Japanese culture is known for its rich traditions and customs, and greetings are no exception. Properly greeting someone in Japan is not just a polite gesture; it’s a reflection of respect and an integral part of daily life. In this article, we’ll explore the art of Japanese greetings, covering the most common expressions, their meanings, and when to use them.

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The Top 5 Common Japanese Greetings

Let’s start by introducing the five most common Japanese greetings that you’re likely to encounter.

GreetingMeaningPronunciationWhen to use itExample
Ohayou Gozaimasu (おはよう ございます)Good morning (formal)Oh-ha-yo goh-zah-ee-mahsThis formal greeting is typically used before 10 in the morning, and certainly before noon.“Ohayou gozaimasu! How are you today?”
Konnichiwa (こんにちは)HelloKoh-nee-chee-wahKonnichiwa is a versatile greeting suitable for use between mid-morning and late afternoon or early evening.“Konnichiwa! It’s nice to see you again.”
Konbanwa (こんばんは)Good eveningKohn-bahn-wahThis greeting is appropriate in the late afternoon or evening.“Konbanwa! How was your day?”
Moshi Moshi (もしもし)Hello (On the phone, informal)Moh-shee moh-sheeUse “moshi moshi” when answering the phone informally.“Moshi moshi! Who’s calling, please?”
Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ)Welcome (Greeting a customer)Ee-rah-shy-mah-sehThis is often heard in Japanese stores and restaurants when welcoming customers.“Irasshaimase! Please have a seat.”

Beyond the Basics

While the above five greetings cover a wide range of situations, Japanese culture offers a myriad of greetings for various occasions and levels of formality. Let’s delve deeper into some of them:

Tadaima (ただいま)

Meaning: I’m back (Arriving home)

Pronunciation: Tah-dah-ee-mah

When to use it: Use “tadaima” when announcing your return home.

Example sentence: “Tadaima! Did anything interesting happen while I was out?”

Yo (よ)

Meaning: Hi (Casual hello)

Pronunciation: Yoh

When to use it: “Yo” is an informal way to say hello, primarily used among friends.

Example sentence: “Yo! Long time no see.”

Sumimasen (すみません)

Meaning: Excuse me (Approaching a stranger)

Pronunciation: Soo-mee-mah-sehn

When to use it: Use “sumimasen” when you need to politely approach a stranger, such as asking for directions or the time.

Example sentence: “Sumimasen, could you help me find this address?”

Moshi Moshi (もしもし)

Meaning: I’m going to talk (On the phone, informal)

Pronunciation: Moh-shee moh-shee

When to use it: Use “moshi moshi” when answering the phone informally.

Example sentence: “Moshi moshi! Can you hear me clearly?”

Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ)

Meaning: Welcome (Greeting a customer)

Pronunciation: Ee-rah-shy-mah-seh

When to use it: This phrase is commonly used in retail environments to welcome customers.

Example sentence: “Irasshaimase! Please take your time looking around.”

Specific Situations and Formalities

In addition to these greetings, Japanese culture offers more specialized ways to greet people depending on the situation and level of formality. Here are a few examples:

Ojamashimasu (おじゃまします)

Meaning: I am going to disturb you

Pronunciation: Oh-jah-ma-shi-mahs

About: Use “ojamashimasu” politely when entering someone’s home or personal space.

Example sentence: “Ojamashimasu. I hope I’m not interrupting.”

Osewa ni Natteorimasu (お世話になっております)

Meaning: Thank you for your continued support

Pronunciation: Oh-seh-wah nee nah-teh-oh-ri-mahs

About: This formal phrase is frequently used in business settings as a sign of gratitude.

Example sentence: “Osewa ni natteorimasu. We appreciate your support.”

Ohisashiburi desu (おひさしぶりです)

Meaning: Long time no see

Pronunciation: Oh-hee-sah-shi-boo-ree dehs

About: Use “ohisashiburi desu” when you haven’t seen someone in a while, especially acquaintances and bosses.

Example sentence: “Ohisashiburi desu! It’s been too long.”

Informal and Casual Greetings

For those looking to engage in more relaxed conversations or interactions, Japanese offers informal greetings like “Yo,” “Oi,” “Yaa,” “Ossu,” and “Yaahoo.” These expressions are typically used among friends and young people, reflecting a casual and friendly tone.


Japanese greetings are an essential aspect of daily life and a window into the rich tapestry of Japanese culture. Whether it’s a formal “ohayou gozaimasu” in the morning or a casual “Yo” among friends, each greeting carries a specific meaning and reflects the intricacies of social etiquette. Embracing these greetings is not only a way to show respect but also a key to building meaningful connections in Japan’s vibrant society. So, the next time you greet someone in Japanese, remember the nuances and embrace the tradition with a warm and respectful demeanor.


How do I say “good morning” in Japanese?

To say “good morning” in Japanese, you can use the phrase “Ohayou gozaimasu” (おはよう ございます). It’s a polite and common way to greet someone in the morning.

What’s the Japanese phrase for “hello” in the daytime?

The Japanese phrase for “hello” during the daytime is “Konnichiwa” (こんにちは). It’s a versatile greeting suitable for use from mid-morning to early evening.

Are there different ways to greet someone in Japanese?

Yes, there are various ways to greet someone in Japanese, each with its own level of formality and situational appropriateness. From formal greetings like “Ohayou gozaimasu” to casual ones like “Yo,” Japanese offers a wide range of expressions.

What is the informal way to say “hello” on the phone in Japanese?

The informal way to say “hello” on the phone in Japanese is “Moshi moshi” (もしもし). It’s commonly used when answering the phone in a friendly and relaxed manner.

How do I welcome customers in Japanese?

To welcome customers in Japanese, you can use the phrase “Irasshaimase” (いらっしゃいませ). This is a polite way to greet customers, often heard in Japanese stores and restaurants as a warm welcome.

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