Japan is home to some unique and interesting phrases that have become common expressions in daily life. These include popular sayings like “ichi-go ichi-e” (meaning, one time, one encounter), or “ganbaru” (meaning, to do your best). Even though many of these expressions have been adopted in other parts of the world, they still remain as an integral part of Japanese language and culture.
A good place to start when learning Japanese is with basic phrases. Here are 10 of the most essential phrases in Japanese you should know before embarking on your language-learning journey! Some examples include, “Kon’nichiwa” (Hello), “Arigatō” (Thank you) and “Sumimasen” (Excuse me/I’m sorry).
Japanese Phrases Every Beginner Must-Know
1. Ohayo – Good morning
A polite way to greet someone during the morning hours in Japan. It is often followed by ‘gozaimasu’, a more formal and polite form of ‘desu’.
2. Konnichiwa – Hello or Good afternoon
This phrase is used to both greet and say goodbye. The phrase can be used at any time of the day so it is not necessary to specify whether it is morning or evening when using this phrase.
3. Sayonara – Goodbye
This term means ‘until we meet again’ and can be used when saying goodbye to friends and family, as well as at the end of a business meeting or presentation.
4. Arigatō gozaimasu – Thank you very much
This phrase is more formal than the more casual ‘arigatō’ and is generally used in more serious situations such as thanking your boss for a raise or thanking your teacher for an assignment.
5. Gomen nasai – I’m sorry / Excuse me (for doing something wrong)
This phrase expresses regret or sorrow for what one has done wrong and seeks forgiveness from the listener, which can also be translated as ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Excuse me’ with regards to mistakes made in conversations with other people .