Act like a local
In contrast to the simple handshake employed in most Western countries, Japanese greet each other by bowing. There are different types of bowing, from a slight nod to a low 90-degree bow. Bowing or nodding your head is also done when apologizing or thanking someone. Since you are not Japanese, a nod of your head is usually enough when you greet someone.
Japanese commonly address each other by using their family name together with a title, the most common being -san. For example, the actor Ken Watanabe would be addressed as Watanabe-san. Only close friends and children refer to each other with their given name. Also, you never refer to yourself using the title ‘san’ as this title is only used when referring to other people.
When you introduce yourself you bow or nod your head and say ‘hajimemashite’ (ha-ji-may-ma-she-tay), which means ‘nice to meet you’, or literally ‘this is our first meeting’. Next, you introduce yourself by saying your last name followed by the word ‘desu’ (dess) or ‘I am’. Putting it all together: ‘Hajimemashite, (your family name) desu’.
Like anything new, it takes some practice but it is also a lot of fun, and as you meet and interact with the Japanese they will be thrilled you took the time and effort to learn their most basic social custom.
* It’s nice to meet you. My name is… – Hajimemashite (“ha-ji-may-ma-she-tay”) (your name) Desu (“dess”).
* Yes – Hai
* No – Iie (“E-ay”)
* Good Morning – Ohayo Gozaimasu (“O-hi-yo Go-zai-mass”)
* Good Afternoon – Konnichiwa (“Kon-ni-chi-wa”)
* Good Evening – Konbanwa (“Kon-ban-wa”)
* Good Night (before going to bed) – Oyasuminasai (“Oya-su-me-na-sigh”)
* Goodbye – Sayonara (“Sa-yo-na-ra”)
* Excuse Me/ Pardon Me/ I’m Sorry – Sumimasen (“Su-me-ma-sen”)
* Please (when offering something) – Dozo
* After You (when telling someone to go ahead of you) – Dozo
* Please (when requesting something) – Kudasai (“Ku-da-sigh”)
* Thank You – Doumo Arigatou (“Dough-mo Areh-ga-toe”)
* You’re Welcome – Douitashimashite (“Dough-ita-shi-ma-she-tay”)
The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.
It was our first trip to Japan. Working with Jeff was a pleasure. His knowledge of the country and local contacts were very helpful. Choice...
Working with Jeff at Rediscover Tours was a wonderful experience. He helped me plan a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Japan with my mother...
I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank you for the marvelous vacation we recently enjoyed in Japan. The entire experience exceeded...
Years after years we have selected the best specialists about Japan. They have at least lived a minimum of 10 years in the country. They are here to answer all your questions and to make your tour just the way you want it.
Jeff was born in a south suburb of Chicago named South Holland and lived in Japan for 14 years. He now lives in Commerce Township, Michigan with his wife Yoshimi, son Shota, and daughter Mina. He enjoys playing with his kids, volunteering with his daughter’s marching band, cycling and training & teaching Aikido.
Michiyo was born in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture though currently lives in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. Her main passions in life is traveling all around the world and enjoying their cultures.
Noriko was born in Nagoya. During her childhood she moved around Japan following her father’s office transfer. She especially liked her time in Shizuoka, facing Mt Fuji. She now lives in Minoo (in the suburb of Osaka). Noriko graduated from Hiroshima university. She’s been to Malaysia, Thailand and Europe (Germany and Bulgaria). Her hobbies are hiking, reading and surfing.
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