like in konnichi wa. The only difference is the use of ban (evening) instead of nichi (day).

For instance, here’s a sample conversation between two business men in an izakaya (Japanese-style pub):




Suzuki:  Konbanwa.  Samui desu ne.

さとう (せんぱい):そうだね。こんや、なべをたべようか?

Sato (senpai):  Sou da ne.  Konya, nabe wo tabeyou ka?


English Translation:

Suzuki : Good evening. It’s chilly, isn’t it?

Sato (senior – higher status): Yes. Shall we eat nabe tonight?

Using these time specific greetings are the key to making your Japanese sound natural.

Vocabulary Used

さむい (samui)cold (weather)
なべ (nabe)hot pot dish
たべよう (tabeyou): volitional form of たべる(taberu)Eat; let’s eat


Casual Ways to Say Hello in Japanese

If you want a more casual way to say “konnichiwa,” here are some ways to say hello that aren’t used that often, but are still useful to know.


1.  どうも (Doumo): Hi

If you ever took a Japanese class, you might have learned that “doumo” means “very.”  So how is this a greeting?

Well just like “konnichiwa” and “konbanwa,” “doumo” also came from a longer phrase used to greet people.  This was eventually shortened to “doumo.”

It is a very casual way to say hi.  In fact, it’s not even a way to greet someone.  It’s used to acknowledge someone’s presence more than giving them a warm greeting.

There are two types of people that come to mind who would use “doumo” as a way to say hi to someone.

The first is someone who doesn’t really like talking, or doesn’t want to talk.  So if you give someone an energetic “konnichiwa!” and they respond with a low energy “ahh…. doumo,” that might be a hint that they aren’t looking to start up a conversation about the meaning of life.

The second type of person who uses “doumo” as a greeting is someone who is trying to act cool.  For example, in English, we might say something like, “it’s a pleasure to meet you” when meeting someone for the first time.  Saying “doumo” in response to this is the English equivalent of saying “oh hey, sup?”

If you go to Japan and want to be cool when you meet new people, I highly recommend you use the formal expressions above.  Those expressions will make a good impression with people, but saying a casual expression like “doumo,” will not.


2.  やあ (Yaa): Hi


Yaa” is a word that means “hi” but isn’t really used in daily conversation.  It might be used by some people in certain areas of Japan, but it’s somewhat rare.

It can be used by both men and women, but some Japanese people have told me that they picture an old “grandpa” type of man saying this phrase.

I’ve had a few younger girls say “yaa” to me before, but out of all years I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve only heard it two or three times.

For the sake of completion, let’s take a look at a sample conversation:




Kenji:  Yo, genki?


Akira:  Yaa, Kenji-kun.  Hisashiburi.


English Translation:  

Kenji: Hi there! What’s up?

Akira: Hi, Kenji! Long time no see!

Vocabulary Used

げんき (genki)fine, doing well

when used as a question: how are you doing?

ひさしぶり (hisashiburi)long time no see


3.  やっほー (Yahho-): Hi!


Japan is the land of cuteness. This “kawaii” (adorable, or cute) trend plays a prominent role in Japanese pop culture, and as such can be heard in a lot of their words and expressions. Of course, our list wouldn’t be complete without this kawaii expression.

Yahho-” is generally used by younger girls to say hi in an informal, cute and friendly tone. If you are an anime fan, you might often hear teenage girls say this a lot.

You might also hear yahho being used in a totally different context if you’re into mountain climbing. If you’re in a valley, don’t be surprised when you hear some Japanese mountain climbers shouting yahhooo at the top of their lungs. Yahho is the Japanese go-to word when trying to produce an echo.

Going back to our girlish and cutie yahho expression, here’s a short dialogue of how a high school girl might use yahho to say greet her classmate:




Mai:  Yahho-.  Kenji-kun, doko ni iku no?


Kenji:  Sakka- wo shi ni iku tokoro.


English Translation:  

Mai: Hi! Kenji, where are you heading?

Kenji: I’m off to play soccer.

