How to Say “Congratulations” in Japanese: Omedetou Gozaimasu and Beyond

What do you say to a Japanese friend who’s getting married?

How do you celebrate someone’s birthday? Promotion? 

Congratulations! You’re in luck. You’ve won today’s prize: Learning how to say “congratulations” in Japanese. 


おめでとう (Omedetou) — Congrats

Omedetou is the most basic and common way to say “congratulations.”

It can be written in kanji as お目出度う but these days it’s more commonly written in hiragana as おめでとう.

Here’s a breakdown of the kanji:

  • (o) — A prefix often used to make a word polite or respectful.
  • (me) — Means “eye.”
  • (de) — Means “come out” or “exit.”
  • (tou) — Represents a degree or extent.

Putting it together, the kanji お目出度う (Omedetou) can be interpreted as “an auspicious occurrence” or “a joyous event.” Both of which are worth celebrating!

There’s an example for how to use it below, but you can find even more ways to use the word and many others in the FluentU program.

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卒業おめでとう (Sotsugyou omedetou!) — Congratulations on your graduation!

おめでとうございます (Omedetou gozaimasu) — Congratulations

This is the polite form of “omedetou” and is appropriate in formal or respectful situations, such as with colleagues, superiors or in public settings.


新しい仕事のご成功、おめでとうございます (Atarashii shigoto no go-seikou, omedetou gozaimasu.) — Congratulations on the success of your new job.

めでたしめでたし (Medetashi medetashi) — Joyous, joyous

This lovely lyrical phrase is a more traditional and literary way of expressing congratulations or celebrating something fortunate.

This phrase is often associated with joyous and significant events, such as weddings, births or other happy occasions. It carries a sense of happiness and blessings, making it suitable for expressing joy and good fortune.

While it may not be as commonly used in everyday conversations, it adds a touch of formality and cultural richness to celebratory expressions in Japanese.


結婚式が無事に終わって、めでたしめでたし (Kekkonshiki ga buji ni owatte, medetashi medetashi.) — The wedding ceremony was a joyous and auspicious day.

やったね! (Yatta ne!) — Well done!

This phrase literally translates to “you did it!” and is a more informal and excited way to congratulate someone. 


試験に合格したんだね!やったね (Shiken ni goukaku shitan da ne! Yatta ne!) — You passed the exam! Well done!

ご成功おめでとうございます (Go-seikou omedetou gozaimasu) — Congratulations on your success

This is a more specific congratulatory phrase, suitable for business situations or when congratulating someone on a professional achievement.


新しいプロジェクトの完了に際して、ご成功おめでとうございます (Atarashii purojekuto no kanryou ni saishite, go-seikou omedetou gozaimasu.) — Congratulations on the successful completion of the new project.

お祝い申し上げます (Oiwai moushiagemasu) — I offer my congratulations

Are you congratulating your boss or writing a very formal letter to someone important? Use this phrase.

“Oiwai moushiagemasu” is the most formal way to say “congratulations” and is typically used in written communication, such as letters and emails or in very formal situations.


新婚のお二人にお祝い申し上げます (Shinkon no o-futari ni oiwai moushiagemasu.) — I offer my congratulations to the newlyweds.

お疲れ様 (Otsukaresama) — Well done / good job

This phrase is commonly used to convey acknowledgment, appreciation and thanks for someone’s effort or hard work. 

While it doesn’t directly translate to “congratulations,” it can be used to congratulate someone on their efforts and achievements. 


このプロジェクトに関して、本当にお疲れ様でした! (Kono purojekuto ni kannshite, hontou ni otsukaresama deshita!) — You did a great job on this project!

すごいね (Sugoi ne) — Amazing

This exclamation is a more indirect way to congratulate someone when they accomplish something impressive. 


あなたのパフォーマンス、すごいね (Anata no pafōmansu, sugoi ne!) — Your performance was amazing!

素晴らしい (Subarashii) — Wonderful

“Subarashii” is another adjective expressing admiration, often used to convey congratulations.


おめでとう!素晴らしい成績を収めたね! (Omedetou! Subarashii seiseki o osameta ne!) — Congratulations! You achieved wonderful results!

Congratulations for Specific Situations

You can congratulate someone on any specific situation or event by saying the occasion followed by “omedetou gozaimasu.”

Here are some examples: 

You can also use gestures to convey your congratulations. Bowing slightly, nodding your head or giving a thumbs-up are all common ways to show happiness and excitement for someone’s achievement.


Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of the post. You’re now equipped to celebrate someone’s achievements with a hearty “congratulations” in Japanese!

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