Greeting Culture - Aisatsu

This article will let you know about Japanese greeting culture. As Japan is famous for its greetings, this article will be very useful for those who are willing to visit Japan for their respective reasons.

Japanese Greeting Culture

"Greeting" is an act of various communication ways in which human beings intentionally make their presence known to each other, to show attention to, and to suggest a type of relationship or social status (formal or informal) between individuals or groups of people coming in contact with each other. Greetings are sometimes used just to have a conversation or to greet someone while passing, such as on a sidewalk or trail. While greeting customs are highly culture- and situation-specific and may change within a culture depending on social status and relationship, they exist in all known human cultures. Greetings can be expressed both audibly and physically, and often involve a combination of the two. This topic excludes military and ceremonial salutes but includes rituals other than gestures. A greeting, or salutation, can also be expressed in written communications, such as letters and emails.

Japan is famous all over the world for this “Greeting culture” also.

Let’s go through, how the Japanese people greet? And related things also.


By bowing each other is one of the way to greet people in japan. It ranges from the small nod of the head to a deep bend at the west. The torso bends from the waist by about 30 degrees and business interactions involve a deeper bow. Small nod with a head is causal and informal where the deeper, longer bow indicates respect and conversely.

It quickly become second nature because you use them day in and day out with everyone. Usually in western cultures, greetings are saying hello, smiling or a slight nod to people you know. People get on their knees to bow if the greeting takes place on tatami floor. For the first time when you are addressing someone use formal titles until they permit you to do otherwise. People in japan never call a Japanese businessmen by their first name. Greetings have a great importance in Japan. Bowing is much more prevalent as a custom and handshaking is not as common this is an interesting thing. You should care seriously about this thing if you are going to visit Japan for the first time. To respect its unique culture you have to follow certain etiquette. Greetings create a positive working environment and promote communication between coworkers. From early childhood, it is taught. If you failed to greet someone or greet in a lazy manner it is considered rude. In business interactions by about 30 degrees torso bends from the waist.

Business cards are exchanged at formal meetings. With the greeting "Irasshaimase" customers are typically welcomed by the staff at shops and restaurants. When learning Japanese it should be the first thing to learn that is greetings in the Japanese culture. You have to bow and say konnichiwa (Hello in Japanese) whenever you are to meet someone. Classification of formal bow is Saikeirei and Keirei. When you have to express your feelings of deep gratitude or apology to someone The Saikeirei bow is required. The waist of a person is typically bent at about a 45 degree angle in this bow. Keirei bow is a respectful bow where you have to low your torso about 30 degrees.

For a more casual greeting, you can leave out the gozaimasu for close friends and family. At any hour it’s customary to say ohayō gozaimasu. In every situation with anyone konnichiwa can be used. You can use konbanwa, after around 6 p.m. or sunset. If you are holding a bow longer than another it shows respect and humility. If someone wants to reciprocate the greeting small nod with the head would suffice. When you greet your friends an informal bow (eshaku) is performed. If people of the same status or higher social status are there it could be used. Konbanwa sounds more formal than konnichiwa. With close acquaintances most people don’t use it. Oyasumi nasai means something close to “please rest,” or “have a good rest”. Sayōnara meaning “if it is so.” gokigenyō, meaning “farewell”. Men started to drop the latter and say sayōnara only, while women would respond, gokigenyō in the meiji period.

The beginning of your conversation is how are you? How’s it going? How many times a day do you hear or say. Many women also started preferring sayōnara, and gokigenyō in the Showa period. Tadaima & okaeri are used to exchange when returning home or to the office. Tadaima means “I have come back now.” Okaeri means “welcome back. Japanese do not expect to follow proper bowing rules by foreigners. It is not required to performan Eshaku bow but it would make them feel about you “oh this person is real modest”. Moshi moshi & osewa are the greetings usually used over the phone. If you have to thank, make a request, ask, respect, and apology someone a simple bow is used. Otsukaresama desu is used to greet in the workplace. tsukareru (疲れる) means “to get tired.” It generally used after hard work and mutual support. Yōkoso & irasshaimase is used at the airport.  Yōkoso means “welcome.” In irasshaimase welcome there is no expectation of a response.


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