Vocabulary Used

どこ (doko)Where
いく (iku)Go
しにいく (shi ni iku)Going (somewhere) to do/play
ところ (tokoro)Place/State of an action


4.  よう (You): Hey


You” is an extremely casual greeting among young men. Reserve this one for your friends and family, otherwise you might receive some weird reactions. It is the equivalent saying, “hey.”  Use this expression only with your close friends and family since it might sound impolite and rude if you say it to people you don’t know well.

Here’s an example of two college guys greeting each other in a pachinko parlor:




Akira:  Yo, katteru?


Kenji:  Maketeru yo.


English Translation:

Akira: Hey, did you win?

Kenji: I lost.

Vocabulary Used

かってる (katteru)

Progressive tense of かつ

To win
まけてる (maketeru)

Progressive tense of まける

To lose


5.  おっす (Ossu): What’s Up?


Another slang Japanese greeting would be “ossu“. Note that the “u” at the end of this word is silent, following the Japanese pronunciation rule that “u” is silent, or pronounced very slightly, if it’s in the ending of a word.

You might have heard this word a lot of times if you’re familiar with Japanese martial arts like karate or jiu-jitsu. In Japanese martial arts, they use it as a greeting when they enter or exit the dojo, and as a “yes” or “I understand” response to an instruction.

The origin of this expression was actually strictly formal, as it was used as a military greeting. Ossu exudes a forceful assertiveness and masculinity. Thus, this rough expression is generally used by men to greet their fellow male friends.

Nowadays, it casually means “what’s up?” among young people. This expression is not really used by many people, so it definitely would impress your Japanese male friends if you greet them with ossu.

Here are our two classmates, meeting again in school after their summer vacation:




Kenji:  Ossu.  Genki?


Akira:  Yo.  Genki, genki.


English Translation:

Kenji: Hey, how are you?

Akira: Hey, I’m fine.

Vocabulary Used

げんき (genki)fine, doing well

when used as a question: how are you doing?


 6.  もしもし (Moshi Moshi): Hello (Only for Phone Conversations)

Moshi moshi” is the greeting Japanese people use when answering the telephone. The other usage for moshi moshi is when you cannot hear the other person on the line after a long pause or a choppy signal: Moshi moshi? (Hello, are you still there?). Other than in phone conversations, you probably won’t use this line in any other situations.

Here is an example of a phone dialogue between a mother and son:



(Phone ringing at home)


Akira:  Moshi moshi, Suzuki desu.


Okaasan:  Okaasan dakedo, mou sugu ni kaeru yo.


English Translation:

Akira (son): Hello, Suzuki residence.

Mother: Mom here, I’ll be home soon.

Vocabulary Used

おかあさん (okaasan)Mother
かえる (kaeru)To return home



While some of these greetings might be confusing for people new to Japanese, the most important thing is to give them a try.  With some practice, you will be able to greet your friends, superiors, business associates, or even strangers with confidence in Japanese.  If you want to learn more natural Japanese, I highly recommend the lessons on Japanesepod101.

Have you heard other ways to say hello in Japanese that’s not on this list? Leave us a comment and let us know all about it!


How to Say Hello in Japanese — things you need to know

“Hello” is simply a well known, “Konnichiwa(こんにちは。)” in Japanese.  One of the readers recently asked if there are more than one way of saying hello in Japanese. Well, in today’s blog, I decided to share with you some of the most common ways of saying hi to others in Japanese. Read on!

Konnichiwa~ こんにちは。

This word might be just the very first Japanese word you learned when you first started learning Japanese. Konnichiwa is almost universal where there are not too many people who does not know what Konnichiwa means these days. You can use Konnichiwa to almost anyone, including your neighbors, friends, co-workers, your boss, and even to strangers.

Almost all the time, your Japanese conversation could start with Konnichiwa, that is as soon as you make eye contact with the person who is there. However, in Japanese, there is one important thing you need to know.

Use of Konnichiwa (こんにちは) really depends on what time of the day it is.

In Japanese, it is not appropriate to say “Konnichiwa (こんにちは)” to someone 10 am in the morning. Konnichiwa (こんにちは) is probably good to use between 12 pm to 6 pm, in my opinion.

