hello in japanese

Japanese Greetings: Hello in Japanese and 30 Other Greetings Beyond Konnichiwa

You might already know how to say hello in Japanese. 

But do you know several other Japanese greetings which you can use in situations like answering the phone, or meeting your boss or a good friend? 

The following list is composed of the most useful Japanese greetings that any traveler or beginner Japanese learner could possibly memorize.


1. こんにちは (Hello)

Hiragana: こんにちは


Usage: Formal

This is the classic “hello” term that many people think of when they consider how to say hello in Japanese. It’s a way of saying hello to someone that is appropriate for almost all formal and informal interactions.

Remember that it’s only used during the day (after the morning but before the evening).

2. お元気ですか? (How are you?)

Hiragana: おげんきですか

Rōmaji: “O genki desuka?”

Usage: Formal

お元気ですか (おげんきですか)? is a good phrase to use after greeting a somewhat new friend or someone you don’t know well. The literal meaning is “Are you healthy?” 

It’s a formal phrase that you can use with friends and family as well and implies a very earnest interest in how someone is doing.

Note: です is pronounced “desu” with a somewhat silent “u.”

3. 元気? (You good?)

Hiragana: げんき

Rōmaji: “Genki?”

Usage: Informal

This phrase is just a shortened version of お元気ですか (おげんきですか)?

As such, it’s best suited to quick interactions or interactions with close friends. It still implies that you care, but is much more informal than its predecessor.

4. 元気だった? (How’s it going?)

Hiragana: げんき だった?

Rōmaji: “Genki datta?”

Usage: Informal

Another way of asking 元気 (げんき)? or お元気ですか (おげんきですか)?

This one is also informal and would be used with people that you know rather well. 

5. 何かあった? (What’s up?)

Hiragana: なんか あった

Rōmaji: “Nani ka atta?”

Usage: Informal

This phrase can literally be translated as “What happened?” or “What’s happening?”

One would use this term when stumbling upon a friend who seems distressed.

You can also use this term when you meet up with a friend after they had some kind of event, like a job interview or confessing their love to their crush.

6. おはようございます (Good morning)

Hiragana: おはようございます

Rōmaji: “Ohayo gozaimasu”

Usage: Formal

This is the formal way of saying “good morning.”

It’s best to use when meeting with a superior or someone you don’t know well in the early hours.

7. おはよう (Good morning)

Hiragana: おはよう

Rōmaji: “Ohayo”

Usage: Informal

A quick, casual phrase to use when greeting family or roommates in the morning and the informal equivalent of おはようございます.

If you’ve been working at the same place or been part of the same class for a long time, this would be an appropriate way to greet everyone in the morning.

8. お会いできて光栄です (It’s an honor to meet you)

Hiragana: おあいできて こうえいです

Rōmaji: “O ai dekite kōeidesu”

Usage: Formal

This is a very formal way to meet someone for the first time.

It’s a good one if you’re meeting a potential new employer, for example, or a superior. 

9. 初めまして (Nice to meet you)

Hiragana: はじめまして

Rōmaji: “Hajime mashite”

Usage: Formal

This is the relatively more informal way of saying お会いできて光栄です (おあいできて こうえいです).

Note that it’s still polite and still a slightly formal phrase, as you’re using it with someone you’ve met for the first time! 

When meeting somebody at a party, bar or at an event that’s not exactly a professional setting, use this phrase.

10. こんばんは (Good evening)

Hiragana: こんばんは

Rōmaji: “Konbanwa”

Usage: Formal

You can use this phrase when greeting someone in the evening, but it shouldn’t be used as a send off or when saying “Goodnight” to someone.

11. 大丈夫ですか? (Are you alright?)

Hiragana: だいじょうぶ ですか

Rōmaji: “Daijōbu desuka?”

Usage: Formal

This is another phrase you’ll hear on television a lot, typically after someone has been hurt or embarrassed.

12. 大丈夫? (Are you ok?)

Hiragana: だいじょうぶ

Rōmaji: “Daijōbu?”

Usage: Informal 

This is the shorter, less-formal way of asking if someone is ok. 

13. ただいま! (I’m home!)

Hiragana: ただいま!

Rōmaji: “Tadaima!”

Usage: Informal 

ただいま is a pretty interesting phenomenon in Japan. Many Japanese people use it when entering their home after a long day, even if they live alone.

You’ll see this in Japanese movies and television quite often and it is definitely a habit commonly found across the country.

14. もしもし (Hello?)

Hiragana: もしもし

Rōmaji: “Moshi moshi”

Usage: Informal and formal

This isn’t the kind of phrase you’d use in real life, but rather when picking up the phone. Even birds are able to use it. 

15. いらっしゃいませ! (Welcome!)

Hiragana: いらっしゃいませ!

Rōmaji: “Irasshai mase!”

Usage: Formal

This is a common phrase you’ll hear when entering convenience stores or restaurants.

When you’re greeted with いらっしゃいませ, you can respond with a nod and smile or by saying ありがとうございます or こんにちは.

16. ようこそ! (Welcome home / Welcome to Japan!)


Rōmaji: “Yōkoso!”

