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How to say Hello: Tips for starting a conversation in Japanese

How to say Hello: Tips for starting a conversation in Japanese

Konnichiwa-2When you start learning a new language one of the very first things you’ll want to learn is how to say “hello”! You may have learned that こんにちは (konnichiwa) is Japanese for hello and it’s definitely one of the best ways you can say hi and start a conversation in Japanese. But there’s more to know than just konnnichiwa! From good morning and good night to saying hello on the telephone, here’s the most basic ways of saying “hello” you need to know in Japanese to get a conversation started!

The Most Basic Hello: Konnichiwa こんにちは

There’s a reason “konnichiwa” is one of the first words most people learning Japanese are taught! Konnichiwa is the most basic way of saying “hello” and it also doubles for “good afternoon”. It is a greeting used during the day time and you can use it with friends, family, coworkers, classmates, teachers, or even total strangers! Konnichiwa is a natural way of saying hello anytime during the day to anyone you meet regardless of your relationship and their social status.

There are no strict rules for when is the appropriate “day time” for konnichiwa, but I would say it is most appropriate roughly between 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Before 11:00 AM “ohayou gozaimasu” おはようございます is a more appropriate greeting. Ohayou gozaimasu (or Ohayou) translates to “good morning”. Similarly, after 6:00 PM “konbanwa” こんばんは which means “good evening” is the most natural way of saying hello.

Ohayou gozaimasu, konnichiwa, konbanwa. When meeting someone in person or starting to chat with someone online, these greetings are a great way of breaking the ice and getting the conversation started. You can use them over and over again, so every time you meet or come back online you can use these as your greeting! If you mess up and use the wrong greeting at the wrong time, don’t worry! Japanese people will still understand you’re trying to say hello, even if you use the wrong greeting. Plus when chatting with Japanese friends on HelloTalk or other online services, there might be a big time difference between your location and theirs, so don’t worry about the details of what time of day it is too much!

Tip: You may see “konnichiwa”, “ohayou gozaimasu”, or “konbanwa” written in kanji(今日は、お早うございます、今晩は)in some dictionaries and textbooks. This is not incorrect, but it is more natural to write these greetings in hiragana only(こんにちは、おはようございます、こんばんは). So when chatting in HelloTalk to a Japanese speaking friend don’t worry about the kanji for these greetings!

Meeting for the First Time: Hajimemashite 初めまして

When meeting someone for the first time in person or online, hajimemashite 初めまして is another great phrase to remember! Hajimemashite roughly means “this is the first time we’ve met” and there is no exact word for it in English. But it is often translated as “nice to meet you” and is used in a similar way. Hajimemashite may be a bit challenging to remember at first but try saying it every time you meet someone new and you’re sure to get it down quickly! Although it doesn’t directly mean “hello”, this is the perfect way of striking up a conversation with someone new.

When meeting someone for the first time you can just say “Hajimemashite”, but adding a bit of a self introduction makes it sound even more natural. “Hajimemashite, watashi no namae wa ___ desu” is a simple and straightforward way of saying hello for the first time and letting the other person know your name. If you’re chatting online they may already know your name based on your username though, and it’s okay just to say “hajimemashite” too!

Tip: Hajimemashite can be written 初めまして or はじめまして, with or without kanji! Use 初めまして with kanji if you can, but if you forget the kanji don’t be afraid to just use hiragana. That’s fine too!

Hello on the Phone: Moshimoshi もしもし

Have you ever heard “moshimoshi” before? If you like watching Japanese anime or TV shows you might have heard this phrase when a character answers the phone. “Moshi moshi” is how Japanese say hello on the telephone and you can also use it when voice chatting or talking on Skype, LINE or other similar voice only services. When video chatting I think “konnichiwa” would make more sense though, since you can see each other!

You can also use “moshi moshi” when on the phone if the call seems to be dropping or you can’t hear the person on the other line. Ask “Moshi moshi, kikoemasu ka?” (Hello, can you hear me?) to make sure your call is still connected!

