Human beings greet each other a lot.
We greet our significant others in the morning, our friends and coworkers during the day and new people when we go out to parties or other events.
We greet the people who make our food at restaurants and the people we happen to run into throughout the day.
When you think about it, the simple greeting is the most basic form of communication.
If you’re learning Japanese, you’ll need to master this basic form of communication in order to get around in Japan and make some friends.
But the basic “hello” simply won’t do.
Luckily, we have a hefty list for you with many different ways you can greet people in Japanese!
Can’t I Just Rely on こんにちは — Hello?
Even in English, the simple “Hello!” doesn’t work for every type of social situation, right? Sometimes “Hi!” or “What’s up, homie?” are more appropriate greetings to use.
This is no different in Japanese. You’ll need to match your “hello” to the situation.
Plus, if you really want to boost your Japanese vocabulary and improve your fluency, you should load up on these greetings. What better way to get fluent than to learn as many Japanese vocabulary words as possible?
You can also boost your vocabulary, and hear many of these greetings in use, with the authentic videos on FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world Japanese videos—like music videos, movie trailers, documentaries, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
It naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You’ll learn real Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.
Just take a look at the wide variety of authentic video content available in the program. Here’s a small sample:
You’ll discover tons of new Japanese vocabulary through these great clips.
Don’t worry about your skill level being an issue when it comes to understanding the language. FluentU makes native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts.
Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
You’ll see definitions, in-context usage examples and helpful illustrations. Simply tap “add” to send interesting vocabulary words to your personal vocab list for later review.
FluentU even uses a learning program which adapts to your specific needs, to turn every video into a language learning lesson and get you to actively practice your newly-learned language.
Before we begin, here are some things to keep in mind:
Some of the greetings below have example sentences. Others have descriptions. Pay attention to both to assess the level of formality and get a sense of when and where it’s appropriate to use a specific greeting.
This’ll help you avoid offending someone or saying “good morning” in the middle of the night.
Not sure how to pronounce something? Just click on the phrase to hear it on Forvo or Google Translate.
Now, say hello to these Japanese greetings!
Ohayō! How to Say Hello in Japanese with 24 Different Greetings
This is the classic “hello” term that many people think of when they consider how to say hello in Japanese.
There’s nothing wrong with using it, as long as you remember that it’s only used during the day (after the morning but before the evening) and in semi-formal situations.
こんにちは、いかがお過ごしでしたか？（こんにちは、いかが おすごしでした か？）— Hello, how have you been?
Use this informal phrase to greet close friends, family or roommates in the morning.
This formal version of お早う is ideal for saying “good morning” to your coworkers or boss.
You can also use this phrase when greeting older people and strangers in the morning.
This phrase is usually written in hiragana. Use this when greeting anybody in the afternoon and evening hours.
お休み、いい夢たくさん見てね。（おやすみ、いい ゆめ たくさん みてね。）— Good night and sleep tight (or “sweet dreams”).
This phrase usually follows a formal or informal greeting and is appropriate for most social situations.
This phrase literally means “How is it today?” and is appropriate for most social interactions, especially when it comes to building rapport with your coworkers.
This is a formal way to ask how someone is doing.
Use this phrase when connecting with a manager, an older person or someone of authority that you don’t know very well.
This phrase is a more common form of いかがお過ごしですか？ and is still best used in a formal setting.
When you’re checking in on a friend, coworker, family member or someone you’re chummy with, use this more informal type of greeting to see how they’re doing.
This phrase is used in semi-formal situations and between friends.
今日の調子はどう？（きょうの ちょうしは どう？）— How are you feeling today?
This is clearly not the best thing to say to someone in a higher social position than you, like your boss, for instance.
Instead, this phrase is best used with very good friends in which you have a goofy, fun-loving relationship.
The literal translation is “How is your condition?”
調子どう？（ちょうし どう？）— How’s it hangin’ dude?
Use this when greeting children or very close friends.
14. おーい！— Hey!
This is more of an exclamation than a greeting, but it’s useful if you need to get a stranger’s attention.
おーい、私にボールを投げてくれない？（おーい、わたしに ぼーるを なげてくれない？）— Hey, can you throw that ball to me?
15. おす！or おっす！— Hey!
This form of greeting is used mostly by young men among each other. It’s usually a standalone exclamation to get someone’s attention, but can be followed with name of the person in question.
おっす、佐助！（おっす、さすけ！）— Hey, Sasuke!
16. よぉ！— Yo!
You probably wouldn’t shout “Yo!” to an elderly stranger, so keep this one for informal interactions. Use this exclamation when trying to get the attention of someone you know very well.
This is typically said by younger men, but any gender can use it.
This phrase usually follows a basic “hello” greeting and is used in frank and informal circumstances, like with an old friend or absent family member.
It’s thrown around a lot in Japanese culture and literally just means “long time.”
久しぶり、どこ行ってたの？（ひさしぶり、どこ いってた の？）— It’s been a while, where have you been?
This is an alternative, slightly more formal wording of 久しぶり.
こんにちは、お久しぶりです。（こんにちは、おひさしぶり です。）— Hello, long time no see.
This term is used in Japan to greet friends, family or coworkers when arriving back at home or work after a period of absence.
It’s become such a habit for most Japanese native speakers that they’ll even say it when entering their empty home.
This phrase is usually said by itself.
お会いできて光栄です。私はエミです。（おあいできて こうえい です 。わたしは えみ です。）— Nice to meet you. My name is Emi.
This is a more informal way of saying お会いできて光栄です. When meeting somebody at a party, bar or at an event that’s not exactly a professional setting, use this phrase.
初めまして。ここにはよく来るのですか？（はじめまして。ここには よく くるの です か？）— Nice to meet you. Do you come here often?
If you visit Japan, you’ll definitely hear this phrase at least a few times.
“Each time every time” essentially means “we will always welcome you” and is used by many businesses, especially hotels and spas.
毎度 、ありがとうございます。（まいど、ありがとうございます。）— Each time every time, thank you very much.
This is just a more intensely formal version of 毎度 that essentially means “Each time every time, welcome and thank you.”
24. もしもし？— Hello?
Use this term when answering the phone in any situation.
Isn’t it crazy how many ways there are to say “hello” in Japanese?
With these handy vocabulary words and phrases in your arsenal, you’ll have no problems making Japanese friends, online or abroad!
Emily Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. She writes about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
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