“We start ageing when we stop learning” - Japanese Proverb
This proverb perfectly illustrates how important learning is in our everyday lives. Our lives need to be full of learning and it doesn’t matter whether we learn music, languages, or maths.
Learning a language or a musical instrument is stimulating and it allows us to learn more about the world and get out of our usual comfort zones. So with that in mind, why not choose to move away from Western culture by learning Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, or even Japanese?
Firstly, knowing how to introduce yourself and start conversations is hugely important in any language, especially Japanese. In fact, in Japanese culture, there’s a strict system of etiquette that you need to be aware of, too.
Learning to introduce yourself can be seen as a positive sign that shows willingness to integrate yourself into Japanese culture as well as showing that you’re interested in the Japanese language.
If you want to be comfortable when it comes to speaking, you should learn a few important Japanese words and phrases in order to introduce yourself. Getting private Japanese tutorials is a great place to start and plenty of other students have already started taking Japanese classes Melbourne in order to achieve this goal.
You’ll also have to learn how to read the Japanese writing systems of kanji, hiragana, and katakana as well as learning the necessary expressions to tell people who you are and ask about them, too.
Luckily for you, this article covers exactly how to do all this!
Things You Need to Know about Japanese Society
There are a few things that you’ll need to know before you start learning Japanese and introducing yourself to Japanese people.
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Despite Japan’s disastrous entry into modern capitalism following the Second World War, it managed to climb its way up to becoming one of the world’s most powerful countries while still managing to retain the ancient traditions from its long and fascinating history and culture.
Japan’s history is rich in elements borrowed from the Shinto religion which is native to Japan. That’s why the exchanges between individuals still seem almost cryptic, even nowadays! The manners seem very strict in comparison to what we’re used to in the West.
Don’t worry, though! The Japanese usually allow exceptions for Westerners as they’re fully aware that their systems seem really complicated to us. However, to properly introduce yourself in Japanese, there are a few rules that you still need to respect:
Avoid all physical contact with the person. No handshakes, no hugs, and certainly no kissing on the cheek.
You have to bow with your head in order to greet someone.
You have to say “hajimemashite” (“nice to meet you”) for each new conversation.
You respond with “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” which means “nice to meet you too” in this instance.
Bow slightly with your head to apologize and say “sumimasen” (“sorry”).
Once you’ve learned these expressions, you’ll need to move onto the Japanese expressions we use to introduce ourselves.
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Continuing with the Conversation
At this time, you should thank the other speaker for this new relationship and request their kindness in future conversations. In order to do this, you’ll have to use the expression “douzo yoroshiku onegai shimasu” (よろしくお願(ねが)いします) which doesn’t really have a translation into English but sort of means “I hope you like me”. It’s also used for establishing good relationships with other and even asking for a favor.
When somebody says “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” to you, you should say “kochira koso yoroshiku onegaishimasu” (こちらこそよろしくお願いします) back to them so that they know that the feeling is mutual. This basically means “nice to meet you”. This will probably be one of first expressions that you’ll learn in Japanese classes.
The expression “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” is a generic way of being polite which you can use in a large number of different social situations. You can use it at the start of a business meeting to thank the person who’s about to start speaking or just to express encouragement for the work ahead. It can also be used to end letters and emails like we use “Sincerely” or “Best regards” in English. Finally, the expression’s also used in advertising to politely ask potential customers to buy products.
It can even be used to both express gratitude and to apologize in the same way we’d use either “thank you” or “sorry”. While this term could be used in an interview, it’s recommended that you use more elaborate and polite expressions.
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More Useful Phrases to Introduce Yourself in Japanese
Now that we know how to start a conversation (“Hajimemashite”), end a conversation by indirectly thanking the other participant (“yoroshiku onegaishimasu”), and give our names, it might be worth developing your Japanese vocabulary in order to say a little more about yourself (such as where we live, our nationality, job, age, hobbies, etc.)
- 私 は アメリカ人 です(Watashi wa Amerika jin desu)
Translation: I’m American.
- German: > ドイツ人 Doitsujin
- French: フランス人 Furansujin
- English: イギリス人 Igirisujin
- Chinese: 中国人 Chūgokujin,
- Spanish: > スペイン人 Supeinjin,
- Italian: イタリア人 Itariajin
Pop quiz: How would you say “I’m Spanish”?
What does “Watashi wa igirisujin desu” mean?
Of course, you’ll need more than just a few words to be able to find a job in Japan. However, these expressions are perfect for anyone who’s planning a trip to the land of the rising sun. If you want to say how old you are, you’re going to need to learn how to count in Japanese.
