Lingual Ninja! - Japanese Lessons Online

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Aug 19, 2018

8 unique Japanese greetings

Hello. I'm Kosuke!

In the previous article, I explained about Japanese particle "~さま (-sama)"!
  ~さま (-sama) >>

In this article, let's check unique Japanese greetings!

I would like to talk about the 8 greetings below!

1. いただきます
   (i ta da ki ma su)

Some people pray before eating.

But in Japan, they just say "いただきます(itadakimasu)" before eating.

There is no "いただきます(itadakimasu)" in English.

"いただきます(itadakimasu)" is similar to "Guten Appetit" in German or "Bon apetit" in French.

"いただく(itadaku)" means "to accept".

"いただく(itadaku)" is already a very polite word.

In addition to that, "ます(masu)" makes the sentence more polite.

If you don't know about "ます(masu)", please check this:
  です(desu) and ます(masu) >>

"いただく(itadaku)" and "ます(masu)" are combined, and they become "いただきます(itadakimasu)".

So "いただきます(itadakimasu)" means "I accept something gratefully".

It is a greeting to express our gratitude to someone who cooked, and the animals eaten by us.

When you eat something in Japan, maybe it's good for you to say "いただきます(itadakimasu)"!

Then the cook will be glad!

2. ごちそうさまでした
   (go chi so u sa ma de shi ta)

This is a greeting used when we finish eating.

"ごちそう(gochisou)" means "food" or "meal".

There is "さま(sama)" right after "ごちそう(gochisou)".

"さま(sama)" is the word used when you call someone's name very politely.

If you don't know "さま", please check this:
  ~さま(sama) >>

"でした(deshita)" is a word which makes the sentence past tense.

"ごちそう(gochisou)", "さま(sama)", and "でした(deshita)" are combined to form "ごちそうさまでした(gochisou sama deshita)".

So it means "It was a great meal".

Japanese people always say this after eating.

I am living in the Philippines now, and living with my American wife.

But I sometimes say "いただきます" and "ごちそうさまでした" even though no one can understand. hehe

I feel uncomfortable if I don't say it! haha

3. いってきます
   (i t te ki ma su)

When Japanese people leave their home, they say "いってきます(ittekimasu)".

In English, maybe there are some similar sentences to this:

"I'm leaving."
"I'm going."
"I'm about to leave."

However, "いってきます(ittekimasu)" is a little different.

"いってきます(ittekimasu)" includes two parts, "いって(itte)" and "きます(kimasu)".

"いって(itte)" means "to go".
"きます(kimasu)" means "to come".

So "いってきます(ittekimasu)" means "I'm going, and I will come back."

This is to inform our family that we are leaving home.
At the same time, we are promising our family that we will have a safe trip, and we will return home safely.

4. いってらっしゃい
   (i t te ra s sha i)

When someone says "いってきます(ittekimasu)", people staying home say "いってらっしゃい(itterasshai)" to that person as a reply.

"いってらっしゃい(itterasshai)" includes two parts, "いって(itte)" and "いらっしゃい(irasshai)".

"いって(itte)" means "to go".
"いらっしゃい(irasshai)" means "please come".

So "いってらっしゃい(itterasshai)" means "Go and come back, please."

This greeting is also for hoping that the person will come home safely.

5. ただいま 
   (ta da i ma)

This greeting is used when someone comes home.

This is similar to "I'm home" in English.

Also, "ただいま" means "now".

Originally, it was "I'm back now".

Later, it became shorter, and Japanese people only say "ただいま(tadaima)".

6. おかえりなさい
   (o ka e ri na sa i)

When someone comes home, we say "おかえりなさい(okaerinasai)" to that person.

This means "welcome back".

But, do you always say "welcome back" to your family?

I asked it to my American wife.

She told me that:
When she said "I'm home" to her family, they reply "OK".

Maybe "おかえりなさい(okaerinasai)" is also a unique Japanese greeting.

How about your language?

Originally, "おかえりなさい(okaerinasai)" was "ようこそ おかえりなさいました".

"ようこそ" means "welcome".

"おかえりなさいました" was a polite way to say "you came back".

We just say "おかえりなさい(okaerinasai)" nowadays.

So "おかえりなさい(okaerinasai)" means "welcome back".

7. よろしくおねがいします
   (yo ro shi ku o ne ga i shi ma su)

When I searched the meaning of "よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu)" in the dictionary, it says:

  "Best regards"
  "Thank you."
  "Nice to meet you."
  "I'm looking forward to working with you."

Like above, "よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu)" has many meanings.

In addition to above, when you request someone to do a task instead of you, you can say "よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu)".

When you beg someone to lend you money, you can say "よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu)".
In this case, "thank you" is strange because you haven't received the money yet.

"よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu)" is very useful sentence for Japanese people.

There are many cases to use it.

But I think it is a little confusing because it has too many meanings.

Actually, "よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu)" has only one important meaning.

It is:
"Please treat me well."

"よろしく(yoroshiku)" means "well".
"おねがいします(onegaishimasu)" means "please".

So originally, "よろしくおねがいします(yoroshiku onegaishimasu)" means "please treat me well".

We often use this greeting when we do something with other people.
We always include this greeting in our business emails.
We always say this when we introduce ourselves to someone.

We do that because we want other people to treat us well.

This greeting is used for getting along with other people well.

8. おつかれさまです
   (o tsu ka re sa ma de su)

I explained about this greeting in the past article.

We use this in the office very often.

This is similar to:
  "Good bye."
  "Thank you for your work."
  "I sympathize with you because you work so hard."

Also, it is custom to include "おつかれさまです(otsukaresamadesu)" at the top of the business emails.

To know this greeting well, please check this:
  おつかれさまです >>

How was it?

Do you think Japanese greetings are strange? hehe

Some greetings are difficult to translate into English.

However, I think they reflect Japanese culture well.

They care about other people's feeling so much. (Or too much? hehe)

Before eating, after eating, before going, after returning, we always say those greetings.

Also, Japanese mindset is based on "tacit understanding".

They don't say everything.

Saying just one word is enough in Japan, and they guess the real meaning of the words.

That's why one greeting has many meanings in Japan.

The typical example of it is the "bow", I think.

It can imply everything without saying anything.

I also wrote about the "bow" in the past article.
For knowing about bowing, please check this:
  Greeting without word >>

I hope this article helps you study Japanese!
Thank you for reading my long article!