Greetings in Japanese: Say Hello in the right timing

You might recognize the fact that Japanese people pay great attention on courtesy while watching Japanese dramas and animation. A bit different from common greetings in English, which simply adds ‘Good’ before different times of the day, the variation of Japanese greeting phrases could be more complex but still easy to memorize. Let’s learn to greet like a local Japanese!

1. Ohayou (おはよう): Good morning

“Ohayou” is a relatively simple phrase to say good morning in Japanese, while the formal one is “Ohayou gozaimasu” (おはようございます). The pronunciation of “Ohayou” is similar to ‘Ohio’ state in the USA, so just recall “Ohio” when you forget how to say good morning to Japanese! “Ohayou” is generally used in the morning to everyone met at school or workplace.

2. Konnichiwa (こんにちは): Hi/Good afternoon

“Konnichiwa” is the most commonly used greeting phrase in Japanese. The phrase is the short form of the sentence “Konnichiwa iitennki desu ne! (今日はいい天気ですね!)” literally means “It’s fine weather today, isn’t it?” but now Japanese people only use “Konnichiwa” to express the meaning of having a good day. “konnichiwa” is more likely to be recognized as a formal Hi when you meet someone for the first time or greet with colleagues during day time before 6 pm. Why not remember this phrase and try to greet with Japanese people in a friendly manner?

3. Konbanwan (こんばんは): Good evening

When it comes to gathering in a Japanese pub (known as Izakaya) after work, it is very common to hear “Konbanwa” among Japanese. The phrase is roughly translated to good evening, but literally means “tonight.” You can use it after 6 pm or sunset.

4. Oyasumi (おやすみ): Good night

Literally stands for good night, “Oyasumi” is supposed to be used before going to bed or taking a rest. The formal way of saying this phrase is ‘Oyasuminasai’ (おやすみなさい).

Thus, the timing to use the above Japanese greeting phrases are similar to that of English. If you are traveling to Japan in the coming future, remembering these phrases to interact well with local Japanese might elevate your travel experience!