Let’s Learn Thank You in Japanese

If you’re in Japan, how can you get a total stranger to like you and treat you well? Simple! Tell them thank you and do it sincerely. Better yet, tell them thank you in Japanese!

You see, our moms had it right when they taught us to always say our please & thank you’s to other people. It seems like simple etiquette, but there is much more power in these words than most people realize.

When you use these words you are telling the other person, non-verbally, that you appreciate them and that they, as a person, have added value to your life. And of course if you do it in their native tongue, you pay them a huge compliment in the process!

So let’s start with the most common ways to say thank you and we’ll finish it up with a special section.

How to show appreciation

So, when a person does you a favor or helps you out somehow, the way to reply is to say:

  • ありがとうございます
    arigatō gozaimasu
    Thank you

This is how you would say thank you to strangers or people you wanted to show respect to (like your boss). But, if you’re just with friends or family you can use one of these two more informal versions:

  • ありがとう
    Thank you
  • どうも

Or you could combine it all together if you want to be very thankful:

  • どうもありがとうございます
    dōmo arigatō gozaimasu
    Thank you very much

At the dinner table

Japanese is such an interesting language for non-native speakers like you and me. They have many phrases that they use all the time that we don’t really have or use in English. I’ve included two of them here because they can easily be interpreted as a way of saying thank you in English, but they are strictly situational.

Meaning that you can only say them at certain, specific times. Due to this fact, they each have a special nuance to them – and so we don’t have an exact equivalent in English. Let’s get right to it!

When you sit down to eat your food at a meal, the first thing you do it clap your hands together so that it looks like you are praying and you say:

  • いただきます!
    Let’s eat!

I translated it here as let’s eat because that is the most common way you would see it if you were watching anime with sub-titles on, but a more accurate way to interpret it would be: I humbly receive this meal. What a great way to start your dinner!

After eating your meal, you wouldn’t say ありがとう (arigatō) for the food. You would actually say:

  • ごちそうさまでした
    gochisō sama deshita
    Thank you for the meal

Again, I put the most common translation up there (thank you for the meal), but really a better interpretation is: it was a feast! You would only say this to the person who made the meal for you as a way of thanking them.

What could be better than a feast, right?  Again, very situational and a unique meaning. Very cool!

Did you know, sometimes in Japanese excuse me actually means thank you? But you’ll have to go here to read about that one.

Now it’s your turn! Have you used any of these before? Do you know of any other ways that you can say thank you? Or was this all new to you?

Share below — I want to hear from you!


  • jschicanha

    this coming festive season i’m planning to visit japan and experience the beauty and goodness in that country. this post have made it easier for me for i have at-least one word out of thousands words and willing to use it one i get there

    thanks for educating me through this post



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