Talking about Your Job
Once you’ve told people your name and how old you are, it’s very common to asking people about what they do.
Why? Because asking what somebody does shows that you’re interested in them.
- 私は新聞記者です。Watashi wa shibunksha desu.
Translation: I’m a journalist.
Talking about Hobbies
- は ____ です,
Shumi ha ____ desu
My hobby is ____.
You can also say “Suki desu” + the hobby which means “I like” with the words for hobbies like dancing or football, for example.
- Film, えいが , Eiga
- Dance, だんす, Dansu
- Music, おんがく, Ongaku,
- Song, うた, Uta,
- Reading, どくしょ, Dokusho,
- Walking, さんぽ, Sanpo,
- Sport, すぽうつ, Supôtsu,
- Football, さっかあ, Sakkâ,
- Ski, すきい, Sukî,
- Swimming, すいえい, Suiei,
- Gardening, えんげい, Engei.
With just a few expressions and words, you can now tell people what kind of things you like and you could even use the phrase “ni kyoumi ga arimasu” which means “My interest(s) is/are...”
You should also consider investing in a small English-Japanese dictionary if your hobbies aren’t on the list.
A Simple Conversation
Hajimemashite. (Nice to meet you)
Watashi no namae wa Peter desu. (My name is Peter)
Watashi wa ni-juu go sai desu. (I’m 25)
New York ni sunde imasu. (I live in New York)
Gakusei desu. (I’m a student)
Suki desu suiei. (I like swimming)
Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. (I’m delighted to meet you).
You could also add “Konichiwa”, which means “Hello”, to the start of the conversation. It should be noted that the greetings in Japanese change depending on what time of the day you’re greeting somebody.
In Japanese, “Konichiwa” is generally used after 10:30am and before the evening. In the morning, you should use “ohayô” (the most polite form) which means “good morning” or “konbawa” in the evening, which relates to “good evening” in English. Of course, these are only greetings and not really a way of having a conversation with someone.
If you’d like to go further and ask about the person you’re talking to, you can use some of the following expressions:
Anata no namae wa nan desuka? What’s your name?
Anata no shoukugyou wa nani desuka? What do you do?
Nansai desuka? How old are you?
Ogenkideska? How are you?
Kimi no shumi ha nan desu ka? (What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?)
You should also learn how to tell the time in Japanese. This is also useful for starting conversations.
Starting to learn a language isn’t easy. This is especially true when the writing system isn’t the same as the one you’re used to. The same is trues for languages like Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, which all use different writing systems to English.
Life in Japan is governed by a series of rules that you should follow if you want to be thought of as well-mannered, and there are a number of thing you can do to be polite in Japan. Introducing yourself isn’t difficult to master but you should take care to follow the rules of how to be courteous. Learning to speak Japanese can take a lot of time but you can learn a few important expressions before you travel there.
You can find resources to learn Japanese online that will help you find the expressions you’ll need in order to have a conversation and introduce yourself. Don’t forget that the Japanese have introducing themselves down to an art.
In order to learn effectively, we recommend learning to read, write, and speak Japanese. You should also get a notepad and a dictionary in order to practice writing the characters as well as the phonetic transcription of them.
You should also check out the Minna no nihongo method for learning Japanese.
The Top 10 Expressions for Introducing Yourself in Japanese
Here’s a table summarizing the Japanese expressions that you’ll need in order to introduce yourself.
Nice to meet you
Watashi ha ... to moshimasu
My name is... (very polite)
Watashi ha ... desu
Dozo Yoroshiku Oneigaishimasu
Thank you for this new relationship/friendship
Kochira Kosso Oneigaishimasu
Equivalent to “me too”, “likewise”, or “nice to meet you too”.
Watashi wa Amerika jin desu
私 は アメリカ人 です
... sai desu
I’m ... years old.
ni kyômi ga alimass
My interests include...
... ni sundeimasu
I live in ...
These simple Japanese expressions obviously won’t make you fluent in the language. However, they’re useful expressions for anyone who’s just started learning the language or anyone who’s planning a trip to Japan.
Once you’re there, the Japanese will appreciate a foreigner making an effort to introduce themselves in Japanese and follow the general rules of politeness observed in the country.
If you’re still interested in learning Japanese, then you should definitely take a look at Japanese tutors available on Superprof. A private tutor can plan their tutorials to you and soon you’ll be able to speak, read, and write Japanese.
If you want to go to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, or anywhere in Japan, your first stop should be Superprof!