Tip: Sometimes Japanese language learners mistake “moshi moshi” for “mushi mushi” but watch out! “Mushi” means bug! But don’t worry too much, if you pick up the phone and accidentally say “mushi mushi” most Japanese people will still understand what you were trying to say.

Konnichiwa-1Sample Conversations

Here’s some sample conversations for you to practice your Japanese reading skills with! See how the above phrases are used in real life and try reading the conversations aloud or rewriting them for extra practice.

Saying “hello” and meeting someone in real life

In Japanese
You: こんにちは!
Your Friend: こんにちは!あ、これは同僚の佐藤さんです。(turns to introduce their coworker)
Your Friend’s Coworker: こんにちは、初めまして。佐藤タクミと申します。
You: はじめまして、私の名前はボブです。
Your Friend’s Coworker: ボブさんですね!よろしくお願いします。
You: よろしくお願いします。

In Romaji
You: Konnichiwa!
Your Friend: Konnichiwa! Aa, kore wa douryou no Satou-san desu! (turns to introduce their coworker)
Your Friend’s Coworker: Konnichiwa, hajimemashite. Satou Takumi to moushimasu.
You: Hajimemashite, watashi no namae wa Bobu desu.
Your Friend’s Coworker: Bobu-san desu ne! Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
You: Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

You: Hello!
Your Friend: Hello! Ah, let me introduce my coworker Mr. Satou! (turns to introduce their coworker)
Your Friend’s Coworker: Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Takumi Satou.
You: Nice to meet you, my name is Bob.
Your Friend’s Coworker: Bob! Great to meet you, I hope we can be friends.
You: Same, nice to meet you.

Saying Hello on HelloTalk or other online chat services

In Japanese
You: こんばんは
Chat Partner: こんばんは(^^)
You: 初めまして、私の名前はサラです。
Chat Partner: 私の名前はサユリです。よろしくお願いします!
You: よろしくお願いします!
Chat Partner: サラちゃんは可愛い名前ですね〜

In Romaji
You: Konbanwa
Chat Partner: Konbanwa (^^)
You: Hajimemashite, watashi no namae wa Sara desu.
Chat Partner: Watashi no namae wa Sayuri desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
You: Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
Chat Partner: Sara-chan wa kawaii namae desu ne~

You: Good evening.
Chat Partner: Good evening (^^)
You: My name is Sarah, nice to meet you.
Chat Partner: My name is Sayuri, nice to meet you too!
You: I hope we can be friends!
Chat Partner: Sarah is such a cute name!

On the phone

In Japanese
You: もしもし?
Other Person: こんにちは!鈴木です。
You: 鈴木さん!こんにちは。お元気ですか?
Other Person: …
You: もしもし?鈴木さん?聞こえますか?
Other Person: …あ、すみません!今は聞こえます!

In Romaji
You: Moshi moshi?
Other Person: Konnichiwa. Suzuki desu.
You: Suzuki-san! Konnichiwa. Ogenki desu ka?
Other Person: …
You: Moshi moshi? Suzuki-san? Kikoemasuka?
Other Person: …a, sumimasen. Ima wa kikoemasu!

You: Hello? (on the phone)
Other Person: Hello! This is Mr. Suzuki.
You: Mr. Suzuki, hello! How are you?
Other Person: …
You: Hello? Mr. Suzuki? Can you hear me?
Other Person: …oh, sorry about that! I can hear you now!

In Conclusion

Ohayou gozaimasu, konnnichiwa, konbanwa, hajimemashite, moshimoshi… there are many ways to say hello and start a conversation in Japanese, but with these basics you’re sure to be chatting in no time! Next time you meet someone new or start a new chat in Japanese, don’t be afraid to try using some of these phrases and remember practice makes perfect! がんばってください! Good luck with your Japanese studies!

This post was contributed by our HelloTalk member Laura. Laura has been studying Japanese for over 11 years and she loves to travel, try new foods, and practice Japanese calligraphy. Laura currently works for a Japanese app company based in Tokyo. Their latest app Festar ( is a real time dating and chat app that matches online users based on their hobbies for a live 10 minute chat. Festar is currently available for free in English, Japanese, and Korean.

