Let’s Learn How to Say Happy Birthday in Japanese

Hey everyone, welcome back. Today I wanted to teach you how to say happy birthday in Japanese and a few other things you might find useful when going to someone’s birthday party. Let’s get right into it.

Happy Birthday!

In order to wish someone a happy birthday you simply say:

otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu!

Did you know that the Japanese only recently started celebrating their individual birthdays the way we do in the West? Before the 1950’s Japanese people would all celebrate their ‘birthdays’ together on New Year’s Day.

Things have changed a lot over the last 100 years and they’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the West, including birthday parties. Now they sing happy birthday, blow out candles, and give gifts just like we do. Speaking of gift giving…

This Gift is for You

You probably want to give a gift to them for their birthday. While doing so, be sure to use this phrase to really impress them:

kore, tsumaranai mono desu ga, douzo.

This translates to something like, “this is a boring (or insignificant) thing, but please accept it anyway.

It might sound a little weird to you, but it’s really just a very humble way of presenting a gift to someone. You are downplaying what you’ve giving, and you ask them to please accept it anyway. Just be sure not to actually get them something boring!

When they accept your gift and reply they will most likely say: すみません (sumimasen). Well that’s weird… Why are they saying “excuse me?” This is one of those times where context is king.

The word すみません (sumimasen) most often means “excuse me” like if you want to get someone’s attention. It can also mean “sorry” if you accidentally step on a person’s foot. But, it can also mean “thank you” and that’s what it means in this situation.

You see, they also want to be humble when they receive the gift and so by saying すみません (sumimasen) they are saying something like, “I’m sorry you had to go to the trouble of getting this for me and I thank for for it.”

I hope that gives you some good stuff to work on. Practice those phrases and you’re sure to impress next time you’re invited.

Have you been to a Japanese birthday party? Or any Japanese party? Let me know down below.


  • jschicanha

    one friend have requested me on Facebook and after i have just follow his timeline i have released that he was a japan national and when i check his birthday was really approaching this have made my life complicated because i have always was to please him and wish him a happy birth day in his language but i have never heard of it from elsewhere and was ashamed to ask him because i wanted to surprise him



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