Written by:
Jun 25, 2020

Hello in Japanese: 13 easy greetings in Japanese

Interested in learning Japanese? Start by learning how to greet native speakers with these ways of saying “hello” in Japanese.

Get the conversation rolling with the following words and phrases to say “hi” in Japanese, as well as other Japanese greetings to use in formal and informal settings. Whether you want to say a casual “hey” to a group of friends or “good morning” to your colleagues at work, read on to learn different Japanese greetings for every situation!

And if you want to learn more words and phrases in Japanese, try Drops!

Table of contents

Here are all the different Japanese greetings we’ll cover in this blog post:

1. How to say Hello in Japanese

  • こんにちは (konnichiwa)

2. Informal greetings in Japanese

  • やあ! (ya-)
  •  [Name]-ちゃん ([Name]-chan) or [Name]-さん ([Name]-san) 
  • ヤッホー (yahho-)
  • おす (osu)
  • ‍ただいま (tadaima)
  • もしもし (moshi moshi)

3. Formal greetings in Japanese

  • おはようございます (ohayō gozaimasu)
  • こんばんは (konbanwa)
  • お久しぶりですね (ohisashiburi desu ne)
  • はじめまして (hajimemashite)
  •  いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase)
  • いい天気ですね (ii tenki desu ne)

4. Choosing the best way to say Hello in Japanese

  • Consider the time of day
  • Assess the formality
  • Consider the relationship
  • Pay attention to the context
  • Follow cultural norms
  • Be observant

5. Learn more words and greetings in Japanese

How to say Hello in Japanese

Greetings aren’t just words you memorize. When you say hello, depending on where you are, you may hug or kiss the cheeks of the person you’re greeting. In Japan, you’ll often bow. And if you know the other person has a higher social or work ranking than you, make sure you bow lower, otherwise, it may be considered rude. 

When you are on familiar terms with someone, you can use their first name. But as a sign of respect, you can address someone by their title and last name or -san. But first, the basics! How do you say Hello in Japanese? You’ve probably heard it before, even if you’re not learning Japanese.

こんにちは (konnichiwa) - “Hello” in Japanese

“Hello” in Japanese is likely an expression you’ve heard in the past, even if you haven’t ever studied the language before. But this isn’t the expression you’d use with close friends or family. While it can be used in both formal and informal situations, you’re more likely to hear it used between strangers or in more formal situations.

こんにちは (konnichiwa) also literally means “good afternoon,” so you’ll typically hear this said at that time.

Informal greetings in Japanese

Informal greetings in Japanese are typically used in casual or familiar settings among friends, family members, or people of similar age and status. If you want to make new friends in Japan, here are some greetings that you can try out:

1. やあ! (ya-) - “Hi” in Japanese

To say “hi” in Japanese, you simply say やあ. This expression, however, is very informal and it’s often just used to grab attention. 

2. [Name]-ちゃん ([Name]-chan) or [Name]-さん ([Name]-san) - “Hey” in Japanese

Want to say “hey” in Japanese? A simple way to do this is by simply calling the other person’s name. So 雅ちゃん! (Miyabi-chan!) is very similar to saying “hey, Miyabi!” in Japanese. 

3. ヤッホー (yahho-) - “Yoohoo” in Japanese

This expression is more feminine and childlike in use. It’s very casual and is simply used to capture someone’s attention--particularly that of a close friend or child. The next phrase is a more masculine expression.

4. おす (osu) - “Hey” in Japanese

This way of saying “hey” in Japanese is informal and typically used by male speakers to other male speakers, but of course, there are always exceptions to the rule!

5. ただいま (tadaima) - “I’m back” in Japanese

When you return home, it’s common to announce your arrival. In Japanese, you use ただいま (tadaima) to say “I’m back!” or “I’m home!

6. もしもし (moshi moshi) - “Hello” on the phone in Japanese

When you answer the phone in Japanese, you might use the expression もしもし (moshi moshi). In more formal situations, you’d answer the phone using “yes” or はい.

Formal greetings in Japanese

Formal greetings in Japanese are used in professional settings, during formal occasions, or when addressing someone of higher status or authority. If you’re traveling to Japan for work or meeting an elder family member, you can use these greetings to convey respect and politeness:

1. おはようございます (ohayō gozaimasu) - “Good morning” in Japanese

To say “good morning” in Japanese, you use おはようございます. You’ll commonly hear this said at work in the mornings. In less formal situations, you can shorten it to おはよう (ohayou). 

2. こんばんは (konbanwa) - “Good evening” in Japanese

To wish someone a good evening in Japanese, you use こんばんは. It’s a polite and formal way to say “good evening” in Japanese. 

3. お久しぶりですね (ohisashiburi desu ne) - “Long time no see” in Japanese 

Has it been a while since you’d last seen the person you’re chatting with? Use this expression to say “it’s been a while” or “long time no see”. 

To make this expression less formal, simply drop the お at the beginning of the sentence. 

4. はじめまして (hajimemashite) - “Nice to meet you” in Japanese

This is an expression you can use when first meeting someone to say “nice to meet you”. It’s often followed by よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu) which translates as “please look after me” but is really just another way to say “nice to meet you”. So it’s common to hear: はじめまして. よろしくお願いします.

5. いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase) - “Welcome” in Japanese

If you enter a Japanese restaurant or store, you’ll likely be greeted with this phrase. It isn’t something you’d say to a friend or family member visiting your home. Instead, you’d say お邪魔します (ojama shimasu) which means “sorry for bothering you” and you’d be welcomed in with どうぞ (douzo) which means “go ahead”, “come in”, or even “after you”.

6. いい天気ですね (ii tenki desu ne) - “The weather’s nice today” in Japanese

Weather is a common topic in small talk, and that’s no different in Japanese. You can greet someone with this expression to say something like “nice weather we’re having” or “the weather is nice today” in Japanese. 

