How to Say Hello in Japanese

Four Methods:Standard helloInformal greetingsEtiquette when you bowTime-specific greetings

The standard way of saying “hello” in Japanese is “konnichiwa,” but there are actually several Japanese phrases used to greet someone. Here are a few of the most helpful to know along with information about when to use them.

Method 1
Standard hello

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    Say "konnichiwa" in most settings.[1] This is a fairly all-purpose greeting, and if you only memorize one version of “hello,” this should be it.
    • You can use this greeting for anyone, regardless of social status.
    • While there are separate greetings used during most periods of the day, this greeting also doubles as “good afternoon.”
    • The kanji for this greeting is 今日は. The hiragana is こんにちは.
    • Pronounce this greeting as kohn-nee-chee-wah.
  2. Image titled Say Hello in Japanese Step 2
    Answer the phone with "moshi moshi."[2] This is the standard “hello” to use over the phone.
    • Use this greeting whether you are the caller or the person being called. Moshi moshi is much more appropriate to use for phone conversations than konnichiwa.
    • Do not use moshi moshi in person.
    • The hiragana for this greeting is written as もしもし.
    • Pronounce moshi moshi as mohsh mohsh.

Method 2
Informal greetings

  1. Image titled Say Hello in Japanese Step 6
    Use "ossu" between close male friends.[3] This is a very informal greeting used between close male friends or close male relatives around the same age.
    • This phrase is not usually used between female friends or between friends with opposite genders.
    • Ossu is somewhat similar to saying “hey, man!” or “hey, dude!” in English.
    • The hiragana for this phrase is written as おっす.
    • Pronounce this greeting as ohss.
  2. Image titled Say Hello in Japanese Step 7
    In Osaka, "yaho" is an additional way of saying hello among friends.
    • It is usually written in katakana, because it is expressive. (ヤーホー)
    • It is pronounced yah-hoh.
    • Yaho is also used as a way to say hi among young people, especially girls.
  3. Image titled Say Hello in Japanese Step 8
    Ask "saikin dō?" The English equivalent of this Japanese question would be along the lines of “what's up?” or “what's new?”
    • Like most other informal greetings, you should only pose this question to someone you are on familiar terms with, like a friend, sibling, or—on occasion—a classmate or coworker.
    • The kanji for this question is 最近どう?. The hiragana is さいきん どう?.
    • A rough pronunciation of this question is sigh-kin doh.
  4. Image titled Say Hello in Japanese Step 9
    Greet someone you have not seen recently with "hisashiburi." In English, this greeting would be something like “long time, no see” or “it's been a while.”
    • You would usually use this greeting upon meeting a friend or close family member you have not seen in several weeks, months, or years.
    • The kanji for this greeting is 久しぶり. The hiragana is ひさしぶり.
    • To make this greeting more formal, say "o hisashiburi desu ne." The kanji for this long form is お久しぶりですね. The hiragana is おひさしぶりですね.
    • Pronounce the full statement as oh hee-sah-shee-boo-ree deh-soo neh.

Method 3
Etiquette when you bow

Bowing is often a used to not only when you meet someone, but it is also a sign of respect. This can be initiated be either party (though often the greeter).

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    Understand that the bow is equivalent to a respectful handshake. The most important thing to remember is when you are returning a bow.
  2. 2
    When you receive a bow, bow back. You should bow at least as low as, though preferably slightly lower than the one who bowed first. Bowing lower is a sign of respect, so try to bow lower than the person giving the bow if they are of higher social status than you, or if you don't know that person.
    • Greeting bows are generally 15 degrees for people you are familiar with and 30 degrees for people you just met or are of higher social standing. 45 degree bows are usually not used for greetings, unless you're meeting the emperor or Prime Minister.
    • If you're bowing in greeting to a good friend, you can simply nod your head to bow. This is the most casual of bows.
  3. 3
    Bow with your arms at the side, eyes facing the same direction as your head. Make sure to bow from the waist. Bowing with just your head or shoulders is very casual and can be seen as rude.

Method 4
Time-specific greetings

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    Switch to "ohayō gozaimasu" in the morning. When greeting someone before lunch, this is the standard way to say “hello.”
    • Time-specific greetings are more significant in Japan than in the United States. While you can technically say “konnichiwa” in the morning, greeting someone with “ohayō gozaimasu” is much more common.
    • The kanji for this greeting is お早うございます. The hiragana is おはようございます.
    • You could also shorten your morning greeting to "ohayō" when speaking to friends and others with whom you are on familiar terms. The kanji for ohayō is お早う and the hiragana is おはよう.
    • Pronounce this greeting as oh-hah-yoh goh-za-ee-muss.
  2. Image titled Say Hello in Japanese Step 4
    Use "konbanwa" in the evening. After dinner, you would begin greeting others with this phrase rather than “konnichiwa.”
    • As with other time-specific greetings, konbanwa is the standard greeting to use during the evening. You could use konnichiwa, but the latter is far less standard.
    • The kanji for this phrase is 今晩は. The hiragana is こんばんは.
    • Pronounce konbanwa as kohn-bahn-wah.
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    Try "oyasumi nasai" to say good-bye at night.
    • Note that oyasumi nasai is more often used in parting as a way of saying “good night” late at night rather than “hello." You might get some strange looks if you use this when you meet someone, even if it's really late in the night.
    • When you are among friends, classmates, close family members, or anyone else with whom you can speak to familiarly, this phrase can also be shortened to oyasumi.
    • The hiragana for oyasumi is おやすみ. For the entire phrase, oyasumi nasai, the hiragana is おやすみなさい.
    • This greeting is roughly pronounced as oh-yah-soo-mee nah-sigh.


  • When in doubt, 30 degrees is a safe angle to bow at for almost everyone.
  • If you want to sound more natural, don't forget to use the time specific greetings. Using konnichiwa in the morning or evening might be seen as a little strange.
  • Note that these are standard greetings that can be used throughout all of Japan and with all speakers of Japanese. There are, however, special greetings that are only used within certain dialects of Japan. If you want to impress someone who speaks a certain dialect of Japanese, you can use either the standard greetings provided or look for a dialect-specific greeting.[4]

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