There is a well-known saying that you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. This explains why it’s so important to get it right the first time when meeting someone new. Today’s lesson will explain how to introduce yourself in Japanese.
The normal way to do it is to start with a greeting, known as an 挨拶 (aisatsu) which we will cover first. Then of course you say your name and, if applicable, what organization you belong to.
Finally, you finish it off with one of the most used Japanese expression in the entire language. This last phrase can actually have several meanings depending on the context, but for today we’ll just stick to the one used in introductions.
How To Say “Nice To Meet You” In Japanese
The first step is to greet the person, or people, that you’re meeting and tell them 初めまして (hajimemashite) which translates into English as “It’s nice to meet you.”
This word literally means “for the first time” and is the standard greeting that Japanese people use in their initial meeting with one another.
However, something that you have to remember is that there is both a casual way to speak in Japanese and also a polite way.
When you meet people who are approximately the same social status as yourself, people like your classmates or co-workers, you can use the more casual greetings.
But when you are meeting someone who has a higher social position than you, such as a teacher or boss, then you will want to use the more polite and respectful version.
In this case, 初めまして is the casual version and どうも初めまして (doumo hajimemashite) is the polite version.
The word domo has a lot of meanings, but in this context it can just be understood to be a word that make the entire phrase more respectful towards the listener.
How To Say “My Name Is” In Japanese
The Japanese word for name is 名前 (namae). Isn’t is interesting how close the Rōmaji spelling is to the English word?
At any rate, in order to say “my name is …” in Japanese you need the help of a couple other words. Let me write it below using my own name as an example.
- watashi no namae wa nikku desu.
- My name is Nick.
While this sentence is “textbook correct” it’s actually a little longer than it needs to be.
The Japanese language is very context heavy, and it is normal to omit information that can easily be inferred from the situation. In this case, you are giving an introduction of yourself, so there is no need to say 私.
This next phrase is a better way to introduce yourself during casual or informal settings.
- nikku desu.
- I’m Nick.
Of course you will want to replace the word ニック in this sentence with your own name. If your name is Sarah, you would use サラ (sara). If your name is John, you would use ジョン (jon) and so on.
The more formal way to introduce your name is with the phrase 申します (mou shimasu).
There’s not really an English equivalent to this word. I guess you could kind of get close to it if you imagined introducing yourself before a king and you said something like “I am humbly called Nick” or something like that.
Leaving all that aside, the next phrase is how you will use it to tell people your name when you are in formal or polite situations.
- hoito to mou shimasu.
- My name is Hoyt.
In Japanese it is typical to use your last name first when introducing yourself. Sometimes you can include your first name as well, but it would typically be said after your surname.
In my case it would be 「ホイト・ニック」 for “Hoyt, Nick.”
One final thing I should mention is that the Japanese culture is very big on the concept of “belonging to a group” which comes across during introductions.
How it works is that you will add the name of the organization you belong to in front of your own name.
So for example, if I worked for the company Yamaha, I would include that information during my introduction.
- yamaha no hoito to mou shimasu.
- I am Hoyt, of Yamaha (corporation).
I say “organization” and not “business” specifically because you would also use your school’s name if you are a student, or your groups name if you were part of team or something.
For example, in Pokemon you typically fight The Elite Four at the end of the game. In Japanese, they are called 四天王 (shiten’nou) and when they introduce themselves some of them do so with that organization name first.
I know I just said that it’s unnecessary to use pronouns when introducing yourself, but sometimes you’ll still see it. The character in this picture does indeed use ボク (boku) which is a word for “I” in Japanese that if often used by young males.
I think he’s doing so to add a little extra ompf and emphasize himself, but at any rate you can see another example of adding an organization’s name on before your own.
- boku wa shiten’nou no ryou desu, yoroshiku!
- I’m Ryō of the Elite Four, nice to meetcha!
This pattern is not just limited to the organization however. It can also be applied to a person’s position or job title as well.
- toyota jidousha no eigyoubu no tanaka to mou shimasu.
- I am Tanaka of the sales department at Toyota Motors.
What Is Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu’s Meaning?
The last phrase that you will want to use is よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegai shimasu) and this one word gets used every single day in Japan by millions of people.
There are a lot of things that this word can mean, a common one being “please” for example, but for introductions it’s a little different.
In fact, if you watch a lot of Japanese shows with English subtitles on you will often see this phrase translated as “please treat me well” which is accurate I suppose, but sounds really weird in English.
I think a better English understanding of the word when it’s used in introductions is “I look forward to working with you” or something along those lines.
Putting all that aside, you can just use よろしく when you’re in a casual situation. You’ll often hear young people using just this version of the phrase when they meet one another, like in the picture example above.
For formal settings be sure to use the entire phrase よろしくお願いします every time.
How To Introduce Yourself In Japanese
The Japanese word 自己紹介 (jiko shoukai) means “self-introduction” and that’s exactly what you’ve been learning in today’s post.
We’ve gone over both the informal way and the formal way of introducing yourself. Now I’d like to give you these template’s in their complete form. I’ll continue to use my name in them, but please use your own when you say it!
Casual / Informal Version
Polite / Formal Version
As a last note, remember to include your organization’s name if you belong to one and it’s appropriate to let others know.
This One Trick Will Make You Seem More Japanese
One final thing to note is that Japanese people often bow their heads slightly during their introductions when they say 初めまして and よろしく.
So if you want to come across like a native would, be sure to do a little head bow during those two parts of your introduction.
If you’ve got any questions or comments, let me know by leaving them down below. Thanks!
Bernabe, M. (2004). Japanese in MangaLand: Learning The Basics. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Publications Trading Co., Ltd.
Rocket Japanese. (n.d.). 12.4 Business Meeting. Accessed from https://www.rocketlanguages.com/
[三本塾Sambon Juku]. (2019, Dec 10). 自然な自己紹介/The Best Way to Introduce Yourself in Japanese [Video File]. Retrived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9903wxInbYw