Let’s talk sports: the Olympics and the popularity of sports in Japan

Let’s talk sports: the Olympics and the popularity of sports in Japan

LL-logo-blueThis post is contributed by Chikako. Chikako is a language tutor at LinguaLift, an online language school teaching Japanese.

We, Japanese people, always get very excited before the Olympic events. Personally, I think the way we approach the games can hardly be compared to anywhere else in the world! But, I’m Japanese, so I might be biased 😉


In Japan the Olympics are more popular than other sports events, such as the World Cup. During the games all TV programs are full of exclusive broadcasting with reporters designated to covering the events. Everyday the names of the medal-winning athletes are featured on the top page of every newspaper.


When the Olympics start, the land-mark tower of Tokyo gets light up especially to celebrate the event.

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 10.08.51 AM

(Pic from

The Japanese athletes who have been chosen to represent the country at the Olympics receive gifts before they leave for the games: money, cards and… plenty of farewell-parties! Needless to add, if they come back with a medal, they are welcomed with big festivities to celebrate their triumph. Each winning athlete receives an award from the mayor of their city and for a long time remains a hero of both the country and their town.


During the Olympic games, a lot of people get together to watch live transmissions on big screens set up in their home towns, schools, or even their companies. People go to great lengths to cheer the athlets they support. It’s a common sight to see fans wearing the same uniforms as the Japanese sports team, yelling through megaphones and even crying while watching inerviews with the medalists. Fans in Japan develop a very strong emotional attachment with the sportspeople!


Sporty Japanese

Following the sport on TV is one thing, how about practising sports in Japan?


Let’s have a look at the number of people engaging in each sport.


I’m not sure if walking should be included in this list as a sport, but it is definitely a popular pass-time in Japan.


Now, let’s see which sports at the Rio Olympics 2016 got most attention from the Japanese viewers. Here are the top eight:

image (1)

The conclusions are simple: there is a clear difference between what we enjoy watching and what we actually do in our spare time.


However, you could argue that the data talking about a special event like the Olympics does not reflect the geneal sentiment of the Japanese population. And you’d be right!


If you look at the sports with the highest fan base in Japan the statistics are quite different. According to Central Research Service the most popular game is baseball, with 41.7% fans declaring it being their favourite sport, the second and third ones are soccer and tennis with 29% and 22.4% of the sports’ fans respecitvely.


There are professional leagues for baseball and soccer in Japan. When people get very involved in sport we no longer call them just fans (ファン), but rather supporters (サポーター). In Japanese the difference between the two is that a fan is just a “watcher”, while a supporter can be aggressive during the games: yelling, jumping, “going crazy” at the studium. And, if their team looses, it really badly affects their mood!

The Olympics come to Tokyo

A sports event that the Japanese are already excited about is of course the Tokyo Olympics of 2020.


The whole country is already preparing for the event. All the major Japanese companies are listed as the sponsors or official partners of the competition. Apart from a number of new stadiums getting constructed, there are also wi-fi network developments taking place everywhere in Tokyo, almost all hotels are getting renovated, and heaps of new accomodation are being built.


The online official shop dedicated to the games is already working, and a selection process to choose a musician to perform at the ceremony has also been commenced.


The upcoming games also have a large impact on the economy, and the life of the local people. The value and prices of the land have increased, and there is much more demand for jobs in sectors like construction, translation, security, transport and tourism.


The Olympics also have an effect on the language proficiency of the Japanese people. Employees in the industries listed above receive extensive English training, and there already seem to be more English signs in the city itself. The government has invested a lot to make the event run smoothly.


Let’s all hope or an amazing event in Tokyo in 2020!


Let’s practice sport-talk


Even though many Japanese people are learning English to help international fans feel at home, it doesn’t mean you should abandon your Japanese study pursuits! Here are a few phrases to help you talk about sports with your Japanese friends:



@@ won a gold/silver/bronze medal in 〜〜.