This is because, it is most appropriate to use the following greeting depending on the time of the day.


In the morning : Ohayo(おはよう) or Ohayo gozaimasu (おはようございます。more polite) 

During the day: Konnichiwa (こんにちは)

In the evening: Konbanwa (こんばんは)


In English, you might say “hi” to people anytime of the day; however, in Japanese, the above greeting is something useful to know as an etiquette. It is not appropriate to say, Konnichiwa (こんにちは) to someone 8 pm, past dinner time.  Once it is dark outside, it will be more appropriate to say, “Konbanwa(こんばんは)” to your neighbor. There is no fine line as to what time is the cut off or anything, but this is sort of a common approach to take: before noon- Ohayo(おはよう、おはようございます), noon to 6pm or so: Konnichiwa (こんにちは), and after dark: Konbanwa(こんばんは).

You also noticed that there are polite way of saying, good morning, which is Ohayo gozaimasu (おはようございます) To say, just “Ohayo (おはよう)” to someone you don’t know or someone older is a no no. You always want to say  Ohayo gozaimasu (おはようございます) in that case.  “Ohayo (おはよう)” sounds very casual, so it is more common to use between your friends or to someone younger than you.  🙂

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About the Author:keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.


How to say hello in Japanese

Hello and goodbye are obviously part of polite expressions needed to talk with the Japanese, for example, during a trip to Japan.

Since there are several ways of expressing them according to the interlocutor, the intention or just hours of the day, let’s sum these up in this article.

To say ‘hello’ in Japanese:

  • おはよう (ございます) ohayô (gozaimasu): ‘hello’ in the morning (more polite)
  • こんにちは konnichiwa: the classic, formal ‘hello’
  • こんばんは konbanwa: ‘good evening’
  • おっす / よ ossu / yo: ‘hi’ between friends, rather masculine
  • ただいま tadaima: when you get home — answered by お帰り (なさい) okaeri (nasai)
  • 初めまして hajimemashite: ‘nice to meet you’ — answered by こちらこそ kochirakoso
  • (お) 久しぶり (ですね) (ohisashiburi (desu ne): ‘it’s been a while’ (more polite)

To say ‘goodbye’ in Japanese:

  • さようなら sayônara: the classic ‘goodbye’, but sometimes close to a ‘farewell’
  • では, また (ね) dewa, mata (ne) or あとでね atodene: ‘see you later’, sometimes shortened in じゃね ja ne
  • バイバイ bye-bye: for younger ones
  • また明日 / 来週 / 来月 / 来年 mata ashita / raishû / raigetsu/ rainen: ‘see you tomorrow / next week / month / year’, or また今度 mata kondo: ‘see you next time’
  • いってきます ittekimasu: when you leave the house — answered by いってらっしゃい itterasshai
  • お先に失礼します osakini shitsurei shimasu: at work, literally means ‘sorry to leave before you’
  • お休み (なさい) oyasumi (nasai): ‘good night’ (more polite)
  • ありがとうございました arigatô gozaimashita: sometimes a ‘thank you’ can simply mean ‘good bye’ in Japan

A small head nod is often welcome, but it’s not necessary to make a full bow unless your interlocutor is someone important.

Japanese rarely shake hands and above all, they do not kiss to say ‘hello’ or ‘good bye’!


How to say Hello in Japanese: こんにちは Konnichiwa

PuniPuni Japanese Lesson 2: Hello こんにちは- Review Notes

Today we learned three ways to greet someone in Japanese! We learned the Japanese phrases for good morning, good afternoon/hello, and good evening. In this review, we will also learn the Japanese phrase for good night!


Number 1:

★ Ohayō gozaimasu means “Good morning.”

 A more casual way to say it is ohayō. You can use the casual version with friends and family, but you will want to use the more formal version with your teacher or boss.


Number 2:

 Konnichiwa is most often translated as “hello.” However, since it is usually used for greeting someone in the afternoon, it can also be translated as “good afternoon.”


Number 3:

 Konbanwa means good evening.