Usage: Informal

This is an extremely common phrase to say after someone arrives after a long flight or traveling a long way. You’ll hear people say this when you arrive in Japan.

You may also hear the more formal version, 日本へようこそ!(にほんへ ようこそ!), or “Welcome to Japan!”

If you’re being greeted by an acquaintance or someone hired to pick you up from the airport, a simple ありがとうございます will do. For a friend or family member, an enthusiastic ただいま is a good response.

17. いかがお過ごしですか? (How are you doing?)

Hiragana: いかが おすごし ですか?

Rōmaji: “Ikaga osugoshi desuka?”

Usage: Formal

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.

18. 今日は、どんな感じ? (How are you today?)

Hiragana: きょうは、どんな かんじ ?

Rōmaji: “Kyōwa donna kanji?” 

Usage: Informal

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.

19. 調子どう? (How’s it hangin’?)

Hiragana: ちょうし どう?

Rōmaji: “Chōshi dō?”

Usage: Informal

The literal translation is “How is your condition?” 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.

20. お久しぶりです(Long time no see)

Hiragana: おひさしぶりです

Rōmaji: “O hisashi buridesu”

Usage: Formal

This phrase is the equivalent of “Long time no see” or “It’s been a while” in English.

It usually follows a basic “hello” greeting and is used in frank and informal circumstances, like with an old friend or absent family member.

21. 久しぶり! (Long time no see)

Hiragana: ひさしぶり!

Rōmaji: “Hisashi buri”

Usage: Informal

This is the informal form of お久しぶりです (おひさしぶりです)

It’s used a lot in Japanese and literally just means “long time.”

22. 毎度、いらっしゃいませ(Welcome)

Hiragana: まいど、いらっしゃいませ

Rōmaji: “Maido, irasshaimase”

Usage: Formal

If you visit Japan, you’ll definitely hear this phrase at least a few times. The literal translation is “each time” or “every time,” which essentially means “we will always welcome you.” 

This version means “Every time, welcome” and is used by many businesses, especially hotels and spas.

To respond to this, a simple nod and a smile will do for a response. Alternatively, you can say ありがとうございます.

23. 毎度(Welcome)

Hiragana: まいど

Rōmaji: “Maido”

Usage: Formal

This is the slightly less formal version of 毎度、いらっしゃいませ (まいど、いらっしゃいませ).

24. どうよ? (How’s it going?)

Hiragana: どうよ?

Rōmaji: “Dōyo?”

Usage: Informal

This phrase usually follows a formal or informal greeting and is appropriate for most social situations.

25. 最近どう? (What’s up?)

Hiragana: さいきん どう

Rōmaji: “Saikin dō?”

Usage: Informal

This also implies the phrase “How have you been?” so don’t be surprised if you receive a response somewhere along the lines of “I had a good day.”

26. やあ (Hi)

Hiragana: やあ

Rōmaji: “Yā”

Usage: Informal

This has got to be the easiest one on the list. やあ is the equivalent of saying “hi” or “yo” or “hey” in English. It’s definitely appropriate for greeting a close friend.

Note“Yā” is pronounced with a flat “a” sound.

27. ヤッホー! (Hi!)

Hiragana: やっほー!

Rōmaji: “Ya hō!”

Usage: Informal

Use this when greeting children or very close friends.

28. おーい! (Hey!)

Hiragana: おーい!

Rōmaji: Ōi!”

Usage: Informal

This is more of an exclamation than a greeting, but it’s useful if you need to get a stranger’s attention.

29. おす!or おっす! (Hey!)

Hiragana: おす!or おっす!

Rōmaji: “Osu!” or “Ossu!”

This is also usually a standalone exclamation to get someone’s attention, but can be followed with the name of the person in question.

This form of greeting is used mostly between young men.

30. よぉ! (Yo!)

Hiragana: よぉ!

Rōmaji: “Yo”

Usage: Informal

Similar to the last one, this is another exclamation used 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.

Why Should I Learn So Many Japanese Greetings?

  • Japanese is a very detailed language and the standard “hello” may not be appropriate for every interaction. You have different words for answering the phone, greeting your boss or talking to your best friend. 
  • Broadening your vocabulary will only improve your Japanese fluency. That’s the goal, isn’t it? The more Japanese vocabulary you know, the better you’ll be at Japanese! 
  • Many of the greetings are very simple to understand and fun to learn. Some Japanese phrases can be very complex, but thankfully these awesome greetings are very simple for the beginner to learn.
  • These phrases are great for travelers as well as beginner learners who want to start a conversation with a Japanese person.
  • All of these phrases are basic phrases used almost universally by Japanese people, making them important phrases to write down, study and memorize.

If you’d like to see these Japanese greetings in context, you could also try a language learning program such as FluentU. It uses authentic content such as movie clips, commercials, music videos and more.fluentu-japanese-greetings-hello-in-japanese

With the help of interactive subtitles, you can immediately see the hiragana spelling of the words and the English definitions.

You also have the chance to practice what you’ve learned with additional features such as personalized quizzes. There are even iOS and Android apps for you to take your Japanese studies with you on the go.  


These Japanese phrases weren’t that difficult to grasp, were they? Good luck with your studies and don’t forget to 練習 (れんしゅう, practice)!

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