As a foreigner, the very first thing we must know is the greeting. Depending on the situation and the moment in the day, the greeting might become different.
Let’s explore all the possible greetings you can use in daily life:
Most of us, the first word foreigners will ever learn is “konnichiwa”. Easy to remember. It can be used for almost any situation, at least Japanese will know you are saying hello.
The good news is you can use this word regardless of social status and the period of the day except, don’t say it in night time, it wont make sense.
Period of the day: From mid-day (lunch time) to the afternoon
Ohayō gozaimasu: Good morning
If you watch Japanese movie, notice what they say when they wake up or when people arrive at work, they always say loudly with a smile “Ohayō gozaimasu”. Just say this and it’s like you said “good morning”. Between couple or close friends, you can ommit “gozaimasu” and just say “ohayo”. It is more friendly.
Period of the day: Morning
Konbanwa: Good evening
Use “konbanwa” at night after 5H00 pm to say good evening. In japan, it start to get dark outside from around 5h30 pm so it’s easy to guess when use this greeting. In my opinion, most of foreigner have issue with how to pronounce well this word because of the “ban” mostly said “konbawa” forgetting the “n”, this is a common mistake so do not forget to pronounce it well: kohn-bahn-wah and not kohn-bah-wah.
Period of the day: Night time from dinner time which is from 5pm
Oyasumi: Good night
This word is important. If you go to bed by example, remember to say oyasumi to your love one meaning good night. The right way to say it oyasumi nasai but avoid nasai with someone very close such as your partner by example.
You can use oyasumi nasai after a dinner with friends, similar as if you would like to say “bye-bye”.
It’s important to note this is not a “hello” greeting, it must be used only to say good night or bye-bye but never hello. Don’t forget, night time for hello is “konbanwa”.
Period of the day: Night time
Ja ne: Goodbye
Ja ne is a very friendly way to say goodbye. Normally used between friends. Do not use this if you want to say goodbye to your boss or business meeting, they will think you are not so polite. Imagine you say “cheers” to your boss! 🙂
You can use Ja ne for similar goodbye meaning such as See yea, Talk to you again soon.
Period of the day: Any time
Don’t be confused by Ja ne and Sayanara, they have similar meaning but not just for the same situation. Sayanara can be used in situation that you wish to say a final bye bye. Imagine you got fired by your boss and you are saying goodbye to your co-workers. It “could” be interpreted as “we wont see each other again so bye bye”.
Period of the day: Any time