How to Say Congratulations in Japanese – Formal and Informal Ways

Congratulations! Whether you’re celebrating a friend’s achievement, a milestone in someone’s life, or a joyous occasion, knowing how to express your congratulations in Japanese is a thoughtful gesture. In this guide, we will cover both formal and informal ways to say “congratulations” in Japanese, providing tips, examples, and exploring regional variations where necessary.

Formal Ways to Say Congratulations in Japanese

If you want to convey your congratulations formally in Japanese, you can use the following phrases:

1. Omedetō gozaimasu

  • Meaning: Congratulations
  • Pronunciation: oh-meh-de-toh go-zai-mas
  • Usage: This phrase can be used in formal settings such as weddings, graduation ceremonies, or professional achievements.
  • Example: Omedetō gozaimasu! Your promotion is well-deserved.

2. Omedetō

  • Meaning: Congratulations
  • Pronunciation: oh-meh-de-toh
  • Usage: Omedetō is a more casual variation of “Omedetō gozaimasu” but still appropriate in formal situations.
  • Example: Omedetō! Your hard work paid off.

Informal Ways to Say Congratulations in Japanese

For informal situations like celebrating a friend’s personal achievements, you can use these more casual phrases:

1. Medetō

  • Meaning: Congrats
  • Pronunciation: meh-de-toh
  • Usage: Medetō is an abbreviation of “Omedetō” and is commonly used among friends to celebrate personal milestones.
  • Example: Medetō! I heard you got accepted into your dream university.

2. Tanjōbi omedetō

  • Meaning: Happy birthday, congratulations
  • Pronunciation: tan-joh-bee oh-meh-de-toh
  • Usage: This phrase is used to wish someone a happy birthday, but it also carries congratulations for completing another year of life.
  • Example: Tanjōbi omedetō! May this year bring you happiness and success.

Regional Variations

Although Japanese is spoken throughout Japan, some regional variations in the way of saying “congratulations” exist. Here are a couple of examples:

1. Oiwai

  • Meaning: Celebration, congratulations
  • Pronunciation: o-i-wah-ee
  • Usage: The term “oiwai” is commonly used in western Japan (Kansai region) to express congratulations.
  • Example: Oiwai! Your presentation was fantastic.

2. O-kanpai

  • Meaning: Cheers, congratulations
  • Pronunciation: oh-kahn- pie
  • Usage: While “o-kanpai” primarily means “cheers,” it is frequently used to say congratulations in the eastern part of Japan (Kanto region).
  • Example: O-kanpai! Your new job is a great achievement.

Tip: When congratulating someone in Japanese, it’s common to accompany the phrase with a bow or a smile. Non-verbal gestures can further emphasize your sincerity and warm wishes.


Congratulations hold a special place in Japanese culture, and expressing them appropriately is essential. In this guide, we’ve covered both formal and informal ways to say “congratulations” in Japanese. Remember to consider the setting and your relationship with the recipient when choosing the appropriate phrase. Whether you opt for a formal or informal expression, your heartfelt congratulations will surely make the recipient’s moment even more memorable.

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