How to say Hello in Japanese: Ohayo, Konichiwa and Konbanwa

How to say Hello in Japanese: Ohayo, Konichiwa and Konbanwa

1140 585 Michaël da Silva Paternoster

Saying “Hello” is the first thing to know in order to start a conversation in any language and Japanese language is not an exception. In this article, we’ll learn how to greet a stranger, a coworker or a friend in the Murakami’s language.

As in English, the Japanese language use different expressions depending on the time of day to greet someone, but also depending on the level of politeness. We will try to be as comprehensive and accessible as possible in this short article.

To be as clear as possible in pronunciation and reading of the words that we will approach, we will use this presentation template:

Romaji (ie in Latin characters)
Kanji and Kanas (as it is usually written)
Only kanas (as it would be written by a child of 4 years old)

Here we go for this basic course of Japanese language !

Good morning in Japanese

The expression to use to say “Hello” in Japanese when it is morning (ie between sunrise and noon) is:

Ohayô gozaimasu.
お早う御座います。
おはようございます。

Familiar form of Ohayô gozaimasu

There is a familiar form of “Ohayô gozaimasu” which is nothing more than:

Ohayô.
お早う。
おはよう。

This expression can only be used between good friends. So do the effort to add the “gozaimasu” to your “ohayô” when you are speaking with strangers or people to whom you owe respect.

If you have any doubt, use “Ohayô gozaimasu”, because we are never too polite.

Good afternoon in Japanese

The word to use to say “hello” during the afternoon is:

Konnichiwa.
今日は。
こんにちは。

Familiar form of Konnichiwa

Men, when they are talking to male friends, sometimes prefer to use:

Osu
おす

Again, if you are in doubt be aware that a “Konnichiwa” can always replace an “Osu”, but an “Osu” will not always replace a “Konnichiwa” depending on the context.

Good evening in Japanese

The word to use to say “Hello” in Japanese after sunset is:

Konbanwa.
今晩は。
こんばんは。

Good night in Japanese

Now it’s late, and you’re on your way to dreamland. You meet someone on your way that seems to go towards his bed too. In that case you can say “Good night” in Japanese like this:

Oyasuminasai.
お休みなさい。
おやすみなさい。

Familiar form of Oyasuminasai

If you believe you a true badass, a fairly respectable guy, feel free to simply use:

Oyasumi.
お休み。
おやすみ。

As for the previous familiar expressions, use “Oyasuminasai” if you are doubting.

Hello in a nutshell

Say “Hello” politely:

  • Good morning: Ohayô gozaimasu
  • Good afternoon: Konnichiwa
  • Good evening: Konbanwa
  • Good night: Oyasuminasai

Say “Hello” to friends:

  • Good morning: Ohayô
  • Good afternoon: Osu
  • Good evening: Konbanwa
  • Good night: Oyasumi

Photo under Creative Commons license (CC) made by Héctor García.

Michaël da Silva Paternoster

French living in Japan since 2016. I work as a manager and marketing consultant for several Japanese and foreign companies.

All stories by : Michaël da Silva Paternoster

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