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Essential Japanese Business Lingo

Updated on June 18, 2012

Simple Japanese Tips for the Office

Say you've found yourself fortunate enough to be employed in Japan, but still unfortunately have not yet attained a firm grasp of the Japanese language.  Here are some simple turns of phrase to help you get through your day with minimal awkward silences.

The Easy Back and Forth

Throughout the typical Japanese business day a few things are said without fail. They consist of:

1. Ohayou Gozaimasu - Good morning

2. Konnichiwa - Good afternoon

3. Otsukare sama desu - Used interchangeably with konnichiwa, it means, roughly, "Hey, looks like you've been working hard and I dig that"

4. Osaki ni Shiturei itashimasu - I'm excusing myself before you (AKA I'm going home)

Now, here's what you do when confronted with one of these beasts (It's much simpler than you might have thought).

1. Your boss walks up behind you quietly and ninja like and says "Ohayou". You, being surprised but prepared, will cheerily respond with "Ohayou Gozaimasu". That's it, just say the same thing back but with gozaimasu on the end. Nothing is more important to a Japanese person than their aisatsu (greeting) so make sure you set a good stage in the morning for an inevitably aisatsu filled day.

2. "Konnichiwa!" Now here's another easy one. If you've read my Hub on greeting in Japanese here, you'll be prepared with a convincing bow and a prompt "Konnichiwa" as a response.

3. Whereas Konnichiwa is more casual, Otsukare sama desu is much more formal and is recommended in most settings, unless you're hit by a Konnichiwa first. Basically, any time after 11 AM you should greet your fellow worker with an otsukare sama desu, and if they say it to you first, just respond with the same exact phrase.

4. Osaki ni shiturei itashimasu is said whenever a worker decides to leave the office while others are still working. If this is said to the general group, or you specifically, just respond with an "Otsukaresama deshita". It's basically the same as otsukare sama desu, but changing the desu to its past tense form deshita.

P.S You should always attempt to greet your superior first, meaning as soon as you see her/him you say your aisatsu, and then wait for your response.

Sum Up

1. If they say ohayou or ohayou gozaimasu --> Respond with ohayou gozaimasu

2. If they say konnichiwa --> Respond with konnichiwa

3. If they say otsukare sama desu --> Respond with otsukare sama desu

4. If you're going home say osaki ni shiturei itashimasu. Your co-workers will respond with otsukare sama deshita. If someone else is going home and they say osaki ni shiturei itashimasu --> Respond with otsukare sama deshita.

Final note: Most of the phrases here are assuming you're not the boss and the people you are talking to are either on the same level as you or higher. If you did manage to become a superior in a Japanese company or a school, then I'm assuming your Japanese would be good enough to not need these tips in the first place •ω• 

Any questions or requests for more specific lessons will be gladly accepted!


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    • profile image

      Johne881 2 years ago

      I just like the helpful info you supply on your articles. I will bookmark your blog and take a look at once more here regularly. I'm somewhat sure Ill learn a lot of new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the following! edacgdcdkfdc

    • Akbok profile image

      Akbok 6 years ago from Aomori prefecture, Japan

      Ruth: Otuskaresama and otsukare sama de~~~su are used so frequently in the business world that they should just have motion activated boxes that say the word for you during your day. I'm glad the Hub was of some use!

    • Ruthcurley profile image

      Ruthcurley 6 years ago from Bozrah, CT

      The otsukarem sama and sama desita were useful hints.