 Konbanwa, like “good evening,” is generally used after it gets dark outside.


Today’s Bonus Phrase:

 Oyasumi nasai means “good night.”

 A more casual way to say it is Oyasumi.



The 3 phrases that we learned in today’s video (ohayō gozaimasu, konnichiwa, konbanwa) plus the new phrase that we learned in this review (oyasumi nasai) are all very common daily expressions in Japan. If you can remember these phrases, then you can greet someone in Japanese at any time during the day or night!


♪Listen to Hello Kitty’s ‘konnichiwa’ song



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How to Say Hello in Japanese | Learn Japanese Through Anime

Hey this is Ken Cannon and  welcome to my first video in like 12 years, sorry to
keep you waiting, but I’ve really had a lot of good excuses. Some I’m even pretty proud of; it took me a while to come up with them too. But to spare to guys the shame of a chronic procrastinator I’ll just jump into today’s lesson.

Today I’m gonna be talking about, how to say hello in

Ok I know you’re probably thinking two things,

one, what kind of teacher teaches how to swear before he
teaches how to say hello.

And two, since when did he get so damn boring?

Ok, well the reason I’m teaching you this now is that in
anime, drama, or manga, which is what I focus this channel towards, they
don’t really greet each other all that much. In fact greetings are boring,
which is why everybody knows that cussing is much more useful.

Ok I’m kidding, but today what I want to teach is 10
different ways to say hello.

Because just like in English, there’s hello, but theres
also, what’s up, how’s it going, how’s your mama, there’s many different ways to
greet each other in Japanese. And I’ve come up with the top ten ways. I know I
do like my top tens, it just sounds so much more official than, uh yea dude,
heres some different ways to say hello…

This actually means good morning, but in Japan this is the
general term you use to greet people all the way up till 11. Unfortunately I
never get to use this one since I usually wake up around 3…

Now if you wanna get fancy, you can add «gozaimasu» to the end of
this. To make ohaiyo gozaimasu. Saying it this way is more formal, so you’d
generally use it with, teachers, seniors or anyone you’d want to impress…

Ohaiyo gozaimasu!! Miley!

Now this is the term you use from 11 to about 6, so you
could equate it to the English good afternoon.

This one also has a cute lil variation, koncha! Its really
more like a contraction of sorts, created from people saying konnichiwa really
fast. This is something you’d use if you’re an 8 year old girl, (picture of fat

Here it is, I know you’ve been waiting for it, this is what
you use anywhere from 6 to… well, bed time, or well, whenever the naked girl in
the cake goes home.

This one is a bit formal, so like «gozaimasu» youd use it when
you want to impress someone. When you might use this is
when your like going over to meet a girl’s parents or something.

Konbanwa! Miley no otosan! (picture of fat man)

And here we have number 5

This one is a lot closer to the actually English “hello,” since this is strictly used on the phone!

Now the legend goes that this phrase was developed by the Japanese to keep foxes from calling them, because as everybody knows, foxes
can’t say moshi moshi. I mean come on.

“Hora, moshi moshi wo ittemi” ne, moshi  moshi” give phone to cat

 “Hora ne, kitsuni tte
baka dakara”

Ok im a liar, yoroshiku doesn’t mean hello, it actually
means something like “give me your best regards” which is so much simpler..

“Pronunciation guide”

Now just like ohaiyo, you can add a formality to the end of
it to make it well… more formal. Onegaishimasu. However since this is such a
weird word, I’ll give you a couple examples of when you’d want to “give them their best regards”

I’m a new student here, yoroshiku

Lets make this the best lemonade stand ever guys! Yoroshiku

Im a new employee here, yoroshiku

This one is used for more tough guys, kinda like an english «yo.» It’s also used a lot by guys who do judo and stuff.

Apparently this came from people saying, ohaiyogozaimasu
really fast. And then it just got shortened. But now it’s used for anytime of
the day among other equally tough guys.

Picture of Sakura, and chikan.

This also has several little variations: ussu, wiiss. But
all mean the same and just said for cool purposes.