Choosing the best way to say Hello in Japanese

The way that you greet someone in Japanese can depend on the level of formality, the relationship between you and the other person, the time of day, and the context of the interaction. To help you figure out which is the most appropriate greeting to use in any situation, we’ve put together a few things to watch out for:

Consider the Time of Day: Use おはようございます (ohayō gozaimasu)  in the morning, こんにちは (konnichiwa) in the afternoon, and こんばんは (konbanwa) in the evening.

Assess the Formality: In formal settings or when addressing someone of higher status or authority, opt for more formal greetings such as おはようございます (ohayō gozaimasu)  or こんにちは (konnichiwa). For informal situations or among friends and peers, casual greetings like やあ! (ya-) are more appropriate.

Consider the Relationship: Choose a greeting that matches the level of familiarity and closeness with the other person. Use more casual greetings with friends and peers, while reserving formal greetings for professional or respectful interactions.

Pay Attention to the Context: Consider the setting and purpose of the interaction. For example, if you're entering a store or restaurant, いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase) is appropriate. In a business meeting, お疲れ様です (otsukaresama desu) might be used to acknowledge someone's hard work.

Follow Cultural Norms: Be mindful of Japanese cultural norms and customs when choosing greetings. Showing respect and politeness is highly valued in Japanese culture, so err on the side of formality if unsure.

Be Observant: Pay attention to how others greet each other in similar situations, and follow their lead. This can help you gauge the appropriate level of formality and choose the best greeting for the occasion.

With these factors in mind, you can choose the most respectful way to greet someone in Japanese, ensuring a positive and culturally appropriate interaction.

Learn more words and greetings in Japanese

Curious to know more about learning Japanese? Learn Japanese words in a fun and easy way and find out how you can get started in 6 easy steps with our Japanese learning guide for beginners or learn 9 ways to say goodbye in Japanese. You can also take your Japanese to the next level with information about studying Kanji for the JLPT N5 which helps to learn Japanese easily.

Of course, the best way to learn Japanese is with consistent practice! After all, Japanese is one of the most fast-paced languages in the world! That’s why Drops is here to help with quick, easy, and fun lessons to learn more words and greetings in Japanese at your own pace!


1. What are the 4 Japanese greetings?

The four main Japanese greetings are:

  1. こんにちは (konnichiwa) - "Hello" or "Good afternoon.”

  2. おはようございます (ohayō gozaimasu)  - "Good morning."

  3. こんばんは (konbanwa) - "Good evening."

  4. おやすみなさい (oyasumi nasai) - "Good night." 

These greetings are used depending on the time of day and the context of the interaction.

2. What are kind greetings in Japanese?

In Japanese culture, conveying kindness in greetings often involves using polite and respectful language. These are some greetings that convey kindness:

はじめまして (hajimemashite) - “Nice to meet you!”

ようこそ (youkoso) - "Welcome," used to greet guests or visitors  

いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase) -
“Welcome,” used when entering a restaurant or store.

ごきげんよう (gokigen you) -  "How do you do?" A polite and friendly way to greet someone.

When using these greetings, it's important to pay attention to the context and tone of the interaction to ensure that your kindness is effectively communicated.

3. How do Japanese people greet foreigners?

Japanese people typically greet foreigners in a similar manner to how they greet each other, with polite and respectful language. Common greetings for foreigners include:

こんにちは (konnichiwa) - "Hello" or "Good afternoon," used during the daytime.

おはようございます (ohayō gozaimasu)  - "Good morning."

こんばんは (konbanwa) - "Good evening."

Additionally, if the interaction is taking place in a business or hospitality setting, phrases like いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase) meaning "Welcome," are commonly used to greet foreigners with warmth and hospitality. However, Japanese people are generally appreciative if foreigners make an effort to use basic Japanese greetings, even if it's just a simple こんにちは (konnichiwa) or ありがとう ございます(arigatō gozaimasu).

4. How do Japanese people greet friends?

Japanese people greet friends in various ways depending on the level of familiarity and the context of the interaction. Greet friends in Japanese with these words and phrases:

やあ! (ya-) - A casual and informal way to say "Hi" or "Hey" to friends.

どうも (doumo)
- This is a versatile phrase that can be used to greet friends in a casual and friendly manner, often followed by other phrases like ありがとう (arigatō) or ごめん (gomen) - "Sorry," depending on the context.

お元気ですか (ogenki desu ka)
- "How are you?" A polite but friendly way to inquire about a friend's well-being

お久しぶり (o hisashiburi) - "Long time no see." This is used when meeting a friend after a long time without seeing each other.

These greetings can be adjusted based on the relationship and the level of formality between friends. However, Japanese culture places importance on being respectful and considerate in interactions, even with friends, so the appropriate level of politeness is often considered.

5. How do you reply to konnichiwa?

Replying to こんにちは (konnichiwa) depends on the context and the level of formality in the interaction. A few common ways to reply are:

こんにちは (konnichiwa) - You can simply respond with the same greeting, especially if the interaction is casual and informal.

こんにちは お元気ですか?(konnichiwa ogenki desu ka?)  - "Hello, how are you?" This is a polite and friendly response, showing interest in the other person's well-being.

こんにちは お はようございます (konnichiwa ohayō gozaimasu) - "Hello, good morning." This response acknowledges the greeting and adds a touch of formality by wishing the other person a good morning.

こんにちは どうも (konnichiwa doumo) - "Hello, thanks." This is a casual and friendly response, expressing gratitude in return.

The choice of response depends on the relationship between the speakers and the context of the conversation. It's essential to match the level of formality and politeness in your reply to the initial greeting.

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