(@@ga、〜〜de kin-medaru/gin-medal/do-medal wo tori mashi ta!)



@@ beat their own record


(@@ga、jiko-shinkiroku wo dasi mashita!)



which team is your favourite?


(Dono chi-mu no fan des ka?)



what sport do you follow?


(Dono supo-tsu ga suki des ka?)



have you seen yesterday’s game?


(Kinou no shiai mita?)



@@ has won!


(@@ga kattayo!)



Do you play any sports?


(Nanika supo-tsu wo shimas ka?)



Have you been to a @@ game before?


(@@no shiai ni itta koto arimas ka?)



@@ broke the Olympic record!


(@@ga, orinpikku shin kiroku wo dashita yo!)



I think I’ll take up tennis next year.


(Rainen, tenisu wo hajime yoto omoi mas.)



The team lost by 5 points.


(Go ten sa de make mashita.)



The team won by 3 goals.


(San go-ru totte kachi mashita.)



Who’s winning?


(Docchi ga katteru?)



Who’s playing today?


(Dare ga deteru?)



What’s the score?


(Ima nan ten?)

The Amazing Things To Do In Tokyo Japan That You’re Never Wanna Miss

The Amazing Things To Do In Tokyo Japan That You’re Never Wanna Miss

Now let us be your Japan guide on a fun-filled journey to Tokyo, Japan!


Check out a Maid Café
in Akihabara

Looking to induce a quick 495eae7c14c54ff5b69f04ecd637a945culture shock fever? Try a Maid Café. Originally created to service the male otaku fetishes, it quickly expanded to attract a wide array of different customers.


Go to Tokyo’s SkyTree

TTokyo Sky Treeokyo Skytree is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observationtower in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan. It became the tallest structure in Japan in 2010.




Write a prayer

While visiting Harajuku in the Sh22848464841_2f79c6deba_oibuya District, save enough time to write a prayer at the Meiji-Jingu Shrine. The tranquil setting, towering greenery. and wide-open gravel walking paths are a short-distance escape from the meticulously controlled chaos urban landscape that surrounds it.


Check out the Rooftop Aquarium in Ikebukuro

The Sunshine International Aquarium in Ikaquariums_1bebukuro ward, Tokyo is a rooftop aquarium…
Located atop the World Import Mart Building in Ikebukuro’s massive Sunshine City complex and accessible from JR Ikebukuro Station, Sunshine International Aquarium features an overhead transparent “donut” tank that allows visitors to view fish and penguins “flying” above them. What the fish and penguins think about the situation, who can say?

Ride Go-Karts in Akiba

Race through the streets of Tokyo dride-go-karts-in-akibaressed as your favorite Mario Kart character and learn how to drive on the left-hand side of the road while dodging real-life traffic. No guides, no helmets… probably one of the coolest things you can do in life!!



Shinjuku Robot Restaurant

shinjuku-robot-restaurantWitness Taiko Drumming and laser beams on acid, flashing lights, freaking laser beams and giant, radio-controlled, robots battling to the death. Basically, everything you would come to expect from a trip to Tokyo.


Rely on Vending Machines and Cafés for snacks
自動販売機・カフェvending machines

 Tired of shopping in Shibuya or recovering from a late night out in Roppongi? Grab a Pocari Sweat from a vending machine and then hit up a café for some fancy drip coffee and a slice of heaven.


Use the Smart Toilet

 It will change your life. And ysmart toiletour butt will thankyou. And then you will miss it when you come back to The States.





Odaiba (or Daiba) is a leisure and entertainmentOdaiba area in Koto ward, Tokyo, that covers part of two islands in Tokyo Bay. As a leisure spot, Odaiba has something for everyone, day and night, from sports facilities and stadiums, elaborate shopping malls, museums, concerts, hotels, to great views of Tokyo Bay and Tokyo itself. Odaiba’s fun and cutting-edge, yet outdoorsy, vibe makes it popular with the young and dating couples.