This can also mean thank you, and yes it’s the domo from Domo Arigato Mr. Robato. But you can also use this as a greeting, it definetly
has an air of formality. I probably wouldn’t use this with my friend, but it’s
not as stuffy as adding gozaimasu or onegaishimasu.

So I suppose formality wise it fits in about here….

This is for the cool guys, definitely wouldn’t use this with
your teacher. So basically it works just like the English «yo,» with a bit more of
a drawn out tone.

«Yo» is also a sentence ender particle, meaning you can stick
it at the end of a sentence to make a verbal exclaimation point.

This is probably the least common, but you wil hear it,
especially amoung… fruitier characters? Ok whatever the oppsitie of tough guy
is that doesnt make me sound like a jackass…

So like I said it’s used amoung more fruitier charcters, so
basically people like this guy…

Alright! That was it for the top ten ways to say hello in
Japanese, as always thanks for all your support and you can also go over
to Japanese Through Anime, there should be a link in the down bar for a bunch
more greeting and hello related words.

Ken Cannon


Different Ways to Say Hello In Japanese

As you progress in your Japanese studies, you soon start to realize that there are a lot more greetings than the basic こんにちは.

The basic Japanese greetings are so well-known that even people who have never studied Japanese formally probably know こんにちは and こんばんは. At the beginner level, greetings are simply divided depending on the time of day.

こんにちは contains the word にち (Day), so it is usually said during the day. Likewise こんばんは contains the word ばん (Evening) and so is usually said in the evening or night.

Yet even in these simple words there are some tricky parts. One of the stranger things is the ending は (Pronounced わ). Usually は is used to link the subject with a verb and yet in these sentences it is being used by itself!

This used to be strange to me until I went to a lecture about the influence of the Zen religion on Japan. The speaker explains that the literal translation of こんにちは is ‘Today is…’ and the incomplete thought is done intentionally so it is almost like a daily Zen riddle where the listener is expected to fill in for themselves what the day is like.

This is a general rule for the Japanese language: even the simplest things have interesting cultural rules hidden away! Take for example the traditional morning greeting おはよう(ございます). Even though this greeting is usually used to mean ‘good morning’, it is sometimes used later in the evening, especially before sports or performing.

This appears strange until you consider that the greeting supposedly comes from 歌舞伎(かぶき)(Japanese performing arts) where performances would often last all night. Because of this unsocial schedule, the performers started using おはよう the first time they met the members of their group regardless of what time it actually was and the custom spread.

Of course the performers are not the only Japanese group reinventing the language in their own unique way. Japanese is a living language and as such is being constantly reinvented by each generation. Even a greeting as simple as こんにちは can be changed to こんちわっす, ちわっす and even ちわ depending on how young the speaker is.

As well as these contractions, you will also hear the similar おっす (‘Sup?) used between men in casual situations. The female equivalent is ヤっホー which you have probably heard used by junior high school girls. よっ!, やあ and ういっす are other short, casual greetings.

While most of these greetings are general use, there are plenty of greetings that are only used in specific situations. (お)久しぶり(ですね), for example, is a common way to say ‘long time, no see’ in Japanese. Other situation-specific examples include いらっしゃい which is used to welcome people to their stores and もしもし which is used on the phone.

One of the problems with most of the greetings mentioned so far is that they elicit brief responses. In order to start a conversation many Japanese use short questions such as 最近(さいきん)どう? (How are things lately?), なんかあった? (What’s happening?) and ()わったことある? (Anything new with you?).

Of course, these are just the most common introductions. On top of these, most regions have their own local greetings too. Living in downtown Osaka, I hear おはようさん(です) being grunted by elderly people as a variation of おはよう. Other ones from Kansai include 毎度(まいど)(Thank you for each time you have come to this company) and the Kyoto greeting おいでやす (Thank you for coming to my business).

Using the right greeting can be a vital part of making friends and maintaining business relationships. By learning all of these different greetings, learners can start to talk to people in ways that they are more familiar with instead of the typical textbook phrases.

Next time you are out and about, take a second to listen to the people around you and you might just be surprised by what variations on even this simple vocabulary are being used in your area.


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