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Japanese for Aikidoka (4)

by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #75 (August 1987)

The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Jocelyn Dubois of France.

This our fourth lesson will introduce four greetings that are used every day by Japanese. The first step in learning a foreign language usually involves acquiring a few simple phrases which form a basic framework to which grammatical elements of increasing complexity are added. More and more Aikidoists from abroad are visiting Japan to improve their skills. Take the trouble to learn these simple greetings and your task of integrating into the culture will be greatly facilitated.


The Japanese equivalent of “Good Morning” is “Ohayoo gozaimasu”. It can be used in the morning up until about 10 am, although late risers might use it after that. This means literally “It is early,” and millions of Japanese start their day with this phrase. Used informally among family members and friends it becomes “ohayoo”, otherwise the long form is used. It is perfectly acceptable to use this and the other greetings to those higher than you on the social ladder as well.


“Konnichi wa” is how one would say, “Hello”, “Good day” or other similar phrases in Japanese. A literal translation of this greeting is a bit tougher to come up with but would probably be something like, “As for today…” If you don’t get the idea, don’t fret too much! Japanese themselves are usually at a loss when pressed to explain the meaning of “konnichi wa”. Unlike “ohayoo gozaimasu” there is no familiar form of this phrase. You say the same thing to everyone.

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